Liberty Theatre

Lehigh Road,
Lehigh, MT 59479

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In the booming coal town of Lehigh, Montana, Harry C. Higgins launched an 800-seat movie theatre with attached candy and ice cream store on April 20, 1918. For the grand opening, people could bring any donation and among the items other than cash brought were chickens, several pigs and one calf used for attendance. A ten-piece orchestra was at the affair and the Liberty Thetare was off to a fine start. With Lehigh #2 of the Great Northern Railway coming across a trestle bridge into the city to pick up coal, the theatre was well positioned.

Fast forward just one year later, the theatre was up for sale as the city’s fortunes were beginning to slide. A coal miner strike crippled the industry. Hours after a late evening Saturday show on July 13, 1919, the Liberty Theatre burned to the ground. Higgins promised to rebuild but with the coal industry slowing, it didn’t make much sense and the rebuilding did not happen. In 1922, Cottonwood Coal Company announced it was abandoning its mining operations in Lehigh halting railroad traffic. Within five years, the post office closed, the local bank went bust, and the Judith Basin Country town was reduced to near ghost town status even prior to the onset of the Great Depression. The Liberty Theatre and Lehigh were no more.

Contributed by Dallasmovietheaters
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