Montana’s first Mint was started in the historic railroad town of Livingston by, fittingly, two train conductors. Just after prohibition, the two Burlington Northern conductors retired to launch the bar and were issued the state’s first liquor license. The foundation of the bar is literally steel train rails. According to the current owner, Merlin Moss, The Mint in Livingston was a hangout for droves of railroad workers who would cash their paychecks at the bar.
“They say the bar used to have more money than the banks,” Moss said.
The Livingston Mint was known for its poker games, having as many as 15 tables going at one time, with some of the games lasting days. The bar recently under went an extensive restoration to its 1930s interior, but poker players can still find a game in The Mint’s back room.
The bar enjoys a little Hollywood flash, having been featured in the 1987 movie "Amazing Grace and Chuck" and the 1992 film "A River Runs Through It".
Facts about Neon Signs
Neon (Ne) is a colorless, non-metallic, very inert gas with an atomic number of ten. This member of the noble gas classification glows reddish orange in a vacuum tube.
Neon gets its name from the Greek word “neos,” meaning “new.”
The gas was first isolated in 1898 by chemists William Ramsay and Morris Travers, who were busily discovering noble gases left and right by evaporating liquefied air, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Neon lights are most commonly associated with storefront signs, and use neon gas in hollow glass tubes to produce their famous luminous glow. An electric current is run through the neongas (mixed with a small percentage of argon), which produces a reddish-orange light.
Many of the signs that we regard as neon signs are not true neon signs at all. This is because neon is only responsible for the bright reddish-orange signs that are so common.
The first neon sign demonstrated in a modern form in December 1910 by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.
Old Vintage Bar Neon Sign Livingston Montana Metal Print by Edward M. Fielding
The New State Theater was opened in 1935 as a single-screen movie house with 685 seats. By 1950, it was known as the State Theater.
It has been divided into two auditoriums and is now known as the Empire Twin Theater. It shows first-run films, and has a wonderful Streamline Moderne facade and marquee, with a vertical sign on top of the triangular marquee.
A later, rectangular-shaped sign, somewhat 1960’s or 1970’s-looking in appearance, has been added to the middle of the vertical with the word “Empire” inside.
A while back Russel Chatham, the aworld-renowned painter and lithographer, author of over a hundred articles and half a dozen books, fishing guru, and owner of independent book publishing company, Clark City Press, opened the restaurant nearly a decade ago in order to have a good place to eat in Livingston. Chatham explains, “I was literally driven to create a fine restaurant in a place that’s never had one.”
It was popular with the Valley's Hollywood crowd but after the big recession attendance and art sales dwindles and Chatham packed up and moved back to California.
As an old railroad town, Livingston has a rich history and the Murray Hotel, being situated right downtown, has been lucky enough to be a part of much of it. Originally known as the Elite Hotel in the early 1900’s, the hotel was later purchased by Josephine Kline who renamed it the Kline Hotel. She bought the adjacent building with money borrowed from James A. Murray and expanded the hotel. When Murray died his heirs used legal manipulations to gain possession of the hotel. Josephine Kline was evicted and the Murray Hotel got the name that it still has to this day.
Providencetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Old New England is not known for flashy vintage signs but they do exist and survive here and there such as this example from very tip of Cape Cod with its bold letters, and boiled lobster.
The famous Lobster Pot restaurant in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Rural Vermont is not the first place you'd pick to go vintage neon sign hunting but fine the right corner along the right roadway and you'll be surprise to fine an all night diner with a glow of neon.
A vintage neon sign on an original diner in Quechee, Vermont reminds us that its time to eat. Tragically this sign was stolen recently and no longer graces what is now the Public House Diner.