Billings history buffs use Facebook to keep the past of the Magic City alive
By Alina Hauter,2023-05-28
No matter how much the city of Billings changes, there will always be some determined to preserve the story of its past. That’s exactly what two history buffs are doing, using Facebook pages to educate others while keeping the history of Billings alive.
“Yea, the Metra would be kind of here now and the parking lot would be right there,” said Billings native Rebecca Heimbuck on Sunday as she pointed to a postcard of what used to be the old Montana Fairgrounds.
That postcard is just one from Heimbuck’s extensive collection.
“I have over 800 right now,” said Heimbuck.
Purchased from online dealers, most of her postcards are of places in Montana, specifically the Magic City.
“I feel like Billings has a story to tell so I try to do that,” Heimbuck said.
It’s why Heimbuck created a Facebook page called Billings, Montana As She Was , nearly two years ago.
“I feel like it’s doing something, it’s persevering something. And as someone with an interest in history, I want to preserve. I want people to appreciate the stories that they tell,” said Heimbuck.
With over 6,000 members, there’s always something to learn with every post.
“Then somebody else might say, oh my family owned that business, or I went to school there and they’ll have something to share,” Heimbuck said.
Hers isn’t the only Facebook page dedicated to preserving the history of Billings.
“The number of people always surprised me. There’s almost 6,000 people on there,” said Chris Atkins on Wednesday.
Atkins created the page Billings Montana History back in 2016. He grew up near the Montana Wyoming border but continues to moderate it from his current home in Texas.
“Being nostalgic, there’s a lot of people that used to live in the Billings area that are no longer there that wanted something to look back on,” Atkins said.
It’s been an eye-opening experience to be able to peek into the past.
“I noticed people that maybe grew up in the fifties in Billings, they have a completely different memory of a town I didn’t know and it’s very interesting to see their memories,” said Atkins.