What Popular Montana Ski Hill has Strange Connection to Wu Tang?
Here is a little piece of Montana history you may not have known. It turns out that Wu Tang has been around far longer than when the RZA, GZA, ODB, Method Man, and more gathered together to rap in 1992. In fact, a family named Wu Tang, was "keeping it fresh" here in Montana nearly a century before.
Chinese immigrants were a big part of the founding of Montana. The wide-open country and fast development of communities allowed many opportunities for Chinese families to live the American dream. Many families immigrated here looking for work and they were willing to work for far less money than the average person, making Chinese labor a huge driving force in the expansion of Americans to the west. In fact, they say that the transcontinental railroad would not have been completed in record time if it wasn't for Chinese labor. Here in Montana, the late 1800s was all about mining. Trying to dig those precious metals out of the ground was back-breaking work. But, Chinese laborists were willing to do it.
The Chinese brought more than just cheap labor to Montana. They also brought ancient remedies and drugs. Chinese drug stores were located in just about every community in Montana. They also had a knack for laundry, with many Chinese entrepreneurs opening laundry services in nearly every mining town.
A photo recently surfaced online of an old drug store/laundry business in the Central Montana town of Neihart, located near the popular Shodown ski area. The photo was taken in the 1970s and shows the old "Wu Tang Laundry/Drug" store that used to stand in the small mining town. The building has since been torn down.
According to the Facebook page, Into the Little Belts
When George Willett took over Showdown in the early 1970s, he named the rental shop at Showdown “Wu Tangs Rental Shop”. No one really knew the history, just thought it was a cool name with some great history to boot!
So, next time you find yourself renting a set of skis for your kids at Shodown, remember, "Wu Tang is for the children," and most importantly "Wu Tang Forever."