Aviation

Terah "T. T." Maroney (1880-1929)
Montana Aviation Pioneer

Great Falls Photos by Raymond C. Grant, Courtesy of Wendi Kottas Peterson

Terah Thomas Maroney (1880-1929), shown here in Great Falls, probably in 1910, was an early aerial performer and promoter of aviation in the West. It was a July 4, 1914 Seattle seaplane ride with Maroney that convinced William Boeing and his partner George C. Westervelt to go into the airplane manufacturing business.

This series of 13 rare, never-before-published photos were taken by Helena merchant Raymond C. Grant, who was likely on a business trip to Great Falls. Grant was a traveling sales representative in the paint and store-fixture business, so it seems probable that he was visiting the McRae & Cluston Planing Mill, which was directly across 9th St. from where Maroney's aircraft was tented; the mill is shown in two of the photos.

It is reasonable to assume that Maroney, a skilled carpenter and cabinet-maker, had wood-working for his plane done in the mill. The plane may have been entirely constructed in the tent. Two photos taken inside the tent show tools, wood and spare parts.

According to a newspaper account given by Maroney in 1913, this plane only flew eight or nine times before breaking apart.

Following the Great Falls photos is a brief history of Maroney, Montana's premier aviator.

 

Central Avenue and 9th Street North, Great Falls, Montana, probably 1910
Maroney Displaying His First Aeroplane


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Maroney at the controls of his first hand-built aeroplane, likely taken in 1910, at the intersection of Central Avenue and 9th Street in Great Falls, Montana. The tent sheltering the plane was on the northwest corner, where the 1915 Masonic Hall stands today.


Aeroplane Under the Tent


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Side and Rears Views of the Aeroplane, Showing the McRae & Cluston Planing Mill


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A Small Crowd Gathers


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A Streetcar Passes By...


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Men Moving the Aeroplane


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A Brief Account of Maroney's Career

Postcard Featuring Maroney, ca 1915


Courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum

 

 




Maroney Sets Up New Plane in Helena, 1913
-- in the building now housing the Holter Museum of Art --

The "Western Auto Supply" mentioned was Western Auto & Supply Co., and was located in the building now housing the Holter Museum of Art, at 12 East Lawrence St.

1913 Aerial View of Helena by Terah Maroney


FROM "HELENA", A POSTCARD HISTORY, COURTESY OF AUTHOR TOM MULVANEY
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First Public Hydro-aeroplane Flight on Flathead lake, 1913

On July 27, 1913, Maroney made the first public flight by a hydro-aeroplane on Flathead Lake. He assembeled his plane at Polson, and flew from the Narrows to the island of Idlewild...

 

But There Was A Problem...


At Columbia Gardens in Butte, 1913


Maroney Talks About His First Aeroplane

Gulfport, Mississippi, 1914

Centralia Washington, 1915

 

1915 Utah State Fair

Legal Problem...




Courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum

Terah Maroney and Ruth Rutledge, 1916 Utah State Fair

Leaflet Drop Flight with Sufferagette Lucy Burns, Seattle, May, 1916

As fever built for the U. S. to enter World War I, Maroney became a pilot in the Washington Navy Militia.


COURTESY OF THE EASTLAKE NEWS

"Lucy Burns, as the guest of Flight Lieutenant Maroney of the Naval Militia at Washington, flew to a height of fourteen hundred feet over Seattle, scattering leaflets as she went. When she started, Miss Burns carried a Congressional Union [for Woman Sufferage] banner, but the eighty-mile-an-hour gale soon tore it from her hand. When last seen, it reposed peacefully on the roof of a large Seattle mill." -- The Story of the Women's Party, by Inez Haynes Gillmore.

Beeville, Texas, 1916

Service in World War I

 

Post-War Change of Career

According to former Boeing corporate historian Paul G. Spitzer, the end of World War I brought big changes to Maroney's career. In an article for the Winter 2010/2011 Eastlake News, Mr. Spitzer wrote:

"After the war and his discharge, Maroney returned to Seattle. The planes he left behind were so obsolete and damaged that they were unusable. He went to work for a for a flying service on Puget Sound in a Boeing Model C, but business remained bad. Still worse, the thousands of students trained during the war returned home wanting jobs in aviation. The future, even in the rapidly expanding field of aviation, was as bleak for them as it was for Maroney.

One day driving in California, Maroney broke the axle in his car and he stayed there to build cabinets and houses. The craftsmanship that once had made his airplane stronger than
engineers expected now served him in the building trade. However, his several attempts to
re­enter aviation never worked out. Opportunities were scarce, airplanes costly, and the complexity of new designs put them out of reach of even people with good carpentry skills such as him."

It is known that Maroney, then a building contractor, and a spouse lived in Reno, Nevavda and near Sacramento, California in the 1920s.

 

 



Maroney and Wife Purchase Small California Resort Property, 1927


A Recent Google Maps View of Whitehall, in California


MAP COORDINATES: 38.775278, -120.405278

Maroney at Family Reunion, Wichita, 1928

Maroney's Accidental Death, 1929
Struck by a Propeller at Parks Airport, East St. Louis, Illinois
(now known as St. Louis Downtown Airport)

Parks Airport, 1929



News Reaches Helena


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