HELENA (AP) - A former executive's written history of the Montana Power Co., a document that the company refused for three decades to allow to be published, is finally seeing the light of day.
Cecil Kirk's 483-page, three-volume history, which he completed in 1970 after his retirement, was donated Monday to the Montana Historical Society by NorthWestern Energy, which took over Montana Power's energy transmission systems two years ago when they were sold to NorthWestern Corp.
Kirk's son, Donn Kirk, said the donation fulfills a promise Montana Power made to his father in 1967, to have the work published when it was completed. Cecil Kirk died in 1988.
Arnold Olsen, director of the Historical Society, called Kirk's writings a ''historic treasure.''
''It's the most readable, far-reaching history of MPC I have ever read,'' Olsen said Monday. ''Why haven't we ever seen it? The company refused to publish it.''
The volumes are full of information on the company's birth and its transformation into the massive energy giant in the state. But it apparently was information Kirk chose to include on the company's aggressive business tactics, and Kirk's candid descriptions of company executives, that kept the work from being released.
''My guess is that he was too honest in his research, and in describing some of the characters in the early history of the company,'' Donn Kirk said. ''The power company thought there were some things in there that would be detrimental.''
The elder Kirk, an electrical engineer, went to work for Montana Power in Great Falls in 1922, just 10 years after the company formed.
He quickly rose through the ranks and, by 1952, had become a vice president in charge of electricity transmission and distribution systems.
He retired in 1964 but had a hard time staying away from the office, his son said.
''He always went in just as if he still worked there,'' Donn Kirk said.
In 1967, then-President Jack Corrette agreed to let Kirk write an ''interesting history'' of the company and its people and agreed to pay Kirk $10,000, plus expenses, when it was completed.
Kirk finished the work in 1970 and was paid, but the company declined to publish the work or release it.
After Kirk's death, his son approached the company again in hopes of getting his father's work made public.
In an October 1998 letter, Bob Gannon, by then the company's president, said company executives were concerned about the tone of the writings, especially when describing rural electric cooperatives and rural electrification.
''My conclusion is that we not go forward with such a project,'' Gannon wrote. ''I know this may be disappointing to you.''
Kirk pressed on, however. He learned that after Montana Power Co. sold its energy assets and transformed into the telecommunications company Touch America, it had turned his father's manuscript over to NorthWestern Energy. That company eventually agreed to donate it.