Mel And Nancy trip to Maritime Provences travel blog

anaconda smelter

facts about butte

butte 1901

old town postcard

mel in jail

womens cell

Mine frame

info on mines

color representation of mines under butte

little orphan mine at 100 feet


Headed into Butte, MT. We are stopping here to see the World Museum of Mining. It is also, the home of Montana Tech University, that specializes in mining, engineering and geology.

The term “Butte” ( meaning rising out of the earth), is the geological term for the small hill on which the town was built in 1894. Due to the mining history, it is known as the “Richest Hill on Earth”. From 1880 to 2000, Butte Hill produced 22,799,000,000 pounds of copper, 4,909,202,540 pounds of zinc, 72,486,488 ounces of silver and 2,922,466 ounces of gold. By 1887, Butte became the leading producer of copper and the next 30 years produced over 50% of US production.

Butte is home of the longest running brothel in American History. In its hayday, there was 200 hundred girls per shift and they all worked 8 hour shifts. It has 2400 registered National Historic Sites. To include a jail that was condemned by the US Federal Government for being a dungeon. It was closed in the late 1990’s. The American daredevil Evel Knievel was arrested and placed in the cells on more than on occasion. He was born, raised and buried in Butte. This town was also known as the “Melting Pot Mixer” because immigrants of every nationality came to Butte. At one time it had over 100,000 residents.

On the underground tour, Old Butte Historical Adventures, we learned about the history of the town and saw one of the first “Speak Easys” in the US. Butte had gone underground 2 years before the prohibition. In order to accommodate the 100,000 residents, the main street businesses were on 2 levels . The lower businesses could be accessed on a underground sidewalks. All of the business on the lower level had glass sky lights. All of the major entertainers came to Butte for about a 100 year period to entertain; to include Charlie Chaplin, Mark Twain and many others

The mining tour was interesting too. We went down the “Orphan Girl” mine to 100 feet. Currently it is used for educational purposes. We saw the Granite Mountain Mine Memorial that is a tribute to the 160 miners that were lost in a mining fire. There are still 17 mine headframes standing over the 10,000 miles of underground tunnels. It is also call the “Mile high above and Mile low” city. Because the city 5,000 feet above sea level and the lowest mine is 5,000 feet below sea level. Most of the mines are flooded up to 100 feet. This little town has so much history, you need to come and check it out. My sister, Margaret, had told us that we shouldn’t miss this town and boy was she right.



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