Exploring the city of Butte and Mining Industry

Trip Start May 01, 2013
Trip End May 01, 2014

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Where I stayed
2 Bar Lazy H RV Park and Campground
What I did
Berkeley Pit Butte
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Montana
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 57 - Butte, MT  Today we took a 2-hour tour with a gentleman that grew up here.  He is a second grade teacher and he was a wealth of knowledge about all things Butte, Montana.

We saw lots of wonderful old buildings from the late 1800's which included the home of the Copper King (William Clark) and the house he built for his son; a couple of Brothels, Speak-Easy's; old Hotels; Churches; Theater's; etc.  Also lots of older homes (very close together) and some in disrepair or condemned.  These must have been occupied by the miner and his family.  Most of the historic district is just below the Berkeley Pit (an old mine that has filled with water) which we stopped to view.  

During the beginning of the mining that started here in Butte, there were a series of underground tunnels (some one mile deep) and all connected.  In 1917 there was a fire and the miners were racing to the other mines to get away from the fire.  Unfortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning killed over 300 miners that day.  In all the time of the mining here in Butte, 2,300 have died in mine related incidents.

Dotted along the area of the strip mining you see these towers and they mark a once active mine. The Continental Mine is the only active one still in operation.  

Today we went to the viewing point of the Berkeley Pit.  This mine over it's lifetime produced over 320 million tons of ore and 700 million tons of waste rock.  The "Richest Hill on Earth" (as it was called) produced enough copper to pave a four-lane highway four inches thick from Butte to Salt Lake City and 30 miles beyond.  Wow!!  The mine was in operation from 1955-1982.  The depth of the pit is 1,780 Feet!  The water depth in there is 1,000 feet!  The circumference of the pit is over 4 miles.  The water contains Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Manganese, Aluminum, Cadmium, Copper, Zinc, Chloride, Fluoride, Sulfate and ARSENIC!  You won't believe the photos as to how huge it is.

After that tour, we went to have a special lunch to get a Pasty!  This was a favorite dish of the miners and they suggested we try it.  It was a large pastry filled with meat, potatoes, onion and then covered in a brown gravy...not something you would want to eat every day, but it was quite good and reminded me of a dish my grandmother made for us as kids, without the pastry around it.

Then off to the World Museum of Mining next to the campus of Montana College of Mining and Engineering.  Again, doesn't anyone throw anything away anymore??  Amazing all that was in these old buildings which were authentic, but moved here to be more accessible.

Enjoy our day!
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Pamela on

WOW!! Love the pics. Love the architecture. I never knew there was so much mining history in Montana. Never really thought about it!!! Fascinating :)

jerrygolfboyer on

Thanks for all the education. So, here is the question of the day: what is the difference (if any) between a brothel and a bordello? .......Not that it will ever matter, but I see you used both names.

Mining there sounds just like back east; extremely dangerous and makes a mess of the land in the process. There it was for gold or silver, and here it was various types of coal. I wonder which was more profitable?!?

jerrygolfboyer on

And I forgot to mention the King of mines---copper. And I would guess there were other precious and semi-precious metals/minerals.

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