Place:Butte, Silver Bow, Montana, United States


Alt namesButte Citysource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS30003862
Coordinates46.0°N 112.533°W
Located inSilver Bow, Montana, United States     (1880 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Butte is the county seat of Silver Bow County, Montana, United States. In 1977, the city and county governments consolidated to form the sole entity of Butte-Silver Bow. The city covers , and, according to the 2010 census, has a population of approximately 36,400, making it Montana's fifth largest city. It is served by Bert Mooney Airport with airport code BTM.

Established in 1864 as a mining camp in the northern Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide, Butte experienced rapid development in the late-nineteenth century, and was Montana's first major industrial city.[1] In its heyday between the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, it was one of the largest copper boomtowns in the American West. Employment opportunities in the mines attracted surges of Asian and European immigrants, particularly the Irish; as of 2017, Butte has the largest population of Irish Americans per capita of any city in the United States.[2]

Butte was also the site of various historical events involving its mining industry and active labor unions and Socialist politics, the most famous of which was the labor riot of 1914. Despite the dominance of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Butte was never a company town. Other major events in the city's history include the 1917 Speculator Mine disaster, the largest hard rock mining disaster in world history.

Over the course of its history, Butte's mining and smelting operations generated an excess of $48 billion worth of ore, but also resulted in numerous environmental implications for the city: The upper Clark Fork River, with headwaters at Butte, is the largest Superfund site in the United States, and the city is also home to the Berkeley Pit. In the late-twentieth century, cleanup efforts from the EPA were instated, and the Butte Citizens Technical Environmental Committee was established in 1984. In the 21st century, efforts at interpreting and preserving Butte's heritage are addressing both the town's historical significance and the continuing importance of mining to its economy and culture. The city's Uptown Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States, containing nearly 6,000 contributing properties.[3] The city is also home to Montana Tech, a public engineering and technical university.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history and immigrants

Prior to Butte's formal establishment in 1864, the area consisted of a mining camp that had developed in the early 1860s. The city is located in the Silver Bow Creek Valley (or Summit Valley), a natural bowl sitting high in the Rockies straddling the Continental Divide, positioned on the southwestern side of a large mass of granite known as the Boulder Batholith, which dates to the Cretaceous era.[4] In 1864, William L. Farlin founded the Asteroid Mine (subsequently known as the Travona); Farlin's founding of the Asteroid Mine attracted a significant number of prospectors seeking gold and silver. The mines attracted workers from Cornwall Ireland & Wales, Lebanon, Canada, Finland, Austria, Italy, China, Montenegro, Mexico, and more. In the ethnic neighborhoods, young men formed gangs to protect their territory and socialize into adult life, including the Irish of Dublin Gulch, the Eastern Europeans of the McQueen Addition, and the Italians of Meaderville.

Among the migrants, many Chinese workers moved in, and amongst them set up businesses that led to the creation of a Chinatown in Butte. The Chinese migrations stopped in 1882 with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. There was anti-Chinese sentiment in the 1870s and onwards due to racism on the part of the white settlers, exacerbated by economic depression, and in 1895, the chamber of commerce and labor unions started a boycott of Chinese owned businesses. The business owners fought back by suing the unions and winning. The history of the Chinese migrants in Butte is documented in the Mai Wah Museum.

The influx of miners gave Butte a reputation as a wide-open town where any vice was obtainable. The city's saloon and red-light district, called the "Line" or "The Copper Block", was centered on Mercury Street, where the elegant bordellos included the famous Dumas Brothel.[5] Behind the brothel was the equally famous Venus Alley, where women plied their trade in small cubicles called "cribs."[5] The red-light district brought miners and other men from all over the region and remained open until 1982 after the closure of the Dumas Brothel; the city's red-light was one of the last such urban districts in the United States. Commercial breweries first opened in Butte in the 1870s, and were a large staple of the city's early economy; they were usually run by German immigrants, including Leopold Schmidt, Henry Mueller, and Henry Muntzer. The breweries were always staffed by union workers. Most ethnic groups in Butte, from Germans and Irish to Italians and various Eastern Europeans, including children, enjoyed the locally brewed lagers, bocks, and other types of beer.

Industrial expansion

In the late nineteenth century, copper was in great demand because of new technologies such as electric power that required the use of copper. Four industrial magnates fought for control of Butte's mining wealth. These four "Copper Kings" were William A. Clark, Marcus Daly, F. Augustus Heinze,[4] and James A. Murray.

The Anaconda Copper Mining Company began in 1881 when Marcus Daly bought a small mine named the Anaconda. He was a part-owner, mine manager and engineer of the Alice, a silver mine in Walkerville, a suburb of Butte. While working in the Alice, he noticed significant quantities of high grade copper ore. Daly obtained permission to inspect nearby workings. After Daly's employers, the Walker Brothers, refused to buy the Anaconda, Daly sold his interest in the Alice and bought it himself. Daly asked George Hearst, San Francisco mining magnate, for additional support. Hearst agreed to buy one-fourth of the new company's stock without visiting the site. While mining the silver left in his mine, huge deposits of copper were soon developed and Daly became a copper magnate. When surrounding silver mines "played out" and closed, Daly quietly bought up the neighboring mines, forming a mining company. Daly built a smelter at Anaconda, Montana (a company town) and connected his smelter to Butte by a railway. Anaconda Company eventually owned all the mines on Butte Hill.

Between 1884 and 1888, W.A. Clark constructed the Copper King Mansion in Butte, which became his second residence from his home in New York City. He also, in 1899, purchased the Columbia Gardens, a small park which he developed into a full amusement park, featuring a pavilion, rollercoaster, and a lake for swimming and canoeing. Clark's expansion of the park was intended to "provide a place where children and families could get away from the polluted air of the Butte mining industry." The city's rapid expansion was noted in an 1889 frontier survey: "Butte, Montana, fifteen years ago a small placer-mining village clinging to the mountain side, has now risen to the rank of the first mining camp of the world... [It] is now the most populous city of Montana, numbering twenty-five thousand active, enterprising, prosperous inhabitants." In 1888 alone, mining operations in Butte had generated an "almost inconceivable" output of $23 million worth of ore.[6]

Around the turn of the twentieth century, prosperous mining had generated considerable wealth in Butte, and at the time was the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco. Copper ore mined from the Butte mining district in 1910 alone totaled ; at the time, Butte was the largest producer of copper in North America and rivaled in worldwide metal production only by South Africa.[4] The same year, an excess of of silver and of gold were also discovered.[4] The amount of ore produced in the city earned it the nickname "The Richest Hill on Earth."[4] With its large workforce of miners performing in physically dangerous conditions, Butte was the site of active labor union movements, and came to be known as "the Gibraltar of Unionism."[7]

By 1885, there were about 1,800 dues-paying members of a general union in Butte. That year the union reorganized as the Butte Miners' Union (BMU), spinning off all non-miners to separate craft unions. Some of these joined the Knights of Labor, and by 1886 the separate organizations came together to form the Silver Bow Trades and Labor Assembly, with 34 separate unions representing nearly all of the 6,000 workers around Butte. The BMU established branch unions in mining towns like Barker, Castle, Champion, Granite, and Neihart, and extended support to other mining camps hundreds of miles away. In 1892 there was a violent strike in Coeur d'Alene. Although the BMU was experiencing relatively friendly relations with local management, the events in Idaho were disturbing. The BMU not only sent thousands of dollars to support the Idaho miners, they mortgaged their buildings to send more.

There was a growing concern that local unions were vulnerable to the power of Mine Owners' Associations like the one in Coeur d'Alene. In May 1893, about forty delegates from northern hard-rock mining camps met in Butte and established the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), which sought to organize miners throughout the West. The Butte Miners' Union became Local Number One of the new WFM. The WFM won a strike in Cripple Creek, Colorado, the following year, but then in 1896–97 lost another violent strike in Leadville, Colorado, prompting the Montana State Trades and Labor Council to issue a proclamation to organize a new Western labor federation along industrial lines.

Anaconda Copper and civil unrest

In 1899, Daly joined with William Rockefeller, Henry H. Rogers, and Thomas W. Lawson to organize the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company. Not long after, the company changed its name to Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM). Over the years, Anaconda was owned by assorted larger corporations. In the 1920s, it had a virtual monopoly over the mines in and around Butte. Between approximately 1900 and 1917, Butte also had a strong streak of Socialist politics, even electing Mayor Lewis Duncan on the Socialist ticket in 1911, and again in 1913; Duncan was impeached in 1914 for neglecting duties after a bombing in the city's miners' hall in 1914.

It had also established itself as "one of the most solid union cities in America." After 1905, Butte became a hotbed of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or the "Wobblies") organizing. Rivalry between IWW supporters and the WFM locals culminated in the Butte, Montana labor riots of 1914, and resulted in the loss of union recognition by the mine owners. After the dissolution of the Miners' Union, the Anaconda Company attempted to inaugurate programs aimed at enticing employees. However, a number of clashes between laborers, labor organizers, and the Anaconda Company ensued, including the 1917 lynching of IWW executive board officer Frank Little. In 1920, company mine guards gunned down strikers in the Anaconda Road Massacre. Seventeen were shot in the back as they tried to flee, and one man died.

Sparked by a tragic accident more than below the ground on June 8, 1917, a fire in the Granite Mountain shaft spewed flames, smoke, and poisonous gas through the labyrinth of underground tunnels including the connected Speculator Mine. A rescue effort commenced, but carbon monoxide was contaminating the air supply. Several men barricaded themselves against bulkheads to save their lives, but many others died in a panic to try to escape.[8] Rescue workers set up a fan to prevent the fire from spreading. This worked for a short time, but when the rescuers tried to use water, the water evaporated, creating steam that burned those trying to escape. Once the fire had been extinguished, recovery of the deceased began; many of the bodies, however, were mutilated beyond recognition, leaving many unidentified. The disaster claimed a total of 168 lives. As of 2017, the event remained the largest hard rock mining accident in history. The Granite Mountain Memorial in Butte commemorates those who died in the accident.

Protests and strikes were initiated after the Speculator Mine disaster, as well as the establishment of the Metal Mine Workers Union; approximately 15,000 workers abandoned their jobs in the wake of the disaster. Between 1914 and 1920, the U.S. National Guard occupied Butte a total of six times to restore civility. In 1917, copper production from the Butte mines peaked and steadily declined thereafter. By WWII, copper production from the ACM's holdings in Chuquicamata, Chile, far exceeded Butte's production.

Open-pit mining era

Disputes between miners' unions and companies continued through the 1920s and 1930s in Butte, with several strikes and protests, one of which lasted for ten months in 1921. On New Year's Eve 1922, protestors attempted to detonate the Hibernian Hall on Main Street with dynamite.[9]

Further industrial expansions included the arrival of the first mail plane in the city in 1928, and in 1937, the city's streetcar system was dismantled and replaced with bus lines.[9] After the 1920s, the ACM began to reduce its activities in Butte due to the labor-intensivity of underground mining, as well as competition from other mine holdings in South America. This ultimately led the Anaconda Company to switch its focus in Butte from underground mining to open pit mining.

Since the 1950s, five major developments in the city have occurred: the Anaconda's decision to begin open-pit mining in the mid-1950s, a series of fires in Butte's business district in the 1970s, a debate over whether to relocate the city's historic business district, a new civic leadership, and the end of copper mining in 1983. In response, Butte looked for ways to diversify the economy and provide employment. The legacy of over a century of environmental degradation has, for example, produced some jobs. Environmental cleanup in Butte, designated a Superfund site, has employed hundreds of people.

Thousands of homes were destroyed in the Meaderville suburb and surrounding areas, McQueen and East Butte, to excavate the Berkeley Pit, which opened in 1954[9] by Anaconda Copper. At the time of its opening, the Berkeley Pit was the largest truck-operated open pit copper mine in the United States. The Berkeley Pit grew with time until it began encroaching on the Columbia Gardens. After the Gardens caught fire and burned to the ground in November 1973, the Continental Pit was excavated on the former park site. In 1977, the ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company) company purchased Anaconda, and only three years later started shutting down mines due to lower metal prices. In 1983, all mining in the Berkeley Pit was suspended. The same year, an organization of low income and unemployed residents of Butte formed to fight for jobs and environmental justice; the Butte Community Union produced a detailed plan for community revitalization and won substantial benefits, including a Montana Supreme Court victory striking down as unconstitutional State elimination of welfare benefits. After mining ceased at the Berkeley Pit, water pumps in nearby mines were also shut down, which resulted in highly acidic water laced with toxic heavy metals filling up the pit.[10]

Anaconda ceased mining at the Continental Pit in 1983. Montana Resources LLP bought the property and reopened the Continental Pit in 1986. The company ceased mining in 2000, but resumed in the fall of 2003.

From 1880 through 2005, the mines of the Butte district have produced more than 9.6 million metric tons of copper, 2.1 million metric tons of zinc, 1.6 million metric tons of manganese, 381,000 metric tons of lead, 87,000 metric tons of molybdenum, 715 million troy ounces (22,200 metric tons) of silver, and 2.9 million ounces (90 metric tons) of gold.

21st century

Fourteen headframes still remain over mine shafts in Butte, and the city still contains thousands of historic commercial and residential buildings from the boom times, which, especially in the Uptown section, give it an old-fashioned appearance, with many commercial buildings not fully occupied; according to a 2016 estimate, there were "hundreds" of unoccupied buildings in Butte, resulting in the city introducing an ordinance to keep record of owners. Preservation efforts of the city's historic buildings began in the late 1990s. As with many industrial cities, tourism and services, especially health care (Butte's St. James Hospital has Southwest Montana's only major trauma center), are rising as primary employers, as well as industrial-sector private companies.[11] Many areas of the city, especially the areas near the old mines, show signs of urban blight but a recent influx of investors and an aggressive campaign to remedy blight has led to a renewed interest in restoring property in Uptown Butte's historic district, which was expanded in 2006 to include parts of Anaconda and is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States with 5,991 contributing properties.

A century after the era of intensive mining and smelting, environmental issues remain in areas around the city. Arsenic and heavy metals such as lead are found in high concentrations in some spots affected by old mining, and for a period of time in the 1990s the tap water was unsafe to drink due to poor filtration and decades-old wooden supply pipes. Efforts to improve the water supply have taken place in the past few years, with millions of dollars being invested to upgrade water lines and repair infrastructure. Environmental research and clean-up efforts have contributed to the diversification of the local economy, and signs of vitality, including the introduction of a multimillion-dollar polysilicon manufacturing plant nearby in the 1990s. In the late 1990s, Butte was recognized as an All-America City and as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2002.[12]

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