aka Summit Valley, Lost Child, Independence, Rocker, Browns Gulch
Butte, perched high on the crest of the Continental Divide, holds a unique place in the history of not just local and regional mining, but in the history of mining on a global scale. Mine names made famous in Butte are echoed in mining district's all over the world. Indeed, in the late Nineteenth Century, the measure of a new district was "It will be a new Butte." Butte was at first a water-poor gold placer district, then an above average hard rock silver camp, then with the dawn of the electrical age, Butte became the source of the world's new lode stone, copper. At a time when most western American cities were measured in the tens of thousands, Butte was a thriving metropolis with a 100,000 souls and political and economic clout that dominated the West. The copper kings of Butte spun webs of industrial development as they fought to control the mineral resources. Miners from around the world poured into the city and railroads raced to be the first to connect with the city. Ore, flux, and fuel poured into ever larger smelters as the district produced staggering amounts of copper, silver, gold, zinc and manganese.
The area that is now Butte rests on the southwestern side of a large mass of granite, or quartz monzonite, that extends from the Highland Mountains northward about 70 miles, nearly to Helena. This rock formation, called the Boulder Batholith, dates to the Cretaceous era, about 70 to 80 million years ago. The Butte portion of the batholith underwent several periods of intense cracking and fracturing, relatively close together in terms of geological time. First, part of the granite far below the surface (generally beneath the current site of the Berkeley pit) was broken by many small faults and cracks. Mineralizing solutions deposited copper and molybdenum in these veins in sulfur-bearing compounds of chalcopyrite and molybdenite. Several million years later, another period of faulting produced much larger fissures, thousands of feet long and deep, trending to the northwest or northeast. Mineral-laden water moved through these fissures and deposited copper, silver, gold, zinc, lead, manganese, cadmium, bismuth, selenium and other elements in the cracks and adjacent rock.
These deposits have distinctive patterns. In horizontal cross-section, i.e., as seen from above, the ore minerals are arranged in zones resembling concentric circles. The central core contains copper, primarily as chalcocite, enargite, bornite, and chalcopyrite. The intermediate area has decreasing copper values and increasing quantities of lead and zinc. In the outer zone, silver and manganese predominate. Seen in vertical cross-section, the deposits are dome- or cone-shaped, spreading wider at greater depths. Veins at the surface have been highly oxidized and produce mainly silver ores, with copper leached in some areas to depths of several hundred feet.
Later ages of faulting and fracturing complicated the situation even more by breaking and offsetting the ore-bearing veins in several directions. As a result, a given vein may seem to end abruptly, but in fact has been displaced along a fault line and resumes some distance away. Other veins descend below the surface at different angles, or dips, and may run into each other at some depth. All these factors contributed to the mass of complex and costly litigation among Butte's mining barons over which vein came to the surface on whose claim (Johnson 1994).
Montana's early gold strikes, at Bannack, Alder Gulch, and Last Chance Gulch, during the early years of the American Civil War, brought the first placer miners into the Summit Valley. In May 1864 prospectors G. O. Humphreys and William Allison located placer claims along Missoula Gulch, although gold mining did not actually occur until later that summer. The next winter prospectors staked claims along Missoula, Buffalo, Town, and Parrot Gulches and organized the Summit Valley district. The low grade gold, which occurred in fine particles, paid only $11 to $14 an ounce, and had to be hauled by wagon from the gulches down to Silver Bow Creek for washing. By 1867 ditches had been dug to bring water to the workings but in three years of placering only $1.5 million in gold was recovered, a rather poor performance when measured against the $30 million in gold recovered at Alder Gulch in three years (Weed 1912).
Even though early activities at Butte focused on placer mining the black-stained quartz reefs did attract the attention of some early miners. In late 1864 William L. Farlin staked the Asteroid claim (later known as the Travona), which a decade later would launch a silver boom in Butte. During the next three years miners located dozens of lode claims, including the Rainbow lode in present day Walkerville. Discovery of rich silver veins in the Nevada Comstock lode prompted greater attention to the Summit Valley's future mineral potential and a flurry of claim staking resulted. Miners shipped silver ore from the Mountain Chief mine by wagon to Fort Benton and on to a steamer bound for St. Louis and from there by train to Newark, New Jersey for smelting.
Early attempts at milling and smelting Butte hill ore were not successful. In 1866 workers erected a small arrastra on a site south of the present day Finlen Hotel, followed by a 10-stamp mill known as the Continental. The same year the area's first blast furnace was erected in the vicinity of present day Quartz Street by Butte pioneers Leary, Ramsdell, Porter, and Parks. Their primitive furnace did not work but they persevered and in 1868 erected a usable design below the Parrot mine. During these early days of lode mining Butte's legendary copper ledges did not go unnoticed. In October 1864 a claim was filed on the Parrot lode, an area that would ultimately include some of Butte's earliest copper mines. In 1865 miners uncovered a six to seven-foot wide vein of copper ore adjacent to the Parrot mine. Miners squatting along Town Gulch remained optimistic about the camp's future but these hopes dimmed as the placers played out and the Chinese miners moved in to rework the gravels. By 1870 newborn Butte City looked to be headed for obscurity and the dead-end of most gold camps lacking the technology, capital and transportation necessary to process silver and copper ores (Weed 1912; Anderson 1985; Smith 1953).
While most had given up hope for the future of the mining camp, William Farlin assayed some ore from the Asteroid claim and, finding it rich in silver, relocated the claim in the last day of 1874, giving birth to a new era of mineral development in Butte. Farlin began construction of the 10-stamp Dexter mill with a loan from the bank of William A. Clark. The Dexter mill treated the silver ore using the processes of chloridization, roasting and amalgamation and the date 1876 marked the first successful treatment of silver ores in the district. The $25 to $30 per ton levied for milling was sufficient to promote the rapid development of a milling industry in Butte.
The development of Butte's most prominent early silver mines and some of the district's largest mills can be linked to the location of the Acquisition claim by McEnery and Packard in 1875. The locators shipped some of their silver ore to the Walker brothers in Salt Lake City for assaying and the Walker brothers responded by sending a young immigrant mine engineer, Marcus Daly, to investigate this rich silver claim. In 1876 Daly bought the claim and sent for Robert Walker and geologist, John E. Clayton, who chose a shaft location for the Alice mine. By 1877, a shaft had been sunk to 200-feet and a 20-stamp mill from Ophir Canyon, Utah, was erected on the site to treat free-milled ores. During the next two years the Walkers added White-Howell roasters for treating sulphide ores, thus introducing the Washoe Process, previously developed in the Nevada Comstock. Progress was also made during this period in the mining and milling of copper ore.
In the early 1870s, Deer Lodge banker and freighter William A. Clark, initiated his interest in Butte mining with the purchase of the Original, Colusa, Mountain Chief and Gambetta claims. By 1874 Clark began to develop these claims and shipped the copper ore by wagon to Corrine, Utah. From Utah the ore went by train to the Boston & Colorado Smelting Company in Black Hawk, Colorado. The cost of shipping and processing Butte ore had literally eliminated all profits and discouraged further mining. Upon Clark's request the Colorado smelter sent a man north to investigate Butte's smelting potential and by 1879 the Colorado & Montana Smelter was erected in Butte, encouraging rapid expansion of Butte copper mining. The opening of the Clark smelter in 1879 launched a promising economic future for Butte (Weed 1912).
The 1880s represented a pivotal decade in Butte mining history and in the creation of a world-class copper industry. In 1881 the Utah & Northern Railroad arrived at Butte and Marcus Daily purchased the Anaconda claim. In late December the Utah & Northern connected Butte with Ogden, Salt Lake City and all points served by the Union Pacific Railroad. Railroads which could economically ship heavy mining machinery and ore, proved essential to the base metal mining industry. Within a period of about a dozen years the Montana Central, the Montana Union and the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railroads joined the Utah Northern in serving the mining city. With the railroads in place all that Butte lacked to recover the vast quantities of silver and copper beneath its hills was a major infusion of capital for mining and ore processing.
In 1881, after selling his share of the profitable Alice silver mine, Marcus Daly purchased the Anaconda claim, located by a Civil War veteran Michael Hickey, in 1876. In acquiring this relatively undeveloped, but extremely rich, copper prospect, Daly sought the attention of investors in San Francisco. Capitalists such as George Hearst, James Ben Ali Haggin and Lloyd Tevis provided the funds necessary to build a major ore processing facility, without which the rich ore deposits had little value. Daly and his financial partners organized as the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM Co.), rapidly accumulated surrounding mining properties on the Butte hill and planned the construction of a major concentrating/smelting facility 26 miles west of Butte along Warm Springs Creek.
At the same time a frenzy of activity occurred in the district's silver mines. In 1881 a French corporation, the Lexington Mining Company, erected a 50-stamp mill and roasting ovens adjacent to their Walkerville mine. A London company erected a 90-stamp mill in 1886 to serve the Bluebird mine in the western sector or Independence sub-district. By 1887 the Butte district boasted a combined 300 stamps milling silver ore. Silver mining remained a vital part of the Butte economy until 1893 with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. While the repeal of the act completely devastated a number of Montana silver mining camps, Butte had its base metal production to fall back upon. Beginning in 1887 and continuing into the Twentieth Century, the Butte district surpassed the mines of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula in annual copper production, again increasing the demand for milling and smelting capacity in Butte (Weed 1912).
Within three decades Butte had grown from a marginal placer camp into a city with a vital mining industry of over 80 underground mines and half a dozen major mills and smelters. Butte's widely touted production in 1887 of over 78 million pounds of copper, an excellent conductor of electricity, was the result, in part, of unprecedented demands for the metal. Uses for copper increased dramatically with new electrical applications in communications, illumination and manufacturing. A symbiotic relationship developed between electricity and copper production: copper being a necessary ingredient in power generation and the transmission of the enormous amounts of electrical energy needed to mine and smelt copper ore. In 1893 the Boston & Montana Company located its new state-of-the-art smelter on the shores of the Missouri River at Great Falls in order to take advantage of available hydroelectric power (Weed 1912).
The increased demand for copper and the corresponding expansion of local mining activity resulted in growth of Butte's milling and smelting industry. In the following two decades the first successful production of a silver/copper matte occurred at the Parrot Smelter in 1881, located south of the Belmont mine. The Parrot also became the first to use the Bessemer process in 1884 and it continued to operate until 1899. Between 1881 and 1910 eight ore processing plants operated in Butte. Butte ore processors included the Butte Reduction Works, the Colusa (Montana Copper Company and Boston & Montana), the Butte & Boston and the Montana Ore Purchasing Company,and the Colorado Smelting & Mining Company, all located south and east of the city. The Colorado Smelting and Mining Company (later known as the Trenton Mining & Development Co.) began operating south of Silver Bow Creek in 1879. It was destroyed by fire in 1894 and rebuilt the following year (originally the Colorado & Montana Smelting Co.). The smelter and mill operated until 1910 when it was purchased by the ACM Co. (Smith 1953).
In 1885 the Butte & Boston Company began operations and quickly acquired the Silver Bow mill, located in East Butte along Silver Bow Creek. The Butte & Boston was absorbed by the Boston & Montana in 1895 and continued to operate until 1905 when it was bought by ACM. The Boston & Montana (the upper works) and Clark's Colusa (the lower works) were located adjacent to one another and both started operating in the early 1880s. The construction of a mechanical O'Hara roasting furnace in 1885 gave Clark's Colusa the prestige of being the first furnace of its type in Butte. Both of these facilities were closed by the Boston & Montana in 1893 after the construction of their major new smelter at Great Falls.
The Montana Ore Purchasing Company, owned and operated by F. Augustus Heinze, continued to process ore until 1902, when a major fire destroyed much of the facility. After years of courtroom battles Heinze finally succumbed and sold all of his properties to Amalgamated. In 1885 former employees of the Parrot Smelter reorganized the Butte Reduction Works, located just south of Silver Bow Creek in south Butte. In 1891, under pressure from the local citizenry, the company erected a 112-foot smokestack in an attempt to direct the sulphurous fumes emanating from the plant's various furnaces into the air above the valley. In 1902 a major fire destroyed most of the facility but it was promptly rebuilt and eventually sold to the ACM Co. in 1910. ACM did not operate the smelter although it did lease the zinc concentrator to W.A. Clark. Between 1928 and 1940 the Domestic Manganese & Development Co., a subsidiary of ACM, used the facility to produce manganese nodules. The Pittsmont (the East Butte Mining Co. after 1909) operated between 1902 and 1930 and represented the only local smelter owned and operated by business interests independent of the ACM Co. The Butte smelters continued to process large quantities of Butte ore, although the combined yearly output of all the independent Butte smelters could not match the output of Daly's Upper and Lower Works at Anaconda. The construction of the Washoe Works in Anaconda, the acquisition of the Boston & Montana smelter at Great Falls and the consolidation of smelting companies by Daly's corporate heirs during the first decade of the Twentieth Century, effectively brought an end to the smelting industry in Butte (Weed 1912; Historical Research Associates 1983; Laist n.d.).
On April 27, 1899, the Amalgamated Copper Company organized the properties of Daly's Anaconda Company with the assets of Standard Oil. Prior to this date a number of different companies and financial interests divided the rich spoils of the Butte hill. W. A. Clark had controlled the Moulton Mining and Reduction Works, the Colusa Smelter and the Colorado Smelting and Mining Company as well as other valuable mining properties, including the Original, the Stewart and the Gagnon. New York and Boston investors controlled the Boston and Montana, and the Boston and Boston Mining Companies. The Montana Copper Company, owned by Charles Meader and the Lewisohn Brothers, operated the Leonard, the Colusa, the Mountain View and the Badger State mines. F. Augustus Heinze created the Montana Ore Purchasing Company and operated the Rarus mine along with other successful properties.
The creation of Amalgamated in 1899 initiated a period of corporate warfare in Butte waged both underground in the mine workings and on the surface in the courtrooms and newspapers. After a bitter struggle between Heinze and Amalgamated resulted in a shutdown in 1903, paralyzing the entire Montana economy, Heinze succumbed, selling all of his mining interests to Amalgamated in 1906 for $12 million. A 20-year feud between W. A. Clark and Marcus Daly came to an end by 1910 with Amalgamated acquiring Clark's most significant holdings. ACM Co. acquisitions continued with the purchase of the Butte & Superior Mining Company in 1940. By 1950 ACM Co. controlled all mining operations on the Butte hill (Malone 1981; Weed 1912; Anderson 1985).
With its mines and rail connections, by the late 1910s Butte supported a population of nearly one hundred thousand. In the early Twentieth Century, Butte had more than twice the population of any other city in the five states of the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. The city's thriving commercial district, several dozen churches, public and parochial school systems, and theaters offering shows and stars of national prominence helped make Butte a metropolitan center without close rival. It was the largest city in the region bounded by Spokane, three hundred miles to the west; Salt Lake City, four hundred miles to the south; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, almost one thousand miles to the east (Martin and Shovers 1986).
In 1910 the Butte mining district produced over 284 million pounds of copper, making it the largest producer of copper in North America and second only to South Africa in world production of metals. That same year Butte miners uncovered over 10 million ounces of silver and 37,000 ounces of gold, as by-products of copper production. Butte was aptly known as "the richest hill on earth." A decade later, ACM developed a series of rich zinc and manganese mines, and devised processes for concentrating, smelting, and refining. Zinc production from the complex ore came from the heavy demand for World War I shell casings. With increased steel production during the 1920s, ACM began producing ferro-manganese nodules in 1928. During the 1940s facilities for processing manganese were moved to the Washoe Works in Anaconda (Weed 912; Laist 1945).
Between 1910 and 1927 ACM successfully consolidated all of the major Butte mines with the exception of the North Butte Mining Company properties (i.e., Speculator, and Granite Mountain), the Butte and Superior mines, and the East Butte Copper Company operations. ACM linked together its 22 Butte shafts through a series of underground and above ground connections. Tunnels and drifts tied together the workings of mines at either end of the three-mile wide district, making for more efficient hoisting, ventilation and pumping. By 1927 ore was hoisted through a dozen shafts with the most efficient hoisting engines and tallest headframes. Some historic hoisting shafts became air shafts while connections between mines increased the efficiency of the mechanical ventilation system installed by ACM after 1914 (Daly 1929).
ACM centralized individual systems with the construction of the High Ore Pumping Plant in 1902. At a cost of $350,268, ACM constructed three pumping stations on a single drain level. These large pumps were quintuplex, vertical plunger types. Centrifugal pumps could not be used because of the acidic mine water; instead bronze, lead or wood-lined pumps, drain lines and pipelines were used. The Company also protected hoist ropes, cages, skips, mine cars, drills, and all air and water lines. By 1923 all of ACM's main shafts were connected on the 2800-foot level to channel the mine water to the pumping stations located at that level. These electric pumps operated day and night to remove water from the Butte mines and to lift it to a precipitation plant on the surface (Piper 1987; Young 1978; ACM Company Records 1902-1903; Daly 1929).
Water from the upper levels of the Butte mines contained copper. Commercial values in the water first appeared after the waste rock was exposed to the air and then came into contact with the water, making soluble the copper salts. The profitability of this acidic mine water was first apparent after a fire at the St. Lawrence mine and its subsequent flooding in November of 1889. The mine water (which was 0.75 percent copper) was pumped out through a Mr. Miller's yard which contained piles of scrap iron and old tin cans. The copper salts readily precipitated out onto the metal. A year later William Ledford acquired a lease on the St. Lawrence water and proceeded to build a 40-foot wooden flume filled with scrap iron to trap the copper precipitate. Ledford then sold the rich precipitate to the Colorado and Parrot smelters. When Ledford's lease expired, ACM pumped mine water from the High Ore Pumping Plant to a precipitation plant of its own. This plant operated until 1901 when it was enlarged to handle precipitate from all the Company mines. The new plant received water pumped from the 300-foot level of the St. Lawrence and Anaconda mines, where it was gravity fed down through a tunnel and into precipitation flumes at a velocity of 1,200 gallons/minute. From there it fell into settling tanks and was then removed to drying vats. This plant, the largest of its type in the United States, produced 2,200,000 pounds of pure copper annually. There were two other small plants operating on the hill at the same time (Lakes 1900; Febles 1914).
Even while ACM dominated production and processing of ore on the Butte hill after 1910, there are isolated examples of independent experiments with mineral processing. In 1912 Patrick Clark of the Bullwhacker Company built a 50-ton copper leaching plant in the eastern part of the district, just below the East Ridge in the vicinity of the Columbia Gardens. This early experiment with copper leaching and electrolytic recovery of the copper in solution actually predated work on a similar process developed at the ACM's Washoe Works in Anaconda and successfully recovered over 50,000 pounds of fine copper. These early efforts at hydrometallurgy proved technically successful but not cost-effective and in 1914 financial problems closed the plant (Smith 1953).
ACM's prominence as a world-class copper producer would not have occurred without access to large quantities of inexpensive hydroelectric power ($35/horsepower/year compared to $125 horsepower/year for steam power). The mining operations in Butte and the smelting and refining that occurred in Anaconda and Great Falls profited greatly from John D. Ryan's business ventures in electrical power generation. Ryan served as the president of the ACM Co. from 1909 to 1933 and was on the Board of Directors of Montana Power. Consolidating independent power companies under the Montana Power Company, Ryan linked together eleven power plants and constructed over 1,300 miles of high voltage transmission lines. Ryan used hydroelectric facilities at Madison River Plants 1 and 2, Canyon Ferry Dam, Hauser Lake Dam, the Rainbow Falls Plant and the Black Eagle Plant to meet the 24,000 kilowatt needs of the Butte mines and the 20,000 kilowatts of power necessary to operate ACM smelters at Anaconda and Great Falls (Hebgen 1914).
By 1910 ACM decided to put electricity to work to power its ore-hauling shortline between Butte and Anaconda. In 1911 the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific (B.A. & P.) purchased the equipment necessary to transform its system from steam to electricity. The 2400-volt DC system manufactured by General Electric eliminated the costly maintenance of steam locomotives while providing faster, more efficient service. The B.A. & P. high-voltage system was unique among American electric railroads with a record 13,700 tons of ore hauled daily and over five million tons a year. By 1914 the B.A. & P. system included over 36 miles of track (Fiege 1987; Hebgen 1914).
Spurs of the B.A. & P. mainline tied all the ACM mines on the Butte hill to company smelting facilities in Anaconda and to the various consolidated shops on the hill. Between 1880 and 1910 each mine had their own machine, blacksmith, carpentry and rope repair shops. After 1910 ACM consolidated a number of these functions in singular locations. Dull drill steels were sharpened and wire rope repaired at the Diamond shop. With the opening of the Kelley shaft in the late 1940s, most blacksmithing and machine repair occurred at a shop adjacent to the Kelley. Small blacksmith's shops and carpenter's shops at each mine handled immediate needs well into the Twentieth century. The B.A. & P. hauled ore and supplies to company mines daily (Piper 1987).
ACM produced compressed air to operate hoisting engines and rock drills at three separate locations, the Leonard, the Bell, and the largest at High Ore, replacing smaller compressors at individual mines. The central compressor plant at the High Ore contained six 1,200-horsepower electric motors. Twelve-inch steel pipes carried compressed air to steel receiving tanks located at each mine. Compressed air was stored for use in the event of a breakdown at the central plant. A single mine hoist could operate for one hour on stored air. The tanks also helped regulate the air flow with demand. ACM constructed a 500,000 gallon water tank below the High Ore plant to maintain a constant pressure of 90 pounds/square inch throughout the system. By 1922 the High Ore compressor plant served 22 ACM mines, requiring a coordinated hoisting schedule to avoid demand overloads within the district-wide system (Hebgen 1914; Gillie 1914; Nordberg 1914).
Beginning in 1898 with the construction the first steel headframe at the Diamond mine, and the installation of the earliest first-motion duplex hoist (powered by compressed air) in 1906, separate technologies combined to make possible ever deeper mines capable of hoisting ever larger amounts of ore daily. Another advantage to the steel headframe was its portability, aptly demonstrated by ACM with its movement of major headframes from one company mine to another (Stevens 1906).
The use of electric motors for raising ore represented a quantum jump in ore hoisting technology. The North Butte Mining Company in 1914 installed an electric hoist at the Granite Mountain mine. The Wellman-Seaver-Morgan direct-connected, 550-volt D.C. motor/generator electric hoist installed at the Granite Mountain was reputed to be one of the fastest in the United States, capable of lifting 200 tons or ore per hour from a depth of 4,000 feet. Electric hoisting offered numerous advantages over compressed air: greater efficiency, speed, safety, while being cleaner, easier to operate and simpler to maintain. However, an inventory of hoisting operations in Butte mines in 1923 indicated that of the 33 main shafts, 17 still operated compressed air hoists, 10 steam and only six electric. ACM remained reluctant to abandon its considerable investment in its elaborate compressed air system. ACM did not convert its largest mines, the Badger State, the Belmont and the Mountain Con, to electric hoisting until 1927 (Hooper 1984).
The availability of electricity from hydroelectric facilities around the state had a dramatic effect on several other aspects of Butte mining: ventilation and tramming. Prior to 1918 all of the mines on the Butte hill relied solely on natural convection for cooling the deep drifts and raises. The consolidation of individual mining properties by ACM prompted a district wide ventilation scheme using large, reversible electric fans and miles of flexible canvas tubing which considerably improved underground working conditions. With consolidation under a single company, crosscuts between neighboring mines were also opened, facilitating the flow of air for improved ventilation. Electricity also replaced ACM's vast stable of mules, used for tramming ore from the stopes to the shaft, with electric locomotives. By 1923 ACM retired all but two of its mules and replaced them with a battalion of 200 four-ton locomotives (Daly 1926, 1929; Gillie 1914).
Only 16 years after Marcus Daly's death in 1900, ACM had grown into a multi-national corporation with subsidiaries in mining, mineral processing and fabrication. During his first eight years at the helm of ACM, John Ryan acquired a lead-copper smelter at Toole, Utah; a lead refinery in East Chicago; a large copper mine in Cananea, Mexico; and the Potrerillos copper mine in Chile. In 1922 ACM purchased American Brass Company, the nation's largest brass fabricator and a major consumer of copper and zinc. That same year ACM sought and acquired an additional source of copper ore with the purchase of the rich Chuquicamata mine in Chile. At the same time ACM corporate expansion accrued an enormous debt burden for the company, indirectly affecting the Butte operations (Navin 1978).
With John Ryan's death in 1933 ACM came under the direction of Butte native, Con Kelley. Between 1916 and 1940 ACM expanded zinc production at the Badger and the Anselmo and manganese mining at the Emma. During the same time, improvements were made in hoisting efficiency and ventilation, but Butte's overall output remained stagnant and labor costs remained high. The major underground mines, reaching a depth of 4,000 feet, encountered an increasingly lower grade ore. Some of Butte's older shafts were abandoned and more efficient mining techniques pursued. In 1947 ACM initiated the Kelley Greater Butte Project, a major block-caving operation directed from a new concrete-lined shaft in Dublin Gulch, to be known as the Kelley shaft. Block-caving constituted a non-selective underground mining technique developed for low-grade copper ores. Upon completion in 1947, the Kelley became the most productive hoisting shaft in America, capable of bringing four times more ore to the surface than either the Badger or Mountain Con, previously Butte's most productive hoisting operations. While daily production levels eventually reached 15,000 tons, the poor grade of ore required an even more radical departure from traditional Butte mining methods (Navin 1978; Corbett 1984).
The Berkeley Pit, started in July 1955 with the extraction of 17,000 tons of ore per day, represented the most dramatic change in mining methods seen in Butte during the district's eighty-year history. A very visible result of the development of the Berkeley Pit was the destruction of more than a dozen Butte mine yards including the Anaconda, St. Lawrence, the Neversweat, the Rarus, the Leonard and the Berkeley. The Berkeley Pit rapidly became recognized as the largest truck-operated pit mine in the nation. Behemoth ore trucks, ranging in size from 25 to 150-ton capacity, carried ore to the nearby Weed Concentrator which crushed and concentrated the low-grade copper ore. This new mining technique also produced a sub-milling grade ore in which copper could be removed using a process called dump leaching, further extending the life of the Berkeley Pit. The company also explored zinc production at the Missoula and Ryan shafts to the west and at the Badger on the east side. Even though ACM abandoned its block-caving operation in the Kelley in 1961, the company continued to mine copper in the deep levels of the Mountain Con and the Stewart by hoisting through the Kelley shaft. In 1973 Anaconda halted all underground mining, placing all hope for the future in pit mining (Corbett 1984).
The origins of ACM's ultimate demise in 1983, signalled by the closure of all mining operations in Butte, had its roots in corporate folly during the 1960s. With the company's acquisition of mines in South America after 1930 there developed a growing importance for the company's mines and smelters in Chile. During the 1960s ACM chose to ignore a popular move towards the nationalization of foreign-owned industry in Chile and were taken by surprise by the expropriation of all ACM properties during Salvadore Allende's administration of the early 1970s. These circumstances created an enormous financial crisis for ACM ending with the sale of all corporate assets to the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in 1977. Under ARCO's direction, work continued in the Berkeley Pit, as well as exploratory work in the Kelley, however it was all abruptly halted in 1979. In 1980 ARCO suspended all smelting activities in Anaconda and Great Falls, which was followed closely by a closure of the Berkeley Pit in 1982. The Berkeley Pit, producing 50,000 tons of ore per day at the end, could not on its own overcome shrinking world markets and foreign competition with their rich ore reserves and labor at one-tenth the cost of American labor. On June 30, 1983 ARCO suspended all mining in Butte (Navin 1978; Corbett 1984).
In 1986 Washington Construction of Missoula, Montana reconstituted the Anaconda Company under the name of Montana Resources, Inc. and reopened the East Berkeley Pit for copper and molybdenum production. In 1987 an Australian investor purchased a number of the historic Butte underground mines from Montana Resources under the corporate name New Butte Mining, promising to re-explore the Butte underground for silver and lead. New Butte Mining reopened the Lexington Tunnel between the Syndicate Pit and the Lexington shaft, as well as opening a new adit on the Chief Joseph claim, west of the Badger shaft. In 1993 New Butte Mining ended its underground operations (Business Week 1984; Shovers 1988).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
Sahinen (1935) states that the district "includes all that area surrounding and directly tributary to Butte, and includes the organized districts of Independence and Summit Valley and the Lost Child (Yankee Doodle) and Brown's Gulch.
Lyden (1948) places the Summit Valley mining district within the city limits of Butte, and includes Missoula, Buffalo, Town and Parrot Gulches. Lyden locates Brown's Gulch as an intermittent tributary of Silver Bow Creek that joins it from the north about two miles west of Silver Bow. Yankee Doodle Creek is a headwater tributary of Silver Bow Creek, draining the part of Anaconda (Butte) Hill that lies west and north of the Berkeley Pit.
Dingman (1932) locates the Independence district as southwest of Butte along Silver Bow Creek, and the Lost Child district as four miles north of Butte along Yankee Doodle Creek. Significant drainages include Silver Bow Creek, Oro Fino Gulch and Rocker Creek.
Figure 1 shows the large Butte district as defined by the AMRB (1994) with the historic Butte district shown which includes the Independence, Summit Valley and Lost Child sub-districts.
HISTORIES OF SELECTED MINES
With 80 profitable, producing mines and at least a dozen mills and smelters, no description can easily encompass the mine on Butte hill. Among those most prominent, but not described below are the Anaconda, Ancelmo, Badger, Bell, Belmont, Bluebird, Buffalo, Colorado, Colusa, Diamond, Gagnon, Gambetta, Granite Mountain, Hibernia, High Ore, Kelly Shaft (ACM), Leonard, Mountain Chief, Neversweat, Original, Orphan Boy, Pennsylvania, Rarus, Speculator, St. Lawrence amongst many others. Open pits such as the Berkeley, Syndicate, Alice and East Pit have been opened since the 1950s.
Located west of Missoula Gulch, southwest of Butte's School of Mines, the Brittannia mine was registered in the Independence sub-district. The Brittannia is immediately north of Interstate 90 just west of Butte. When examined in 1991, the mine consisted of a waste dump, waste pile, concrete and wood foundations.
Work on the Brittannia began in April of 1892. A 2-compartment shaft was sunk with levels at 100 and 150 feet. While a Knowles Sinking Pump removed water, 15 men worked under ground. Using a 7/8 inch rope attached to a bucket ore was removed to be processed at the Butte Sampling Works. The Brittannia claim was patented by Lee Mantle in July of 1883 (Hogan 1892).
The mine was reopened in 1897 and steady work begun. Development financed by owners in Milwaukee uncovered a pocket of ore that assayed $8 gold and 100 ounces silver per ton. In 1900, the shaft was extended 125 feet to the 250-foot level by G. R. Nickey & Co. who owned partial interest in the mine. The company employed 15 men underground, two topmen and two engineers. A Ledgerwood hoisting engine was used to raise a single-deck cage and a Sergeant air compressor provided air for up to five drills. The Brittannia mine had three exits, an air shaft 250 feet west of the shaft and a raise 300 feet east of the shaft. In April 1898, the company declared $42,000 dividend for its stockholders. With 40 men working, the shaft was down 275 feet and the 300-foot level was begun. On this new level a three-foot ore body was discovered in September. It assayed $100 per ton in gold and silver (Byrne 1901; Western Mining World 1900).
The mine peaked in production in 1902 when the Milwaukee Mining Co. operated the mine with a crew of 30 men underground, sinking the shaft to 400 feet. Assays from a crosscut resulted in 341 ounces silver, $51 gold per ton and 2 percent copper. The first level of the mine had 800 feet of drifts, the second 900 feet of drifts and the third and additional 800 feet of drifts. During the lifetime of the operation, an estimated 750,000 ounces of silver were recovered from the Brittannia (Byrne 1902; W M W 1902).
The Colorado Smelter is located south of Silver Bow Creek on the west side of Butte. The tailings from the smelter's operation are adjacent to the north side of Interstate 15/90 while the site of smelter is just south of the interstate and east of the small community of Williamsburg. All that remains of the smelter's operation is a large area (approximately 50 acres) of tailings left from the smelter's activities around the turn of the century, readily visible on the north side of the Interstate.
The early development of copper mining in the Butte district was handicapped by the lack of local smelters. Copper ore had to be hauled 400 miles in wagons to Corinne, Utah, and then sent by rail to various buyers throughout the country. In 1872, William A. Clark, a Deer Lodge trader and banker, moved to Butte and quickly acquired the Original, Colusa, Mountain Chief, and Gambetta claims. Clark then sent 150 tons of high-grade copper ore in 1877 to the Boston and Colorado Smelting Company in Black Hawk, Colorado. The results of the experiment were so intriguing that Nathaniel P. Hill, owner of the Colorado firm, sent copper smelting expert Henry Williams to Butte to evaluate the situation. Williams made a highly favorable report which resulted in the creation of the Colorado and Montana Smelting Company on June 1, 1879. Williams became the manager of the company with Hill as president, Clark as vice president and H. P. Wolcott as secretary and treasurer. A smelter site on the south side of Silver Bow Creek was purchased from the Gagnon Company (Weed 1912; Raymer 1930; Smith 1953; Wolle 1963; Montana Secretary of State Corporations records).
A smelter previously built on the site by R. K. Williams had failed due to defective refractory brick in the furnace. This plant was removed and the new reduction works was built by Julian Smith, who had built the Alice mill. Williamsburg, undoubtedly named after Henry Williams, was built just west of the smelter. The plant went into operation in August of 1879 with a 12 ton per day capacity (Kemp 1904; GLO records; Raymer 1930; Smith 1953; Ostberg 1972).
The company leased the Fredonia, Nettie, and Selfrising mines and used their manganiferous silver ores as flux to produce a copper matte that assayed about 60 per cent copper and 700 to 800 ounces of silver per ton. The plant capacity increased to 60 tons of matte per day but averaged about 50 tons. Sixty men ran the smelter night and day, using 25,000 cords of wood to keep the furnaces burning. The matte was ground, sacked and shipped to the Black Hawk smelter in Colorado for final treatment. The local processing greatly reduced transportation costs and led to a rapid increase in copper production throughout the Butte district. In 1887 the Colorado Smelter reduced 17,000 tons of ore into 1,200 tons of matte worth $803,000 in silver, copper and gold (Butte Daily Miner 1887-1888; Butte Inter Mountain 1887; Smith 1953; Wolle 1963; Malone 1981).
Butte's copper mining industry was still limited by the lack of a railroad connection but this deficiency was ended on December 21, 1881, when the Utah Northern reached Butte. The effect of the coming of the railroads and the building of numerous smelters in Butte was immediate. By 1898, Butte produced 41 percent of the world's supply of copper (Butte Inter Mountain 1887; Weed 1912; Wolle 1963).
The Colorado and Montana Smelting Company was reorganized in 1883 as the Colorado Smelting and Mining Company. The company's mines in Butte included the Gagnon, Original Butte, Caledonia, Nettie, Hibernia, and Burlington. The principal producer was the Gagnon which was particularly rich in silver and gold and the matte produced at the smelter was primarily for its values in precious metals rather than for the copper. Following the reorganization, the smelter was enlarged with the installation of Bruckner roasters in 1889 and an R. Pearce single-deck turret furnace in 1892. Two years later an R. Pearce double-deck turret roaster was added and Richard Pearce, the inventor of the roasters, joined the company (Kemp 1904; Butte City Illustrated 1890-1891; Raymer 1930; Smith 1953; Wolle 1963).
A fire in 1894 nearly destroyed the smelter but it was immediately rebuilt and expansion of the plant's productive capacity continued with the addition in 1901 of a six-deck turret furnace designed by R. F. Pearce [the son of Richard Pearce]. The matting reverberatories also increased in size so that by 1902 the plant had four single-deck turret furnaces, five double-deck turret furnaces and one six-deck turret roasting furnace. Three other reverberatory furnaces produced the final copper matte (Smith 1953).
On April 27, 1899, the Amalgamated Copper Company was organized by Henry H. Rogers and his partner, William Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company. The trust sought to consolidate the copper industry and over the next few years the new holding corporation acquired, or gained controlling interests, in the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Colorado Mining and Smelting Company, Parrott Silver and Copper Company, Washoe Copper Company, Butte and Boston Consolidated Mining Company, and the Boston and Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company. Marcus Daly, who headed Amalgamated, began work on the Washoe Smelter in Anaconda in 1900 so as to concentrate the company's smelting operations into one large efficient operation. When the new smelter went into operation in 1902 it was the largest copper smelter in the world, producing one fourth of all the copper in the United States and 15 per cent of the world's supply. The smelter began with a capacity to process 5,000 tons of ore per day but this was rapidly expanded to over 12,500 tons per day. As the Washoe's capacity increased, the company's smaller smelters in Butte were closed down, including the Colorado Smelter in 1904 or 1905 (Weed 1912; Raymer 1930; Smith 1953; Abbott 1959; Wolle 1963; Malone 1981).
The Corra was patented by William H. Young and Hezukiah Roudebush on January 16, 1882. Operated by the Corra-Rock Island Mining Company (a property of the Montana Ore Purchasing Company) and the Red Metal Mining Company, between 1899 and 1910, produced approximately 8.25 million pounds of copper and 110,000 ounces of silver. In 1902, 200 miners extracted copper/silver ore from the Corra from two separate shafts. The West Corra (Corra #2) extended 900 feet while the East Corra (Corra #1) reached the 1500-foot level, 700 feet of which were sunk in 1902. The 25 topmen and 3 engineers on surface employed a large Fraser & Chalmers engine for hoisting at the East Corra and a somewhat smaller engine at the West Corra. By 1906, the work force at the Corra increased by 110 men and the depth of the the East Corra extended to 2,200 feet, connecting to the Diamond shaft at the 2,000-foot level. The East Corra, a 3-compartment shaft from the 800-foot level down, was accessed from the surface using a Webster, Camp & Lane hoist pulling two double-deck cages and 6-ton skips. The power plant at the Corra included an Ingersoll Compressor capable of operating 40 drills. In 1910, ACM acquired the Corra along with numerous copper mines in the central part of the Butte district (GCM 1989; Gray 1991).
When observed in 1991, the Corra #1 was composed of several waste rock dumps, compressor line remnants, wood debris, abandoned railroads and a bulkheaded shaft. The concrete foundations of a fan housing, hoist house, shops and offices were also observed (Gray 1991).
East Gray Rock Mine
The East Gray Rock claim was patented by Dennis Leary in January of 1880. The mine was initially owned by Davis and Talbot, but the five-year old shaft was purchased by the Butte & Boston Company in 1887. The mine was connected to the Gray Rock mine at the 400-foot level for economic reasons and ore was hoisted through the East Gray Rock using a Chicago Iron Works engine; the connection also provided ventilation for both mines. Work progressed rapidly at the mine; by 1891 the shaft extended to the 800-foot level with 38 men working underground and 6 men on top. The 3-compartment shaft could accommodate two double-deck cages. Miners in this copper/silver mine drove connections on two levels to the Bell shaft on the east and to the Penrose on the west. The next year, the shaft was down to 900 feet and was headed for 1,000. In 1894, the shaft exceeded 1,200 feet with 60 men working underground and 14 on top. A heavier cable was put to use and in 1897 a large boiler and hoist installed. Work slowed in 1898; the mine employed only 38 men underground, 6 on top, 3 engineers and a foreman. The double deck cages were lowered to the new depth of 1,400 feet. Three exits were established: the two Gray Rock shafts and a new connection with the Wild Bill to the North (Gray 1991).
Production increased again in 1899. The shaft was lowered to 1,600 feet and a new electrical flash signal system was installed. Underground 110 men labored with 17 top men and 3 engineers. By 1900, the crew at the mine increased to 130 miners, 45 topmen and 3 engineers. A Knowles station pump at the lowest level drained the mine and an 18 drill Norberg air compressor was installed. By 1906, the crew at the East Gray Rock had grown to 245 men underground and 35 topmen. The air compressor was increased in capacity to 28 drills. In 1910, ACM acquired the mine along with most of the major copper/silver mines nearby as part of a major program of consolidation. Prior to consolidation, production levels at the East Gray Rock reached over 137 million pounds of copper and over 7 million ounces of silver, making it one of Butte's more productive copper mines (Montana Inspector of Mines Report 1889; 1900; Gidel 1939).
In 1991, the East Gray Rock was composed of several waste rock dumps, compressor line remnants, wood debris, abandoned railroads and a bulkheaded shaft (Gray 1991).
The Green Mountain mine, located between the Mountain Consolidated (Mountain Con) mine and the Bell-Diamond along the brow of the Butte hill in Centerville, became a property of ACM in 1889 and during its first year of operation reached a depth of 400 feet. This gold and silver mine had a three-compartment shaft served by a Dickson steam hoist. Three hundred fifty men worked the Green Mountain in 1890, but the number of miners dropped to 25 in 1893; and then rose to 355 in 1897 when the shaft reached the depth of 1,600 feet. The next year, 1898, miners at the Green Mountain advanced the shaft another 500 feet, making the Green Mountain the deepest vertical shaft in Montana at 2,100 feet. By 1895, the Green Mountain also claimed the largest hoisting engine in Montana, a 28 x 72 Corliss that hoisted a three-deck cage. In 1893, the underground workings of the Green Mountain connected with the Wake Up Jim on the 400 and 800-foot levels and with the Mountain Consolidated at levels between 500 and 800-foot levels. In 1900, the surface operations included a wood headframe and a boiler house with a 135-foot stack. The Green Mountain was served by a spur line of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1900 the mine operated day and night, but by 1916, the mine was reduced to a single shift. In 1916, the surface plant included the hoist , change and ventilator houses. By 1954, a fan housing stood over the Green Mountain shaft to provide ventilation for the Mountain Con (Inspector of Mines 1889 -1902; Sanborn 1900; 1916).
The Lexington mine covers a large area near the top of Butte hill on both sides of Main Street between Centerville and Walkerville. The major features remaining at the Lexington include the steel headframe over the shaft, the hoist house, and a steel idler tower. South of the hoist house, a large concrete foundation is connected to the timber crib wall's north end. Other elements of the mineyard include mine car tracks , several concrete floors and foundations west of the headframe, chutes, stairways, and tailings piles.
The Lexington mine was one of the silver mines which established Butte as a rich silver producer in the late 1870s through the 1880s. The Lexington and Alice mines, both located in Walkerville at the top of Butte hill, attracted some of the earliest outside investors to Butte and pioneered large-scale industrial mining in the district.
Andrew J. Davis, an early Butte capitalist, did the first major development at the Lexington. Although two men, Heffner and McCann, established the first claim on the Lexington lode in 1865, little development followed. Davis reportedly acquired the group of Lexington claims in exchange for a horse in the early 1870s. In 1876 he assumed full control of the Hendrix mill on East Broadway near Arizona Street, and rebuilt it to work ore from the Lexington. Crushing began in February 1877. After Davis cut wages for unskilled miners at the Lexington in June 1878, the workers began the first labor strike in Butte. The miners won a restoration of full pay and formed the Butte Workingmen's Union, the predecessor of several powerful labor organizations. Davis sold the mine after four years of operation at a large profit (MacKnight 1892; Malone 1981; Raymer 1930).
The Societe Anonyme des Mines de Lexington, a French group of investors, purchased the Lexington Mine in August of 1881. Davis received one million dollars in cash and two million dollars in preferred stock. The new owners spent more money to further develop their property. By 1884, a new 60-stamp mill about 500 feet southwest of the mine was crushing the ore. At the mine a large wood building enclosed the boilers, hoist engine, and shaft opening. Several tramways radiated out from this structure. Other buildings included separate machine and forge shops, and across the street, the company's office. This brick structure also had dwelling space in it. In 1889, the Lexington's 1,400-foot shaft was the deepest in Montana; the mine included tunnels up to one mile long. However, signs of trouble were apparent. Although silver mining suffered a catastrophic drop in demand in 1893, some decline had occurred by the end of the 1880s. Employment at the Lexington fell from 225 workers in 1888 to 140 in 1890 and only 38 in 1891 (Raymer 1930; Sanborn 1888 - 1891; Inspector of Mines 1890 -1891b.)
In October 1893 the United States government repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which ended the use of silver in the country's monetary policy. The Lexington Company paid its last dividends in July. At the mine, the lower levels (down to 1,500 feet) were abandoned, the pumps removed, and the water was allowed to rise to 800 feet below the surface. The stamp mill closed in 1893 and never operated again. In 1897, only fourteen miners and an engineer at the surface worked the mine, excavating only above the 500-foot level. After the turn of the century, Louis Girard mined small quantities of silver from the upper levels. Major activity resumed in 1905 when F. Augustus Heinze leased the Lexington from its French owners (Malone 1981; Raymer 1930; Inspector of Mines 1898; Stevens 1905).
F. Augustus Heinze, one of the Butte "Copper Kings," operated the Lexington Mine for less than a decade. In April of 1905, he organized the La France Copper Company to lease the Lexington from its owner, Georges de la Bouglise, the original vice president of the Societe Anonyme des Mines de Lexington. Within a year, retimbering and pumping to remove water from the middle and lower portions of the mine began. By April of 1906, the Lexington was producing 300 tons of ore per day, including silver, gold, lead, zinc and copper. Processing of the ore occurred at the nearby Basin Reduction Works that Heinze had leased. Heinze had a new plant built near the mine in 1907 which used a dusty dry magnetic separation process. The city of Walkerville sued to close the mill. A court agreed and the mill never operated again. Mining continued in an irregular manner. Maximum daily ore production in 1907 averaged only half that of the year before. The mine was sold for back taxes in 1908, but was recovered by Heinze soon after. New equipment filled the mineyard and the stamp mill built in the 1880s was demolished. Despite improvements and innovation, the La France Copper Company failed and in 1913, it sold the Lexington Mine to the Atlantic Mines Company (part of the Amalgamated/Anaconda corporate system) for $1,003,000 (Stevens 1905; 1906; 1908; 1911; Weed 1914; Leeson 1885).
Under the control of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, the Lexington mine became a major zinc producer. Although found among the mine's ores before, zinc had not been a primary product. The Atlantic Mines Company dissolved in May 1916 and ACM assumed full control of the Lexington six months later. At this time the mineyard consisted of a wooden headframe, separate buildings for the boilers, hoisting engine, repair shops, and other functions; most were of wood frame with wood or iron siding (Sanborn 1916).
ACM eventually replaced the wooden headframe with one of steel and built a new hoist house, with metal frame and siding. The boom period of World War I kept the mines of Butte, including the Lexington, busy. As soon as the war ended, however, metal demand and prices dropped and mining in Butte began a decline which lasted into the 1980s. The Lexington Mine was one of those effected soon after the war. It was idle through most of the 1920s and 1930s. The Second World War brought a renewal of activity which led to resumed mining at the Lexington and other idled mines. At the Lexington, operations continued into the 1950s, closing permanently in the middle of that decade (Weed 1918; Sanborn 1916; 1916-1954; Anaconda 1920-1942; Butte Historical Society 1985).
Mountain Consolidated Mine
The Mountain Consolidated Mine covers a large area near the top of Butte hill in the Centerville residential area east of Main Street. Known locally as the Mountain Con, the mine has a main hoist house at the top of the site area with the headframe, storage shed, and transfer shed below it. Down the hill from the headframe are the ruins of three ore bins which were knocked over after the mine was closed.
The Anaconda Copper Mining Company erected the steel headframe between 1916 and 1927. The 129.5-foot headframe consists of I-beams riveted together with batten plates and sitting on concrete footings. It was designed for the automatic dumping of seven-ton skips. In hoisting ore, the skips were suspended beneath a single-deck cage. Four deck cages could be utilized for moving up to 32 men at a time. The Mountain Con was a three and one-half compartment shaft with three twelve-foot sheave wheels atop the structure and an ore-loading bin off the front of the headframe.
The hoist house, erected sometime between 1916 and 1927, was located on top of the brow of the hill to utilize more stable ground. The Allis Chalmers main hoist, installed in 1927, was designed to bring men and ore from the 5300-foot level. The original hoist house sat down the hill closer to the headframe.
The cooling tower for the Mountain Con shaft is located southeast of the headframe. The refrigeration system was developed the 1930s. This evaporative cooling system included an elaborate network of pipes, cooling coils, fans and a cooling tower to carry cooled water (later brine) from the surface to the underground to cool the air in the various workings. Because the Mountain Con shaft reached a depth of over 4,000 feet by the 1930s - - a mechanical ventilation system was required to make underground temperatures tolerable.
The transformer house was to the south-southeast of the headframe. Power lines brought alternating current at 2,200 volts into the mineyard to be stepped down to 440 volts DC for use underground. This structure housed the transformers for this work. A small one-story rectangular powerhouse south-southwest of the headframe.
The ice house foundation is located adjacent to the powerhouse. The Anaconda Company used large quantities of ice to cool drinking water for those working underground. Between the hoist house and the headframe stand three sets of idler towers constructed of riveted angle sections that were designed to keep the wire rope taut between the hoisting drum and the sheave wheel at the top of the headframe. Four large steel ore bins once stood below the headframe. The B.A. & P. railroad ran cars below these bins where cars were loaded with ore for the concentrator and smelter in Anaconda.
The Mountain Con was active longer than almost all other Butte mines and reached the greatest depth. One of the earliest operations of Marcus Daly's Anaconda Mining Company, work at the mine began by 1886. Three years later, with a three-compartment shaft 550 feet deep, the mine's work force of 350 men pulled copper and silver ores from underground. The flat pitch of the large vein gave the Mountain Con the heaviest hanging wall in the district's mines. In 1892, with the main shaft 760 feet deep, a second shaft was started southwest of the the first. The No. 2 shaft was enclosed in a large wooden building which also included the hoisting engine. The mineyard also included, in 1900, a large boiler house, a rope house (for repairing cables), and wooden tramways which carried the ore from the hoisting works to bins. With up to 464 men working underground and 68 more on the surface, No. 1 and No. 2 shafts reached depths of over 2,000 and 1,600 feet, respectively, by 1900 (Inspector of Mines 1890 - 1899; Sanborn 1900).
The early Twentieth century saw continued activity at the Mountain Con Mine. The No.1 shaft reached a depth of 2,200 feet in 1902 and 2,500 feet ten years later. The No. 2 shaft was closed in about 1902. The mine remained a large employer - - over 400 people worked underground and on top in 1912. In 1918 the Anaconda Company replaced the steam hoist with a Nordberg engine, which used compressed air (Inspector of Mines 1903; 1913; Sanborn 1916; Anaconda 1918).
Operating into the 1970s, the Mountain Con was one of the last active underground copper mines in Butte. By mid-century, the mineyard consisted of a steel headframe, a hoist house, a change house, large steel ore bins, and frame buildings. Southeast of the headframe, fan housings helped ventilate the deep workings. In the mid-1930s, with the main shaft about 4,000 feet deep, the Anaconda Company installed an extensive air-conditioning system at the lower levels. The Mountain Con was one of the few shaft mines to remain open when open-pit operations began in 1955. In 1964, the main shaft of the Mountain Con reached the depth of 5,293 feet. By this time, some of the ore from the Mountain Con, especially from the deep workings, was hoisted up the Kelley mine shaft. This continued until 1973, when all underground mining in Butte ceased (Sanborn 1916-54, Mines Register 1937, Anaconda 1964, Corbett 1984).
The Orphan Girl mine site has been developed as the World Mining Museum. Thousands of mining artifacts surround the mine as part of the Museum's extensive collections. Today, the mine remains consist of four features: a headframe, a relocated steam hoist, a hoist house and a railroad. The mine shaft is 3,000 feet deep and has a concrete bulkhead near the surface supported by a wooden frame.
The Orphan Girl mine was a major silver and zinc producer in Butte from the late 1880s until 1956 when it was finally closed by the ACM Co. The mine derived its name from its isolation from the other major mining properties in Butte. On September 13, 1879, Charles X. Larabie, Demos McFarland, Salton Cameron and Marcus Daly patented the Orphan Girl lode. Before 1896 the Moffat Brothers took $200,000 from the property. The gold/silver ore was taken to the Colorado Smelter where it returned $18 per ton. In 1916 the mine was acquired by the ACM Co. and a rich vein of zinc/silver/lead ore was discovered. However, the mine was allowed to fill with water during a lengthy legal dispute with the Daly Estate over mine ownership. In the early 1920s, ACM was finally able to pump out the underground and set to sinking the shaft to the 1,700-foot level. In 1925, ACM connected the Orphan Girl underground to the mile-distant Anselmo mine by way of a tunnel. ACM also upgraded the mine by relocating the steel headframe from the Colorado mine and the electric hoist from the Hibernia (Chaleen et al. 1981).
Between 1925 and 1933, the Orphan Girl again remained idle. ACM was pulling all the zinc ore it needed out of their Elm Orlu mine. The Orphan Girl’s 200 million tons of zinc ore were held in reserve for when the Elm Orlu played out. In 1933 the hoisting engine began pulling rich silver/zinc ore to the surface. ACM upgraded the Orphan Girl headframe and hoist in 1940 when it and the Elm Orlu were Montana’s two leading zinc producers. The mine was Montana’s largest producer of zinc from 1950 to 1956 (Ingalls 1931; Shea 1940).
By 1944, the Orphan Girl had produced over seven million ounces of silver, not Butte's richest silver mine, but a steady producer with a reputation for its comfortable working environment. The waste rock dump, located just west of the Orphan Girl, was built between the 1920s and 1956; this makes it one of the most recent hard rock mine dumps on the Butte hill. The Orphan Girl continued to produce zinc ore for ACM until 1956, when the company permanently retired the working operations. A group of local citizens interested in preserving a part of Butte's rich mining history opened the World Museum of Mining on the Orphan Girl site in 1964, incorporating the hoist house and head frame into the museum complex (Chaleen et al. 1981).
The Parrott is located on Butte's Southern belt on the Gangon-Parrot lode. The mine was discovered in 1864 by Dennis Leary, George W. Newkirk and the Porter Brothers. It was named after the Hon. R. R. Parrott, a local attorney. The complex ore removed from the mine was carried by wagon to Corrine, Utah to be shipped by rail to eastern smelters. Locally, experiments began to try to smelt the Parrot ore. Joseph Ramsdale and William J. Parks erected a small blast furnace in Town Gulch in 1866-67, but were unsuccessful. Charles E. Savage constructed a horse-powered arrastra that successfully treated the ore, but was financially a failure. In the fall of 1868 Dennis Leary and the Porter Brothers built a blast furnace that used a blacksmith bellows, but they were stymied by their lack of knowledge on metal fluxes. Discouraged, the mine owners looked elsewhere and the mine languished (Daly 1929; Warren 1896).
William Parks was unwilling to give up on the mine. He continued to pour his own labor and limited money into the shaft. Because he capitalized his operation with paychecks from his own day-labor, progress was slow. His efforts were justified when he reached the 155-foot level when he hit paying ore. He had discovered Butte's first copper mine. He was also very lucky; the Parrott turned out to be the only mine in Butte with copper ore above the 200-foot level.
The mine was patented in May of 1879 by Dennis Leary, J. A. Talbott and Thomas Irvine. From the time of Park's discovery, the mine continued to grow; by 1889 the Parrott Silver & Copper Company was removing 260 tons of copper/silver ore a day. The 3-compartment shaft was reported to be the best ventilated shaft in Montana. By 1893, 101 underground miners had sunk the shaft to a depth of 900 feet using Fraser & Chalmers hoisting engine. Four years later, the Parrott employed 195 men underground and 33 men on the surface. Below the 400-foot level, the Parrott boasted Montana's only 4-compartment shaft. In 1900, the shaft reached to 1,600 feet with 170 men underground and 118 on the surface. Connections were driven to the nearby Neversweat mine at the 1,000 and 1600--foot levels, to the Nipper at the 1,000-foot level and the Original No. 6 at the 1,000-foot level. Hoisting was accomplished using a 2,500-horsepower Union Iron Works engine. By 1906 the work force increased again to 220 men and the depth of the shaft reached 2,400 feet. The Parrott operated two compressor plants together capable of operating 100 drills (Weed 1912; Hogan 1892; Byrne 1901).
The Parrot vein continued for almost 2,000 feet uninterrupted. Erubescite was the primary ore; pyrites were rare and of little consequence. The vein was composed of 30 percent copper and it was reported in 1885 that all the three previous year's ore averaged 12 percent copper. As a bonus, above the waterline at 800 feet, ore contained 2/3 ounce silver for every percentage copper (Emmons 1897; Peters 1885; Weed 1912).
While the Parrot Silver & Copper Company continued to operate the mine, it became part of the Amalgamated holdings in May of 1899. The next year, Amalgamated boosted production quotas from 1.25 million pounds per month to 2 million pounds of ore per month. Later in the year the surface buildings, especially the hoist house, were damaged by fire. By October, a temporary hoist (fire-proof) of equal power and capacity was on line. The damaged head-frame was replaced with a 100-foot steel structure similar to the Diamond and High Ore head-frames. Other structures and equipment were also upgraded. During this period of primary production, 1884 to 1910, miners extracted almost 300 million pounds of copper from the Parrott (Western Mining World 1899 - 1900).
The Parrott mine was acquired by ACM Co. in 1910 during its most important period of consolidation. The 100-foot steel headframe was removed and the shaft was converted into a concrete-lined air intake. The wooden headframe that straddles the Parrott shaft today, constitutes the only remaining headframe of its type on the Butte hill, although it was not the original headframe and was built around 1910. The Parrott was one of Butte's top copper producers during the district's period of national significance, 1880 to 1920 (Montana Inspector of Mines Report 1889; 1893; 1897; 1900; 1905-06; Report of the Director of the Mine 1885; Gidel 1944).
Smoke House Shaft
The Smoke House is one of Butte's most unusual mines. The shaft, the only remnant of the mine, was sunk in the heart of Butte's business district. The Smoke House lode was first claimed on April 16, 1880. The survey of the claim showed two shafts in addition to the discovery shaft. All work was on an undeveloped block on the south side of Broadway between Main and Wyoming. Nearly 20 years passed while ownership splintered and Butte's uptown built upon the claim (Gray 1991).
Interest in the mine suddenly resumed in March of 1899 when workmen excavating the basement of the Thorton Building on the north side of Broadway on Wyoming Street uncovered the rich Smokehouse vein. Investors scrambled to gain controlling interest in the claim. By July, the Smokehouse Mining Co. had apparent control of the mineral rights under 50 acres of business district around the discovery. This included the Smoke House, the Destroying Angel and the Copper Bottom. A 1,000-foot shaft was planned.
Alex Tarbett bought the Smokehouse interests for a reported $300,000 late in 1899. Because uptown Butte had seen extensive surface development, the only site available for a shaft was a small parcel across Broadway from the Thorton Building. Operations were limited to a small vacant lot behind a shoe repair shop on Wyoming Street. However, the company was well capitalized and work on the two compartment shaft was initiated by a large force of men. The lead was expected to be hit at the 300-foot level. An electric hoist was installed after reaching 50 feet. In March of 1900 a small stringer of copper was cut at the 175-foot level. Two months later a 90-foot cross cut was opened at the 200-foot level, but workers encountered a large volume of water. Work was suspended until June when a 75 gallon/ minute compressed air pump was lowered into the shaft. A month later work was again suspended, when the small electric hoist proved to be too small for the depth and loads. A 50-horsepower motor capable of reaching 600 feet was installed in August and work resumed. In October, the water volume exceeded the capacity of buckets and the pump. A new pump and water columns were ordered and a new cage was installed. A copper lead was struck at the 370-foot level and extended to 415 feet.
In February 1901 it was announced that a pumping station was being cut at the 400-foot level. When completed, work would progress to the 1,000-foot level. In preparation for extensive cross-cutting, a steam plant was erected, but this development was hampered by crowded surface condition. In May of 1901, progress on the shaft mysteriously ceased. Over $150,000 had systematically been spent on developing the property without any return. Instead of glorious claims of the riches, it was reported that they had not hit the expected Smoke House Vein at the 400 or the 500-foot level. Indeed, new engineering studies placed the vein at least 200 feet below current operations. This change was explained in January of 1902 when Judge McClernan was asked to dispose of undivided interests in the mine so work could resume. Apparently, owners of a significant undivided interest in the mine had allowed the shaft to be excavated and rich ore uncovered before stepping forward to claim the profits. The issue was not resolved and the pumps eventually shut down. In the consolidation of the Butte mines, the Smoke House continued to be a problem. The Davis Daly Corp bought out the Smoke House interests which in turn were sold to ACM. ACM continued to pick up fractions but was never able to obtain that owned by the Curtis family. In 1913, the Nebraska Building was completed on the corner of Broadway and Wyoming; a shoe factory in the southern portion of the building extended over the shaft (Butte/Silver Bow County Records; Shovers 1984; Western Mining World ).
Located within the Butte National Landmark District, the Stewart (or Steward) is approximately 200 feet north of the intersection of North Main and Woolman Streets on the east side of the street. The headframe, main hoist house and auxiliary hoist house remain on the Stewart mine site. The mine was one of the major mines on the Butte hill and had extensive surface facilities, most of which have been removed.
Erected in 1898, the headframe at the West Stewart, constitutes one of Butte's earliest examples of the larger headframes, the 126 foot headframe permitted the use of five-ton skips and a ten-foot diameter sheave wheel. The construction of this headframe resembles the one erected at the Original mine in 1902; the Gillette-Herzog Mfg. Co. of Minneapolis manufactured both headframes. The headframe was designed so ore could be shunted directly from ore cars via a tramway into loading bins, from which rail cars could be loaded. In later years the Anaconda Company abandoned this rail line and used trucks to haul ore to the Weed Concentrator (Harrier and Farnham 1930; Piper 1987).
With the exception of the Original mine, the Stewart has the only remaining brick hoist house on the Butte hill. This brick hoist house was built between 1891 and 1906. In 1906 Clark replaced the steam hoist with one operated with compressed air. This became common practice on the Butte hill during the first decade of the twentieth century and this retrofit could be accomplished with several minor adjustments which included enlarging the engine cylinders. The tower at the rear of the hoist house contains a steam line (Shovers 1984; Piper 1987; Sanborn 1891; 1900; 1914).
The auxiliary hoist house contained the Bowser steam hoist which was converted to operate on compressed air early in the Twentieth century. The steel tank and smokestack located adjacent to the auxiliary hoist house on the west served as an exhaust for the steam-powered hoisting engine. Clark erected this building sometime between 1891 and 1906 (Piper 1987; Sanborn 1891; 1900; 1914).
The Stewart mine (aka West Stewart or Steward) was one of Butte's deepest and most productive copper-silver mines from the late 1890s until its closure in 1973. Although large-scale development did not begin at the West Stewart until the turn of the century, the original mining claim was actually patented several decades earlier. On August 9, 1877 William A. Clark, John W. Steward, Samuel F. Larabie, and Clark's brother, Joseph, filed on 10 acres known as the Steward lode. The Stewart vein, rich in silver ore, branches both east and west of the original lode encompassing the Gagnon, Original and Parrot mine sites. The Clark Brothers initially developed the Steward lode from the East Stewart shaft beginning in the 1880s, working the vein sporadically with 10 to 30 men and reaching a depth of 330 feet by 1894. The miners worked the 2-compartment shaft using a Ledgerwood steam hoist.
Within the next six years the Stewart grew from a small, insignificant operation into one of Butte's premiere copper-silver mines. By 1895 W. A. Clark and his brothers, J. Ross and Joseph, operated the Original and the Colusa-Parrot, both located along the Stewart vein .
The miners made great advances in the Stewart shaft during the last years of the Nineteenth century, reaching a depth of 600 feet in 1895, 800 feet in 1898, and 1000 feet in 1900 and a powerful E. P. Allis hoisting engine replaced the old engine. By 1900 Clark employed 140 men in the mine.
The first years of the Twentieth century marked noticeable changes both above and below ground at the Stewart. In 1898 the 126-foot shaft steel headframe replaced the wooden one over the 1,300 feet deep, 3-compartment shaft. Connections were driven between the Stewart and the other Clark mines, the Nipper, Parrot and Original. That same year work continued on a shaft several hundred feet to the west, a mine that came to be known as the West Stewart. Clark employed 114 men to work this mine, who in one year's time advanced the shaft 650 feet, creating a shaft 1,100 feet deep that was served by a compressed air Nordberg hoist.
By 1905 the number of miners working underground had risen to 235 and the shaft reached a depth of 1,900 feet. Tunnels were driven connecting the West Stewart with the Clear Grit and the Mountain Con. Trammers at the West Stewart still relied on horses to move ore from the stope to the shaft, while some of the Amalgamated mines had already shifted to electric locomotives. By this time work in the East Stewart had subsided and the shaft was relegated to serve as a ventilation shaft for the more productive West Stewart. Even with improved ventilation the Stewart remained one of the two hottest mines on the Butte hill (the Belmont being the worst), with temperatures as high as 1300 F. in certain deep-level stopes.
On June 1, 1910, ownership transferred from W. A. Clark to the ACM Co.. During the last months of Clark's dominion ore hoisting was transferred from the Stewart to the Original mine. Six months later hoisting resumed at the Stewart, and ore mined at the Little Minah and the Clear Grit was hoisted through the Stewart shaft. In 1911 the ACM found a vein of high grade ore on the 2,300-foot level and set their work force of 479 men to the task of drifting in both directions from the shaft along the vein. By 1912 miners at the Stewart reached a depth of 2,500 feet using a hoisting system of three double-decked cages and 7-ton ore skips. The same year fire ravaged workings at the 1,700-foot level but damage was confined to that single level and work continued in stopes above and below. Although copper production fell off at end of World War I, by 1920 the Stewart shaft reached a depth of 3,633 feet, making it ACM's deepest Butte mine.
During the next two decades low metal prices, strikes, and a nationwide economic depression temporarily halted mining at the Stewart. World War II demands for copper reactivated the Stewart and for the next 20 years the Stewart was a major producer. After the war, copper continued to be hoisted through the modern, Kelley shaft located to the northeast. Miners connected the Stewart underground to the Kelley on the 3000-foot level so that ore mined in the Stewart could be raised through the Kelley taking advantage of its larger skips and more powerful hoisting engine. Even after A. C. M. halted block-caving in 1955 and turned to pit mining, miners continued to extract copper ore selectively in the Stewart underground until 1973 when underground operations ceased. Some experimental mining occurred in the Stewart until 1980. The Stewart shaft eventually reached a depth of 4,400 feet, making it one of Butte's longest operating and deepest copper mines (Shovers 1987).
The oldest hard rock mine in Butte, the Travona (aka Travonia) is located between Platinum and Iron Streets in Butte. The mine was at first located as the Asteroid. The mine site today consists of a headframe of riveted H-beams connected to channel sections sitting on concrete footings. The two sheaves atop the headframe correspond to the two compartment shaft and the two-tank ore bin off of the rear. There is a square building on top of the metal ore bins.
The Travona was the site of a major silver discovery in January of 1875 by William Farlin that launched Butte into a new era of mining prosperity. Farlin had previously obtained samples from a shallow prospect hole and had them assayed. The tests showed very high silver content. Because the prospect was claimed by another party and because Farlin was a poor man, he worked placers for wages and waited until the claim expired on the prospect. On December 31, 1874, at 11:30 p.m., Farlin was on the site and made his claim at the stroke of midnight (Warren 1896).
The mine made money from the first shovel full. At first, ore was carried by wagon to Fort Benton to be shipped to eastern smelters. Farlin's partner, Joseph Ramsdell, unsuccessfully attempted to build a crude smelter. Farlin tried to build the ten-stamp Dexter mill, to crush the silver ore, but ran out of money. The mine and mill were acquired by R. M. Donnell, Samuel Larabie and William. A. Clark in 1880. The mine closed in 1893 due to the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and the resulting plunge in silver prices. Clark secured exclusive ownership by 1904. The property was sold to the ACM Co. in 1929 (Hammond-Fogarty 1907).
Manganese began to be mined in the late teens of the Twentieth century. The Butte district began to provide a larger percentage of the national manganese production; in 1919, Butte produced 50 percent. One of the leading manganese mines in Butte was the Travona. Large masses of rhodochrosite ran in a big vein through the Travona. The ore was pure and was free of zinc. The mine was also operated as a silver mine off and on until 1942 when extensive manganese reserves were removed to support the war effort. The current steel headframe was moved to the site from the Pennsylvania mine in 1940 (Cole 1927).
Wake Up Jim
The Wake Up Jim, more frequently known as the Jim, was located in Butte's Northern belt on the Syndicate lode. It was first mentioned in a Fourth of July speech in 1876 as having every indication of being a rich and permanent mine. James Tuoky patented the claim in September 1881. The Syndicate Mine Company began major operations around 1889. When a fire at the smelter stopped ore production, the shaft was expanded to three compartments. By 1891, the shaft had reached the 500-foot level and another compartment was being added. Located just east of the productive Green Mountain mine, miners began pulling ore out of both mines through the Wake Up Jim shaft; the two operations were combined in 1891 by the ACM Co. A year later, the shaft was down to 680 feet with 12 x 12-foot timber square sets in the stoping at the 500 and 600-foot levels. A large shaft house was erected and the hoisting equipment was improved and strengthened. Between 1891 and 1895, miners in the Green Mountain and in the Wake Up Jim recovered over 72 million pounds of copper and 4 million ounces of silver. The main vein was traced 250 feet east and 800 feet down. The mine was not a major producer after 1904 (Emmons 1897; Gidel 1944; Hogan 1891; Swallow 1890; Weed 1912).
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