About ButteSilver Bow Creek's gold and silver first brought the mineral wealth of remote Butte to the attention of the world. But it was copper that made Butte's reputation as “the richest hill on Earth,” producing more than 20 billion pounds of the metal. “Copper kings” fought for control of Butte's wealth; Marcus Daly's Anaconda Copper Mining Co. eventually gained ownership of every mine in Butte and became the dominant power in Montana.
By 1955, the high-grade copper ore was almost played out and excavation began on Berkeley Open Pit Mine to extract low-grade ore. The mine was one of the larger truck-operated pit mines in the world. The Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand, open daily dawn to dusk from March to mid-November, is $2 for adults and $1 for children and provides an excellent view of the old open mine. As a transportation hub, the city has become one of the nation's larger inland ports, with containerized cargo from the Orient being cleared and routed to points throughout the Midwest.
The Anselmo Mine Yard, uptown at Caledonia and Excelsior streets, is a fine example of surface support facilities that once served the miners. An interpretive center and tours are offered during the summer. The Granite Mountain Mine Memorial, 1308 N. Main St., is dedicated to the 168 men who died in a 1917 mine disaster.
Butte's historic district contains a large concentration of late 19th- and early 20th-century residential and commercial buildings as well as mining relics such as the steel headframes used to lower miners to a network of more than 2,000 miles of tunnels under “the hill.”
Butte is surrounded by Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which offers varied recreational opportunities. Visitors can experience the beauty of the nearby rugged mountains, verdant forests and meadows by driving either north to Helena or south to Monida on I-15.
Visitor Centers Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center 1000 George St. Butte, MT 59701. Phone:(406)723-3177 or (800)735-6814
Self-guiding ToursBrochures detailing two walking tours of the historic district are available at the chamber of commerce and visitor center.
Things to Do Butte Trolley Tour
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