13-2009 Butte Montana
Campground: Butte MT. 2 Bar Lazy H Rv park. Weekly rate $97.00. Nightly, $24.00. Full hook-up with all pull thru sites. Off of highway, but little noise at night. Clean and neat sites. Note: If you stay longer, they will prorate for each day at the lower wkly rate....
New Web Sites: Big news, I’ve listed two new web sites on the Blog. Woodall’s Campgrounds listings and Trailer Life’s Campground listings. Wow, now you don’t have to buy those huge books to find a campground, go online to do your searches using Trailer Life or Woodall’s. Woodall’s does require you to sign up, but it’s free. As Ellen would say, Your welcome….
And Another Web Site: I’ve added a link to my Favorite Web Sites (right hand column) for checking out what digital channels are available in your area. Could be helpful especially for all of us Rv’ers who travel around so much. Check it out.
I think you could say I’m well into Montana right now. Butte is or was the richest mining area in the country at one time. It still has a large open pit mining concern going today. And although their unemployment level isn’t all that bad, around 5.9% I can tell that the majority of folks living in this area aren’t doing all that well.
The mining town of Butte is built on the sides of
a couple of hills and gives the first impression of being similar to San Francisco. Except it’s heyday has long since passed it by. Most of the homes are smaller mining town homes and from what
I’ve seen so far, many of them are in a run down state. Kind of sad to see an area gradually sink into despair.
One of the first things I noticed was all the mini casinos in the area. As I understand it, Montana permits gambling, but with a limit on how much you can win. Therefore they have only two slot machines that are legal, keno (which I still don’t understand) and poker machines. Virtually every bar or restaurant is also a casino and none of the food is that good.
Also the area only has a few big stores. Super Wal-Mart, K-mart and Herbergers. It’s there
version of a Macy’s I guess. Restaurants, forget any large chain restaurants, just the usual small fast food and local fair.
Oh, they do have some local places that sell pasties. Which is a Cornish dish (we always associated them with Finns and Swedes). If you’ve never had a pasty, you should give them a try. It’s a whole meal wrapped in pastry and was what the miners used to take down into the mines with them.
One of the neat things the city is doing, is it’s lighting up all the old mining “head frames“. 8 of the 14 remaining have been strung with red rope type lights outlining their shapes. A testament to the numerous mines that were once in operation in the area. They no longer mine in underground tunnels, the town still has hundreds of miles of abandoned mine shafts and tunnels. Now it’s all done in large open pit mining operations.
There was once a large Chinese population here. Wonder if I’ll find a good Chinese restaurant?
I took a scenic tour on US 1 past Anaconda, Opportunity, Porters Corner and Philipsburg all
rural towns where life seems to be a lot better than in the city.
Passing close to some of the Rocky Mountain range in the area, I found myself climbing to higher elevations where some snow still was on the ground and a number of lakes were still covered with a sheet of ice and snow. Passing the famous “Tallest smoke Stack in the World”, (see more photo's on my Picasa site) the Sapphire gallery in Philipsburg where you can mine for sapphires and become rich…. And well, just pretty scenery and a pleasant drive.
In town I visited the Copper King Mansion, built by William A Clark. A man who built himself up to become the Copper King with holdings throughout the west, building the first power company, first bank in the area and buying up mines throughout the area, including Jerome AZ where I’ve now visited a couple of times. Interesting to meet up with the men who made history across the land and see how it was all interconnected.
The house sits on a corner lot on the side of the hill. I climbed up the two flights of stairs to the ornate corner porch. One does not just walk into a mansion, so I rang the doorbell for entry. A short woman dressed in a long black dress with a light jacket of the same flowing material only dotted with sparkling diamonds answered the door.
After introductions, I had a private tour by the current owner, Mrs. Cote. Her grandmother bought the mansion after it had been
closed for about 12 years, previous owners were Catholic nuns. The building is unchanged and in it is original condition. Many of the walls had there original paint and plaster. Still in very good condition. About 20 % of the furnishing, maybe less are original to the house as the Grandmother and Mother spent endless Saturdays going to garage sales and auctions furnishing the place.
To learn more check out: http://thecopperkingmansion.com/waclark.htm It was a personal tour of memories growing up in the house and seeing the changes to the town. A house with personal memories, historical memories all held in the pictures, mementos, toys and furnishings.
Back outside in the sunshine and crisp air I headed over to Pork Chop John’s, it‘s a local favorite. They have two stores, one in Uptown and the other Down on the Flats. Been in business since the 40’s and the current owners have had it since 1969. The porkchop sandwich was pretty good and definitely a local favorite. I had it with the usual onion, pickle and mustard, but you can have it any way you like. Glad I got there a little early, they only have seating at a counter. 15 minutes after I got there, the place was filled two deep with high school kids and local workers in for lunch. There was even a line outside at the outside order window.
I was told that at one time Butte had a population of over 100,000. It then went to a low of 13,000 and is now has around 30,000. The Berkley Pit mine (now closed down) and the active Continental Pit mine has gradually eaten away almost 1/3 of the town of Butte.
And the following day was definitely an indoor day. A snowstorm came through and blanketed everything with the white stuff. Sure hope spring arrives soon. Now I remember why I moved from Northern Michigan to Florida back when I was barely 20 years old.
The campground I’m staying in is just west of the Truckers exit outside of town with it‘s Flying J and Up-Town gas station. I notice everyday that I go out, that there are always hitch-hikers on the ramp leading up to the highway. Drifters on their way to someplace better, or just on there way because their restless. In town I see more homeless waiting on street corners with signs saying, “I just need a little help” or “Will work for food” or "Pregnant and Homeless". A harsh climate to be homeless in.
One of the last things I did in the Butte area was to go check out the Berkley Pit. Didn’t take long to view it. It is after all a big hole in the ground now filled with water. An interesting note, all that water is contaminated with iron, copper, silver, gold, mercury and a whole lot of other bad stuff.
They say it won’t hurt the ground water in the area unless it rises above a sea level. It’s getting close, so now they drain off all run-off water and keep the lake below the danger line. All that water is treated and then used in the newest pit mine in the area (contaminating the water all over again). You have to wonder how long it will take before it contaminates the local water supply.
Health Note: Some of you may recall I’ve been taking vitamin D for the past two years or more. It has continued to improve my joints, back and muscle tone. My back feels great, I have no joint pain and I just feel great overall. What a natural wonder drug. Vitamin D is recognized by every cell in your body. Scientists are continuing to find out how it is of benefit to your body. I take 1,400 IU’s of vitamin D a day (400 in a multiple vitamin and 1,000 IU’s in a separate supplemental pill). I get plenty of calcium in my diet and along with the Vitamin D, my bones and joints have really benefited. Do your own research online to find out the wonders of this simple vitamin.