Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wandering Around Butte


Anne has buried herself under a bunch of ducks or she's herding them or something. Anyway, she said DO NOT DISTURB and I can hear her in there whacking away at the keyboard and it's more than my life is worth to DISTURB the author. She might take my happy ending away from me.

So . . . that leaves me to entertain you.

What shall we talk about today? I could tell you that Martha is painting another mural. This one is in another of the old buildings in Butte.

And if you haven't been to Butte lately, you should go. From the bustling "richest hill on earth" of the early 20th century to the depressed old mining town it became after that, it now has a new lease on life.

I, of course, put it down to Martha's influence, but she tells me that there are quite a few guys like Spence Tyack around who have taken on the old buildings and are renovating and refurbishing and restoring and generally making it a pretty amazing place.

It sure was a "happening place" a hundred years ago. It had a population of 100,000 people from so many parts of the world it would make your head spin -- all come for mining or related industries.

Anne showed me some old census records and I was astonished at the Greeks and Slavs and Finns and Chinese and Irish and Cornish and Serbs and Dalmatians and Herzegovinians and Italians. It looked like Anne's Neo-Worx counter -- and it was all in Butte, Montana in the early 1900s.

Some of that is what Martha is doing her mural on. It's a continuation of the one she did in the building Spence owns.

Next time you're passing through Montana stop in Butte for a while. Or make it a destination.
A hundred years ago it was the destination of a lot of people from all over the world who were inspired to seek the American Dream.

My own folks stopped in New York City, but a couple of my great grandfather's brothers went to Butte. So did a lot of peoples' ancestors.

You can catch a glimpse of what they found there by taking a walk up Main Street, wandering around and getting a feel for the place.


While she was working on her mural, Martha and I spent some time looking at the World Museum of Mining, which commemorates the reason a lot of immigrants came to the area. She got a lot of ideas from that. She also did research at the Butte Historical Society and checked out the Dumas Brothel Museum.


One of the most fun times we had was celebrating Chinese New Year in Butte. To document and preserve the history and contribution of Asian immigrants to the area, the Mai Wah Society Museum was formed.

You can check out a great slide show of the 2006 Chinese New Year
here. It will give you a feel not just for the celebration but for the town.

Enjoy!

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