Friday, September 30, 2011



I get to be a tourist again and yes it does feel good. I know a lot of folks who don’t do the tourist thing but I’m rather addicted to it. Which means, of course, that Jim gets to go along to do the driving. I enjoy the beauty of our land but I also like to learn about the history of places we visit and all the quirky things that people have done.

So here we go to explore Butte, MT. Don’t have time for everything but some of the highlights.

IMG_3030 The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine. It is one mile long by half a mile wide with an approximate depth of 1,780 feet. It is filled to a depth of about 900 feet with water that is heavily acidic (about the acidity of cola or lemon juice). As a result, the pit is laden with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals that leach from the rock, including arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid.

IMG_3033 The mine was opened in 1955 and operated until its closure in 1982. The pit and its water present a serious environmental problem.  The Berkeley Pit has since become one of the largest Superfund sites.

The Granite Mountain Disaster and Memorial Overlook

IMG_3042 The beginning of World War I brought intense activity in Butte's underground mines to satisfy the warring world's insatiable appetite for copper. Butte became known as "The Richest Hill on Earth". In 1883, 2,000 miners worked in the mines. By 1916, there were 14,500 miners working the mines.
On the night of June 8th, 1917, a group of men descended to the 2400 level of the Granite Mountain mine to inspect an electrical cable that had fallen loose while being strung by a crew on an earlier shift. When the cable fell, the workers from the earlier shift decided to leave it until the next day. The protective sheathing frayed as it fell against rocks and timbers. When Ernest Sullau, the assistant foreman, inspected the cable, he accidentally touched his hand-held carbide lamp to uncovered paraffin paper wrapping, and the cable caught fire.
The tragedy was compounded because the Granite Mountain was a well ventilated mine, allowing the flames and smoke to spread quickly. The fire and deadly smoke killed 168 men.

IMG_3045 The fire was the deadliest disaster in metal mining history and shocked the world. In 1917 Butte was an industrial complex that rivaled the steel mills of Pittsburg. Additional people had to be hired to handle all the telegrams that came in from around the world wanting more information about the disaster.

And no trip to Butte is complete without food. There are two foods that Butte is famous for: The Original Pork Chop John’s sandwich and pasties.
IMG_3057 Today was Pork Chop sandwich day.

John’s Original Pork Chop Sandwich was founded in Butte, Montana in 1924. The original Pork Chop John, John Burklund, sold his pork chop sandwiches from the back of a wagon located on the corner of Mercury and Main Streets.

IMG_3054 As demand for the  sandwich increased, John opened a restaurant on Mercury Street in 1932. Consisting of a counter, 10 stools and a walk-up window, that same store remains and that is where we had our sandwiches.

IMG_3055 Most people like them with mustard and onion. I like them with just onion and they know to pile the onions on. Jim tried the deluxe with mayo (really miracle whip), lettuce and tomato. He wishes he had stuck with the mustard and onions. But they were so good. Not healthy but as a treat = wow.

Tomorrow pasties.


  1. Glad you're enjoying your tour! Looking forward to the pasties tomorrow. One of my upcoming projects is to master crust making so I can make good pasties. I love the way the immigrant miners' wives used to crimp the edges on top to make a thick handle for the meat pasties. The miners didn't eat that part since their fingers were so dirty. ~Liz

  2. One of the main reasons we became full-time travelers was to be sight seeing wherever we go. It's funny whenever we are working anywhere, we always become tourists on our days off and the locals always come see us to find out where we went...some of them had been living in the area for years and never ventured to some of the places we found.

    Count us in as one of the ones who are tourists and LOVE IT! Enjoy!

  3. Good for you! It's definitely time to celebrate. You're free and you're enjoying yourselves. See you in Arizona.

  4. I think I'd have to pass on the onions, unless they were cooked, but that sandwich sure looks good!

  5. I like stopping in small towns, that is part of the traveling experience.

  6. I would have skipped the mustard too. Being a died in the wool mayo fan, I would have been upset with the miracle whip. :)

  7. So happy you are having such a wonderful adventure! Love the shots! Have fun & always, safe travels. ~Hugs, M

  8. I'm looking forward to seeing more places some day. I have always liked learning about local history.

    TV can't show us everything!

  9. Learning about our country is what traveling is all about! Why would you not stop at all these great places? Thanks for sharing your stops with us.

  10. Thanks for the update on Butte. I was aware of the things to see in that area. My mind was awed by thinking of 900 feet of water (disregarding the chemical aspects).

    We must be living a sheltered life (or a joyeous one in the South) but John's pork chop sandwich was a new one on me. But, we never go without good food in the South!

  11. I enjoy the West's history as well and enjoy day trips to see various things. We kinda look for things off the beaten path a bit.

  12. I think we sometimes go sight seeing just so we have an excuse to eat out!! But that's why we are traveling see and to enjoy!

  13. Interesting info on Butte and the mines. And it sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I've never had a pork chop sandwich but it looks good.

  14. I NEVER knew that Butte was an industrial complex that rivaled the steel mills of Pittsburg! Who would know this fact?
    I also have never heard of a pork chop sandwich! It sounds and looks delicious. I love onions also!

  15. What a great post about Butte. We stayed in Butte one night in November 2010. We read about the mines but haven't seen anything of it. The post was a great way to learn about what we have missed so far.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.