A decades-old Mountain Con sign that “disappeared” last July is hanging from its posts near the famed headframe once again after some tender care and refurbishing.
It’s as plain and simple as before but the dings, dents, bullet holes and rust are gone and its big, black letters spelling MT. CON MINE have been repainted, as has the white background.
And it now includes The Anaconda Company at the bottom, words that had been painted over at some point in the past.
“I am very pleased with how it all worked out,” said Mary McCormick, Butte-Silver Bow’s historic preservation officer.
The sign went missing last July, resulting in stolen property reports being filed with police. The Montana Standard featured a photo of the sign with a caption stating that witnesses saw two males with the sign in an old Ford pickup on July 18.
But, as the Standard reported last August, the sign wasn’t really stolen.
Paddy Dennehy, a Centerville resident, said he and his son took it down to make way for a new sign celebrating Centerville history. The new sign was discussed during a Centerville community meeting June 29.
Dennehy said he had talked with county officials and residents about replacing the sign and everyone at the meeting agreed.
McCormick said the sign belonged to the county and when she told Dennehy that, he happily handed it over. The Historic Preservation Commission then decided to have it refurbished.
Dennehy was there last Thursday, smiling, when county workers put the renovated sign back on its white posts on the Butte Hill just off of North Main Street near the entrance to the headframe and Foreman’s Park.
But Butte signmaker John Weitzel, on the county’s behalf, did extensive work to it first. McCormick said it was Weitzel who saw “The Anaconda Company” lettering at the bottom.
“It was very faded, having been painted over at one time,” McCormick said. “He was, however, able make a stencil of the lettering so we decided to add it back. He thought he was also able to discern the Anaconda arrowhead. Its presence was confirmed by a former miner, now in his 80s.
“The sign was sandblasted and powder-coated with off-white paint in Bozeman, and then Weitzel hand-stenciled the lettering in black paint and the arrowhead in copper,” she said.
The county is going to repaint the sign’s pipe frame when the weather turns warm, she said.