Six years ago I moved back to Butte and began reacquainting myself with our area. As a fourth generation Butte kid, my appreciation for our mining culture is embedded deep in my bones, and as such, my first outing when I returned to Montana was walking along the unused railroad tracks in Uptown Butte.
Shortly after taking this walk with my mom, the very same tracks were pulled up and replaced with asphalt and became the Copperway Trail system that runs across Uptown Butte.
This trail system, if you are not familiar with it, is a great example of what a positive impact mining and land reclamation can have on a community. Over the past two seasons I have made it a point to highlight all that the Copperway Trail system has to offer. And this week I discovered a new addition in progress at the Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine Memorial site.
If you haven’t been up to the memorial site, or are unfamiliar with the history (I won’t assume that all readers are fourth- generation Butte kids like myself) the Speculator Mine was the site of a disaster that took the lives of
168 miners in 1917 and is thought to be the deadliest event ever recorded in hard rock mining history worldwide. The memorial site overlooks the Granite Mountain Shaft and the Speculator Mine where the disaster took place and lists the men who lost their lives in the fire on its wall.
Since creating the memorial, there have been ongoing improvements and additions to the reclaimed area. Turn offs along the road have been put in to offer viewers the opportunity for a bird’s eye view of our city. Currently under construction and partially open is a walking trail that leads from the memorial site southwest toward the Mountain Con headframe. This walking trail is a great dust-off-the-cobwebs 15 minute trail with a million- dollar view. Starting at the parking lot adjacent to the memorial site, the path is paved and easy to see from the road. Only the first half of the path is open, but the asphalt is already set for the second portion of the trail. The trail is smooth and easy and is suitable for any level. If you work Uptown, this is a great spot to take a sack lunch and a quick walk.
To get to the Granite Mountain Memorial site, head North on Main street until you pass the former Blaine school on the left and take the first right onto a dirt road directly after the St. Lawrence church. The memorial is located
.8 miles from the turn off and the parking lot is at the bottom of the road. The memorial site is under construction, but you are able to walk on either side of it for a view of the Speculator Mine site. The paved trail begins from the parking area at the bottom of the road and heads west.
If you go, bring your camera for some great views of Butte.
Until next week, keep walking!