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Outhouse diggers: Looking for gold(en bottles) in Butte

Outhouse diggers: Looking for gold(en bottles) in Butte

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Most people wouldn’t be too pleased to come across an old outhouse, but James Campiglia was upset that his crew couldn’t locate one.

They must have been a few feet off, because they were certainly waist-deep in the remains of a butcher shop.

 “All we are getting is animal bones,” Campiglia said. “This isn’t what we were looking for.”

The Bozeman-based business Outhouse Patrol has, with the landowners’ permission, been digging behind recently condemned

buildings at Porphyry and Montana in Butte.

According to turn-of-the-century maps, a hotel once stood near the spot and an outhouse was located just outside the back door.

Campiglia figures that guests must have thrown a bit of trash down the chute, too, and he aimed to find it, clean it, and sell it.

The loot Campiglia and his five-person crew are after is mostly glass bottles that can sell for $20 to $100 each, with some of the rare varieties fetching well over $1,000.

Although they haven’t yet hit the jackpot at the Butte site, they have done well at other locations in Montana, Iowa, Nevada and elsewhere.

Bill Henness, a Montana collector, said there is a good chance they can find decent artifacts at the site once they zero-in on the coordinates of that privy.

“We’ll keep looking,” he said.    

For more information, visit

— Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at or call 496-5519.




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