I am on my own for a couple of days. At the moment I am in Butte, Montana. Last week I was reading a book about the Copper King of Butte. I had to come here to check it out. On my way up from Dillon I was looking for a forest or Corps of Engineers campground. I could not find one so I am staying at Walmart. After I set up the motorhome I visited the Copper King Mansion. It was raining when I took the outside picture. The rain lasted about an hour and the sun came out again.
I was the only visitor and the young lady talked up a storm. I took only a few pictures. The mansion is privately owned and is also a Bed and Breakfast. The finest wood and tiles were used. Running water and 12 volt electricity was installed. Later the electricity was changed to alternating current.
In the evening a lady came to the Walmart parking lot with four adult schnauzers and 13 puppies. She took them for a walk. Two of the adults stayed in the car. The puppies nursed on either mother.
Today I drove to Deer Lodge to visit the Grant-Kohrs Ranch. It is a working ranch and a National Historic Site.
The ranch was started by the emigrant Johnny Grant. Grant came from Canada and did not know much about raising cattle, but he knew Deer Lodge Valley was the perfect place. In the valley it does not get as cold as in the rest of Montana, and there was plenty of grass. In 1859 Grant drove 400 head of cattle to Sacrament, California.
In 1862 he built a large 4,000 square foot log house but had it covered with boards. Since he was in the business of selling livestock and other items he wanted his house to look like a Hudson Bay Company store.
Grant sold the ranch to another emigrant in 1866. Conrad Kohrs was born in Germany in 1835 and left Germany at age 15 as a cabin boy on a ship. He learned the trade of butcher from relatives in New York. The Gold rush brought him out west. He learned fast that mining for gold was not easy. He opened up a butcher shop and sold meat to the miners. Kohrs went in business with his half brother John Bielenberg.
By the 1880s Conrad Kohrs was shipping 10,000 head of cattle annually by rail to the stockyards in Chicago. Kohrs had acquired 30,000 acres and was in partnership with other ranchers. He also had investments in mines and real estate.
In 1868 Kohrs went to New York to look for Augusta Kruse, a briefly childhood acquaintance in Germany. He found her and after courting her for three weeks they got married. A girlhood in Hamburg, Germany did little to prepare Augusta for her experience as a pioneer bride that included milking cows, making soap and candles, cooking and keeping house for hired hands and her husband.
As the family prospered she acquired fine belongings and supervised a staff. Conrad Kohrs and his half brother, John Bielenberg, were influential in the evolution of the cattle industry and the politics of Montana. Kohrs was a delegate to Montana’s constitutional convention of 1889 and helped draft the constitution that led to statehood.
Kohrs added on to the house. The house had running water and central heating. The ceiling lights were run with electricity and carbide gas.
The china was the best money can buy, so was the furniture.
Kohrs was buying special ink and was able to make copies of his correspondence with a special press. He kept good records.
Kohrs grandson, Conrad, K. Warren sold the ranch buildings and some land to the National Park Service.
There are still long horn cattle and Herford cattle on the ranch.
The ranch has about six Belgian Draft Horses.
The cowboys ride quarter horses.
An old cowboy serves cowboy coffee at the chuck wagon.
There is a black smith shop on the premises.
Augusta had a flower and vegetable garden.
The cowboys had to take a bath once a week whether they needed or not.
I was too late for the haymaking. That was last week. There is a movie showing how the Beaver Slide is being used.
On the way home I stopped at the prison Museum in Deer Lodge.
I also drove to Anaconda, the famous copper town. The smelter is gone. Only the Smoke Stack is there. It is 585 feet high and the outside diameter at the base is 86 feet and the inside diameter at the top is 60 feet.
Since I am in Butte I had to go to one more mine museum. Today I toured the World Museum of Mining.
I did not go on the mine tour; that I did in Wallace. I climbed several stories up on the headframe, or “gallows frame”. The headframe has three wheels, over which cables run. The cables are controlled by a large motor in the motor house. One cable operates the cage which lowers miners into the mine, and brings them up after their shift. The second cable is used for moving equipment and the third cable moves the large ore buckets.
From there one has a splendid look of the turn of the century mining village.
I joined a group in the engine room.
This is a small stamp mill.
The town has even a Sauerkraut Factory. The owner came from Denmark and his wife from
After the mine tour I drove up the hill where several mines where located. The mines are closed but some of the headframes are still there, as a reminder of Butte’s past.
There was smog over Butte. Fires are still burning.
On my morning walk I saw those fake palm trees. Each tree is a different color. A casino planted them. In Montana and South Dakota gambling is legal and restaurants and other establishments call themselves casino if they have a few slot machines.
I am staying at Camp Walmart. My motorhome is located next to a large meadow. It is away from all the parking lot traffic.
In the meadow lives a man or woman in a minivan. I cannot figure out whether it is a man with large breasts or a woman with tiny breasts. The face does not give me a clue. He or she had a big bundle on top of the minivan. Now everything is on the ground. The person bought two big blue plastic boxes from Walmart and tries to organize things.
In the afternoon I went to the Miners Memorial. 168 men from different countries lost their lives in 1917 in a mine fire.
Flags from countries the miners came from are installed in the wall of the memorial.
Nearby are more headframes from closed mines and displays.
In 1940 open pit mining was started and there are large holes in the ground and part of the mountain is gone.
My next stop was the Berkely Pit. It is a 1,700 foot deep hole in the ground and nearly three miles around the outside, and the far side is about a mile away. The pit was created over a thirty year period. The ore was hauled in super large trucks to a mill near the pit. When ARCO closed all the mines in 1982 the underground pumps were shut off and the abandoned pit was slowly filled with extremely acidic water. The water rises every year and eventually some water has to be pumped out and treated.
To get to the viewing stand one has to go through a tunnel.