Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A developer to help Butte grow

Photo from Progressive Men of the State of Montana, c. 1901.
John Noyes is not typically on the list of remarkable men of Butte, but he probably should be. Born in Canada in 1828 to parents from New England, he joined the California gold rush at age 23. In 1860 he was at Virginia City, Nevada, continuing work as a placer miner, when he became part of a company of 115 men sent out to fight the Indians. Noyes was among the 17 survivors.

After brief sojourns in Washington, Idaho, and Montana in 1861-65, he journeyed back to Canada. Returning to the US, he abandoned his plan to become a farmer in Missouri, and bought a shipment of mercantile goods to supply to the Montana mining camps. His initial purchase was lost in the sinking of the steamer Grant, but undaunted (and with insurance money in hand) he brought a second shipment to Ft. Benton in 1866 and soon made his way to Butte.

His main Butte mines, the #1 Original and #2 Original, gave him significant capital. Among his most worthwhile investments were real estate tracts for the growing town. He and partner Upton laid out and sold lots in two early (1888) additions to the Butte townsite: Noyes & Upton’s Addition defined streets from Gold to Aluminum, between Main and Montana, and the Noyes & Upton Railroad Addition platted the neighborhood from California to Oregon Street, between Third and Front.

His mining and investments turned him into a millionaire by the time of his death, March 21, 1902, his 74th birthday. You can find an excellent report on Mr. Noyes and his wife Elmira (who he married when she was 15 and he was 42, and who was important in Butte society in her own right) in Zena Beth McGlashan’s book, Buried in Butte (p. 113-121).

The prestigious Noyes homes were at 47 E. Granite (northwest corner of Wyoming) and around the corner at 215 N. Wyoming, across the street from the Butte Brewery. There’s a parking lot there today.


  1. I believe the lovely Angel in the Mount Moriah Cemetary marks his grave. It is a remarkable statue.

  2. Yup - see p. 118 in "Buried in Butte."