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.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Token Tale

Photo by Dick Gibson
I recently got a Butte saloon token. I don’t collect these things—I collect way too many things already—but there are dozens of examples from Butte. I got it because I thought it would be cool to have one in my pocket when I do tours, something tangible from nearly 100 years ago to show tourists.

So I found a token within my price range ($15) that had a nice look, from a saloon that’s gone: the Crown Bar, 110 East Park Street.

Because there’s too much to learn, and I’m old enough to forget A LOT, it was not until I started researching the history of the bar that I rediscovered something I had already read: that the Crown Bar was the location where keno originated. For the full story, see George Everett’s article. Pete Naughton, stepfather to the Lyden brothers who eventually took the game to Nevada, ran the Crown Cigar Store (the Prohibition-era euphemism for a saloon) only in 1927 according to the city directories, so that must be the year of the events recounted in George’s article.

The Crown Bar, under that name, was listed only in 1916-1917, so presumably that’s the time of my brass token, worth a handsome 50¢ in trade, a high value that may mean it is from a later time (but tokens fell out of common use after Prohibition). Victor Swanson and Ben Christopherson ran the place then, offering “wines, liquors, and cigars.” During and after Prohibition the Crown was sometimes a “cigar store” and sometimes a café, continuing as a restaurant at least until 1957 when Etta Noe was a waitress there.

110 East Park occupied part of a three-story building that stood where the Edna LaCass Park (did you know it had a name?) is today, about the middle of the park along Park Street east of Wyoming.

1 comment:

  1. I found a coin to the Columbus Bar on east Park Street. I donated it to the Archives. It took me a day of investigating, but I found that this bar ran for about 2 or 3 years. The date was around 1940. It would be fun to post photos of all the various coins that people have of the long gone Butte establishments.