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.



Monday, April 2, 2012

A Street by any other name ...

McKinley School, West Park, 1905. Note trestle over Gulch
By Richard I. Gibson

As Uptown Butte grew from about 4,000 people in 1880 to 23,000 in 1890, more and more homes and buildings were constructed to accommodate them, of course. New additions, such as the 1889-1890 Davis and Barnard Addition along West Broadway, Park, and Galena, created new streets west of Jackson, the early western edge of town.

Grizzly Street was laid out nearly on line with Jackson, between Granite and Copper, and ultimately became part of North Jackson. Crystal and Columbia Streets came into existence about 1890, extending only from Galena to Broadway. Columbia eventually became Clark Street, probably after 1925 when W.A. Clark died, but in 1890 Columbia ran along the weaving Missoula Gulch. A “small stream” flowed between bluffs that were as high as 25 feet on the east side and 15 to 20 feet on the west side. For many years, as Butte grew westward along Park and Broadway, both streets had trestles to carry them across Missoula Gulch and the smaller one west of Excelsior. A stone culvert took the Missoula Gulch stream under Broadway in 1890. Eventually, all of this was filled in and today the only evidence of Missoula Gulch in this part of town is the gentle down-and-up of Park Street as you approach Excelsior.

The short street we know as Hamilton was originally Utah Street; the name changed after the Hamilton Block was built in 1892. And yes, for a time there were two Utah Streets completely unrelated to each other (strictly speaking, the one near Arizona was an avenue).

Before 1890, building addresses on Sanborn maps were a simple counting scheme: 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on, with both even and odd addresses on the same side of the street—and the same numbers on the other side of the street running in the opposite direction, sometimes starting from the same arbitrary corner, sometimes not. This had to be confusing (it certainly is to me when I pore over the old maps), with 41 West Granite across the street from 41 West Granite. It’s no wonder that tradesmen often gave their addresses as “Granite Street 4 east of Main,” and the like. Many blocks in 1884 were numbered around the block, starting from an arbitrary corner and running consecutively either clockwise or counterclockwise. About 1890-1895 the system was changed to the style we know today.

Photo from Annual Report of the Board of Education and City Superintendent of Schools, 1905. Scan by Butte-Silver Bow Public Library.

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