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, October 4, 2012

What Price Civic Glory?

One of 40+ Shabbishacks announcements from May-June 1928.
Click to enlarge.
by Richard I. Gibson

The 1928 Shabbishacks campaign was probably the first concerted effort to remove “blight” in Butte. It’s discussed in Lost Butte, but there were more than 100 buildings demolished as part of this program, led by W.A. Kemper, president of the Better Butte Association. In all likelihood, most of these buildings were about to fall down and some had been abandoned for ten years or more; one blew down in a wind storm shortly after it appeared in the daily newspaper notices of derelict buildings.

The frame house shown here, at 509 Jasper Street, was built after 1900 and before 1912 in the Gagnon Addition. Where is Jasper Street? It’s a very short street south of West Woolman and north of Caledonia, extending west from Jackson St. to the next alley. Today as far as I can tell there are no addresses on Jasper, and even in its heyday it was only long enough to contain six homes, three on each side. 509 sat on the north side, the westernmost house on the short block, at the alley.

The West Gagnon Mine was straight east across Jackson from the intersection with Jasper Street. It exploited the Gambrinus Vein in its earlier years, and in the early 1960s the Anaconda Company was using the West Gagnon shaft as an exhaust ventilation conduit for the Steward Mine. Today, the mineyard is reclaimed open space (east of Jackson, south of Woolman), with the shaft bulkheaded. The West Gagnon was one of those smaller (albeit more than 2,200 feet deep) “neighborhood mines” that are hard for us newcomers to visualize today.

You'll find an album containing many of the Shabbishacks images on the Lost Butte Facebook page.

Image from Butte Miner, June 1928 (newspaper at Butte Archives).


  1. I like the concept of "neighborhood mines." Have you written about these in a post, Dick? I'm assuming they were independently owned, not ACM etc.

    Concern about rundown homes I think goes with the territory for working class cities, boom/bust economies, and boosters who want the place to look spiffy. The "urban blight" concern culminated in my hometown (Bradford PA) with "urban renewal" -- which consisted mostly of aluminum siding and aluminum window frames slapped on to wood clapboard homes built c. 1880-1900.

    1. The ones I mean by "neighborhood mines" are just the kinda smaller ones that were right next to homes and streets. In early days they would have been owned by anybody, but eventually they were ACM's (or were abandoned). One example would be the one (Silver King) that was in what's now the park by my house - http://buttehistory.blogspot.com/2012/05/silver-king-lode.html (and its fellow shaft at 210 W. Quartz, between two homes); the Destroying Angel would work for that neighborhood category as well, at 35 W. Galena; the two Gold Hill mines were pretty much right around houses (one about where the new jail is, the other south of Copper St. facing the intersection with Pennsylvania). I suppose the Stephens Mine might count, but it was so early it was really on the edge of town at what is now the intersection of Jackson and Mercury - http://buttehistory.blogspot.com/2012/01/old-jail-on-jackson-street-1884.html . Several shafts on the East Side, including the Dutton, and of course several in Meaderville, were basically right next to homes.

  2. Your a Scholar Richard interesting lot of old history Butte Montana