|from 1884 Bird's-Eye View, via Library of Congress. Annotations by Gibson.|
Walkerville began early because of the nature of Butte’s minerals. The district is like an onion, with the core layers most copper rich, and the outer zones more silver rich. That’s why the Orphan Girl mine on the west side produced more than 7,000,000 ounces of silver before it closed in 1956 (but that's less than 1% of Butte’s silver) and why Walkerville grew up in the 1870s, before Butte’s real boom began.
Named for the Walker brothers of Salt Lake City who invested there, Walkerville held the famous Alice Mine (where Marcus Daly got his start), as well as massive associated mills. The Valdermere and Magna Charta Mines stood atop the hill to the east, and the Allie Brown, Lexington, Josephine, La Plata, and others bordered Walkerville on the south.
In 1884, much of this industrial complex was interconnected by a series of trams and railways, taking ore from smaller mines to central mills. Walkerville held one of McCune and Caplice’s largest general stores (on Main just north of Daly). The Rainbow Hotel, run by E.D. Sullivan, was on Main Street a bit north of the Lexington. The old Walkerville School on this illustration is not the Sherman School that still stands in Walkerville today.
Walkerville’s official population in 1880 was 444 (compare Butte at 3,364) but by 1890 it had quadrupled to 1,743 in the census, and nearby locations likely doubled that.