|Earl of Rosebery (image from Wikipedia)|
Rosebery’s American business interests were developed by a dashing young New Yorker, Ferdinand Van Zandt. The growing silver mines at Burlington, a few miles west of Butte, led him to encourage Rosebery to invest in the Bluebird Mine in 1885, and November 22, 1886, Van Zandt’s 90-stamp mill opened there, helping yield the remarkable output of 1.4 million ounces of silver in 1888 alone.
|Home of Van Zandt in Burlington (c. 1906)|
|Town of Burlington (c. 1906)|
Burlington itself suffered because the Bluebird Mine and mill were the town’s primary employers, even though a number of smaller mines were in the vicinity including the Great Republic, Champion, and Moody & Sankey. All were primarily silver producers and all suffered mightily in the collapse of 1893.
Burlington had begun in a big way in 1885 when the post office was established. Within a few years some 2,000 residents called the place home, making for a flourishing community supporting at least seven saloons, two groceries, several hotels, a church, a community library, and a school. In 1887 the Bluebird was the only non-union operation in the Butte District; on June 13 that year (Miner’s Union Day) union leaders from Butte hiked out the Bluebird Trail (the westward extension of Park Street) and intimidated workers at the Bluebird Mine, bringing them back to Butte where they were initiated into the union, making Butte a closed shop, with all mines unionized.
|Bluebird Mill about 1897, when it was idle. See map below for location.|
Following the crash of 1893, at least 60 houses were loaded onto wagons and relocated into Butte. The town died a decade-long death. The post office closed in 1901 and the last business, a saloon and road house, shut down in 1905. Twelve families were still hanging on in 1906. For a time early in the 20th Century, Burlington’s dairy cows reportedly provided as much as 25 wagons of milk to Butte daily.
|Map (1896) of area west of Butte, to Burlington, Bluebird, and Rocker. Click to enlarge.|