|Pennsylvania Mine on southeast flank of the Butte Hill, about 1900.|
The headframe is enclosed in the large building at center.
The east end of Park Street is just beyond the long building (ore bin) at right center.
By Richard I. Gibson
Twenty-one men were killed February 14, 1916, in a fire at the Pennsylvania Mine. The Pennsylvania stood at the eastern ends of Broadway and Park Streets, where Parrot Street intersected. That location is within the Berkeley Pit today, about 1,000 feet directly in front of the viewing stand on the rim, as you look across the pit.
In 1916 the Pennsylvania was one of the major mines, with at least 41 separate structures on the site, ranging from an ice house to the two-story, 40-foot-long change house or dry. The mine was established by 1887 by “Sheriff Lloyd, his brother, and the Harris boys” (Butte Miner, Nov. 28, 1888) and sold in early 1888 to the Boston & Montana Company, with the Lewisohn Brothers of New York among the principals. By 1899, the B & M was part of the Amalgamated (Anaconda) and the stage was set for one of the main battles in the War of the Copper Kings.
Amalgamated owed the Pennsylvania and the nearby Michael Davitt, but Augustus Heinze controlled the Rarus, immediately to the northeast. On December 28, 1899, Judge Clancy had decided the Pennsylvania vein was owned by Heinze’s Montana Ore Purchasing Company, setting up additional lawsuits. Ultimately, the Pennsylvania became the scene of some of the actual underground warfare as well as legal wrangling, until 1906 when most of Heinze’s properties were acquired by the Anaconda. See The Battle for Butte for more of this story.
|click to enlarge|
The fire was not fully extinguished until April 5. Concrete bulkheads were constructed to protect interconnected mines from the smoke, and extensive mining work was necessary to control the blaze.
|Draeger breathing apparatus|
Resources: The Battle For Butte, by Michael Malone (U. of Washington Press, 2006, especially pages 144, 168, 172, 179-81); The Underground Battle of the Miners, by C.P. Connolly, McClure’s Magazine, May 1907; The Pennsylvania Mine Fire Butte, Mont., by C.E. Nighman and R.S. Foster, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, vol. 57, 1918 (source of underground mine map). Nighman was the Fireboss and Foster was the Safety Engineer for the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. Photo of miner with Draeger apparatus at a Pennsylvania coal mine, from Library of Congress, Lewis Hine, photographer, January 1911. Surface photo from A Brief History of Butte, by Harry Freeman, 1900. Post-card view circa 1905.