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 8, 2013

Death by Lion



By Richard I. Gibson

The gruesome news spread quickly around the world. Even the Taranaki (New Zealand) Herald carried the report of the lion that attacked trainer Walter Blanchard, better known as Zeke Walters, during the Lehman Brothers Circus parade in Butte Saturday October 1, 1898.

The trainer “was attacked in the lion cage by one of the lions, who felled him with a blow on the head with its paws and continued the attack as he lay prostrate. Walters grabbed one of the bars of the cage and drew himself to his feet at the same time attempting to fight off the brute. Almost blinded by blood from the wounds in his head, Walters dragged himself to the door at the rear of the cage and unfastening it he leaped to the street and fell unconscious to the ground. The door slammed shut after his exit, thus preventing the escape of the animal.”

A male lion, a female, and a “well-grown cub” were in the cage with 30-year-old Walters when the circus parade, including camels and elephants, made its way up Arizona Street. Just south of the Montana Central-Great Northern Railroad crossing (i.e., Iron Street) the male lion roared (it “could be heard for blocks”) and set to the attack.

Walters was taken to Murray & Freund Hospital at Quartz and Alaska Streets where he remained in critical condition for more than a week before he died. The story was picked up and reported in newspapers in Middletown NY, Revelstoke BC, London England, Titusville Florida, and many more. The clipping above is from the San Francisco Call. By 1898, much of the world was interconnected by sub-oceanic telegraph cables, allowing the word to spread from Butte to New York to London and thence to Australia and New Zealand in a matter of hours.

Quotes from Butte Miner in Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives. Photo (left) is from the Chinn Family photo archives at the Mai Wah Museum. The poster is attached to the Mai Wah building at right and is circa 1950.

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