|Cherokee Park at upper right|
By Richard I. Gibson
I’ve known that my 1898 house is set into mine waste since nearly the day I moved in, when I saw mica and pyrite on the basement floor. It was sloughing off the exposed wall beneath the stairs, where angular pyrite-bearing granite chunks and loose fine material were clearly visible. It wasn’t long before I learned that Uptown Butte’s parks mark old mine sites, but it was a good while before I discovered Sanborn maps and found that the park just north of my house, Cherokee Park (locals call it Cheese Park, but that’s another story), is the site of the Silver King Mine.
|The black layer is probably decomposed wood|
Soon the one-foot hole was 15 feet long and nearly as deep. Environmental Manager Tom Malloy pointed out the layers of fill – possibly some asphalt in the shallower zones, but mostly obvious mine waste like that in my basement, plus mixed coarse soil and rocks. We speculated that one black zone in the excavation wall, maybe three feet down, was coal or slag or charcoal. Eventually the excavator revealed a small hole at the bottom, presumably the sump taking water through the material, ultimately allowing for the collapse that made the original hole in the pavement up top.
|Probably bedrock at left and|
below debris (with brick) at right
|Close to my house!|
|My lot is the red square|
|Red dots: modern road alongside Cherokee Park.|
Blue oval: the excavation. 1914 Sanborn map.
|House alignment on W. Quartz reflects|
edge of Plymouth Claim
|Coppery shows in a rock from the dig|
Assuming that the Sanborn map is correct, the Cherokee Park Silver King mine operation ended at least 102 years ago, before 1910. The material in the excavation hole included a few bricks along with big loose rocks, all about 10 feet down; the suggestion is strong that there was a lot of filling going on even that long ago. I have not figured out when the curving extension of Crystal Street, along the southwestern edge of Cherokee Park, was installed. It does not show on the 1951 Sanborn map, while the house on the end of Crystal (in the middle of the street; address 535, and gone today) is still there together with the secondary headframe north of my house (301), so this area might have still been mine dumps as late as the 1950s.
|LOTS of cement!|
Funding for the B-SB Shaft Failure and Subsidence Mitigation Program is courtesy of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), Conservation and Resource Development Division, Resource Development Bureau, RIT Grant. Anywhere on the Butte Hill, if you see a suspicious hole in the ground, or even a curious depression, or an intriguing ground slump, the very first thing you should do, is to take three steps backward. Then call for assistance. BSB Planning Dept., Tom Malloy, 497-6257 or 490-4286.