I wonder how many generations have walked this wooden sidewalk.
I wonder how grandchildren were scolded for running and jumping too close too its abrupt edge. Perhaps you were one of those grandchildren, or your father or mother was.
And where were they going?
Were they dressed in bonnets and dresses for Sunday church at the IC?
Was dad walking with his lunch pale in hand to the Anselmo Mineyard to work a 12 hour shift?
Did this fenced in yard have a beautifully modest one-room home where all 5 kids slept in 2 beds, or was it a Victorian mansion?
If I were here 100 years ago, would I see three heads peaking over the fence to watch the sunset, with Dad standing behind holding the baby up high to see over the older children?
And in 100 years, will the next people wonder about me, and you, or will this be perfectly paved over for modernization, with nothing to wonder about?
We have so many hidden treasures in this town, that if you don’t take that turn through the winding uptown side streets, if you don’t venture up that hill that seems to steep to be legal, or venture on this street where the North side is 10 feet higher than the left side and split in the middle, then you’ll never see things like this.
Because it’s hard to tell people why they should come here, if we haven’t really experienced it for ourselves.
“Come here! We have rich history!” isn’t very intriguing, is it. Not unless you’re an already half-obsessed history nerd like me and the rest of us floating around this town. I mean, who wants to get a history lesson when they can go to the Bahamas?
But what if we intrigue them with what will ACTUALLY happen when they come?
“When you’re walking and driving in Butte, you’ll walk along the 100-year old wooden sidewalks the miners traveled on to get to work, you’ll eat like they did, a meat and potato pie “pasty” that will fit in your hand but not in your stomach, you’ll breath in the same constant 50 degree cool air when you tour the underground mine. You’ll see hundreds of historic landmarks but even better than that, are the unmarked treasures that are everywhere. “
We have something no other city in this state or even country has – and it isn’t merely “history” or a “historical landmark district” or “museums & tours.” Because every city has that, and it makes us sound much more ordinary than we are.
It’s that experience – but the problem is, you can’t just “say” come experience Butte’s history, you have to show them with words and pictures that aren’t “calendar picturesque”. You have to give them those details to make them think, “I want to walk along that 100-year old wooden sidewalk….I want to see what it was like to be a miner and eat that “pasty” thing, I want a new vacation that is much more interesting than beaches and roller-coasters this time…
…I want to go to Butte.