Butte, Montana

8/01/2019 to 8/03/2019

An Old Decaying Mining Town and More Truck Repairs

Thursday 8/01/2019     Today we left Arco, Idaho and drove 231 miles to stay at another KOA for three nights in Butte, Montana.  The only reason we are stopping here in Butte is that it's on the way to Glacier National Park.  It was another fairly boring stretch of road.  We arrived around 1 pm and quickly set up the trailer so I could drive the truck to the auto repair shop and hopefully get the air-conditioning fixed.  We were lucky on the drive here.  It was cloudy with scattered rain which made for a more comfortable ride than we were expecting without the air.  We've been in 90-degree weather for so long and were thankful that today was cooler.  When I arrived at the auto repair shop, even though I called two days ago, they said they didn't have time to look at it.  The person I spoke to wasn't there and wouldn't be back until the morning.  They asked me to return tomorrow between 8 and 8:30 am.  So, I returned to the trailer and we went for a drive around the Historical Uptown and also drove out to the suburbs just to see what was around.  This town was a booming mining town many years ago.  After the mines closed down, the population dwindled and everything in the Uptown is run down and in need of repairs or updating.  The small surrounding homes look very impoverished.  This town is most proud of their hometown hero - Evel Knievel.  We were just a few days late for their annual Evel Knievel Days Festival.  ):

Friday 8/02/2019    I left this morning around 8 am for the auto repair shop which is only a mile away and they began trying to diagnose the problem right away.   I decided to walk back to the trailer and wait for their phone call.  I received the first phone call shortly before 11 am and he said it was the compressor.  He said they would be able to do the repair today so I gave the go-ahead.  He called again around noon and said the compressor self-destructed which sends metal fragments throughout the system. Of course, this means they would have to do a more extensive/expensive repair.  I was less than thrilled with the cost but agreed to it.  Not only do they need to replace the compressor but they will also need to flush the complete AC system. We had to spend the day just hanging around the campground since we had no vehicle.  We washed a load of clothes in the laundry room and while we were waiting I walked over to the Butte's Visitor's Center.  While there I made reservations for a two-hour, open-air trolley ride tomorrow at 12:30.  The trolley driver will guide you through the town while giving you a history lesson.

I began the walk back to the auto repair shop around 3:30 pm.  I knew they closed at 5 and I wanted to be there a little early.  I wasn't sure if they completed the job yet but I thought I'd just wait around until they did.  They finished at about 4:30. I paid the invoice, cried a little and then just drove back to the campground for the evening with a much lighter wallet.

There is a hike/bike/nature trail that has an iron archway entrance immediately next to the visitor's center.  After dinner, we decided to go for a short walk.  The trail runs for 26 miles, we probably only walked a mile of it.  This section is near The Blacktail Creek.  it's just a small creek with a large pond covered with a lot of green pond scum.  Some of the path was overgrown with weeds so at least this part of the trail wasn't well maintained.  I can't say what the other 25 miles are like.  

Saturday 8/03/2019     Our trolley ride today began at 12:30 so after our breakfast of bacon and eggs, I worked some on the computer and Rose worked on a puzzle.  Around 12:10 we took the very short walk over to the visitor's center to board the trolley.  Our driver, Vera, talked for most of the 90-minute tour explaining a lot of the history of Butte.  It was established in 1984 as a mining camp.  It was one of the largest copper towns in the American West.  Workers from all over the world settled here to work in the underground mines and later in the open-pit mines.  For many years it was a boomtown.  The workers made a decent living, although it was a dangerous one as there were many deaths in the mines, and the owners (called The Copper Kings) made a fortune.  The underground mines were closed and the open-pit mine, named The Berkeley Pit opened in 1954 and it closed in 1983.  The Berkeley Pit was our only stop on the tour.  We stepped off the bus and walked through their gift shop to enter a cement encased walkway to the viewing area for the pit.  At the bottom of the pit mine was a large lake created after the deserted mine's water pumps were shut off.  This lake is totally unsafe for human or animal consumption.  It's full of acidic water laced with toxic heavy metals.  In fact, it killed hundreds of geese one year when they landed on it.  We continued driving through the old uptown, taking photos of many of the old, architecturally pleasing homes.  There were many expensive mansions in part of the town and many impoverished almost shacks in other parts.  This is a decaying town but the people that remain are still trying to revive it.  There's an almost abandoned China Town, a red-light district that was shut down years back and old buildings in need of repair.  There are still many businesses such as small restaurants, antique stores, banks, etc. that are still in business.  After driving through town we drove to their university, The Montana School of Mines which was established in 1889 (now called Montana Tech).  The university specializes in Engineering, Geologic, and Hydro-Geologic research.  Many of their graduates are hired by mining companies.  Vera said the tuition, in the beginning, was only $ 5.00 a year, I wonder what it is now.  We drove back through the uptown area with Vera pointing out additional historic buildings and then she dropped us off back at the visitor's center.

We needed groceries for the week ahead in Glacier so after we walked back to the trailer, we drove a few miles to their Walmart outside of town and stocked up.  Tomorrow morning we pack up and head for a brand new RV park near Glacier.


Sunday 8/04/2019     Today we are traveling 244 miles to Glacier National Park.

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