03 August 2009

Skywatch Friday: A looming Gallows Frame



The Original Mine "gallows frame" silhouetted against an evening sky.

Butte, Montana (aka "Butte America") was a hardrock copper mining town. Underground mining was a tough way of life: if a roof fall (called a "Duggan" after the local funeral parlor) didn't get you, "miner's con" (miner's consumption, or silicosis) might. As yet another expression of the dark humor that pervaded underground culture, miners often referred to the headframes (100-foot+ tall steel structures used to lift ore and men) as "gallows frames." Butte has a strong historic preservation movement that began 30 years ago with saving a dozen or so headframes as cultural monuments.

History and the environmental cost of modern technology are a part of everyday life in Butte. I've come to love my adopted town because of this honest acceptance of our Faustian bargain. Maybe we can even learn from it.

16 comments:

Arija said...

Mining like diving for pearls has always been fraught with danger and tragedy. Come to think of it so was railway, canal and dam building where humsn life counted for nothing and only progress was of importance.
What I really meant to say was that I like your picture and Faustian reference.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

ER: That was a neat SWF photo, nicely done.

Anonymous said...

As a old Butte Boy and Tech Grad. I have always enjoyed you pictures and comments.

"May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it."

mountain.mama said...

Cool shot!

secret agent woman said...

We have an old mining towe much liek this one in our town. It's for a zinc mine, though.

~Chris said...

What a history! I wonder what our landscapes will look like in a decade? I saw a row of windmills on route towards Sangerfield in central NY.
I enjoy your posts!
Thanks for stopping by my recent post!
all the best to you... Maria

Maria said...

oops...my husband was signed in to his google account... previous comment was from Maria ;o)

Regina said...

Wow. Great shot!

Mike said...

Cool contrasts! Great photo. Happy weekend :)

Carol said...

Love the silhouette and the history....I always enjoy these Montana stories...

Barb said...

The frame gives a hard edge to that soft pastel sky! Are your temps dropping there?

Max said...

I used to work near the Original for the company formerly known as Montana Power. I enjoyed being greeted by its early-morning sillouhette as I began each day of work.

troutbirder said...

If that's the one overlooking Butte I noticed it on the way to Rock Creek. Always left a rather eerie feeling.

Lisa Wilson said...

I love the silhouette against the sky. In the old mining town of Victor, Colorado, they light up all of their frames around the holidays. I haven't seen it in person, only in photos.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi ER, Didn't I see one of those Gallows frames in your Butte pictures when they had the big festival there not long ago????? NEAT picture---and I'm glad they are preserving history there.

Love the waterfall in your next post... WOW!!!!
Betsy

Tammie Lee said...

This photo brings back memories of the Folk Festival at sunset. I wish I had taken the underground tour, another time.
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