Trip to Butte Montana!

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Well-Known Member
My layout is loosely based on Northern Pacific's Butte Shortline. This is a route used by the NP for passenger traffic that broke form the mainline at Logan Montana, went over Homestake Pass, through Butte Montana and reconnected with the mainline at Garrison Montana. One of the current threads here today is a question for us about: "What Do You find to be the Most Enjoyable Aspect(s) of Model Railroading?" I stated in my response that I enjoyed researching things for my layout and therefore a trip to Butte would be considered research. We had to make a trip to Cody Wyoming to attend a Funeral and I thought adding a side trip to Butte would be fun. Butte is a very interesting city. It was started as a Mining town and continues in that capacity today. It started with gold being found in the area. When the gold played out, Silver was found and during this time copper was found in great quantities. Copper is still being mined there and the mining took place in hard rock shaft mining, with shafts descending to depths of over one mile deep! There are also open pit mines there and the current mining in Butte is being conducted in this manner. I'm uncertain why; but, you would think that freight into and out of a mining town such as Butte would rule the rails, however, on the Northern Pacific's Butte Shortline it was mostly Passenger traffic. I guess that the Butte Anaconda and Pacific which ran between Butte and Anaconda to the West and had a smelter must have hauled most of the Copper Ore from Butte.

We left Butte and drove down through the Gallatin Canyon to West Yellowstone, through Yellowstone Park and on to Cody Wyoming. It was a fun and interesting trip!


Whiskey Merchant
Glad that you enjoyed the trip to Butte. There is a lot of railroad history there along with the mining.

You are correct about the Butte Anaconda & Pacific handling the copper between Butte and the smelter in Anaconda. Back in the day the line was electrified.


The BA&P is still in operation.


The Berkeley Pit which was the open pit mine in Butte ceased operations a number of years ago. The pit required pumps to operate 24/7 in order to keep it dry and in operation. The water from th epit caused a major hazardous waste problem and the mine was shut down.

Here's a photo of it when it was in operation and the following photo is how it is today.



The railroad is based out of Anaconda and they still have a roundhouse with an operating turntable. The run mainly between Butte and Garrison Junction. The smelter was raised years ago because of environmental concerns. The remains of the smelter is buries under a hugh maound along the south side of the highway coming into town from the interstate. The huge smoke stack does still remain as a monument to the town and people who worded there. We have attended numerous bowling tournaments in Anaconda. It is a really nice little town.

Just down the street from the old Northern Pacific Depot which now houses offices is a consolidation on display in front of the Butte Civic Center.


The old Milwaukee Road station in Butte is now home to KXLF TV.

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Too bad you didn't have time to stop by on your way down the Gallatin Canyon. You passed about a half mile from me.

Glad you enjoyed the trip.
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Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
That was a nice road trip, BEADY. Yeah, I am surprised that you did not try and touch base with CHET as well. Glad you enjoyed the trip - Pic's please!

CHET - Nice photos along with the narrative.


Well-Known Member
Chet, cool! I really thought about contacting you about stopping by; however, what I thought we'd be doing and what we did ended up being two different things


Well-Known Member
Yes he did! Sirfoldalot, please know that I am the Curmudgeon from Minnesota, not the Curmudgeon from Michigan. I realize Beady and I live in the Fly Over states that no body cares about, except us, so this will not matter to anyone else. However, keep your Curmudgeons straight!

To inform why I am considered a Curmudgeon, I don't always think cameras and photographs and that I'm suppose to entertain all of you with hundreds of photos of everything I do. Consider this, on my recent trip to Butte Montana and Cody Wyoming, I only took around a dozen photos. I feel taking photographs of everything I do and places I go, to to detract from my enjoyment of my trip. I also don't take photos with a cell phone, as I don't have one and don't want one!

Back to the pertinent photos of Butte: Per the tour guide this is the Berkeley Pit and the water is 1600 feet deep at it's deepest. Last fall they had a large flock of 1500 or so geese land on the water and because the water is acidic within a short period, half of the flock where dead and the figure the other half probably flew off and died elsewhere. They have now installed bird cannons and other devices to keep birds from landing on the water. Butte is the largest Super Fund Clean up in the U.S. and they have done a great job with the clean-up, grass and trees are growing and the town is pretty now and well on the way towards fixing the 150 years of destruction and pollution that had occurred.

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The Berkeley Pit is about a mile across and about a mile and a tenth wide! It is a massive hole in the ground. My understanding is that the Berkeley Pit was closed in the 1970s. I also understand that in the process of cleaning the local water, they are recovering the metals and minerals in the water and that this clean-up is paying for itself.


Well-Known Member
Here is railroad related stuff I took photos of:

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Here is a little Narrow Gauge 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive I found at the World Museum of Mining. I didn't measure the gauge and she needs some TLC.

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Here is a stamp mill that would have been used to pound ore int smaller pieces. Having spent a lifetime around Punch Presses I was amazed that this machine is about half made from wood!

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Whiskey Merchant
Excellent photos Mark. I did forget to bring up the fact that the pit was a Super Fund site. I can remember seeing the mine in operation and to neow see it the way it is now is quite the sight.
We have a limestone quarry near our home and in the 1950's pumps worked 24/7 to keep water out of the pit. One day they blasted late and as the story goes the second shift watchman didn't show up for his tour. Shortly after the crew left, the generator failed and the back up generator didn't start.

The pit filled with water since there were no operating pumps and the blasting opened a seam permitting ground water to pour into the pit at uncountable gallons per minute. All the equipment and a locomotive was at the bottom of the pit and remains there today.

Today, the pit is part of a park.

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Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
My apologies to you, MARK!
From now on I will refer to you as Curmudgeon #1 ... and therefore,
BEADY as Curmudgeon #2.

I think that I had just read Beady's posting about the 2-6-6-6 on Justin's post, so must have had Beady on my mind.
Anyway's - it seems we all survived and the gods smiled. BTW - I really enjoyed the photos and narrative of your trip. Lots of history for sure.


Well-Known Member
This is Northern Pacific's Y-1 Consolidation Number 25 which is on desplay near the convention Center in Butte. Montanan (Chet) has a better photo showing the complete engine, above. Both he and I have Pacific Fast Mail Brass imports of Y-1 Consolidations. I could not get a good photo of the complete locomotive as a semi trailer was park next to the loco when I was there. The cab is really starting to deteriorate. This loco needs some TLC and should have a shed roof built over it. I made a photo study of the loco for reference. My brass model has a switcher type of pilot on it as at the end of these locomotives useful lives, they where used as switchers.
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I lost the Back-up Light off my Y-1 and needed to come up with a reasonable facsimile.


Well-Known Member
Everything is fine. During the summer, we have a trailer at a campgrounds on Leech Lake about 33 miles away. I have internet access there; but, don't log in so I can't respond to what is being said. We've made a short trip home now and so am reading and responding to this forum while home. We close down the trailer in October and I will be back here then. Until then, I just read; but, don't respond. I really don't model much during the Summer and this year in particular has been poor for Model Railroading for me.

Lately, it appears that few are participating at anything other than the ANPL Coffee Shop topic! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to