Butte, a dismal town, was once the roughest and the brightest of the western mining camps. Until a few years ago gambling was legal there, and there was a famous "prostitutes' line" ("Just over there," an Anaconda official remarked to me nostalgically, "you could almost see it from my window.") Now all is drab and dingy, and the few nightclubs, ablaze with tawdry light, are outside the town in a dreary little hamlet among the hills. You can still hear many different languages in the bard of Butte, and on the town boundary there is an official sign which says of the place: "She was a bold, unashamed, rootin', tootin', hell-roarin' camp in days gone by and still drinks her liquor straight." But there is an endless dull slovenliness about the town that is greatly depressing, and frequently you can see cracks in the streets, and green grass growing, and the signs of movement and stress that show a mine shaft is beneath.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
There's no doubt that most of the quotes you'll see about Montana are laudatory, but of course that isn't always the case ... it depends on what the author does, and where he goes. This, for example, is what the noted British travel writer Jan Morris had to say after visiting Butte, as reported in the 1956 volume Coast to Coast: