Last week I shared about my journey from writer to million dollar art packager at the World Museum of Mining. We finished the art and John, the owner of Headframe Spirits, asked one of our supervisors if we could go up the Orphan Girl Headframe. She paused, looked around skeptically and said, “We’re going to the office. What you do is up to you.” A huge smile streaked across John’s face. He later admitted that he’d been trying to get up the Orphan Girl for years. He guessed less than 50 people in as many years had been allowed to climb to the top.
A headframe is a large steel or concrete structure that’s used to lower miners and equipment into an underground mine shaft. In Butte, Montana there are more than twelve still standing, providing beacons to the city’s rich mining history. The Orphan Girl Headframe stands 100 feet tall and once lowered miners 2700 feet into the earth. During its run from 1875 to 1956 the “Girl” pulled out 7,500,000 ounces of silver. While that’s a large amount, it’s only 1% of the total silver produced in the area.
Butte has an incredible history and for further reading I would highly recommend The Battle for Butte by Michael P. Malone.
[Click on pictures to enlarge]