Among the many archetypal tales that could be told about the development of America and how it shaped the world we live in today, one of the most resonant is that of the rise, fall, and unlikely persistence of Butte, Montana.
magine 10,000 miles of mine shafts and tunnels, ore trains running day and night, round-the-clock blasting and drilling, 15,000 men speaking a dozen different languages and working in as many as 50 mines. The city of Butte was, in effect, a mammoth subterranean machine, one so powerful that within two generations it transformed a small mountain settlement into a full-blown urban-industrial metropolis. Sometimes called the Pittsburgh of the West, Butte is the native home of the copper mining industry, and its productivity strongly influenced the material and economic well-being of America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Butte’s history is a saga of unbridled capitalism and urban vitality. It is the story of the evolution and eventual eclipse of skilled manual labor; of immigration and unionism; of corporate colonialism and global geopolitics; of rapid urban development and its social ramifications; of the evolving roles of women in contemporary society; and of an influential but largely unappreciated frontier experience.
“Butte, America captures the gravity and history of the most interesting city in the American West. A memorable film about an unforgettable place.”
Tom McGuane, Nothing but Blue Skies, Gallatin Canyon