I recently took a tour of things hidden and unique in the mysterious town of Butte, Montana. So many directions to go when looking into this once thriving city. Now just a figment of its past, Butte, Montana offers a deep glimpse into many facets of how it was to live a hundred years ago.
One of our biggest mistakes as humans is failure to understand history, to study it, and prevent the same catastrophes. Aren’t we as a nation somewhere close to the end of other mighty empires such as Rome, Persia, Mongolia? Doesn’t if feel like today’s corruption has gotten to an all time high? Well folks, while many things in our society seem out of control and destined for a ruin straight out of the book of Revelations (Bible) society has always been corrupt. Man has always had sin in his heart.
Enter the booming city of Butte. Once one of the largest, prospering cities in the country…most of you probably have never heard of it now. It sits near polluted old mines, empty buildings and churches, etc. etc.
The point of this blog isn’t to get into all of that but just to lay the foundation for a jail known to the FBI and other Federal agencies as “The Dungeon”. Butte was a harsh town, even though it was booming and many were prospering there was very much corruption. The Butte jail was a thing of medieval lay out. It could be entered from an alley, stepping down into the belly of the dungeon. Temperatures could range from brutally cold to scalding hot depending on how the mines were going. Majority of time the dungeon reached into 105 degrees.
The solid steel is something I’d have presumed would have been in a castle dungeon in medieval England not the northwestern territory of the United States. In here, those unfortunate enough to occupy its internal walls, not only faced temperature issues but zealous officers who used saps and billy clubs. Many patrons of the jail were known to have numerous injuries attributed to “falls” or “self inflicted wounds”.
Unique to Butte was a miserable cell that had not toilet, water, or lighting…just a window at street level for snickering citizens to walk by and jeer your current plight.
There were some familiar faces in this jail. One who was a frequent flyer and the most famous resident , Evil Knievel (i.e. William “awful” Knofel).
I would suspect that there will be many new items coming out about this jail once a few more old timers pass. Its rumored there is several “memoirs” in safety deposit boxes just waiting for the right corrupt government officials to pass on. This included the police which were always connected to swindling, corruption, pay backs, and arsons.
This is one very well preserved jail. Everything was left as it was when it was shut down after a suicide in 1971 and the federal government deeming it a “dungeon”. This is something you should take the time to go see if your ever in Butte, Montana. There are many fascinating stories about people who came through the doors, the corruption of politicians, corrupt businessman, misuse of color of authority, and numerous other stories.
It was fun to have a local tour guide on this exploration. So many fascinating stories that only can be told by an “old timer” in love with the history of yesteryear. One of my favorites was someone on a tour, inside the women’s cell finding her aunts writing on the wall, connecting her to someone (so and so plus so and so) who was not her aunts husband!
My biggest take away as I exited the old jail, listening to the guide talk about stories, was how amazing the study of history is. How we have so much we could learn from our pasts so we don’t repeat the same failures.