BUTTE – Butte’s known as the most Irish town in America, but give credit to the Cornish people for helping to build the Mining City.
“The mine owners were interested in Cornish miners because they were experienced. They knew deep, deep mines, they had worked in all those areas,” said Butte historian Barbara Parker.
Mining had been going on in Cornwall, England, as far back as 2000 BC.
“And when the lead and tin ran out in Cornwall, England, they were looking for other places to go where they could find jobs,” Parker said.
Many came to America and eventually ended up in Butte, America. Several Cornish settled in the old Butte neighborhood of Centerville.
“It wasn’t totally Cornish, it was about 50 percent Cornish and 50 percent Irish,” Parker said.
While many Cornish families left Butte, one Cornish delight still thrives here: The pasty.
“The pasty was what the Cornish miner was sent to the mine with because it was a hot meal he could have in the middle of the day,” Parker said.
Miners could hold the crust of the pasty with dirty hands and then leave the dirty edge in the mine for the mythical tommyknockers to eat.
“They’d leave those crusts for them. The tommyknockers could bring good luck or bad luck. You never ever knew in the mines,” Parker said.
Pasties are still made today in the traditional way.
“Diced potatoes, meat, salt and pepper and onions. It’s definitely one of the four main food groups. It can be a food group itself, it’s so hardy and filling,” said pasty cook Katalena West.
Joe’s Pastys has no probably tracking customers because they’re world famous, they get people from all over the world who have heard about this place.
“I’ve met people from Hawaii, Canada, like Washington, even from over in Bozeman,” West said.
Perhaps they may come back over from Cornwall.
-John Emeigh reporting for MTN