BUTTE – Brian Leech named his latest book about Butte “The City That Ate Itself” over the way older Butte residents talked about their old neighborhoods.
“They would say, ‘It ate this part of the neighborhood and then the mining operation ate this,’” said Leech.
Leech, formerly from Missoula and is now a professor in Illinois, spoke in Butte this week about his book that examines the history of the open pit mining and the Berkeley Pit. He talks about how Butte and the pit – for better or worse – will forever be one.
“Uptown in Butte is one of the best looking central business districts that most cities would kill themselves for, but you also have to live with this pit at the same time and I think they are kind of part and parcel. They kind of built each other,” said Leech.
He notes that unlike other mining cities that have changed their image, Butte will always have to live with the pit.
“And you can bicker and change how you’re going to fix it and solve the problem, but you’re still going to have to perpetually manage it,” he said.
Leech added that he’s impressed how involved the public has been in the recent Superfund cleanup as the final record of decision plan is being drafted.
“It’s good to have community members knowing what’s happening, be really aware of the kind of decisions being made sometimes on their behalf,” said Leech.
Making peace with the pit.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News