Butte…..the Big Hole

We spent two hot days in Butte as we traveled south from the Sweet Grass Hills. Butte is a town we wanted to visit more from a historical perspective than because of its beautiful scenery or recreational opportunities.

Headframe, Orphan Girl Mine, Butte

Butte’s origins are exclusively related to the mining of silver and copper. The land area that is now Butte was nothing more than a scattering of mining camps on “the hill”. Of course, once silver and copper was discovered in 1870 the boom was underway.

The town grew exponentially for a number of years until a fire in 1879 leveled the town. The town was quickly rebuilt using only stone and brick which is why so much of the Uptown Butte (downtown) area remains intact today.

All of the photos above are from the Orphan Girl mine. We toured the mine and were able to walk down (with a guide) to tunnels about 150 feet under the surface. The mine ultimately operated at 3000 feet under the surface.

The mine operated from 1875 until 1950 and produced 7.6 million ounces of silver as well as lead and zinc. In 1965 the mine was repurposed as a mining museum and opened to the public for tours. The mine is also utilized by students at the Monatana Technical University School of Mines and Engineering as a hands on laboratory for their Mining Engineering students. The campus sits adjacent to the Orphan Girl site and the school has its own entrance into the mine from within the campus.

While the Orphan Girl produced primarily silver, it was copper that drove the growth and prosperity of Butte. The introduction of electricity on a widespread basis created an insatiable demand for copper wiring. World War 1 added to the demand as military rifle ammunition used copper jackets.

Mine Elevator

Butte, unlike many other mining towns, continued to prosper well into the 20th century owing to the massive deposit of copper and the demand for copper for use in modern electronics. Over time the various copper mines were purchased and operated by the Anaconda Mining Company.

In the aftermath of all of the acquisitions, Anaconda sought to reduce expenses through the 1930s and 1940s which led inevitably to labor disputes and costly strikes. Ultimately, during the 1950s the company responded by beginning to strip mine for the copper.

Berkley Pit

All of silver and copper in and around Butte had been conducted as underground hard rock tunnel mining until 1952. The area around the mines were dotted with neighborhoods and small towns. The strip mining completely destroyed the area as people and businesses were forced to relocate. The photos above and below are of the flooded portion of the Berkely Pit.

The strip mining continued until 1982 by which time the pit was 7000 feet long, 5600 feet wide and 1600 feet deep. Two entire towns, Meaderville and McQueen as well as much of the east end of Butte were ultimately consumed by the pit.

When the mine ceased operations, the water pumps were shut down and the pit began to fill with heavily acidic water, resulting in the leaching of heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the water in the pit. The water level is currently at 900 feet.

Not surprisingly, the pit was declared a superfund site and is the largest such site in the United States. The site has been remediated and a water filtration plant is in operation to remove the metals and toxic chemicals that continue to leach from the sides of the pit.

The land adjacent to the Berkely Pit is still rich with copper – yes – strip mining for copper resumed in 1982 right next to the Berkely Pit. Let’s hope the environmental regulators have stayed on top of things with this mine.

P.S. We took the photos of the Berkely Pit from the viewing stand on top of the pit. Just three dollars per person to see the largest superfund site in America in person – yep, the pit is a tourist attraction – exit through the gift shop!

Berkely Pit, 1972, Courtesy Montana Standard

Mining is the reason for Butte and is still a major part of the local economy. The Berkley Pit will always be there as an ugly reminder of the decision to switch from tunnel mining to strip mining in order to lower labor costs. In the end, labor costs were minor in comparison to the initial cost of remediating the pit and associated ongoing costs.

Butte certainly has a colorful history as a mining town and a tough legacy as the location of the largest superfund site in America. A lesser claim to fame is that the longest continuosly running brothel in America was located in Butte, closing – you guessed it – in 1982 when the Berkely Pit shut down.

There is beautiful country and plenty of recreational opportunities all around Butte. Butte proper is not an attractive city but worth a quick visit if you have an interest in seeing and better understanding local history and the impact of large scale mining.

Be seeing you!

Falling for…Fallingwater

Fallingwater

After our visit to Pittsburgh we decided to head south to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece Fallingwater. Fallingwater was designed for the Kaufman family. Edgar and Liliane Kaufman were prominent members of Pittsburgh society and owners of the highly successful Kaufman’s Department Store.

The Kaufmans owned the property at Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands where they had a rustic weekend retreat. The met Frank Lloyd Wright through their son Edgar jr. The younger Edgar studied with Wright for a short time at Taliesin in Wisconsin.

Edgar jr sold the home and 1500 acres of land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy with the proviso that the home be open to the public. The conservancy purchased another 3500 acres adjacent to the former Kaufman property to assure that the area remains unspoiled for future generations.

Bear Run

Wright designed the house in 1935 after visiting the site and integrated the house into the waterfall and landscape in brillant fashion. Wright practiced what he called “organic” architecture and Fallingwater is undoubtedly unparalled in that regard.

Wright also designed many innovative and one of a kind pieces of furniture which can be found throughout the main house and the guest house.

Wright designed over 1000 structures in a career that spanned 70 years. Just over half of his designs were constructed. He was a pioneer in many facets of design and was acknowldeged by the American Institute of Architects in 1991 as the greatest American architect of all time.

Wright’s designs were not limited to just his well known private residences. He designed churches, schools, museums, hotels and office buildings. Additionally, he designed one gas station (which we stumbled upon during our previous wanderings in Michigan.)

In addition to achieving phenomenal fame as an architect Wright also achieved significant noteriety in his personal life. During his life he was married and divorced several times in very public fashion and suffered the tragedy of having a lover and her children murdered at his studio while he was away on business. Recommended reading -The Fellowship:The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship.

Fallingwater is located near Ohiopyle, Pennsylavania. Ohiopyle State Park encompasses over 20,000 acres of beautiful scenery for hiking and camping. The Youghiogeheny (yawk) River runs though the middle of the park and provides serious whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities. Additionally, the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail runs through the park with a trailhead in town for easy access to ride towards the Pittsburgh or Cumberland, Maryland terminus points.

The combination of outdoor activites and Fallingwater makes Ohiopyle a popular destination with many visitors. As we visited early in the season there were no crowds. We definitely recommend the Ohiopyle area as worth a several day visit.

Be seeing you!

P.S. There is a second Frank Lloyd Wright designed house (Kentuck Knob) close by which is open for tours. Kentuck Knob is an example of Wright’s Usonian (affordable) designs.

Georgia O’Keffee

We are off the road for several days to explore Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our first stop (well second actually – fika at Iconik Roasters – we spent the afternoon basking in the brillance of the 300 or so works on display at the eponymous museum dedicated to her life and work.

Maria has long been an avid fan of her painting. Stephen on the other hand had not given her work serious attention – thinking her a painter of pastel colored flowers.

O’Keffee produced about 3000 works in her 60 year career. The museum owns 1100 of her works – phenomenally all but two were donated to the museum. The 300 paintings on display are grouped across eight galleries that relate to various phases of her life and creative focus.

O’Keffee split her time between New York and New Mexico for about thirty years. After her husband passed away she moved to New Mexico permanently although she traveled to South America and Japan several times.

O’Keffee was initally critized by the male dominated artistic community for her use of bright colors. She loved color and refused to adopt the darker tones that the prominent artists of the time considered appropriate. Her strength as a woman and commitment to what and how she wanted to paint what she saw is evident through out the exhibits and the narrative of her life.

We have included a small sample of photographs of we took at the museum. The paintings featured below cover the period 1917-1958 and represent work from New Mexico and New York.

The Georgia O’Keffee is a must when you visit Santa Fe.

Mesa and Road East, 1952

Ritz Tower, 1928

Green and White, 1957-1958

Church Steeple, 1930

Autumn Trees – The Maple, 1924

Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur, 1930

Church Bell, Ward, Colorado, 1917

Mesa Verde National Park

This trip will take us through New Mexico and deep into (the heart of) Texas before turning east along the Gulf Coast and eventually driving back to Connecticut. As usual we began our trip in Salt Lake City where we have been storing the Beast between trips.

After a day of travel to SLC and a day of preparing the Beast for this journey we departed for Moab, UT. We spent an overnight in Moab, UT (Moab Coffee Roasters) before traveling to southwestern Colorado to view some of the finest examples of Peubloan cliff and mesa communities in existence today.

Mesa Verde National Park was created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for the explicit purpose of preserving the remarkable Ancesteral Peublo architecture. Mesa Verde was occupied by the Pueblo people for about 750 years beginning in 550 A.D.

MVNP is definitely a bit off the beaten path but we think more than worth the drive. The park is laid out with a loop drive that allows you to see many of the cliff villages from excellent view points. There are a number of kivas that have been excavated which are easily accessible by foot.

In the summer months you can also tour several of the cliff dwellings on ranger guided tours. The Far View Lodge offers acommodations with outstanding views of the mesa and canyons below. There is also a small musueum located in the park about twenty miles from the entrance.

There are a number of indigenous sites in the Four Corners area which could easily be combined with a visit to MVNP for an extended tour; Canyons of the Ancients and Chaco Culture National Historic Park are two major sites.

A definite recommend on our part.

Be seeing you!

New England Rail Trips

We made our final day trip of this home stay to Springfield, MA to check out the 3rd wave coffee scene, find the murals and visit the local art museums. We have been taking full advantage of the 17 daily trains that run from New Haven to Springfield frequently, utilizing the train for our trips into New Haven and Hartford. We extended our use of the CT Railroad by riding from the Meriden Station through to Union Station in downtown Springfield.

We have to admit that our only experience of Springfield derives mainly from passing through on I-91 on our way to Vermont and back. So this trip presented us with the opportunity to get to know more about the city and its history.

First to the coffee – no joy! Sorry to report that the downtown area is bereft of 3rd wave coffee establishments. There are a number of specialty coffee cafes and roasters just outside of Springfield – particularly west of the river.

The street art mural scene however provides great joy. Springfield, with the support of the Common Wealth Mural Collaborative, launched Fresh Paint Springfield in June of 2019. FPS is week long mural festival which also features many other cultural and food events throughout the week. A total of 22 murals were completed by 17 professional muralists with the help of local mural assistants. Fortunately, the mural festival was a big hit and will return for its second run in June 2020. We have included a sampling of photos of some of the moving, imaginative and colorful murals we saw on this trip.

http://www.freshpaintspringfield.com

Springfield boasts two fine art museums located in a quadrangle of distinctive buildings which also house a science museum, a museum of Springfield history and the Dr. Seuss Museum. Both of the art museums came about as the result of wealthy Springfield art collectors donating their personal collections to form the museums.

We spent most of our time at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts owing to our affinity for French Impressionism. The D’Amour has a small but impressive gallery of French Impressionist works along with galleries featuring 17th, 18th and 19th century Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian paintings.

The other art museum is the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. The GWVS collection consists mainly of Japanese and Chinese porcelains, bronzes, jade and arms and armor. There is also a smaller gallery dedicated to art of the Islamic world. The Japanese armor and arms were the high point along with the painted tiles in the Islamic gallery.

Springfield like many former manufacturing hubs in the northeast has seen better days. We noted a lot of work going on to renovate and utilize the many still standing factory buildings for retail, office and habitational space. The area proximate to the museum quadrangle is home to several beautiful cathedrals and several historic residential areas where 19th century row houses have been renovated.

Springfield by train was an excellent day trip albeit no specialty coffee!

Crossing Connecticut River on CT Railroad

No Coffee Zone!

Quay at Camaret, 1894, Maximilien Luce

Portrait of Gabrielle in Red, 1899, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

La Seine, Undated, Maximilien Luce

Seascape in Brittany, 1899, Paul Gauguin

Factory Near Pontoise, 1873, Camille Pissarro

Promenade on the Beach, 1880, Winslow Homer

July, 1955, John Rogers Cox

Hiking Socks by Kathryn Lewis

Mattoon and Elliot Street Historic District

CT Road Trips: William Benton Museum of Art

Our third CT Road Trip of this home stay found Maria and me traveling to eastern Connecticut to visit the William Benton Museum of Art. The Benton is located on the Storrs campus of UCONN. We followed Route 66 from Middletown to Willimantic which took us through a part of Connecticut that still retains a very rural feel with small towns and many historic homes, buildings and farms.

We made Willimantic our first stop to check out Grounded Coffee Co. http://groundedcoffeecompany.org/ and search out street murals in the otherwise depressed downtown area. Grounded Coffee sits right on Main Street in a historic structure built in 1831. The cafe occupies the ground floor. The owners did a nice job working around the central four-sided fireplace in creating a comfortable and pleasing space. In addition to a full menu of coffee and tea drinks GC offers a light food menu. GC is definitely the best choice for coffee in the Willimantic area in our opinion.

Willimantic has been very active over the last several years in sponsoring and promoting street murals. We found many interesting murals, a number of which are historical murals depicting the history of “Thread City” as a textile hub during the first half of the 20th century.

The Benton Museum https://benton.uconn.edu/# is a very small museum located in the heart of the Storrs UCONN campus. There is no admission charge and unfortunately very limited parking (four spaces) adjacent to the museum. We were fortunate to arrive to find one of the spaces available (get a pass at the front desk for your car window to avoid being ticketed or towed).

The museum has a permanent collection in the main gallery – From Old Masters to Revolutionaries: Five Centuries of the Benton’s Best and an additional two galleries featuring current exhibits. We were able to tour the entire museum in under two hours. We found two of the three current exhibitions to be worthwhile – Halt the Hun: Atrocity Propaganda in World War 1 and DEMOKRACJA GRAFIKA.

“Halt the Hun” featured posters created by artists to rally Americans to support the war effort by buying Liberty Bonds while “DEMOKRACJA” provides insight into life in Poland during the Cold War. UCONN has had an exchange program with the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow since the 1980s which is where the majority of the prints on display were produced.

We recommend the museum with the caveat that you check out the current exhibitions before visiting as the permanent collection is small (but good).

For our next trip in January we are planning to cross state lines and venture north for more fika, street murals and fine art.

Be seeing you!

Thread City

Walt Kuhn, Study for Bareback Rider, 1926

Caleb Arnold Slade, Atelier at the Academie Julian, 1905

Reginald Marsh, Locomotive and Catwalk Structure, 1927

Gabriele Munter, Fabrik, 1908

Rembrandt Peale, Captain Paul Ambrose and His Daughter, 1825

Charles Courtney Curran, Girl with Fluttering Scarf, 1924

Frank Lloyd Wright, Peacock Chair from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 1921

Henry Patrick Raleigh, Halt the Hun, 1918

CT Road Trips: Yale University Art Gallery

Our second road trip of this home stay found us in New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery (http://www.artgallery.yale.edu ). We were particularly interested in seeing the three exhibitions currently on display.

Of course all road trips require sustenance in the form of coffee pre-activity and a meal with wine post activity. We enjoyed fika at Fussy Coffee ( http://www.drinkfussycoffee.com ) on Winchester Avenue. In addition to great coffee and light food, Fussy is strategically located next to the Farmington Canal Greenway which made for an easy and pleasant walk to Chapel Street for our museum visit. An added bonus of this location was the opportunity to view Kwadwo Adae’s mural “locomotion” which is on the FCG about three blocks north of Fussy Coffee (#streetartfromthe road).

After viewing the exhibitions, we made the short walk down Chapel Street for our repast at Atelier Florian (www.atelierflorian.net ). The focus here is on seafood. We tried the mussels, calamari and seafood tacos accompanied by white wine and found all to be delicious. A terrific spot for a mid-afternoon break.

P.S. As an added bonus we have included several paintings from prominent artists that we viewed on our way between the exhibitions.

William Bailey: Looking Through Time

This exhibition consists of a number of oil paintings by long time Yale art professor William Bailey. Bailey focused on still-life paintings at a time when abstract painting was very much in vogue. The majority of the paintings on display are large still-life oil paintings. The colors are muted yet vibrant while stylistically relecting many different artists and periods. Photographs of eight of his paintings on display are included below. Many of these paintings were done during his visits to Italy.

Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art

This exhibit includes paintings, wood carvings, textiles, pottery, photographs and drawings from the Yale collection as well as several other institutions. The exhibition includes pieces from a variety of first nations and tribes across the United States. The curators have been quite clear in the narrative to acknowledge that much if not all of this work was essentially stolen from the rightful owners as tribes were forced onto reservations. Yale has returned hundreds of artifacts to tribal nations over the last several years.

Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection

This exhibit provides 15 splendid examples of ceremonial clothing worn for special occasions such as birth, marriage, death and harvest. The clothing is incredibly intricate and detailed. All of this clothing was made by women who typically do everything from gathering the cotton, dyeing the material, sewing and embroidering the outfits. The groom’s wedding outfit in the exhibition was made by his bride to be! There is also a display of hats and jewelry that were worn at these ceremonies. This collection was recently gifted to Yale but is only on display through January 5, 2020.

Below Zero, Winslow Homer, 1894

“Hands Up” (Holdup in the Canyon), N.C. Wyeth, 1906

Le cafe’ de nuit, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Femme assise (Seated Woman), Pablo Picasso, 1936

APB’s (Afro-Parisian Brothers), Barkley L. Hendricks, 1978

Locomotion, Kwadwo Adae, 2015

Atelier Florian and Fussy Coffee

PDX: The Rose City and Much More

After leaving the spectacular scenery of Mt. Hood NF we rolled into Portland for a four day stay. We set up base camp at the Hampton – Pearl District which allowed us to explore a number of the interesting and eclectic neighborhoods on foot. We followed our general city visit modus operandii for a city visit – lots of coffee and tea, museums, live music, books and local restaurants.

We had not been in Portland for many years, and yet we were still surprised at the amount of growth that has taken place. PDX is incredibly vibrant! There is something here for every interest, taste and lifestyle.

The coffee scene is outstanding and our baristas generously supplied us with additional recommendations for shops and restaurants that were not on our radar. Our dining highlight was Casa Zoraya – a recently opened restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine. We have no previous experience with Peruvian food so all we can say is – it was delicious!

The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is a medium sized art museum located in the Pearl District. PAM has a small collection of Impressionist works and a good sized collection of Northwest Native American artifacts. PAM is definitely worth a visit in our opinion.

Regardless of the weather get out to the Portland Japanese Garden at Washington Park. This garden is reputed to be the finest example of a Japanese Garden outside of Japan – it is a place of beauty and harmony – you will feel better after visiting.

We always enjoy visiting independent book stores and in Portland Powell’s City of Books is not to be missed! It is the largest bookstore in the world and they stock books on every coinceivable topic one can imagine.

Lots to see and do in PDX and the surrounding area. Also, remember only tourists use umbrellas!

Off to Astoria and the Oregon coast. Be seeing you!

Nossa Familia, Proud Mary and Coffeehouse NW

Tuileries Gardens, Paris – Oskar Kokoschka

Le Pont Routier – Claude Monet

Street Corner – Gregorio Prestopino

Kubuki – Japanese Actor Prints

Portland Japanese Garden

Greg Laswell – Doug Fir Lounge

Powell’s City of Books

Alberta Street Neighborhood, Portland

The Beast in Residence at Hampton Inn, PDX

Boise Snapshot: Coffee, Concerts, Culture and Climbing!

Off the road in Boise to celebrate our 40th anniversary in style. Heading to the Owyhee Canyonlands in Eastern Oregon tomorrow morning.

Best of Boise – Slow By Slow – Cappuccino

Iron & Wine with Calexico – Knitting Factory

Eilen Jewell Band – Visual Arts Collective

Orville Peck – Knitting Factory

Wally Dion – Circuit Board with Quilt Pattern

Black Cliffs – Boise, Idaho

Bisbee, Arizona

This post is well out of sequence as we were in Bisbee several weeks ago – oh well – we are confident you will forgive us or more likley that you don’t care.

But, under the better late than never category, we wanted to post about Bisbee. Any place where the town motto is “Keep Bisbee Bizarre” is worthy of comment from our perspective.

We knew we had to visit Bisbee after reading about it’s storied past. Bisbee is located in the Mule Mountains of Southern Arizona, a stones throw from the Mexico border. It’s origin lies with the discovery of minerals in the area – predominately copper. The Copper Queen Mine (which we toured) was one of the richest mineral locations in the world. More than three million ounces of gold and eight billion pounds of copper were extracted from this mine alone. Copper mines also yield turqoise – Copper Queen turqoise is considered some of the best in the world. You may have heard of Bisbee Blue which is the name given to turqoise from Bisbee mines.

The storied past – Phelps Dodge Mining consolidated most of the mining claims in Bisbee and owned and operated the massive mining operation that once supported 20,000 residents. But in 1917 everything changed when the International Workers of the World local (IWW) went on strike. Phelps hired thousands of strike breakers to round up all the union employees. The employees were marched out to a local ballpark and given an ultimatum – go back to work or else! About 800 workers agreed to go back to work. The remaining workers received the “or else” now known as the “Great Deportation”. They were put on railroad cattle cars full of manure. They were taken to Hermosa, New Mexico where they were taken off the train and told to never return to Bisbee – none ever did.

Today Bisbee is an eclectic town of approximately 6,000 residents. It is a mix of transplants fleeing cold weather, artists, individualists, hippies and off-gridders mixed in with a steady flow of tourists. Think a combination of Key West and Provincetown with a mountain backdrop in lieu of the ocean!

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Queen Mine

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Lavendar Pit

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