Gallow Frame Butte Montana

"Gallows" Frames

There is no skyline in the world like Buttes. Standing like sentries on the surrounding hillsides are stark black headframes of several mines no longer in use. The Orphan Girl headframe at the World Museum of Mining is visible from the interstate. Dominating the landscape are the Kelley, Steward, the Original, Belmont, Granite Mountain, Bell Diamond, Badger State, Travona, Lexington, Centerville’s mighty Mountain Con, and the Anselmo gallows frames.

To put it simply, headframes are like the tops of elevators, but not hidden in the inside of a tall building. The frames held the cables that lowered men, equipment, timbers, dynamite, ore cars, and, in earlier days, the mules to pull the cars. Once the men and equipment were inside the mines, the frames hauled to the surface the copper ore which was then loaded on trains and shipped to the smelter in Anaconda.

At its peak, the Butte Hill was alive with the bright lights of the mine yards at night. The sound of bells used as signals for the hoist operators, the shrill mine whistles signaling the shift changes, and the throaty “toots” of the trains as they hauled their ore loaded cars through town could be heard around the clock.