The Story of the Memorial

In 1991, a VISTA volunteer, Gerry Walter, assigned to the Butte-Silver Bow Historic Preservation office, researched the story of the Granite Mountain/Speculator fire. Sources for her research included: the Butte Archives, where she went through the 1917 newspapers and the coroner's report from June 1917; Montana Tech Library had copies of the Engineering and Mining Journals and the 1917 Montana Industrial Accident Board Report; and, with the support of Al Hooper, she had access to the limited North Butte Mining Company Records, documents of Lessons from the Granite Mountain Shaft Fire, Butte (Bureau of Mines, Department of the Interior, 1917), picture files from the Butte Mining Museum, and Al's in-depth personal records on the Granite Mountain/Speculator Fire.

Gerry discovered many things during her investigation, and what she learned touched her heart. She discovered that, in June 1917, the city council voted unanimously to erect a memorial "'so that future generations would not forget the men who died." Committees were formed, but nothing came of the resolution.

Gerry, dedicated to preserving our mining heritage, decided a memorial indeed needed to be built, and she would lead the effort to see that it was done. She formed an advisory committee to advance the goal of getting a memorial erected.

Seventy-nine years after the disaster - on June 8, 1996 - the Granite Mountain/Speculator Memorial was dedicated to those 168 miners who lost their lives. A rededication ceremony took place on June 6, 2010, highlighting the new features of the Memorial.

The Granite Mountain Memorial is an open air plaza offering visitors a panoramic view of headframes, the majestic East Ridge, the remnants of a once-flourishing mining industry, and most importantly, interpretation of the events, people, and turbulent times that surrounded the catastrophic Granite Mountain/Speculator fire. A visit to this site will help you appreciate the national significance of Butte's mining and labor history.

The creation of the monument took much work and involved many entities including:

The Memorial is maintained and enhanced through the sale of engraved bricks that are placed in the Memorial floor. Brick orders are processed throughout the year; engraving is performed in early March, and installation of the bricks in the floor takes place annually just before the Memorial service that is on or near June 8.