Filed Under Mining History

Bell-Diamond Mine

1879-1928, 3500 Feet Deep

The Diamond was named by a prospector for the configuration formed by its claim stakes. Originally owned by mining entrepreneur William Clark, this mine figured prominently in his battle with Marcus Daly and Augustus Heinze for control of the Butte copper industry. The mine was ultimately sold to the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1895.

Erected in 1898, the headframe of the Diamond is the oldest left standing on the hill. In the early days, the miners commuted to work on a streetcar which ran to within a few hundred yards of this site. Among the mine yard buildings here that have gone the way of the trolley is the rope house, which fabricated the flat, seven-inch cables used before the advent of round cable to hoist cages and skips. The large wheels scattered around the mine yard are sheave wheels. Originally they sat atop other headframes around the hill and guided the hoist cable in and out of the shaft.

The Bell mine was located about a tenth of a mile east of the Diamond headframe. Ore from the two mines was hoisted through a common shaft by 1914, leading them to be referred to jointly as the Bell-Diamond.

The Bell was founded by T.C. Meader of the Montana Mining Company. Meader was innovative and built his smelter down near Bell Creek (more commonly known as Black Tail Creek) in order to reduce smoke in the urban area. The mine was acquired by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in 1885.

Meader is most notable for being the founder of Meaderville, an Italian neighborhood of Butte famous for its great restaurants, lively night clubs and gaming.

Images

Diamond Headframe, Looking East
Diamond Headframe, Looking East A view of the Diamond Mine headframe, flanked by the rope house on the right and the dries on the left. The rope house was used to sew flat rope, used before the advent of round cables, that pulled the hoists up and down. The dries were lockerooms where miners could shower and change clothes before walking home. Source: Library of Congress Creator: Historic American Engineering Record
Bell and Diamond Mines
Bell and Diamond Mines View of the Diamond Mine headframe, left, and the Bell Mine, right. In the foreground are the ore bins for the Bell Mine. Source: World Museum of Mining
Stereoscopic Image of the Diamond Mine
Stereoscopic Image of the Diamond Mine View of the Diamond Mine for use with a stereoscope. Made by a Philadelphia publisher. Source: Library of Congress Creator: Universal View Company
Diamond Mine Yard
Diamond Mine Yard On the left is the auxiliary hoist house. The main hoist house is in the center, and the super heater, used to heat compressed air, is on the right. The small building was used for cleaning rope clips, and for toilet facilities. There is also a tar house, where tar was stored and kept warm. Originally each mine had its own tar storage, but it was eventually consolidated at the Diamond Mine. Source: Library of Congress Creator: Historic American Engineering Record
Skip Dump of the Diamond Mine
Skip Dump of the Diamond Mine View of the Diamond Mine skip dump. Ore was hauled up out of the shaft in skips (bins), and then dumped in the wooden structure attached to the headframe. From here it was loaded into rail cars to be transported for processing at a mill and smelter. This is a vertical photo. Click on the title to view the full image. Source: Library of Congress Creator: Historic American Engineering Record

Location

South of Alexander Street | No public access

Metadata

Story of Butte
Contributors: Butte Historical Society, Nancy Woodruff, “Bell-Diamond Mine,” Story of Butte, accessed June 22, 2024, https://storyofbutte.org/items/show/3391.