Orphan Girl Mine
1875-1956, 3200 Feet Deep
Site of the World Museum of Mining
From the time it was located in 1875 until it was purchased by Marcus Daly and associates in 1879, ownership of fractional shares in the Orphan Girl Mine changed hands faster than the ante in a poker game. While not a huge producer according to Butte standards, it was productive enough to plunge it into the covetous tug of war for possession that plagued many of the more lucrative works. After years of litigation, the Orphan Girl was purchased by the Anaconda Company by the end of the 1920s, and was operated by the company until the 1950s. By 1944 miners had removed 7.6 million ounces of silver, lead, and zinc from her depths.
The mine’s isolation from the rest of the hill prompted the name of the Orphan Girl, affectionately nicknamed “Orphan Annie” or “the Girl.” An adjacent shaft was named the Orphan Boy to give her some company.
Good ventilation kept temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees, making the Orphan Girl a desirable place to work, unlike some “hot boxes” where temperatures could top 100 degrees.
In 1965, the Girl became the site of the World Museum of Mining. Today museum visitors can tour the underground tunnels of the Orphan Girl, which still hold equipment from the mine’s working days, as well as the hoist house and mine yard. It is the only public access to the 10,000 miles of underground tunnels that honeycomb the Butte hill.