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.

Images

Orphan Girl Mine Crew, 1948
Orphan Girl Mine Crew, 1948 Source: Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives Creator: Thomas Rozinka Date: 1948
Orphan Girl Headframe
Orphan Girl Headframe View of the headframe at the Orphan Girl Mine, date unknown. This is a vertical photo. Click the title to see the full image. Source: Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives Creator: C. Owen Smithers
Orphan Girl Headframe, 1927
Orphan Girl Headframe, 1927 Photo of the Orphan Girl Headframe in a photo album, dated March 6, 1927. This is a vertical photo. Click the title to see the full image. Source: World Museum of Mining Date: March 6, 1927
World Museum of Mining with view of Orphan Girl Mine Headframe
World Museum of Mining with view of Orphan Girl Mine Headframe Still image capture of the World Museum of Mining with a view of the Orphan Girl Headframe in the background. Image information drawn from related images in the Orphan Girl files at the State Historic Preservation Office. Information is not recorded on print verso. b&w print. Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana Creator: Unidentified photographer Date: ca. 1950-1965

Location

155 Museum Way, Butte, Montana | Public access, for a fee, is available through the World Museum of Mining.

Metadata

Montana Historical Society
Contributors: Butte Historical Society, Nancy Woodruff, “Orphan Girl Mine,” Story of Butte, accessed May 18, 2024, https://storyofbutte.org/items/show/36.