A Visit to the Public Archives in Butte

I’ll leave the existential mystery of the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives for a later date. However, during a recent visit to one of the “largest and most notorious copper boomtowns of the American West, two visitors sought to answer some questions about their father’s boyhood.

The visit to the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives was unplanned – there’s not much else to do. The Archives organization is obviously well-funded and the people there are helpful and patient. Thanks to his natural brevity and taciturn nature, all that’s known about his time here, in his own words: “I lived in Butte.”

Now we know that Grandma, Dad, and his older brother Bill, attended Butte Public Schools for three years, they lived in an apartment on South Montana Street, Apartment #1, demolished and replaced by modern, attractive duplexes. A lot of questions remain unanswered. For example, what propelled Grandma Vera to leave a railroad worker husband, and an extended family, in Palestine, Texas to travel 1700 miles to Butte? Why would a woman choose probable shame and social condemnation by voluntarily becoming a single mom with 2 young kids in the 1930’s?

Some interesting information was uncovered. Dad’s s school records contain a birthdate different from the one celebrated the 48 years I knew him. A little pencil work provides a possible explanation; as a November baby, he would have been a almost a full year behind peers in school. A simple adjustment to his birth month would have moved him up a grade.

And a possible bombshell in the school census from the fam’s first year in Butte – Dad’s sex is listed as “F.” Now I guess I have to say,  Yep, my dad was trans.”

FROM A 1934 SCHOOL CENSUS – BUTTE-SILVERBOW PUBLIC ARCHIVES

Yep, according to this entry, my dad was trans!
Yep, according to this entry, my dad was trans!

 

 

Proof of Redus' presence in Butte MT
Proof of Redus’ presence in Butte MT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERPRETATION, TRANSLATION

LEGEND ROCK - OLD & NEW GLYPHS

LEGEND ROCK – WYOMING OLD & NEW GLYPHS

I love looking at these petroglyphs. Thousands of years old, open for interpretation, their location on a remote vertical outcropping in the middle of central Wyoming is as mysterious as their content. A helpful descriptive brochure points out some possible interpretations of what the pecked-in-stone drawings; warriors, spirit animals, and several other well-supported possibilities. Could be, but what if?

“… figure with a line connecting it to two blocky objects is believed to be a person connected to the rock (spirit) world …”
“… figure with a line connecting it to two blocky objects is believed to be a person connected to the rock (spirit) world …”
This glyph appears to depict a large figure, a second figure inside it, and one or two figures attached to its outer body.
This glyph appears to depict a large figure, a second figure inside it, and one or two figures attached to its outer body.

The figures at Legend Rock are thought to be 10,000 years old. Of course, debates about WHO is responsible and WHAT the images actually represent are ongoing. I like to imagine the group above left, and maybe all the other bizarre anthropomorpic figures are some young person’s attempts to create an artistic legacy. Some of the images may have been here for as long as 10,000 years; archaeologists theorize the red sandstone cliffs attracted the artistic imaginations of many individuals from many prehistoric tribes. That means any single glyph may have taken several years to complete, or that more than one person may have added to one or more carving, like some kind of ancient “Exquisite Corpse” exercise.

 

“Anthropomorphs with horned headdresses … a symbol of medicine or power …”
“Anthropomorphs with horned headdresses … a symbol of medicine or power …”

 

This figure has an unadorned head and extra legs and feet
This figure has an unadorned head and extra legs and feet

 

According to a park brochure, figures here are similar to other images found in Montana and other parts of Wyoming.
According to a park brochure, figures here are similar to other images found in Montana and other parts of Wyoming.

 

As many as ten figures are depicted in this glyph, including elk and bison.
As many as ten figures are depicted in this glyph, including elk and bison.

 

Ninepipes, Wind, and Northern MT

Walking on the lake botton @ Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge
Walking on the lake bottom @ Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge
SUNSHINE ON THE FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION
SUNSHINE ON THE FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION

A persistent 40 mile-per-hour west wind blew unfolded maps, used Kleenex, and other road trip detritus out of the Pathfinder as soon as the doors were opened at Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge Sunday morning. Northwest of Missoula, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, the refuge is a select nesting habitat for grebes, great blue heron, Canada geese, and various duck species. As in much of rural Montana, grasses and a Great Plains-type environment means long-distance views, huge skies, and an immediate, unavoidable sense of solitude. From the entrance, the diminishing shores of a great body of water appear, then disappear beyond the tall, windblown grasses.

The water has receded this late in the year, so the flocks of birds are less visible, further away from vistors and predators like ospreys and grizzly bears. Walking along the exposed lake bottom feels like resilient playground surfacing, but the loam doesn’t bounce back.

I love how the light comes through the grasses in October
I love how the light comes through the grasses in October

A perfect Yellowstone day

Two miles northeast of Yellowstone lake, away from tour buses, commerce, and strife, is a vast open meadow, interrupted by mounds, cut and carved by meandering streams. Pale grasses wave in the breeze, and the sun and sky are forever. I’m prone in the tall Buffalograss and sedge, pale yellow for fall, crunching an excellent apple. After spotting solitary bison ringing the buttes and valleys around me, I noticed a lone wolf scampering in a wide arc about a quarter mile away, the black tail easy to spot in the immense, pale, and lovely grasses covering the valley . Though the black wolf occasionally passes the odd bison laying in the grass, they ignore each other. The wolf travels quickly, stops frequently, and, like me, seems to have no other purpose than to be in the certain serenity of the Pelican Valley. All around the valley, elk bugles echo, warnings or calls to battle. Loud and close, eerie howls from packs of wolves arise, punctuated by barks, responses from unknown rivals far away, and the eye is drawn to the tree-lined edge of this massive haven. Distant black predators are spotted – two, then ten, moving along the edge of the forest. Distant, yet closer than I have ever experienced. Call and return, motion and stillness, prey and predator, sun and grass. That’s my perfect Yellowstone day.

Eager to begin a Yellowstone Visit.
Eager to begin a Yellowstone Visit.
One of the many terrific hikes in Yellowstone. Ice Lake to Little Gibbons Falls.
One of the many terrific hikes in Yellowstone. Ice Lake to Little Gibbons Falls.
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Sunny Meadow – worth the walk.
No-name mud pots
No-name mud pots – These occur frequently, along with other geothermal features, along the hiking trails. While hard to capture, the best part of these is the deep, syncopated burbling sounds they emit.
Old Faithful
Old Faithful – View from observation point about 2/3 mile away.
Ojo de Caliente
Geyser on the Queen’s Laundry trail.
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Norris Geyser Basin –
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Fairy Falls – a favorite because we saw this one from across the valley the day before.
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More Fairy Falls
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More Fairy Falls
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Man & Elk – A great way to view wildlife of all varieties while driving along park roads is to watch for spotters & photographers
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Steamy valley view – on the return from Queen’s Laundry
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No-name pool – on the return from Imperial Geyser
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Midway Basin/Grand Prismatic – from the backside. This area fogged in both times we visited
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Foggy morning in Yellowstone
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Along the trail to Fairy Falls
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No-name geyser, along the trail from Imperial Geyser
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Pelican Valley – setting for A Favorite Yellowstone Day
One of many geothermal areas along hiking trails in the park, dangerous but accessible. Stick your fingers in!
One of many geothermal areas along hiking trails in the park, dangerous but accessible. Stick your fingers in!
My Favorite Yellowstone Day
My Favorite Yellowstone Day
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Yellowstone Lake – Near Fishing Bridge. 180 degrees and 400 yards from here, a GIANT grizzly was feeding on an elk carcass. The bear had been gorging on the elk for 5 days, according to a nearby ranger.