Orphan Girl Mine

155 Museum Way, Butte, MT

Underground silver, lead-zinc mine operated between 1879 and 1956

Photos 

Orphan Girl Mine

Photo taken by Richard Doody in 1978

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Description 

The Orphan Girl mine was a major silver and zinc producer. The mine derived its name from its isolation from the other major mining properties in Butte.

Charles X. Larabie, Demos McFarland, Salton Cameron and Marcus Daly patented the Orphan Girl lode on September 13, 1879. Before 1896 the Moffat Brothers took $200,000 from the property. The gold/silver ore was taken to the Colorado Smelter where it returned $18 per ton.

In 1916 the mine was acquired by the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. and a rich vein of zinc,silver and lead ore was discovered. However, the mine was allowed to fill with water during a lengthy legal dispute with the Daly Estate over ownership of the mine.

In the early 1920s, Anaconda was finally able to pump out the underground and began sinking the shaft to the 1,700-foot level. In 1925, the Orphan Girl was connected to the mile-distant Anselmo mine by way of a tunnel. The mine was also upgraded by relocating the steel headframe from the Colorado mine and the electric hoist from the Hibernia mine.

Between 1925 and 1933, the Orphan Girl again remained idle. Its 200 million tons of zinc ore were held in reserve for when the Elm Orlu mine played out. In 1933 the hoisting engine began pulling rich silver/zinc ore to the surface. The Orphan Girl headframe and hoist were upgraded again in 1940. The mine was Montana’s largest producer of zinc from 1950 to 1956.

By 1944, the Orphan Girl had produced over seven million ounces of silver. The mine continued to produce zinc ore for Anaconda until 1956 when the company permanently closed the operation. The World Museum of Mining was opened on the Orphan Girl site in 1965.

Update Log 

  • September 30, 2018: New photos from Richard Doody
  • July 9, 2018: Added by Richard Doody

Sources 

  • Richard Doody