Saturday, August 18, 2007

There are not too many days in life that I wish I had a camera for exploring. I just purchased this camera I have been using in the spring. It is a new thing for me to collect images that I have taken, normally I like to collect other peoples images and store and distort my own in my head. Well yesterday I climbed the hill up to the smelter down the street from me in Basin and I wish I had my camera. Why? Today I went back with my camera and I guess I shouldn't have been up there because a man on his motorcycle was looking around for me on the ledge. Luckly I climbed down before he got there. I had seen a woman in a car looking up at me and then drive down the street and stop at house, then drive off. I had the feeling that I should not be up there. Ahhhhhh. Well I have the images from yesterday in my head and I will convey them to you in words, but I really wanted to show you the ruins of all of the smelter and the view from the top of the hill where the smoke stack part is located. The pictures at the top of this entry are from today and consist of the base and the second tier of the ruins. My favorite part of the smelter is that hole filled with bricks.

I was in the studio yesterday and it was maybe and hour and a half before I was supose to go to Butte to see the Berkeley Pit. I got a little restless and decided to go for a walk. I left my camera at home because I told myself I was just going to walk down the street and back no fooling around. So I walked towards the smelter end of the town because there are some trails up into the hills where the road ends.

When I got to the ruins of the smelter, I turned my head to my right to look at what I thought was a wide open mine (I mentioned it earlier in an entry). I couldn't resist it, I went into the grass towards it, then down the path into its opening. Then it dawned on me, fool this is the base of the smelter, not a mine at all. I could tell because of its brick ceiling that starts to go up at the back of the opening and stone walls (intentional not natural). Smelters are huge. Then I got really curious about the rest of the ruins and how this part would connect to the top part that you can see on top of the hill.

It was quiet and no one was around except some dogs. I scurried up the embankment to the next tier (this is where my favorite hole with its bricks are). This level has been taken back by nature pretty much except for the giant stone wall at the back built into the hill and the hole. The wall has a seeled up brick arch in the base of it and another small oven shaped portal. Also at the top of the wall is the remnants of a wooden ore shaft and steel i-beams. Around the side of the wall is the ledge that holds the top portion of the smelter. Most of the side of the wall/hill has fallen in and in the layers of dirt you can see brick formations and other embeded pieces of the smelter (this is where I got caught today, yesterday I was more careful).

I went back to where I had climbed up from the base of the smelter and started climbing up the steep side of the wall and hill. When I got to the next tier (I am now behind the face of the wall) I came upon a clearing with a rectangle shaped hole in the ground about the size of a grave, lined with brick. There was all sorts of rusted metal and stone around it. This is another area that nature has grown in on. I climbed up to the ledge over the wall and the view was stunning (yes I used that word). I could see Basin and the highway and the roads and the other hills.

I climbed back down to the clearing and then started up the steep hillside to the smoke stack of the smelter and the shaft that is still standing. It smelt like sage. I made my way to the top of the hill, the sun was shining and the temperature was really pleasant. And the arch of the brick structure was really interesting. Things like where it fell in and where it didn't, the little windows on the side of the smelter shaft that travels down the hill, the white powder/rock at the base of the stack, and the stack itself. The smoke stack looked so sturdy even though its counterparts are crumbling and falling apart. I stood inside the area in between the base of the stack and the shaft that runs along the ground to look at the ground below throught the remaining shaft. I kind of wanted to stay there forever. But it was getting nearer the time to go to Butte. So I made my way down the steep hill on my butt, because the ground was so dry and crumbly and steep.

I walked home and met Casey and Nancy and we headed down to Butte.

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