Berkeley Pit Viewing Stand


Some say that Butte's copper mines "built" the nation's electrical and telephone systems, which required vast amounts of highly conductive, ductile metal. In 1955, the Anaconda Copper Company opened the Berkeley Pit, the largest truck-operated open-pit copper mine in the U.S. The mine was later bought by ARCO, which closed the Pit in the early 1980s and turned off the pumps that had been dewatering it. At a rate of 6 million gallons a day, water re-entered the Pit, creating a toxic lake. Environmental engineers have been called in to protect the public and find a way to treat the water before it contaminates the area's groundwater.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Other
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The discovery of a rich vein of copper near the center of Butte in the 1880s gave the small town of 1,000 its reputation as "the richest hill on earth." Butte soon became the world's greatest producer of copper. "A mile high and a mile deep," Butte was one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi during WW I, with a population near 100,000.
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