journalism, montana

Mine buildings get official designation

Congratulations to the Carbon County Historical Commission for getting the abandoned Smith mine buildings listed on the National Historic Register! Those buildings are what brought me to the story of the explosion in the first place. While staying at a Wyoming bed and breakfast called A Teton Tree House, the owner, Denny Becker, told me that when driving to Red Lodge, I should make sure to look at the mine buildings and the Bearcreek cemetery because of how moving they are. The only reason we took that particular route to Red Lodge instead of the famous Beartooth Highway was that the highway was closed, due to mudslides. Many of the miners, including Bud Wakenshaw, one of the men featured in my book, helped to build the Beartooth. I learned from Bud’s son that the year of my visit was the first time the highway was ever closed during the summer. I like to think Bud had something to do with showing me his story: I’ll ask Mother Nature to create this mudslide, which will close the highway I built, which will cause this journalist from New England to pass by the mine buildings, which will compell her to look into what happened and write a book about it. How else to explain my connection to this story?