Throwback Thursday: Unlocking the history of Butte’s long forgotten underground speakeasy
Here’s a fun through back Thursday for you: One the most popular stories of 2014 (so far) the mysterious and wonderful tale of the long forgotten Rookwood Speakeasy uncovered underground in Uptown Butte.
Butte wasn’t necessarily a place that was pro-prohibition. For instance:
“It is estimated,” The Butte Miner reported, “that 150 gallons of whiskey, 1,500 bottles of beer and 30 gallons of wine were destroyed by the hue and cry.”
“The agents, taking advantage of the evening rush hour of thirst quenchers, had little difficulty in entering any of the places,” The Anaconda Standard added. Arrested at the Rookwood was infamous bootlegger and moonshiner Curly McFarland.
The full story is up now.
Mysterious story of Copper King’s daughter makes for one good book
It’s always funny how closely connected we are here in Montana. What’s the saying? In Montana, it’s not seven degrees of separation, but three?
It’s something like that.
Montana Magazine book reviewer Doug Mitchell found some surprising connections to the Huguette Clark’s story, detailed in the new book “Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman. It really is a fascinating story about Huguette and her highly unusual lifestyle. She spent decades in a New York City hospital room while various, sweeping mansions sat empty. She was the daughter of infamous Copper King W.A. Clark, who made his fortune in Butte.
Doug, from Helena, found that during his travels with his wife, he’d been close to many of the mansions. We weren’t able to print Doug’s entire story inside the Jan/Feb issue, but you can read the full edition online at MontanaMagazine.com.
We’ve also posted the extended version of Doug’s chat with Bill Dedman. Among a ton of other great behind-the-scenes details, Dedman told Mitchell that he drew much of the story from 20,000 pages of correspondence Huguette wrote and 20 years of nurses notes. It’s always fascinating to hear more about how an author finds, crafts and presents their story.
A look into the future
We’ve got some good things cooking at MT Magazine as we head into 2014.
Our transition for Helena headquarters to Missoula is complete and planning for the next six issues is in full swing. (A year can go by pretty quickly when you break it up into 6 chunks!)
We’re already working to get the January/February issue ready – it’s due to the printer by Dec. 13. Megan, our amazing art director, is the one who puts all the pages together for us.
She’s working hard on that now and take it from me, it’s looking good.
Our first issue will feature several stories from everyone’s favorite Montana city, Butte (one of my favorites at least).
Ever visited the Rookwood Speakeasy? It’s a long lost bar that was abandoned during a Prohibition raid by the federal government. Patrons left their hats and coats there in the chaos.
More than 70 years later, the speakeasy was uncovered – the poker chips were still on the table.
Now, it’s a part of a historical tour of Butte.
We’ve also got a review of the book “Empty Mansions,” about the mysterious life of Huguette Clark. Her fortune was worth millions thanks to her copper king father, W.A. Clark, yet she lived for the last several decades of her life inside a lone room at a New York City hospital.
As for later issues, we’ve got some really cool things planned. Ever heard of Casey Anderson or his bear Brutus? Know anything about sugar beets? (Hint: its one of the biggest crops that comes to Billings to be processed).
Our May/June issue will feature stories from Central Montana. Our July/August issue will focus on Glacier Country.
But that’s still a ways out. Stay tuned for more…