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From: "Ori Kowarsky" <orik@sprint.ca>
Subject: (urth) Posthistoric Travel Advisory
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 17:20:43 

For those of you who wish to study first-hand the posthistoric world and to
visit and photograph the era's few extant buildings, but lack the time or
the resources to travel up and down the seven continents or to tinker with
clumsy mechanisms, this writer whole-heartedly recommends that you pay a
call to Bute, Montana.

Bute, Montana -- whose civic forefathers considered, in its heyday, changing
its name to the wonderful "Copperopolis" -- was once the most densely
populated urban centre between the two coasts.  For about a century Bute sat
on top of a deposit of cupric wealth such as would give Dr. Talos pause.
The combination of massive, short-term wealth, extreme environmental
degredation, mechanisation of tasks once performed by humans and the mass
exodous of the subject population in a condensed space of time has had the
effect of creating a small pocket of space where the aesthetic and
environmental conditions of the Commonwealth apply, down to the chilly
weather and gorgeous sunsets.  The Bute airport, a small landing strip, is
considered an "international" airport because it is a destination,
appositely enough,  for Argentinian and Chilean flyers carrying South
American mining executives eager to see the future awaiting their part of
the globe.

The centrepiece of the posthistoric experience at Bute is the Anaconda
Copper Mine.  One guides one's vehicle up the empty asphalt into the
deserted hills.  In the lonely disance, one can see what appear to be
dump-trucks of such enormous size that a single tire's diameter exceeds the
height of an average man widing up and down a single hill in a monotonous

One parks one's car in an empty lot, and enters a circular tunnel which was
bored through about ten feet of concrete.  On the other side is an
observation deck made of rotting wood, with rusted chickenwire and razor
wire fencing cordoning you off from the pit below.  This is the Anaconda.
The pit, one hundred years ago, was a mountain.  In the course of a century
it has been literally inverted into a circular depression a mile deep and a
mile across.  Twenty years ago the bottom of the pit was accessible and had
another mile of mining shafts dug underneath it, with pumps siphoning off
the ground water.  Then the mine closed, and the pumps were shut off.  The
pit is now filled with a reddish-ochre water which is so concentrated with
arsenic and mercury that any bird which alights on its surface dies within
minutes.  At twilight, the water turns black.  It is currently rising at a
rate of a foot per year.  There is a prominently displayed iron box with a
fat black button on it.  If you press the button, a recorded audio history
of the pit will crackle out of the hanging speakers in an unidentifiable

Presiding over the pit is a top an adjacent mountain is a fifty-foot tall
aluminum and copper statue of the Virgin Mary done in the art deco style.
It did not turn to follow me with its gaze as I walked around.  Despite the
enormous value it would have had in resolving certain thorny issues being
discussed on this newsgroup from time to time, I did not ask the locals
whether they knew the identity or religious provinance of the structure.

As the name "Bute" implies the town is situated in the mountains of Montana.
At its birth the town was a klepocracy;  at its zeinith it was an oligarchy.
As a result, the town planning is an anarchic mess, bordering on the
organic.  I shall discuss the poorer quarters first:  the homes of mining
labourers past and present are ramshackle, single storied, built of brick
and concrete, repaired with plaster and plastic.  The workers' neighborhoods
stretch up the northeastern face of a mountain.  They are currently 60%

The houses of the wealthy are closer to the Main Street core.  They were
built by men with enormous but transient fortunes, unimpeded by any urban
planning or concessions to taste.  They are architecturally grandiose, made
of brick, shod in copper, borrowing from many styles, bizarre.  Some are
museums;  some are still privately owned;  one is a caravansary.

The latter, where one may stay for the night, is the colorfully named
"Copper King Mansion".  Everything from its glory days that hasn't been
bolted down has been carted off, and been replaced by three generations'
worth of bric-a-brac.  The house contains secret passageways, a servant's
house inside the walls of the master house, and hidden doorways.  A 10 foot
by 17 foot gilded mirror troubles the depths of a corridor on the ground
floor;  travellers who have a tight schedule for their return back home are
advised not to stand too close to it.

Ori Kowarsky

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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