BUTTE – They don’t build them like that anymore. Even after 40 years of sitting dormant, the old Steward Mine Yard hoist still works like a charm.
“Well, it’s kind of thrilling, it’s like going to your first show or something,” said Louie Loushin, who worked at the Steward Mine.
The 1,500 horsepower chippie hoist was first installed to take miners and supplies in and out of the mine in 1912. Last summer, a group of volunteers decided to get the old steam engine up and running again. It took plenty of hard work.
“We shoveled a lot of pigeon crap out of here, we shoveled a lot of grease out and tar. We got down to find leaks and we were able to get it running,” said retired miner and project manager Larry Hoffman.
Even though the Steward shutdown in 1978, they were able to get the old engine started.
“It was so well maintained, and when they were shut down, they were shut down fully lubricated. Everything’s ready to go and in spite of the fact that a lot of moisture got in over the decades, when we fired it up, all the water was not rusty, we drained it out, fixed the leaks and away she went,” Hoffman said.
At 92 years old, Louie Loushin was one of the last to operate the chippie hoist at the Steward. He’s thrilled to see it running again.
“It’s really a part of Butte, I think it’s one of the main parts. That’s how Butte originated,” Loushin said.
These massive iron beasts of the industrial age are practically extinct, but it’s important to the volunteers here to keep their memory alive.
“I appreciate the fact that all these people are making an effort to preserve this because there’s true history here in mining and I think a lot of people in the future are going to want to know about it and I think the only way you’re going to learn is to look at what actually took place,” said Dan Peters who worked as a ropeman at the mine.