At the turn of the century life in the mining city of Butte, Montana was tough. Long difficult hours in dangerous mines made life short and strenuous. However, the difficulty of living brought out the best of people from all walks of life. The superior craftsmanship of these workers is evident in architecture all around Butte. It was a time when good enough was never good enough, unless it was your very best, and you could always do better. In 1896 a mining mogul and business leader William Andrews Clark, father of Huguette Clark, built Montana's first and only amusement park as his gift to the city. The beautifully crafted carousel was the heart of the Columbia Gardens. It operated for many years bringing families closer together and providing so much enjoyment..
The Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel group was formed in 1996 to re-create the merry-go-round that was at Columbia Gardens, destroyed by fire in 1973. Members of the group learned how to carve horses and have completed 32 of them, with 4 on the way as spares. Each horse takes about 1000 hours. They have also built low-riding carriages for less-mobile riders. They also purchased a used carnival merry-go-round, organ, steel building, and a variety of other items over the years.
A site was finally selected next to the old swimming pool at Stodden Park. Construction was started in September, 2015 and has proceeded through a long cold, snowy winter that slowed progress considerably. Almost all labor has been donated, as well as many of the materials.Butte-Silver Bow voters passed a levy to fund a new swimming pool that will follow our Columbia Gardens theme! The goal is to eventually bring many of the Garden's features to this central area.
We are hoping to be riding horses this fall, but the opening date is entirely dependent on the weather, volunteers, and donations. This page and the Butte Weekly Carousel Corner will post regular updates.Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel is a 501(c)3 non-profit, so all donations are deductible to the IRS limits.