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Have won an award Dedicated To All Women - Especially Mothers

Story ID:393
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Things to do
Location:Butte Montana USA
Person:Our Lady of the Rockies
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Dedicated To All Women - Especially Mothers

Dedicated To All Women - Especially Mothers

Dedicated To All Women - Especially Mothers

Dedicated To All Women - Especially Mothers

With Mother's Day just around the corner, the time is perfect to tell you about Our Lady of the Rockies. This is an ongoing project that excites Butte, Montana more than all the gold, silver, and copper taken from her mines in a century. Our Lady sits nestled atop the Continental Divide, the realization of a dream and the result of six years hard work. She has emerged proudly and holy with donations, time, money, land, equipment, manpower, and a wealth of faith and love.

In December of 1985, countless volunteers completed a seemingly impossible task when Our Lady was placed on the East Ridge overlooking Butte. The base is 3,500 feet above the city and 8,500 feet above sea level. The statue, lighted and visible at night, is a spectacular sight to behold. And although I reside at 7,000 feet on an adjacent mountain, I can see her from my ranch. My heart soars when I glimpse her in-between the trees every day. I'm forever moved to stop and stare and voice a greeting. "Hi Mom! Hello beautiful lady!"

The project began in December, just over 25 years ago in 1979. Men and women from all walks of life and every religion, worked to pave the way for the statue, built in the likeness of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Butte has a large assortment of denominations and lovely churches as the result of immigrants who found their way to the mines.

Our Lady was dedicated by the workers to women everywhere, especially to mothers. Volunteers spent many evenings blasting a road to the top of the Rockies, sometimes making a mere ten feet of progress by day's end. Meanwhile, as the statue was being constructed in a large warehouse, individuals worked to raise funds through various well-attended projects. Best of all, with every bake sale and dinner, the people shared a camaraderie in something the entire community believed in. Memorials were, and still are, a very large part of Our Lady's economic support.

The base of the statue was poured with over 400 tons of concrete in September, 1985. By the end of the year a Nevada Air National Guard team lifted the statue in four sections with a Sikorsky Sky Crane helicopter. After several attempts in-between wind gusts and hearts in our throats, Our Lady of the Rockies stood tall and glorious.

Butte came to a standstill as thousands watched from below, honking their horns and ringing church bells throughout Summit Valley at 4:07 PM on December 20, 1985. There was nary a dry eye anywhere as the lady's head was finally placed safely upon her shoulders. Because you see, when such a statue is the dream of those who believe in the Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and our own mothers, a project can't go wrong. A dream had come true, and every man, woman and child who worked on, or contributed to the project, held that dream in their hearts, and still do.

Several winters ago, a friend who was Our Lady's winter curator, invited us to snowmobile to the top of the divide and view her magnificent inner structure. My heart nearly stopped as we rode around the last corner into her enormous presence. We hiked up hundreds of circular steel stairs until we were peering out of the lady's eyes at Butte in all her sparkling diamond-in-the-rough glitter. But as I turned, there before me stood the breathtaking and skillfully designed lady, bolted tight against her welded frames. What a thrill to see it and to appreciate every bit of such loving artistry and dedication.

Then one day in the early new century, I took seven grandchildren on The Lady of the Rockies bus tour for their up-close and personal visit. Before our tour, we were treated to a moving film about her history and construction. Two men in the back row wept audibly, and I knew then how sweet and important her presence is to so many.

Upon emerging from the bumpy bus ride, there before us stood The Lady and the lovely new hexagonal stone chapel. The name of every woman who has succumbed in Butte, is somewhere in or on this lovely new building. What a supreme honor! I had heard of it, but was thrilled to see the chapel's completion with rows of pews inside before a lovely altar. While the children took in the tour, I could hardly wait to see if my mother's name had been set in a copper plaque and affixed somewhere upon the chapel walls. Yes, yes, there it was, on the very hex looking southwest across Butte at my ranch where my mom had lived and died years before. I sat there before the plaque, taking pictures and crying like a baby.

Land having been purchased, a tram is in the planning stages for the five-minute ride to the top, a mile long and vertical rise of 2,000 feet. It will be fully wheelchair and bike rack equipped so passengers can take their bikes to the top and ride down. Tram riders will be treated to spectacular views, an observatory, gift shop and restaurant, and of course, a chance to see The Lady of the Rockies up close. If I know Butte, it will happen soon.

1. Our Lady of the Rockies
2. Workman dwarfed in her presence
3. At night making a lovely sight
4. As helicoptor lowers her head