Protected: Clark Fork Core Curriculum

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Silver Bow Creek: A History of Use, Abuse and Reuse

For grades 9-12 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers: The definition of a “watershed” The movement of surface water The ability of water to move sediment Silver Bow Creek history Silver Bow Creek restoration Use the links below to download the necessary materials for this lesson:

Opportunity, Montana: A Brief Historical Introduction to the BP-Arco Waste Repository

For grades 7-12 Opportunity, Montana: A Brief Historical Introduction to the BP-Arco Waste Repository Developed by CFWEP, this presentation includes: Current and historical photos of the Opportunity Ponds/BP-Arco Waste Repository Historical information about the Opportunity Ponds, Butte mines, Milltown Dam and Anaconda smelter A step-by-step description of the copper milling, smelting and reduction process An [...]

1980s: Cleanup Begins

The Environmental Legacy of Over a Century of Industrial Mining In the mid-1980s, the Clark Fork Basin environment was far from healthy. In the urban center of Uptown Butte, abandoned mine dumps still covered the hill, in between houses and businesses, and with little to no natural vegetation present. Just downstream, Silver Bow Creek, after [...]

1955: The Open Pit Mine Era

The Berkeley Pit In 1955, mining in Butte saw the light, literally. Excavation on what would become the Berkeley Pit, named from one of several nearby historic underground mines that the Pit would later swallow, began that year in a transition from underground to open pit mining. The Pit would, in the next decade, swallow [...]

1900s: Environmental Consequences

Silver Bow Creek Becomes an Industrial Sewer The intensive mining and smelting underway in Butte and Anaconda had serious environmental consequences for the entire Upper Clark Fork Basin, consequences that have persisted for over 100 years and that will continue to require community attention and management for the foreseeable future. By the turn of the [...]

1870s-1900s: Copper and Development

Butte Booms With the discovery of gold and other valuable minerals in Montana, development quickly followed. Trappers and explorers had been active in western Montana as early as the 1830s; however, white settlement of this western Montana would not become significant until future governor of Washington Isaac Stevens and his group, which included Lieutenant John [...]

1860s: Gold, Silver and Early Mining

The modern story of the Clark Fork Basin began with the first major industry and engine of development in western Montana- mining. Gold & Silver It is generally accepted that gold was discovered on Silver Bow Creek in 1864 by Bud Barker, Frank Ruff, Pete Slater (also know as Seven-up Pete) and others, called Barker [...]

Pre-1860: Geology and Native Peoples

The modern history of the Clark Fork Basin began relatively recently. But that is not the beginning of the Clark Fork story. If we go back far enough, we encounter the unique and somewhat surprising geological history of the basin and western Montana. Glacial Lake Missoula The geology of western Montana shaped the landscape we [...]


From the discovery of gold on Silver Bow Creek, the primary headwater creek for the Clark Fork River, in the 1860s, the Clark Fork River and surrounding ecosystems have been heavily impacted by mining and smelting. Use the Clark Fork Info > History menu above or the links below to explore the history and environment [...]

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