There’s a city in Montana called Butte, and I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like something else (specifically “cute,” — which as far as cities go, it is — but there’s a lot more to the place than just having a great name. Turns out it also has a great history, but I’m not going to spend any time on that either. I’m here to talk about the Berkeley Pit.
As any good reader of scientific comics, or any viewer of educational superhero movies knows, there are a number of easy ways to become a superhero.
- You can be born that way,
- You can be bitten by a spider or other bug,
- You can be irradiated,
- Or you can be the victim of a horrible toxic waste accident.
There are a number of lesser ways, like being swept through the tail of a comet, inventing unbelievable gadgets you lack the common sense to patent and sell, or you could have been given unimaginable gifts by aliens. But come on, let’s be reasonable here. Let’s stick with the basics.
If you want to see Berkeley Pit, which was once a great hill burrowed with tons of tunnels, but is now a hole in the ground a mile and a half across, and deeper than the acidic water would admit, there are two ways you can do it. You can drive there directly and pay just $2 each to go inside, or you can take the Butte Trolley. I recommend the latter.
The Butte Trolley was put together by the Chamber of Commerce and covers all sorts of interesting things in town, including this. That’s really the way to go.
But be advised of this strong caution as we were: Jumping over the guardrail into the heavy-metal rich pool of poisonous water will not grant you superpowers of any kind. From what we’ve been told, it’s actually just a way to drown, get poisoned or otherwise die from your falling injuries. It’s deceptively large, and further down than you think, and yeah, kind of poison either way.
Trust your guides and all the warnings around, and just take it in as an interesting tourist attraction, but don’t select it as your stepping stone to heroism.
And as far as all the poison goes, they’ve already been designated a superfund cleanup site (the biggest one in the country, matter of fact) and they have a plan in place to start reducing water levels before they get close to endangering the local environment.
For more information, you can check out the Berkeley Pit Wikipedia page, the environmental education and observation site www.PitWatch.org, or find out about a visit at The Chamber of Commerce.
ABOVE: It’s a big, big pit. Turns out there was once copper in this here hill, but now it’s not a hill, it’s a pit, and it’s full of toxic fluids. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary.