Project Spotlight: Stodden Park – Butte, MT
Reconstructing the Past
Founded back in 1880, the original Columbia Gardens in Butte, Montana were bought by “Copper King” William A. Clark in 1899, reopening that same year under new management. Clark’s goal was to create a safe place where children and families could have fun, getting away from the polluted air of the Butte mining industry.
The park was a hub of activity and joy to residents for many years, with free entry and accessible entertainment. However, the park then fell into decline over time, eventually closing its doors on September 1973. A fire broke out a month later, forcing the demolition of the most damaged structures, which included the carousel.
A Revival of the Past
The re-creation of the new Stodden Park to replace the lost Columbia Gardens has been an ongoing affair, with the reconstruction of the carousel beginning back in 1996. With the help of various volunteers, donors, and organizations, the park is being transformed once more into a family-friendly area open to all.
The original Columbia Gardens once boasted a greenhouse, small lake, wooden roller coaster, athletic field, two zoos, an aviary, and the famous carousel.
Many of the horses were rescued by people who had spent their childhood at the park, who housed the horses in sheds, garages, and other facilities for years.
Montana carpenters from Local 82 stepped up to make this park possible, braving harsh snows, building the structure that now houses the now-restored Columbia Garden Carousel, a new water park, the large playground, and more.