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Butte Inter Mountain
The origins of the Butte Inter Mountain date back to the publication of the Daily Intermountain established by Lee Mantle, a prominent Republican businessman from Butte, Montana in 1881. The Butte Inter Mountain began publication on May 2, 1901. Mantle had arrived in Butte in 1877 to establish a Wells Fargo office and within four years accumulated enough capital in mining and real estate to launch a newspaper. From the outset, the Daily Intermountain promoted Republican politics and Mantle’s station in the party: first as a legislator from Silver Bow County, then as the mayor of Butte, and finally as a U.S. Senator from Montana.
During the 1880s, Butte emerged from obscurity to world prominence as one of the world’s largest producers of copper, setting the stage for the “battle of the copper kings” at the beginning of the 20th century. Butte capitalists Marcus Daly, William A. Clark, and F. Augustus Heinze battled in the press and at the ballot box for control of Butte copper and state political interests. Each of these men purchased a newspaper: Daly the Anaconda Standard, Clark the Butte Miner, and Heinze the Reveille. The fourth newspaper of import in Butte, the Butte Inter Mountain, jousted with the others over a variety of issues, but all the newspapers provided a running commentary on mining activity in the area and state, labor concerns, and sports. There was a separate page in the Butte Inter Mountain for “Anaconda News” which covered affairs in the smelter town west of Butte founded by Marcus Daly, which vied with Helena to become the state’s capital. In that contest, Lee Mantle had supported Daly’s quest to make Anaconda the seat of government. The Daily Intermountain ran regular supplements touting regional industry such as the lead smelter in East Helena and a new water plant at Divide, Montana, constructed to pump Big Hole River water up over the Continental Divide to meet Butte’s growing demand for industrial and domestic water. Its successor, the Butte Inter Mountain also followed the labor movement in Butte, known nationally for the unionization of almost all of its workers including women waitresses, clerks, and stenographers. Headlines in the paper, “Pretty Girls’ Union,” described the efforts of the Butte Stenographers Union, the only organization of its kind in the nation affiliated with a recognized union.
Lee Mantle’s newspaper career ended in early 1901 with the acquisition of the Daily Intermountain by Daly corporate interests, beginning five decades of domination of the mainstream press in Montana by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Under new management and with a new title, the Butte Inter Mountain attacked farmers in Deer Lodge valley for bringing suit against the Anaconda Company for damages caused by smelter smoke to their crops and animals. After four years of litigation, the federal court dismissed damage claims against the company. The Montana daily newspapers owned by the Anaconda Company used their journalistic powers to sway public opinion toward the company’s interests. The Butte Daily Post took control of the Inter Mountain in 1913.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT