Gold lured the first prospectors to Montana, and silver attracted industrialists, but it was copper that carried Montana’s economy into the twentieth century. Some of the richest veins of copper in the world lay under the Butte hill, and as the world’s demand for copper soared, Butte’s mines expanded.
Joining together in a labor union was one of the main ways workers could gain power. Unions like the Butte Miner’s Union negotiated with mine owners for better pay and safer working conditions. Improving safety was especially important in the mines, where accidents killed an average of one miner every other day in the 1890s.