Butte’s origin story reads like a movie script… A landing place for immigrants, entrepreneurs, snake oil salesmen, and scamps looking to profit from mining.
Butte vs. EVERYBODY
How a rough and tumble mining city forged timeless Montana values.
Even... If you're gonna jump something, make it count. Like the Grand Canyon or something...
It’s probably a good idea to start at the beginning. I found myself on a call with Randy Shelton, a Billings, Montana-based broker, discussing his background. The conversation started off with the normal, “where are you from?”, “how did that influence you?” … but ended up in a totally different place. It evolved into a conversation about values, experiences, and influences… his “roots”.
A couple of hours later, not only did I know more about why Butte may be one of the toughest places in America, I’d met someone who, like Butte, embodies the best of what Montana represents.
Butte at a Glance
Butte was the first major city established in the state of Montana
• The increasing demand for copper caused the copper mining industry in Butte to become one of the first centralized and industrialized businesses in the world
• In 2002, Butte was one of only twelve towns in America to be named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
• Butte was the site of active labor union movements and came to be known as “the Gibraltar of Unionism”
Butte’s Origin Story
Butte’s origin story reads like a movie script… A landing place for immigrants, entrepreneurs, snake oil salesmen, and scamps looking to profit from mining. Its reputation for being tough and gritty is well-earned as ground zero for copper and silver mining in the early days of the Wild West. The definition of “boom or bust” would have a photo of Butte next to it. “In 1888 alone, mining operations in Butte had generated an ‘almost inconceivable’ output of $23 million (equivalent to $693,662,963 in 2021) worth of ore.” * Let that soak in for a second, this place was minting money. With profit came profiteering, the “Copper Kings” of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company battled newly formed unions for issues ranging from safety to wages. But nothing lasts forever, declining copper markets hit the open pit mining sites hard, leading to the closing of the Berkeley Pit in 1982.
As you’d expect from generations of hard-working people, Butte finds itself in the midst of a resurgence focused on technology, health, and historical/cultural preservation. This melting pot of cultures has created an eclectic mix of sensibilities, traditions, and cuisine. The mines attracted workers from all over the world, and all areas of the United States. ** Many people say that culture can be best illustrated through food. Butte boasts Cornish pasty, Slavic povitica, Scandinavian lefse, boneless pork chop sandwiches, and beer!
Now back to Randy. Has Butte influenced him? In a word… yes.
Don’t let his quiet demeanor fool you, he’s the one you want to have your back if things get ugly. He can take a punch and continues to be competitive in areas such as the triple jump, arm wrestling, and powerlifting. He enjoys good conversation and tells stories that will make you laugh until you cry. Find Randy if you’re wanting a challenger for your March Madness bracket.
His great-grandfather started his tin shop business in Butte at the turn of the century and rumor had it that during prohibition he made the finest moonshine stills in Montana. His grandmother, mother, and his siblings were all born in Butte at St. James Hospital, so as a fourth-generation citizen of “Butte, America”, his roots run deep and colorful. How colorful? Well, let’s just say you don’t get to be the great nephew of the famed boxer Joe Simonich, the “Uncrowned Welterweight Campion of The World”, known as the “Butte Assassin” by accident. His mother was a fashion model (who beat him and his high school buddies at arm-wrestling), his grandfathers both did stints as bouncers at the famed M&M, and no one was brave enough to offer his grandmother anything but Coors Light.
bare knuckles and family values are always on tap with randy
That ’72 Jeep CJ5 soft top, cranking “Fire On The Mountain” by The Marshall Tucker Band… yeah, it was Randy. That backbeat fueled him through high school and through a run as a walk-on second baseman at Gonzaga University. Attention to detail, discipline, and competitiveness took him the rest of the way. Over the next 30 years, Randy gained experience in the mortgage industry and real estate sales. He’s been a mainstay of the Billings office since 2007.
Randy’s only shortcoming was incorrectly choosing Dodge Ram, as his answer to the age-old question… “Ford, Chevy, or Dodge Ram truck?”
Randy's Best of Butte
Pekin Noodle Parlor
Pekin Noodle Parlor (built 1909) is the oldest known continuously operating Chinese restaurant in the United States, located in Butte, Montana. The Pekin Noodle Parlor represents one of the last surviving properties from the original Chinatown neighborhood in the Butte–Anaconda Historic District.
51 Below Speakeasy
Named the second-best Montana bar in 2022!
“Wonderful Irish dive… Just walking in historic Butte I stumbled upon this great dive bar with an Irish feel. Staff was super friendly and made you feel welcome. Even all the locals welcomed you as if you were one of them. Can’t wait to go back.” – Trip Advisor
M & M
Waiting for its reopening after being leveled by a fire in May of 2021.
If not Hall and Hall, what would he be doing?
My best guess is he’d be leveraging his passion for the outdoors and agriculture into a lucrative venture. He’s at home in the backcountry, at or on a river, on a horse, or volunteering for hospice. That’s the “Montana” level range and the lessons learned from Butte are his anchors. You’d expect stories about State Championships, trophies, and big deals. What you wouldn’t expect is one of the more profound statements I can remember. “When you lose a loved one take the quiet time of reflection to write a eulogy for that loved one, it’s the path to enlightenment and healing.”
Bare knuckles and family values are always on tap with Randy and that’s just what you need to take on Montana and Wyoming.
How a South Dakota cowboy turned a Powerball win into a thriving agribusiness
During the 13 years he owned the Bismarck Trail Ranch, Wanless poured his heart and soul into the property, along with a significant amount of money. After winning the 23-year-old quickly got to work building a well-rounded and lucrative cattle and farming operation.
Hall and Hall Auctions Deliver Again
Hall and Hall Auctions has achieved distinction by winning the NAA Marketing Campaign of the Year four times, placing them among only two firms with this accomplishment, notably with the Clifton Farms auction.