The Enabling Act of 1889 laid the foundation for the Montana School of Mines, providing for the first federal land grants for the establishment of mining schools. This landmark provision thus recognized the significance of mining industries to the newly admitted western states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington. A commission appointed by Governor J. E. Rickards to investigate establishing such a school in Montana determined that the heart of Montana’s mining industry—Butte—would be the ideal location. At the foot of Big Butte, with its sweeping view of the surrounding area rich in mineral ores, the cornerstone of Main Hall was laid in the fall of 1896. Designed by Montana’s premier architect John C. Paulsen, the splendid Renaissance Revival style building was completed in 1897, but it presided over Butte unoccupied for lack of additional funds. Thanks to the generosity of local benefactors, the school finally opened to 39 students in 1900, and the first class graduated in 1903. During the next decades, architects George Carsley, C. S. Haire, Floyd Hamill, and Walter Arnold left their marks on the campus following Paulsen’s lead. Federal assistance during the 1930s allowed expansion and extensive landscaping, which greatly enhanced the campus. The Montana School of Mines earned its excellent academic reputation partly because Butte offered unsurpassed opportunities in practical observation and firsthand mine experience, a facet of training not emphasized by other mining schools. Today, the four initial professorships have expanded to include a teaching faculty of 139, and the campus accommodates almost 2,000 students.