Wilson Butts followed the stampede to Last Chance Gulch in 1864, staked his claim here, and built a serviceable one-room cabin. The following spring his brother Jonas arrived with a wife and three young daughters. Jonas added a front room and porch onto the bachelor cabin and there the family lived until 1867. But the rowdy gold camp was no place to raise the girls. When music of a nearby dance hall filtered into the cabin, the Buttses fled the gulch. Stephen and Luella Fergus Gilpatrick then moved into the cabin and their first son was born soon thereafter. Although neighbors laughed when Luella planted two locust seedlings brought from Wisconsin, the trees thrived and grew to parent many others. From 1904, George Mitchell ran a wood, coal, and poultry business from the cabin. The Last Chance Restoration Association acquired the property in 1939 soon after Mitchell’s death. Restored and furnished with period pieces including items of the cabin’s early residents, the community treasure is Helena’s only unaltered remnant of the great gold rush.

Images

Audio

Pioneers in Preservation
Audio recording about the early efforts to preserve the Pioneer Cabin in Helena. Prepared and recorded by Montana Historical Society staff member Ellen Baumler. Presented on the Soundcloud channel "Montana History on the Go" 2015. ~ Source: Montana...
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Map

208 South Park Avenue, Helena, Montana ~ private