Mining Films

Butte, Montana, 1959 and 1978

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1959 Butte, Montana

Butte Miner’s Union No. 1. Photo by Harvey Richards

Harvey Richards mining films spanned the transition from deep shaft mining of the early 20th century to open pit mining that became dominant in the second half. His mining photography sprang from two generations of his family’s involvement in mining in the western US, starting with his grandfather, Larkin Richardson, and continuing with his father, Harvey Richards, Sr., who were mining engineers in Oregon and Idaho.

In the 1950’s, Harvey was an active organizer in the Butte, Montana area with the Communist Party, helping the miners’ union organizations there during strikes.  When circumstances changed later in the 1950’s, and he took up photography, he returned to Butte to make Perch of the Devil, the story of the miner’s strike of 1959. In 1978, at the end of his active years as a photographer, he made Tale of Ruin about open pit mining and the role of mining in capitalist resource exploitation, international geopolitics and its impact on the environment .  In between these films, and as part of both film projects, he took still photos which are presented in two galleries, the first from the 1959 film trip and the second from subsequent trips to Butte and elsewhere photographing open pit mining operations.


Perch of the Devil: The Copper Strike of 1959

1960, 24 min., color, DVD Butte, Montana, The Richest Hill on Earth Perch of the Devil is about the hard rock miners of Butte, Montana, and the copper strike of 1959.  Harvey Richards traveled to Butte, Montana in the 1959 … Continue reading

A Tale of Two Systems, Capitalism, Socialism and World Resources

1978, 20 min., color, DVD Capitalism Destroys the Earth A Tale of Two Systems is Harvey Richards second film on mining in the US and abroad. first film on mining, Perch of the Devil, centered on the miner’s strike of … Continue reading