BUTTE, MT - Bob Dylan said it best back in 1964: Times they are a-changin'.

Every generation goes through it since the dawn of time. Every civilization experiences mass change, development, and, if they're unlucky, tragedy that shapes the generations living through it. It's hard to understand and recognize it as you move through it, but it's there. The inevitable big events trickle down to affect the smaller details in everyday experience, such as 9/11 and airports, COVID and social living, and Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and jazz music. No, not everything has to be tragic.

My point is, things change, and sometimes you don't even know it hit you 'til your cheeks are red. Though I feel my generation has been through a lot (I'm a millennial), every generation before me has been through just as much—if not more—just as every generation after me will go through. It's a part of life and it makes things turbulent, albeit oftentimes despairingly. Other times, however, things arguably improve for the better: improved airport security, higher understanding of contagions, and elevating jazz from chaotic solos to a more refined, melodic sound. I really like Kind of Blue; I know, hot take.

One thing that I've noticed has changed in the few years I've been around is bar culture. To preface this next part: I started going to bars when I was 21 which was in 2016 (though, in all honesty, I started going to bars well before; sorry Mom and Dad). So before you start yelling at me how I don't know what real bar culture is, just know that I agree. But that's the thing: in just the short amount of time I've been around bars, I've noticed how much they've changed—especially since COVID.

Whatever thoughts you have on the 2020 pandemic, you cannot deny how social hot spots have changed. A bar in 2019 versus that same bar in 2024 are often unrecognizable. And though I don't blame bar owners for that change, I think some have handled the adjustment better than others. However, there's one bar in particular that has managed to hold on to the specific details that made me love going to bars in the first place: Uptown's Silver Dollar Saloon.

Originally the Push Saloon in 1894. Credit: Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society
Originally the Push Saloon in 1894. Credit: Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society
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What are these details I hold so close and dearly? Though I can't name them all, I'm sure the few I can align similarly to your bar ideals: a welcoming, social environment; a bartender that pours, and I mean pours, and not from a jigger; an interior that has a long, extensive bar top; and a cat that hangs out with you. Okay, that last one is unique to the Silver Dollar, but I just had to throw it in there. I mean, a bar cat?? Heck yeah.

The Silver Dollar Saloon's uniqueness doesn't stop there. The gentleman who owns the joint in its present state, Bryan, has managed to keep the place perfectly in the "hole in the wall" category, which is a sincere compliment. That may not sound unique compared to other hole-in-the-walls in Butte, which has plenty, but there's something special about this one. Plus, the cash-only policy is always a good indicator of quality. Oh yeah, the uniqueness. Just take a look at the decor and that will answer it for me.

The Silver Dollar Saloon's charm extends beyond its uniqueness. The charm really comes from its patrons. The few times I've been in there featured a cheery motley crew of pleasant, worn individuals, all of whom seem to frequent the joint. They saw my California-looking self, asked me where I was from and what I did, then proceeded to give me a warm welcome and we chatted about whatever. It was perfect, and extremely reminiscent of the good ol' days, whatever those are.

Nothing like neon lights in a dark, cozy bar. Credit: Dale N/Facebook
Nothing like neon lights in a dark, cozy bar. Credit: Dale N/Facebook
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I am ashamed of myself, I must admit. I've heard the live music that goes on here is incredible, and though I've stood outside the door and heard a few bands rehearse in there before their show like a dog waiting to be let back inside, I have never been for a live show. Why did I write this before going? Because I suck at my job.

All in all, it's okay to feel the pressure of the outside world around you, the pressure of trying to keep up with things are changing faster than you can keep up with. Unfortunately for most, that's just the reality of life. But when it all gets a little too overwhelming, just know there are one-of-a-kind locations like the Silver Dollar that will take care of you and let you experience a time that happened not too long ago.

See other Butte Beat editions here:

Butte Beat: A Proper Head Change at Headframe

Butte Beat: Butte's Best Bagels?

Butte Beat: New Irish Uptown Restaurant

Butte Beat: Eat in a Bank Vault

Butte Beat: Explore a Famous Montana Chain

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