If you grew up in the Mining City or on the outskirt "burbs" of Anaconda, Whitehall, or the surrounding area anytime before the Fall of 1973, then at one point, you most likely encountered the incredible Columbia Gardens! Hey, maybe you heard your parents and grandparents talk about it! As a product of the 70s, I recall the Columbia Gardens being on the tip of almost everyone's tongue. Established in 1899 by William A. Clark and later owned by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, the Columbia Gardens was, for some time, the biggest amusement park in Montana. Young and old alike couldn't wait to venture to this colorful amusement park for a weekend outing.

Our family, like clockwork, made it the place to be on the Fourth of July. Before heading to the Columbia Gardens, the grown-ups set up camp in front of the Met Bar to watch the Butte Independence Day parade, equipped with the finest floats this youngster ever saw. From time to time, you could even catch a wave or a handshake from Butte native and daredevil extraordinaire Evel Knievel. Immediately after the parade, it was a quick jaunt to Muzz's (Muzz & Stan's Freeway Tavern) for pork chops, gizzards, beer, and Shirley Temples for the kiddos.

As children, my sister and I had ants in our pants, so although we loved hanging out at Muzz and Stan's to see how the adults did it, we couldn't wait to get to our main destiny! The Columbia Gardens was beyond the best! The awesome rides, the carnival-style food, the beautiful flowers displayed, hence Columbia "Gardens" (yes, this kid remembered the floral landscape). That's how magical it was and how it is something most of us will never forget.

Fast forward several years, and the magic of this wonderful place that closed its doors in 1973 can be experienced at the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel at Stodden Park. As featured online at Montana Right Now, groundbreaking for the facility began in 2015 and was completed in 2018. Dating back to this time, the hard-working organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and staff have made it possible to reminisce about yesteryear. A recent visit I made to the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel was much needed, and I'm sure you'll agree. So take advantage of this trip down memory lane.

Of course, a fantastic carousel featuring 32 hand-carved horses is displayed in the center of the facility, with the history of each sculpture available, including the horses' names. This keen spot is also a great place to view memorabilia, indulge in delicious confectioneries, host birthday parties, and more. They also sell souvenirs with logos and images of the original Columbia Gardens. Currently, the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel at Butte's Stodden Park is open every day except Mondays, from 12 pm to 6 pm. Get all the details by visiting their Facebook page or call (406) 494-7775. ***So in looking back, what was your favorite memory of the Columbia Gardens, and what do your children and grandchildren have to say about it?  Enjoy more pics below! 

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