History Channel has a reputation for digging out weird anti-Catholic or anti-Christian myths, but I want to give it credit where credit is due. I just saw a very interesting story on the engineering show Boneyards about the reclaiming and reusing of the old Anaconda copper mines in Butte, Montana. Said show did its darndest to imply in its closing segment that all the good stuff being done by the current owners is courtesy of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Anyway, a miner guy with the felicitous name of Bob O’Bill found out that his wife had cancer. He told all his buddies that if his wife recovered, he had vowed to build a nine foot concrete statue of Mary in his yard as thanks. Well, his wife did recover, but in their eagerness to help out, his coworkers transformed the statue project into a ninety foot statue to be placed on the Great Divide. (It would have been 120 feet, but the FAA told them Mary would then have to have a giant blinking light on her head, which would have really messed up their windshear calculations as well as the look.)
Using donated land and donated materials (like pipes!), designed by a retired engineer and a welder, put together at a construction company, and then put into place at a site so high that a road had first to be built and the statue parts flown in by helicopter, this thing is an amazing product of grassroots Catholicism and blue-collar American faith and friendship.
(It’s officially nondenominational, interestingly enough, and much is said on the website about it honoring all women. To which I say, Whatever makes non-Catholic people comfortable with building and loving a big giant honkin’ statue of Mary.)
I’d never even heard of it! Had you? I’m pretty sure I never saw anything about it as a kid, and I was watching the evening news by 1985. I guess it makes an appearance in one of the old Bud McFarland novels, but I never got around to reading those.
Official Website for Our Lady of the Rockies.