Skip to main content
Dr. Brian Leech book talk
Dr. Brian Leech spoke at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives in Butte, Montana—‘the city that ate itself.’

Historian knows the industry that builds and erodes communities

The City That Ate Itself by Dr. Brian Leech, Augustana associate professor of history, won the biennial Clark Spence Award for the Best Book in Mining History from the Mining History Association this summer. 

The book is about the open-pit copper mine called Berkeley Pit, which expanded for nearly three decades into Butte, Montana. Closed since 1982, the mine’s years of encroaching upon neighborhoods still challenge Butte’s residents, now living with a large-scale environmental cleanup and a massive toxic lake.

Dr. Brian Leech, Marquette, Michigan
Dr. Leech on the Lake Superior shore, with “one of the marvelous ore docks in Marquette” in the background

In June, Dr. Leech co-presented on big developments in the field of mining history over the last century at the Mining History Association's annual conference, held in Marquette, Michigan, a place central to the iron mining tradition of the Upper Peninsula. Then he took his book talks to Montana, where KXLF ran this news spot.

In August, Dr. Leech will travel to Trondheim, Norway, to present on the global history of community relocation due to copper mining, at a workshop hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 

He’ll end his summer back on campus, at the Swenson Center for Swedish Immigration Research. Here, he’ll research Swedish Americans’ work in the timber, cattle, mining and farming industries in this region for an upcoming environmental history course. 

If you have news, send it to! We love hearing about the achievements of our alumni, students and faculty.