December 13th is the National Day of the Horse and we would like to tell you the story of “Jim, the extraordinary fire horse”.
If you were a horse for the fire department you weren’t an old nag and you weren’t a work horse, you were a well bred horse, stout of heart, fleet of feet and calm under pressure. Jim was 10 years old when the 1895 explosion took place. He was the only surviving horse from the fire department. After the explosion his yearning to go back to the fire station was so strong he managed to go back to fire station totally by himself, what a long and lonely walk that must have been. Jim’s injuries were terrible and for a while they didn’t think he would survive, but he did!
Jim did not want to retire but the fire department thought they should retire him because he had been so severely hurt. But, he was a truly a fire horse and he wanted to work and work he did. After he recovered he occasionally filled in for sick or injured horses. He became the Buggy Horse for several fire chiefs.
For 16 years he took the wagon full of flowers every Decoration Day down to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of the firemen.
Jim was loved and revered by the firemen and the citizens of Butte. Jim died at the age of 31 years in the fire station he called home.
Jim’s sculpture at the uptown fire station correctly depicts how he must have looked when he arrived back at the fire station on that terrible night in 1895. He had been through hell and came out on the other side.
The board of Butte Historical Memorials along with artist Martha U. Cooney Simonich and sculptor Jim Dolan are honored to tell the story of “Jim, the extraordinary fire horse”.