Kelly Butte

In the first half of the 20th, if you lived around here
Certain words could make you shudder with fear
Especially those who found they often saw
The short end of the stick, the long arm of the law
The itinerant, the indigent, caught in the wrong place
Arrested and shipped eastward, gone without a trace

Sent to Kelly Butte, to split rocks at the quarry
To be just another convict who paved this city

The streets aren’t paved with gold, they’re paved with gravel
The sound of splitting rocks, preceded by the gavel
Sentenced to hard labor, to swing and swing again
Because if you work the poor to death, you’ll make them better men
And anyway, the City Fathers needed people to pave
The streets, and if they die, they can dig each other’s graves


For over forty years that’s how this stolen town was made
By convict labor – by workers never paid
They say it’s history forgotten, behind a rusted door
How the scions of this city got rich from the poor
But where are the descendants of those buried in these graves?
They’re living on the streets that their ancestors paved