Location: On I-15 and I-90, 80 miles west of Bozeman, 120 miles east of Missoula; Population: 33,700. Visitor Information: Butte Convention
& Visitors Bureau, 1000 George Street, Butte, MT 59701; Phone:
, (800) 735-6814
; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.buttecvb.com
Known for warm hospitality and enchanting historical character, Butte grew to be the largest and richest urban center between Minneapolis and Seattle in the early 1900s, after its humble beginnings as a muddy gold mining camp and eventual 30-year run as the world’s leading producer of copper. In the early 1880s, 2,000 miners toiled in 300 underground mines; by WWI there were nearly 15,000 working in shifts around the clock. More than 4,000 historic structures comprise the nation's largest National Historic Landmark District, including vintage Victorian homes and elegant mansions, some of the first tall buildings in the nation, brothels, boarding houses, hotels and miner's shacks housing an estimated 100,000 people.
Very affordable, guided walking tours are available through Old Butte Historical Adventures at 117 North Main, offering a personal look inside historic buildings in Uptown Butte. Go underground to visit the old city jail, popular barbershop and Prohibition speakeasy. Investigate the hauntings on the Dellinger Block or peruse Chinatown, the red-light district, stately hotels and exclusive clubs, Mother Lode Theater and County Court House.
A fun, easy way to learn all about Butte’s unique melting-pot ethnicity, the city’s historical reputation as one of the rowdiest in the country (martial law was declared here in 1914 and lasted for 7 years), and the daunting Copper Kings and their War, is a two-hour trolley tour available from the Visitor Information Center on George Street. The tours run all summer through preserved Victorian neighborhoods, past the Copper King Mansion, Charles W Clark Chateau, Mai Wah Museum and old Chinatown, Dumas Brothel Museum, World Museum of Mining and the Berkeley Pit.
One of the most complete Chinese stores from the early 1900s in the US and the only one occupying its original building, the Wah Chong Tai Mercantile displays more than 2,500 artifacts. Exhibits in Mai Wah Hall chronicle the immigration of thousands of Chinese to Montana between 1850 and 1940. Learn about Chinese tong (family associations) and how their disagreements erupted into the infamous 1922 Tong wars. The game of keno was devised in Butte, evolving from Chinese lotteries held in the gambling dens of a sprawling, six square block Chinatown.
America's longest running house of prostitution, the Dumas on east Mercury Street was built as a three-level brothel in 1890 with alley and underground cribs and escape tunnels. Remaining active until 1982, the building is now an extensive bordello museum. The World Museum of Mining on the west edge of Butte offers an underground tour of the Orphan Girl silver mine, an authentic 1890s mining camp of more than 35 buildings and extensive photo archives of Butte’s heyday. Montana Tech’s Mineral Museum displays 1400 specimens from around the world, including a 27-ounce gold nugget. The museum also houses an earthquake simulator and a UV light room revealing the stunning florescent glow of minerals. In summer and early fall, take a bus tour up to the top of the Continental Divide overlooking the city to the 90-foot, nondenominational statue of "Our Lady of the Rockies."
Butte's historic shopping district is home to fascinating specialty and antique stores, acclaimed art galleries and museums, and several of Montana’s best restaurants.
Chinese New Year Parade - Mai Wah Society parade led by a ceremonial dragon donated by the people of Taipei.
St. Urho's Day - March 16
St. Patrick's Day - March 17
Butte Freedom Festival - July 1-4
Montana Folk Festival - July 10-12, 2015
Evel Knievel Days - fourth weekend in July
An Ri Ra Irish Festival - second full weekend in August