Butte isn't the kind of place where you can spend a half hour, and know anything about it. Butte-Anaconda constitutes the largest National Historic Landmark District in the nation by contributing property count, with more than 6,000. The Richest Hill on Earth is rich in much more than just minerals: Butte's people built mines, mills, churches, brothels, saloons, and homes that today reflect mining and labor history unparalleled in America. And Butte's copper electrified the nation.|
The only industrial urban metropolis between Minneapolis and Seattle was home to some 33 ethnic groups — and they didn't always get along. There wasn't much melting in this "melting pot" until World War II. Before that, 100,000 copper kings, immigrant miners, shopkeepers, prostitutes, and more made Butte unique. As controversial writer Mary MacLane wrote in 1902, "For mixture, for miscellany--variedness, Bohemianism--where is Butte's rival?" And that's still true today.
Fun Facts about Butte|
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Here's our recommended approach to exploration of Butte.
The Butte Chamber of Commerce trolley tour is your best overview of the town and its history. Departs from the Vistor Center, 1000 George Street (just north of the Interstate, from the Montana Street exit). (May-September, $15 per adult (65+ $13, 12-17 $10, 4-11 $6, under 4 free), one-and-a-half hours, includes a stop at the Berkeley Pit. 406-723-3177)
To get into more detail, you can tailor your visit to any of the attractions that take your fancy, but we recommend three specifics: First, Old Butte Historical Adventures' walking tours explore hidden history in a prohibition-era speakeasy, 1890's jail where Evel Knievel got his name, and much more (four different tours year-round (call ahead in winter), 1½ hours each, $15 per adult, $12.50 seniors and students, $8 children 4-12. 406-498-3424). True West Magazine's People's Choice Award went to OBHA as "Best Tour Company of 2009." Second, the World Museum of Mining (April-October, $8.50 or less, allow 2 hours. 406-723-7211) offers mining and mining town experiences both above and below ground. Third, the Mai Wah Museum of Chinese History is an unexpected gem, focusing on the heritage of one of the largest Chinatowns in the intermountain West.
When you're ready to learn more about Butte's architecture, mining history, labor history, ethnic groups, churches, and amazing characters, Dick Gibson and his professional tour guide associates (some of their photos below) are ready to give you an unforgettable, customized tour experience. For customized small-group tours via golf cart, try a Butte Urban Safari Tour (BUST) from Uptown Works.
For groups, we offer step-on guide services for tour buses, school groups, and other groups; customized multi-day tour packages, lectures and living history programs for groups at the hotel or elsewhere (also available to local civic and other organizations); and specialty tours for everyone, including all the topics mentioned here. Click here for details.