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Havre Beneath the Streets, Montana

Havre Beneath the Streets is a museum unlike any other. Both an immersive and educational experience, Havre Beneath the Streets allows visitors to travel back in time and experience what underground Havre looked like 100 years ago.

Due to a city fire that destroyed much of Havre, most businesses and shops went underground in Havre, creating a unique town shopping area that lasted many years.

Guests can get a taste of what that underground town looked like by visiting the museum today where various exhibits with actors and antique furniture and items help showcase Havre’s history.

The museum allows guests to walk around as if they were cowboys themselves shopping around and exploring the underground mall.

There are various recreations of businesses that were once housed in Havre’s underground city, including restaurants and saloons. Visitors can explore shops like Long George’s Saddlery, The Sporting Eagle, and more.

The tour allows visitors to not only have a fun time immersing themselves in the experience but also to learn about what Havre once looked like.

Overall, Havre Beneath the Streets is a great experience for history buffs, families, and anyone looking to learn more about Montana’s history. It’s definitely worth taking a trip to if you are in town.

What is Havre Beneath the Streets, Montana?

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Havre Beneath the Streets opened in 1999 and aims to help educate tourists about the history of the underground mall Havre once had.

Although Havre is relatively small today, it was once a popular place for businesses and visitors as Havre was originally a railway supply depot near the Great Northern Railway.

Unfortunately, a large fire took out most of the city’s businesses in 1904. Many shops and services moved underground in the basements of the burned buildings so residents could continue working and shopping. Tunnels were dug so businesses were connected.

In addition to businesses, many Chinese railroad workers lived underground in “safe houses” which provided security to Asian railroad workers who were often unsafe due to extreme racism and hostility towards foreign workers in some towns.

In the 1990s, Lyle Watson and Frank DeRosa, as well as a group of volunteers, started a project to recreate the history of Havre’s underground city.

Havre Beneath the Streets was a difficult project, as they had to clean up and declutter the rather neglected underground. It ended up taking four years to complete the project, finally opening in 1999.

The tourist attraction helped draw tourists to Havre and also educate people about the history of the town. Today the nonprofit Havre Beneath the Streets helps keep the history of the town’s underground mall alive.

What Is There To See and Do at Havre Beneath the Streets?

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Havre Beneath the Streets offers guided tours only, so you can not do a self-guided tour of the museum.

The guided tour will make sure you see everything the museum has to offer, as well as ensure you are able to learn about the history that the various exhibits represent.

Below are some of the exhibits you can expect to see at Havre Beneath the Streets.

Sporting Eagle Saloon

The Sporting Eagle Saloon was a popular place for cowboys to gamble and drink rot-gut. The bar was there until prohibition and was a popular place for locals to drink and relax.

It was often considered a dangerous place, as it was said people would walk out having been robbed. The exhibit recreates the bar with tables, drinks, and even a piano on display.

Long George’s Saddlery

These exhibits recreate a saddlery owned by a man called Long George. There are saddles sitting in this exhibit. Long George was said to have created his own saddle for his 6’6 frame.

Pharmacy

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The pharmacy exhibit recreates the pharmacy that Havre residents would often visit when they were sick to get medicine. It is a well-detailed exhibit with several shelves and antiques on display.

Bordello

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The Bordello is perhaps one of the darker exhibits on display, as it is meant to represent the homes of prostitutes who had nowhere to go after the fire. The exhibit has about a half dozen iron beds in a small room.

There are various other exhibits you see along the tour as well, including a butcher shop, a bakery, and a Chinese laundry.

What Educational Resources does Havre Beneath the Streets Offer?

Havre Beneath the Streets mainly offers tours to guests for those looking to learn more about the town. There are school tours available with special rates, however other than that there are no special educational tours or events.

However, the regular one-hour tour offered is arguably quite educational already as tour guides typically provide detailed information about the history of each exhibit and are usually happy to answer any questions.

How to Visit Havre Beneath the Streets

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The museum is open all days of the week from 9 AM to 5 PM. You’ll need to call (406) 265-8888 to schedule a tour. Below are the admission rates:

  • Adult – $17
  • Kid 6-12 – $9
  • 5 and under – Free
  • Groups 15+ – $12

For more information, you can visit their website here or stop by Havre Beneath the Streets at 120 3rd Ave, Havre, Montana 59501.

Conclusion

Havre Beneath the Streets is a great place to visit for any looking to learn more about Havre and its history. As the tours are only an hour, it’s not too long of a visit and is a fun activity to do well in Havre.

 

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