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Butte-Silver Bow, Montana

Once upon a time, Butte-Silver Bow, Montana was a booming city of nearly 100,000 residents. A rich vein of copper was discovered below the city, and miners, fortune seekers, and settlers rushed to “The Richest Hill on Earth” to find their own little piece of mining success.

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, between Glacier and Yellowstone National Park, Butte Montana was first established as a mining camp in 1864. Early prospectors to the area found that the Silver Bow Creek Valley, which straddles the Continental Divide, was a lucrative place to mine for silver and gold.

Many of the early settlers were men from Cornwall, England, and Ireland. Late in the 19th Century, gold and silver mining was replaced by the Anaconda Copper mine. With electric lights heavily in demand in the growing United States, copper became king in Butte.

By 1910, Butte was the largest producer of copper in the United States, and the town was booming. However, all good things must come to an end, and over many years of declining production, the Anaconda and Berkeley Pit mines were eventually closed.

Today, the mining industry in Butte has gone, but what remains of this community is a beautifully preserved piece of American and Montana history. The historic Uptown District tells a story of wealth and prosperity and is the second-largest historical district in the United States.

In 1977 the Butte city government and the Silver Bow County government were combined into a single organization. Today, Butte is a small and thriving community that welcomes tourists and has a wealth of things to experience.

Butte-Silver Bow Main Attractions

chateau butte montana

One of the things we love about Butte is that it is small, but there are so many great things to do. Between museums, the historic district and the ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, the area has a little something for everyone.

Historic Uptown District

The only historic district larger than Butte’s Uptown District is in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Uptown district is a nearly perfectly preserved look at the life that miners and prospectors lived in the heyday of mining activities in Butte.

Recently there has been a substantial push by the community to preserve the heritage of Butte, by highlighting the town’s importance to mining and its historical significance in the story of the western United States. The historic district has 6,000 properties and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are a number of opportunities for guided tours of the historic Uptown district for visitors to enjoy.

World Museum of Mining

Dedicated to telling the story of Butte’s mining history, the World Museum of Mining highlights not only the history of Butte-Silver Bow but also provides exhibits about mining technology through history.

Visitors to the museum can also take guided tours into the Orphan Girl Mine. The museum puts on a variety of programs throughout the year including scavenger hunts and summer camps for kids.

Our Lady of the Rockies

Constructed in 1979 by Butte resident Bob O’Bill as a promise to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rockies is a 90-foot statue, dedicated to the women of the world, perched atop the Continental Divide. Our Lady of the Rockies is the third tallest statue in the United States and sits 3,500 feet above the town of Butte-Silver Bow.

Our Lady of the Rockies | Just outside Butte, Montana Feel f… | Flickr

Dumas Brothel

The Dumas Brothel was a bordello founded by French-Canadian Brothers Joseph and Arthur Nadeau. Today, the Dumas Brothel is the only remaining, three-story Victorian brothel in the United States.

Named after Joseph’s wife Delia Dumas, the brothel served the working men of Butte until it closed in 1982 when prostitution became illegal. Today the Brothel serves as a museum where visitors can enjoy the building’s history by guided tour.

Copper King Mansion

A look into the excessive wealth that was enjoyed by mine owners in Butte can be seen in the Copper King Mansion. The home built for W.A. Clark, one of the “Copper Kings” of Butte.

His success in copper mining in the Butte area was put on display in the home he built in Butte. The mansion features 34, well-preserved rooms that show the opulence of the home. Visitors will be stunned by Tiffany-stained glass windows, hand-carved woodwork, period furnishings, and frescoed ceilings.

Today, the home is a bed and breakfast. Tours of the home are also available.

Butte-Silver Bow Recreation Activities

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If history and mining aren’t your things, it’s OK, there are plenty of other things to do and see around Butte. With a wealth of opportunities for exploring the outdoors, you’ll find plenty of things to do and see around the town of Butte and Silver Bow County — you will find it hard to be bored.

Hiking

Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities around Butte. The town itself boasts over 10-miles of designated trails and greenways.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, the most popular hike in the area is the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Multiple trailheads in the Butte area give you access to this great trail that can take you the full length of the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico.

One of these connector trails is located in Thompson Park, just 9-miles south of Butte. Thompson Park has over 400-miles of non-motorized hiking and biking trails for visitors to explore.

If you don’t want to venture too far from town, try the Big Butte Trail System. This collection of trails starts in town near the Montana Tech University campus. This area has five different trail options that allow visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the town.

Skiing

There are two downhill ski areas near Butte-Silver Bow for those that want to ski and ride while visiting Butte. Discovery Ski Area and Maverick Mountain are both great places to enjoy a day of skiing or riding.

If you’d rather enjoy a more leisurely skiing experience, try Nordic skiing around Mount Haggin, Georgetown Lake, Big Hole Valley, and Elk Park.

Mountain Biking

If you can hike it, you can probably bike it. There are tons of great trails around the Butte area that are great for Mountain biking. Locals like the trails in the Big Butte Trail System, and there is plenty of single-track adventure to be found at Thompson Park.

Fishing and Hunting

There are plenty of opportunities for fishing and hunting around Butte-Silver Bow. You’ll find blue-ribbon fly-fishing on the Clark Fork, Jefferson, Beaverhead, and Blackfoot rivers. If river fishing isn’t your style, try casting your line at Georgetown Lake or Big Hole.

Family fishing opportunities can be found at Skyline Park or Homestake Lake just outside of Butte.

Hunting opportunities are plentiful in the mountains and valleys around Butte. Work with local outfitters to find the best places to hunt for waterfowl, birds, and large game.

Butte-Silver Bow Accommodations

Because Butte is a relatively small community, you’ll want to plan ahead before visiting, to ensure that you’ll find lodging. Accommodations in Butte are simple, but you’ll find a variety of options including historic homes with bed and breakfasts and well-preserved Victorian hotels.

Special Events

Many of the special events and festivals in Butte-Silver Bow pay homage to the cultural groups that came to the area in search of a bit of mining wealth. Of course, the town does have festivals that are just for fun and celebrate some of our favorite holidays.

Activities Near Butte-Silver Bow

Recreation Activities

National Parks and Forests

State Parks

Museums

Performing Arts

Tours and Scenic Drives

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