At first glance, many people don’t give a second thought about how Butte, Montana came to be. To many, it’s just another town situated off I-90 in Montana. To history buffs, it’s a city rich in history and culture. From its unique start as a mining community to its present-day preservation of mixed cultures, there’s a lot to learn about Butte’s spot in history. We created the following list for you history fans out there of the must-visit museums and sites in Butte.
Copper King Mansion
Open: May through September
Tour Hours: 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 3:30pm
The Copper King Mansion is a historic building that was once the home of William Andrews Clark. For those not familiar with Montana’s history with the copper industry, a name like William Andrews Clark probably means nothing. But, in Montana, Clark stands out as one of the three rival industrialist Copper Kings of Butte. Known for their battles over control of the booming copper industry in Montana, the Copper Kings each made their mark on history through the interesting lives they lead. Pairing together his success in mining and banking ventures, Clark amassed an estimated personal fortune of $50 million by 1900. He then selected Butte to be home of his impressive mansion. The mansion still stands today and offers tours enlightening visitors to the colorful history of the copper industry in Butte and those who were involved.
Our Lady of the Rockies
Open: June through October
Tour Hours: 12 pm daily or schedule a private group reservation
This one is hard to miss. We’ve previously discussed the history behind this iconic statue, but it would be a shame to not include this monument on this list. Located on the mountains overlooking Butte, Our Lady of the Rockies is a symbol of honoring women. For those eager to get their history fix with a dash of gorgeous mountain views, a trip to Our Lady of the Rockies should be on your itinerary. Shuttles run to the site run from June through October at a fare under $20.
Mai Wah Museum
Open: June through September, Tuesdays through Saturdays
Tour Hours: 10 am to 4 pm or schedule a reservation
With the boom of the copper industry in the late-nineteenth-century attracting individuals from all over, Butte became quite a diverse community comprised of immigrants. From Ireland to Norway to China, Butte’s journey to becoming the “Richest Hill on Earth” was paved by the hardworking individuals who selected Butte to be their home. With a community so diverse, it’s no surprise that the city continues to preserve its rich history through museums. The Mai Wah Museum is one example that strives to document the history of Asian people in the Rocky Mountains. The Mai Wah Museum provides great insight into the Asian heritage that settled in Butte and how it helped shaped the city to what it is today.
Additionally, don’t forget to stop by Pekin Noodle Parlor, the oldest Chinese restaurant in America, before your day is over.
World Museum of Mining
Open: April through the first snow
Tour Hours: 9 am to 6 pm or schedule a reservation
It wouldn’t be an article about museums in Butte if it didn’t include the World Museum of Mining. Given its part in developing the industry, it makes perfect sense that Butte is home to a world-class museum with the mission to educate visitors on the history of mining. The museum caters to those interested in learning about mining equipment and techniques. Additionally it actually allows visitors to experience re-creations of a day in the life of a miner. With engaging tours packed with mining facts and knowledgeable guides, the World Museum of Mining is sure to keep even the most history-adverse individual entertained.