Our Lady of the Rockies is a colossal 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks the beautiful city of Butte, Montana from her lofty perch on the East Ridge of the Continental Divide. The statue itself was built as a monument to honor not only Mary, but also all women regardless of race, religion, or creed. (This goes doubly so for mothers.) She stands at an elevation of 8,510 feet above sea level, which is also approximately 3,500 feet above the elevation of Butte itself.
Our Lady of the Rockies first came into being as the brainchild of local Montanan Bob O'Bill around 1979. At the time, his wife was battling cancer, so in his prayers, Mr. O'Bill promised the Virgin Mary that if his wife reached the other end of her battle safely he would erect a nine-foot statue in his very own yard to honor her. After his wife's recovery, he proved to be as good as his word and began work on the statue as promised. However, the original scope of the project was eventually expanded quite a bit. Instead of a statue to be displayed in a personal yard, Our Lady of the Rockies would instead become a spectacular mountaintop work of art that everyone could enjoy.
Our Lady of the Rockies was made a reality completely through the efforts of local volunteers who donated not only their time and labor, but also the materials necessary to make O'Bill's vision a reality. These included Laurien Eugene Riehl, a retired engineer formerly employed by the Anaconda Company, who generously donated his engineering skills to the realization of the project. The volunteers as a collective were responsible for all stages of construction from blasting a path to the statue's final location in the Rockies to lifting the statue in sections to her permanent home. Today, the statue is maintained and cared for through the efforts of a non-profit organization.
Our Lady of the Rockies has since become a popular tourist destination and a point of great pride for the local populace. The only access to the statue is via bus with tours running a few times a day during the summer and early autumn. Once there, visitors and tourists are actually able to go inside the towering statue and take a look around in much the same way they can the Statue of Liberty (and in fact the two are quite close in size). They are also treated to a viewing of a monument to women and mothers that has been incorporated into the base of the observatory. The names of 13,000 women who have passed away throughout the world over the years are carved there to honor their lives, as well as the mere fact of their existence. It was incorporated into the design of the statue to honor all types of women who reside all over the globe. Although there is not room for a gift and souvenir shop on the actual site, keepsakes are available to visitors and tourists through the Our Lady shop and office at the Butte Plaza Mall.