Butte: Recreation


In 2002 Butte was one of only 12 towns in America to be named a distinctive destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A popular Trolley Tour takes visitors to all the key sights—Old No. 1, a replica of the city's original electric trolley car system, operates four times daily from the first of June through Labor Day. Both St. Lawrence Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church have stunning frescoes that are open to public viewing. Butte's historic district also showcases several homes built during the days of the mining barons. The Copper King Mansion, built in 1888, was the Elizabethan-Victorian-style home of William

The U.S. High Altitude Sports Center in Butte has been selected three times to host the World Cup Speedskating competition.
The U.S. High Altitude Sports Center in Butte has been selected three times to host the World Cup Speedskating competition.
S. Clark, whose battle with Marcus Daly for control in Butte has become a local legend; the mansion is now a bed and breakfast inn. Another impressive structure is the Charles Clark Mansion, also called the Arts Chateau, home of William A. Clark's son and a replica of a French chateau; completely restored and housing an arts center and gallery, it has been designated as a National Historic Structure. On the west side of the city are other fashionable, late-nineteenth-century homes.

Overlooking Butte from Montana Tech Hill is a statue of Marcus Daly by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. North of the downtown district stands the "gallows frame" of the Original Mine, which was used to raise and lower miners and ores from the underground mine. To the east of the city is the Berkeley Pit, started in 1955, and once the largest truck-operated open pit copper mine in the United States; it is an example of the process that replaced underground vein mining. The Granite Mountain Memorial commemorates the 168 miners who died during a 1917 fire at the Granite Mountain and Speculator mines. Also east of Butte, atop the Continental Divide, is Our Lady of the Rockies, a statue of the Christian religion's Virgin Mary. Standing 90 feet high and floodlighted at night, the statue is a nondenominational monument to motherhood that was built with donated materials and labor and completed in 1985.

Among the points of interest within driving distance of Butte are ghost towns such as Alder Gulch, Cable, Granite, and Philipsburg, where legends were formed and fortunes made during the gold and silver booms.

Arts and Culture

A culturally active city, Butte supports a symphony, a community arts center, and a theater company. The Mother Lode, completed in 1923 as a Masonic Temple but never occupied by Masons, has been rehabilitated and serves as southwest Montana's premier performing arts center. The Butte Symphony Orchestra programs a four-concert season featuring a choral group and soloists. Theater is presented by Orphan Girl Theater and the Mother Lode Theater. Opera productions and appearances by national touring groups and speakers are also scheduled in the city.

Butte's principal museums are related to the mining industry. The World Museum of Mining and Hell Roarin' Gulch, a popular attraction in the area, features indoor and outdoor exhibits that replicate an early mining environment. Among the indoor displays are models of mines, minerals, fire fighting equipment, a Stanley steam engine, and an electric hoist. Outdoor exhibits include a reconstructed 1900 mining camp, with a print shop, Chinese laundry, bank, drug store, millinery shop, and other authentic structures. Also featured at the museum is a tour on the Neversweat and Washoe Railroad aboard a train drawn by an M-10 locomotive; the tour starts at the museum, traveling past mines and head frames, to nearby Kelly mine. Commentary on mine history is presented. The Dumas Brothel was the longest-running establishment of its kind in America; Butte once had as many as 2,400 ladies of the evening working in town. The Mineral Museum at Montana Tech exhibits 1,500 items from its collection of more than 15,000 mineral specimens gathered from throughout the world; a highlight is a display of fluorescent minerals. The Mai Wah preserves the history of Butte's Chinese miners.

The Picadilly Museum of Transportation houses a fascinating array of exhibits about transportation in America, from antique cars to gas pumps to road signs. The Mother Bottego House honors Celestine Mary Bottego, who spent 15 years in Butte and has been nominated for beatification. At the Butte-Silver Bow Arts Chateau a professional art gallery mounts changing exhibits of works by local and national artists. Several private art galleries are also located in the city.

Festivals and Holidays

The Arts Chateau holds a Wine Tasting Festival in February. The Winternational Sports Festival, a multisport event, begins in February and continues into March, when St. Patrick's Day festivities such as a parade and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Banquet also take place. On March 16 the Finnish-American community gives thanks to St. Urho for chasing the grasshoppers out of Finland. Ghost Walks takes place in April at the Mining Museum. July is an event-filled month; included among the activities are the Arts Chateau Summer Display, Evel Knievel Days, and the Freedom Festival parade and community picnic. An Ri Ra—the Montana Gaelic Cultural Festival—takes place each August. Mining Heritage Day happens in September. The year ends with the annual Christmas Stroll, Ice-Sculpting Contest, and Festival of Trees.

Sports for the Spectator

Butte's U.S. High Altitude Sports Center has three times been chosen as the site of the World Cup Speedskating competition. Other sporting events include state wrestling tournaments and rodeos.

Sports for the Participant

Butte has some 30 parks ranging from mini parks on lots to major parks such as Stodden and the recently built Copper Mountain Sports and Recreation Complex north of Timber Butte. Municipal parks located in Butte provide such facilities as a swimming pool, basketball courts, baseball and football fields, tennis courts, golf courses, an Olympic-sized skating rink, and running/walking tracks. Recreational areas outside the city include the Blacktail Creek and Alice Pit Walking Trails, the Red Mountain Highlands (a 10,000 foot peak), Humburg Spires rock climbing site, kayaking on Big Hole and Madison rivers, downhill skiing at Maverick Mountain and Discovery Basin, and a number of golf layouts that offer spectacular scenery in the Butte foothills. Golfers may particularly wish to visit town of Anaconda, 26 miles from Butte, where an $11 million, 200-acre golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus has been built atop the ruins of a smelting plant. Butte is surrounded by lakes, streams, and reservoirs where trout fishing, boating, and waterskiing are popular pastimes.

Shopping and Dining

Historic Uptown has several unique stores that deal in antiques, toys, and tools, and art galleries that specialize in Western art. In addition to the Butte Plaza Mall, a shopping plaza that features a major department store, Butte's Harrison Avenue has small shops and stores with specialties ranging from locally made crafts and gifts to sporting equipment.

More than 80 restaurants in Butte provide a variety of choices that include fast food and family dining, as well as the more formal atmosphere of supper clubs. Among the cuisines offered are Chinese, Greek, Italian, and traditional American. Local favorites include The Acoma on Broadway, Gamer's Café on Park, the Gold Rush Casino and Restaurant on Galena, and Pork Chop John's (three locations). A local specialty is pasties, which are meat pies that were originally brought to Butte by Cornish miners in the 1870s.

Visitor Information: Butte/Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce, 1000 George St, Butte MT 59701; telephone (406)723-3177; toll-free (800)735-6814; email chamber @buttecvb.com