Where to Stay- A Mining Time Machine

There’s no doubt, I love Butte! Unfortunately since we no longer live there, we don’t get to go back very often! Luckily for us though, there is a newer hotel on the block that I totally adore! We spent the last weekend in Butte for the Miners Market at the World Museum of Mining (Catch our blog post about the WMOM HERE). Usually I just spend the day in Butte, and drive back that evening. However, because we had to be there so early, we decided to spend Friday night there!

My mom had previously stayed at the Miners Hotel, and thought it would be the perfect place to add to The Montana Guide! So I had to check it out. Naturally, with my mining and Butte obsessions, it was love at first sight!

Miners Hotel Amenities:

  • Free Wifi (great speed too!)
  • Free Permit Parking (so you don’t have to fight with the rest of Park Street)
  • Coupons for local businesses (Why yes, I’d love $1 off a beer at the Quarry!)
  • Friendly, helpful staff
  • Cable TV
  • Airport Shuttle
  • Air conditioning
  • Situated right in the heart of Uptown Butte- walking distance to great shops, bars, restaurants, and breweries
  • Clean, well kept rooms with bright colors
  • Large walk-in showers
  • Bell hop service
  • Social seating areas
  • Access to the Farmers Market (right out the front door!)
  • Coded door access after 8 pm
  • Owners live upstairs in case of emergencies
  • Literally the softest sheets on the face of the planet
  • **COMING SOON** – A speakeasy in the basement. I’m not even kidding!

Walking into the Miners Hotel is literally like taking a step back in time. Before it was a hotel, it was the Miners Savings and Trust Co., which was built in 1913. The bank occupied the ground floor of the building until the 1960’s, while they rented out rooms on the upper floors. My favorite part of this hotel is you can ACTUALLY stay in the Vault Room and Presidents Office! The vault room comes fully equipped with a vaulted door to the bedroom, as well as tear gas. Okay, the tear gas has been removed but the equipment is still in place! The hotel was once robbed so the tear gas was put in place, you can read all about it in the newspaper article on the wall of the room! The Presidents Office has the original door in place, and will soon have it’s own entrance to the speakeasy downstairs. Sign me up! Both of these rooms have wonderful little “Butte touches” that totally make the rooms, such as pillows with Butte sayings and photos of Butte in it’s hayday.

The Vault Room is a must stay (when it’s available!)
The little Butte touches really make these rooms special!

The Presidents Office will have it’s own entrance to the speakeasy!

We were given the keys to our room (actual keys, as if this place could get any better!), and were told that our room was the Steward. This made me very excited, as my favorite Butte Miners have been working their tails off for over a year to restore the Steward’s chippy hoist and run it for tours! When we got into the room, I was so surprised by how spacious it was! Plus- the room is decked out in happy, bright colors. Add a TV, large walk in shower, and dual recliners and I was quite a happy miner! While the window in the room looks at the building next door, the owners made a wonderful little outdoor space with trees and outdoor lighting to make the room feel like it had a view. When it was time to go to bed, I climbed into one of the two comfortable beds and felt like I was climbing onto a cloud. I’m not even exaggerating, these guys have the softest sheets I’ve ever felt in my life. I almost wanted to steal them for my house! But that would involve having to un-make the bed and y’all can ask Coby- I don’t do chores! I slept the whole night through in this amazingly quiet hotel. I love that each room and seating area even has Butte history books and photos!

Mom enjoying that dual recliner!

Saturday mornings in the summer there is a farmers market on Park Street. The Miners Hotel has amazing access to it, since it’s literally right outside the front door! Weekly and year round however, Uptown Butte has a lot to offer! The Miners Hotel is in the middle of it all! Breweries, food, events, and shopping are all within walking distance. It should definitely be on the top of your list for Butte stays, but don’t wait to book! Spots do fill up since it is a boutique hotel. You can book using AirBnb, Hotels.Com, or call the hotel! Trust me- you don’t want to miss out on the friendly staff, great spot, and amazing history! It’s a place you can count on me to hang my hardhat for the night when I’m in Butte next!

Have you stayed here before? Where are your favorite places in Butte? Let us know in the comments below!

Museum/Tour: The World Museum of Mining

I’ll say it right off the bat, this one is totally biased. I ADORE this place. I have ever since I first went to school in Butte, I was able to work here my senior year as a tour guide, and I have a membership and visit every time I go to Butte! But, it is one of the top things to do in Butte so of COURSE I’m going to write about it! This is a long one ya’ll, and super in depth. Each part of the museum is in it’s own section so if you’re curious about one specific part of the museum just scroll down until you find that part!

Coby and I love visiting the museum, it’s our favorite place!
A picture with Miney is a must!

The World Museum of Mining is unlike any other museum you’ve ever visited. It is a chance to really, fully immerse yourself in history. Not only does it have a recreation of an old time mining town (Hell Roarin’ Gulch), but also an underground tour into the Orphan Girl mine! There is also a rock room, the Orphan Girl Mineyard with some awesome mining equipment, and even an extensive doll collection! So there is literally something for everyone at this museum!

The basics: The museum is open from 9 am to 6 pm, except on Sunday’s they open at 10 am! Underground tours are at 9:30, 1, and 4:15 for the 65ft level tour. 100ft level tours are newer, and you get to go deeper into the Orphan Girl mine and into the restored shaft station! The 100ft level tours are at 11 and 2:30. Museum admission varies depending on what experiences you want at the Museum, which is super cool because you can fit it to any budget! The museum is also self guided (except for the underground tours) so you can really fit it into your schedule. *Little known tip!*– Museum admission is good for two days! So if you can’t fit it all in in one day, you can come back a second! Just keep your receipt! Also- the museum offers AAA, senior, and military discounts with ID, so be sure to ask about those!

Inside the museum is where the gift shop, rock & mineral room, and doll room are located. The gift shop is also where you pay admission and reserve your spot on the underground tours! Although- they do suggest making reservations online so you make sure you have a spot. Once admission has been paid, you can head into the main hallway! On the left side of the hallway is the Rock and Mineral room. Coincidentally- yours truly has spent a LOT of time photographing and cataloging these wonderful specimens! A majority of this collection was collected and donated by Roy Garrett, who used to work at the Orphan Girl Mine herself! On the right side of the hallway is where the Samie Keith Doll and Dollhouse exhibit is located. While there is some mining and old-timey themed doll houses, there is also a lot of collectible and interesting dolls for viewing! At the end of the hallway is a door which leads out to the outside portion of the museum!

Hell Roarin’ Gulch is an outdoor exhibit (so bring a light jacket or rain coat if it’s raining!). It’s a recreation of an 1890’s mining town, with many different structures and exhibits. School houses, churches, assayers, forest ranger cabin, and even a little (family friendly) red light district! You have to look really hard to see the mannequin in the window and she is clothed so don’t worry about the little ones figuring it out, but it’s a great laugh for the adults in your group! Each exhibit has awesome items in it, and some even have QR codes for more information! So make sure you download a QR code reader before you head to the museum!

Just outside of Hell Roarin’ Gulch is the Orphan Girl Mineyard. Tell ya what, you can’t miss seeing this part for sure. The centerpiece of the mine yard is the 110-foot tall Orphan Girl Headframe. Get up close and personal, reach out, and touch the history here. Walk into the hoist house to learn about mining history, walk underneath the headframe, and into the ore house to visualize the history of working here. It really is a spectacular feeling to see this amazing structure rise above you, and be able to really feel the history.

TripAdvisor guests can’t be wrong, and they all say you MUST check out the underground tours!  As a previous underground tour guide myself, I will tell you this is the best kept secret in Butte America for people visiting. There are two different tour options, the 65ft and the 100ft level tour. All of the tour guides bring their own stories and histories to the table, so even if you take the tour many times, if you get a different guide each experience will be its own tour. Tour guides currently include an electrician who worked in the mines, a couple of Butte miners, a Montana history / Butte history teacher, and more! What I love about this tour is it’s so hands on. There are so many people who have never been underground before, in a cave let alone a mine. First, the guide gets you suited up in a hard hat and cap lamp. Safety first, plus it helps you look like a miner so that’s pretty awesome. You then enter the portal, where you will decline to the 65ft level first. Feel history come alive underground, where it is fully encouraged to reach out and touch the equipment, board the cages in the shaft, and ring the bell. Further down then that is the 100ft level, which has been fully restored to its original glory. Many pieces in here are original, and are really amazing to see. My absolute favorite part of the 100ft level tour is the Orphan Girl vein. You don’t see this on the 65ft level, and if you’re a rock nerd like I am it’s a must see. The Orphan Girl mined sphalerite, galena, and rhodochrosite as its main minerals! See the overshot mucker (used by Montana Tech students during class) mining the vein, and look at the rocks that have been blasted out! The 65ft and 100ft levels have been built/restored, and maintained by volunteers and Montana Tech students!

The Orphan Girl Vein
The 65ft shaft station
Guests on a tour

World Museum of Mining tips & tricks:

  • Museum admission is good for 2 days!
  • The museum offers AAA, senior, member, and military discounts so be sure to ask about those!
  • Check out the museums Facebook page for special event info, like the AWESOME haunted underground, gallows frame bus tours, Miners Union Day, and vendor events!
  • The museum is HUGE, so bring good shoes. Closed toed shoes are HIGHLY recommended for going underground because… well…. you’ll be underground. It does occasionally get muddy and it is made of dirt.
  • Bring a light jacket! A majority of the museum is outdoors, and underground can be pretty chilly even if it’s 100 degrees outside.
  • There is a “house” on the headframe, a lot of people don’t realize you can walk into it! Yes- you get to walk into a headframe, the only one in Butte that you can do that! If your facing the headframe, walk towards the back of the headframe there is a set of stairs toward the rear. You can NOT climb the main stairs that lead to the top of the headframe!
  • Make reservations for the tours! I can NOT stress this enough. The tours do get booked up quickly! If you DO show up and want to take a tour, wait in the gift shop before tour time to see if some parties that pre-booked did not show up. You may be able to still get on!
  • Have family history in Butte? Ask the gift shop people about the museum archives! The archives have great photos, books, and other materials.
  • The underground tour has a very steep decline that can be difficult to climb. No children under 4 are allowed underground, and no children under 6 are allowed on the 100ft tour. I personally recommend that if you cannot climb hills for any reason, you don’t attend the underground tour. Out of shape is okay, but if you need a wheelchair or have recently had leg surgery I would not recommend it.

I hope you enjoyed this SUPER in depth write up of the World Museum of Mining! Have you visited? What are your favorite parts? We’d love to see comments and pictures!!

Tour: Our Lady of the Rockies

I lived in Butte for 5 years, and I NEVER visited the Lady on the hill! So, I decided it was finally time! It was a super cool tour, and the view alone was worth it! The tour takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, and costs $18 for adults. I HIGHLY recommend calling at least a day ahead for reservations. The tours fill up very fast and I was pretty lucky to get on one last minute (on a Tuesday! It’s not just the weekends!). You can find all their contact info HERE! Their gift shop / tour meeting point is super easy to find, it is just in the mall on Harrison Ave down town! If you park in the front lot, you can’t miss it, it’s right in the main entrance of the mall. It is recommended that you arrive to your tour approximately 45 minutes early, as they have a cool movie that explains the history and story behind the Lady! The very cool part about this tour is that is completely handicap accessible so everyone can go!

After the movie at the gift shop, you meet outside to go up to the Lady! You take a van or a bus up to the top, so you’ll be making some new friends for sure! The road is a 16 mile bumpy private road, with two locked gates. So I wouldn’t be thinking you can drive up there! The guide talks about Butte history and the Lady as you ride up, plus you get to see the beautiful views on the way up! My tour guide was Les, a Korean War veteran and total sweetheart!

Once you get up to the top, that’s where the magic happens! As you come through the trees at the top, you get your first glimpse of the Lady! This is the first sight of her since you saw her almost 3,000 vertical feet in elevation ago! I can tell you, that 3,000 vertical feet makes a difference! You’d never guess it, but the Lady stands almost 90 feet tall! That’s almost as tall as some of the headframes in Butte! It really is amazing to see a statue that tall in person. She even has a door on the back that leads to the inside of the lady, which stands as a kind of memorial. If you choose, you can leave rosaries, notes, letters, photos, and more actually on the inside of the Lady (you can buy rosaries and other items at the store if you didn’t bring your own).

First glimpse of the Lady of the Rockies
Les is quite the photographer!
That’s a tall lady!

Besides the Lady, there is also a small chapel on the top of the hill. It was such a great space, and you can even have weddings or special events up there! In the chapel there is the “Heart of Hope”. The heart is made in the same scale as the Lady, and is made of the same 1/4″ steel. Les, my ever awesome tour guide, says the Lady’s heart is roughly the size of a giraffes! Super fun fact. You can write a message to a loved one, and put it in the heart to be sealed up when full.

Overall, it was a really great tour! All of the guides are so fun and knowledgeable. I do recommend bringing a light jacket or rain coat, as weather in Montana changes frequently! The tours are not usually cancelled unless the weather is very bad, so don’t worry about a little rain! Overall, I hope you get to go see the Lady next time you’re in Butte! Have you seen her before? What were your thoughts? I’d love to see comments and photos!!