Founded in 1963, the World Museum of Mining came into existence near the end of the days of mining in Butte, Montana. Butte was thought of as the home to one of the most productive copper mines that ever existed in the world through one hundred years of hard-rock mining. The purpose of the Mining Museum is the preservation of Butte's history, as well as its cultural heritage and legacy of rich mining.
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One of only a handful of museums found throughout the world located on the site of an actual mine yard, the World Museum of Mining includes fifty exhibit buildings that display countless artifacts. The museum is located at the Orphan Girl Mine and features sixty-six exhibits within the mine yard. Visitors could easily spend anywhere from a few hours to a whole day discovering the unfolding story of the mine. From exploring the Orphan Girl Mine's depths to the streets of Hell Roarin' Gulch, visitors to the mining museum will almost be able to picture the blackened faces of the miners and hear their sighs of exhaustion at the end of a workday.
The World Museum of Mining offers two different tours of the underground mine. The 65 Foot Level Tour last between forty-five and sixty minutes. During the tour, guests have the opportunity to listen to tales of miners who worked in the Orphan Girl Mine, feel the rock, and view the mine equipment. Thousands of people worked in the mine below Butte at the height of the city's mining boom. Unlike almost any other tour, the Underground Mine Tour just may be the most realistic tour visitors will ever experience, offering a look into mining underground. The 100 Foot Level Tour of the underground mine lasts about an hour and a half. This tour takes visitors 100 feet down to the original shaft station, as well as one of North America's few exposed veins open to the public, the Orphan Girl vein.
Hell Roarin' Gulch, a replica of a mining town from the 1890's, features fifteen historic buildings and around thirty-five structures constructed with old materials by numerous volunteers who worked hard to create the World Museum of Mining from the 1960's to 1980's. These buildings are filled with many period artifacts. The re-created town also includes many buildings that were brought to the museum as original, complete, structures.
Original structures of the Orphan Girl Mine Yard can still be seen at the mining museum, including the Hoist House, where original equipment and other exhibits are displayed, and the headframe measuring at 100 feet in height. Visitors have to the chance to learn about the history of the Orphan Girl, and explore the workings of its headframe, including the Lorry rail car and the ore bins. There's also the opportunity to climb into the very cages that once held about six or seven miners at a time for their descent down the 2700-feet deep mine shaft.
155 Museum Way, Butte, Montana, Phone: 406-723-7211