In Butte, Montana, a late-19th-century mine called Orphan Girl pulled silver, lead and zinc from as deep as 3,000 feet below the surface. Minerals were mined there up until the 1950s, and fortunately the mine was not allowed to vanish into the depths of obscurity after its closure. Instead, it became the World Museum of Mining, preserving the history and culture of early mining operations and communities.
At the museum, visitors can explore the Orphan Girl Mine Yard with its 100-foot headframe and many other structures and equipment intact. A replica of an 1890s mining town called Hell Roarin’ Gulch gives visitors an idea of what life in a mining community was like. And people can don helmets and headlamps to take a guided underground tour through sections of the actual mines.
The World Museum of Mining is not just about displaying relics of mining buildings and equipment. Many of the museum’s exhibits focus on the culture and ethnic history of mining communities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The World Museum of Mining is open April through September. For more information and to check open dates, visit miningmuseum.org. For information about visiting the historic city of Butte, go to butteelevated.com.