Butte, like so many of Southwest Montana’s communities, was born on the boom and bust. Initially miners flocked to the area for gold, then silver, and eventually copper – which would become king in the area. The success of the mines drew a diverse population to Butte that would shape the culture of the city. Such a diverse, and at times rough, community, in addition to the numerous disasters of the area, left deep imprints behind. Today these imprints stand as little more than distant memories.
It may not surprise you, but Butte is home to 38 certified hauntings, many of which are covered on Butte’s Spooks & Spirits Tour. They just announced their fall schedule so now is the time to grab reservations!!
Many of Butte’s hauntings can be backed with historical relevance. For example, during an interaction with a local spirit, the following information was collected: the woman’s initials were C.C., she lived with her crippled sister, husband, and two children, and in 1929 something tragic took place.
Following some research in the Butte Silver-Bow Public Archives, it was found that a murder-suicide took place in April of 1929. Catherine Colleti (initials C.C.), mother of two boys, was murdered by her husband Dominic Colleti who then took his own life after taking a shot at his disabled sister-in-law. They lived only two blocks from the sighting at the Old YMCA building on Park Street.
This story is just one of countless tales you will be met with on the Haunted Trolley Tour of Butte, America. Certified haunting aside, you may next wonder what a Spooks & Spirits tour actually entails. Rest assured, you won’t find a more authentic Butte experience anywhere.
Spooks & Spirits
I’ll start by saying that this tour is not recommended for children.
The tour has been split in two, making for a full evening of History and Haunted Encounters if you so choose. The First Tour takes off from Headframe Spirits, while the second meets at Slaint Butte America Pub. Whether you choose one or both tours, you won’t be disappointed!
With little information about the tour, we had no idea what to expect. It was a crisp evening and we wandered into Headframe Spirits, Butte’s craft distillery and found ourselves bellied up to the bar where we met Chris, our tour guide for the evening. As 6 p.m. rolled around, he made an announcement to grab a drink and meet him outside to hop on the Historic Butte Trolley. It turns out that you can grab a drink (or even 2) in a plastic cup to-go, it’s Butte after all … you can do whatever you want 😉 With a delicious set of craft cocktails in hand (obviously the famous “Dirty Girl” being one of them), we were ready to get started!
What to Expect from a Spooks & Spirits Tour
When it comes down to it, three words will define your tour: Humor, History, and Hauntings. Let’s break it down:
- Your Guide: Chris Fisk has taught history at Butte High School for the past 25 years. He has a hands-on approach to teaching that truly brings history to life and keeps his students talking about their experiences for years to come. This passion truly translates into the tour, creating a lasting impression for everyone in attendance.
- The Trolley: Your tour will take place aboard the Old Trolley No. 1, a replica of the cars found in the original electric trolley system of Butte which ended service in 1937. The initial replica was constructed in 1971, and the enclosed streetcar has been touring the streets of Butte ever since.
- The Drinks: Headframe Spirits pays homage to Butte’s mining history in nearly everything they do and have established themselves as a staple in the Butte community. Their cocktails are unmatched, whether you are sipping on a classic or a Butte special you’re sure to be delighted. Slainte, is pronounced SLAHN-chǝ with a silent “t” and is the Gaelic word for health and a common form of “cheers” in Ireland. The pub is named Slainte! Butte America Pub to give an Irish cheers to their beloved city.
- The Experience: You will take a deep dive into a dark and misfortune ridden history that is accompanied by tales of spirit sightings, and, if you are lucky, maybe even a personal encounter with one of Butte’s famed residents.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Experience
- These tours are popular. Make sure you call with plenty of time in advance. You don’t want to let the chance to get tickets slip by!
- If you are coming from out of town, why not make a weekend of the experience? Stay at the Miner’s Boutique Hotel, the Copper King Convention Center, or the historic Finlen Hotel, and schedule a tour of the Copper King Mansion, explore Uptown Butte, stop by some of the craft breweries, and dig into Butte’s history at the World Museum of Mining.
- Whether you are a skeptic or believer when it comes to the paranormal, set that aside and really dive into the hauntings along the tour. You might just have an encounter of your own, and you wouldn’t want to upset a spirit.
- Show up a little early for the tour and enjoy a drink at Headframe Spirits before you find yourself running out the door.
- If you can spare the entire evening take both the East and West Side Tours. At least in our experience, these tours very nicely complemented one another, and yet, were drastically different.
- Last but not least, dig deeper into Butte’s History following the tour – even with over three hours on the trolley, you will find that you have only scratched the surface of what Butte has to offer.
And who knows, maybe the next time something goes bump in the night you won’t chalk it up to your imagination.
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