World Museum of Mining: Orphan Girl Mine
Spirits of miners killed in accidents are still trying to earn their living.
The “Dry” in the hoist house is a definite hot spot!
Buildings that have been moved here also have spirits attached.
The mission of The World Museum of Mining: The Orphan Girl Mine is to “preserve the rich historical legacy of mining and the related culture of Butte, Montana and the surrounding region, and to promote its significant mining heritage by educating the public with a perspective toward total family interest.”
The World Museum of Mining is described by its owner as being “one of the few museums in the world located on an actual mine yard – The Orphan Girl.” Built around the mine, on forty-four acres, The World Museum of Mining offers many educational opportunities to visitors of all ages. The programs aimed at school children even have pre-visit and post visit materials for their teachers.
There is a three car train, pulled by a 1911 underground trammer engine, called The Orphan Girl Express that can take the visitor on a twenty minute ride around the perimeter of the entire property of The World Museum of Mining, that includes a tour guide pointing out various points of interest, to get a ball park view of what to see.
There are fifty exhibit buildings, with sixty-six exhibits in the mining yard alone, that revolve around not only mining, but the ethnic and culture groups that worked in this dangerous profession. Visitors enjoy learning all about the world of mining by perusing the wealth of information on display, and participating in opportunities to learn by doing as well, making it real as to how it was working and living this life style.
The World Museum of Mining’s most prominent feature, besides offering underground mine tours of The Orphan Girl Mine, is the “composite re-creation of an Old West mining town, called Hellroarin’ Gulch.” It is described as “an authentic reproduction of an 1890’s mining camp. Visitors can see various buildings that could be found in a mining town, including a bank, funeral parlor, jail, post office, city hall, union hall, school, the sauerkraut factory, saloon, and Chinese laundry. The fifteen original structures that were donated include two churches, the school house, and the superintendent’s house.
Thanks to a 2013 Montana Tourism Grant, The Orphan Girl Mine now has an 180 foot walkway up to the opening of the mine, where the mine’s authentic 100 foot steel head frame, along with the Nordberg double drum hoist can be found in the remaining engine house, completely restored.
In the restored head frame, visitors can learn and explore the mechanics of the head frame, seeing the ore bins and the Lorry rail car as well.
The Nordberg double drum hoist was an important piece of equipment was used to lower miners and their equipment in mining cages into the 2700 – 3,200 foot mine shaft to their work stations.
In the Hoist House, visitors can also actually go into a cage that held six to seven miners and their equipment, making the long ride down a very tight fit. The air compressors that were the heart of the mine are also on display. Also of interest is the detailed handmade mine model and the Stanley steamer engine.
The underground Orphan Girl Mine goes under the city of Butte. Visitors who take this underground mine will get a realistic hands-on experience. They go down sixty-five feet to the Shaft Station, wearing full gear; a miner’s hard hat, cap lamp and battery belt to experience life underground, where there was no electricity; just what was brought down with the person. As the visitor travels down, there are exhibits along the way to see. Visitors can turn back at any time.
The World Museum of Mining:The Orphan Girl Mine also remembers the 2,500 men who were killed in the Silver Bow Mining District since 1865. These men lost their lives in a mining, mill/smelter, concentrator, or railroad accident in any of the mine outfits in this district that employed so many for so many years. The fine presentation of four polished black granite slab memorial walls, that were sandblasted with all the names of the deceased miners are a great tribute to these souls who died on the job.
Over the years of its operation, The Orphan Girl Mine was a copper/zinc/gold/silver mine, owned and operated by Anaconda Copper Mining Company. A tremendous amount of copper was brought to the surface, creating wealth and prosperity for owners, and a decent if dangerous living for workers. At other times, gold, silver and zinc mining were also very profitable for owners and helped to keep the economy of Butte humming along. It was open from 1875 to 1956, which is a fairly long time for a mine to be in production; which gives an idea about how much rich volume of hard rock ore this mine had within its walls.
In 1963, just seven years after the mine closed, the people of Butte formed and supported the idea of establishing The World Museum of Mining on the grounds of The Orphan Girl Mine. Many families who still lived in Butte had found work here at this mine and others for several generations, and they wanted the mine to become a place of remembrance and knowledge. With many volunteers helping and with donations of fifteen intact historic structures and old, historic wood to build on-site structures, an authentic mining town, named Hell Roarin’ Gulch was created. This was a labor of love, that took around twenty years to complete. Construction took place from the mid-sixties to the 1980s.
Many authentic artifacts went on display in The Orphan Girl Mine and in the buildings brought in to create the town of Hell Roarin’ Gulch. The World Museum of Mining: The Orphan Girl Mine became a very authentic, one of a kind museum that showcased not only the tools and process of mining, the mine itself and but also showing how the people lived by displaying many items of interest that reflected their way of life.
The mine itself offers unique experiences for visitors, on a level not often found anywhere else. Thanks to the grant money mentioned above, visitors get to see and explore authentic machinery and equipment that is very important to the history of The Orphan Girl Mine itself. Being able to go down sixty-five feet into the mine is not a very common experience, and really gives the visitor the feeling of what it was like working underground.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who were killed suddenly and unexpectedly on the job or performing in a dangerous field of service sometimes stick around the area where they worked and continue on in their duties, or to supervise, to guard or to help the living who share their space.
Working as a miner has long been a dangerous job. True to course, Miners were killed in The Orphan Girl Mine because of cave-ins, and accidents, like being hit by a cage going downward. They died as well from inhaling toxic fumes and dust, and diseases like black lung, because of this occupation.
Recreating a time or place in history can draw spirits back to this reconstructed place.
Spirits of miners could be attracted to this place again because so many buildings were added; probably ones that were very much like the original buildings they frequented.
Spirits can attach to their favorite structure; (interior or exterior) and when it is moved, they come along with the building.
Fifteen original buildings in Hell Roarin’ Gulch of the mining era were donated, as well as old wood that came from buildings that stood in the same time frame as the mine.
Sometimes spirits connect to their favorite object or objects in this world.
The buildings in Hell Roarin’ Gulch are full of antiques and artifacts. The mine itself has displays of items that were actually used in The Orphan Girl Mine. Many pictures were donated to be put on display, as well as dolls and children’s toys, kitchen tools, and other every day gadgets used during this time.
Entity of male in Yellow Slicker
His apparition has been clearly seen standing by The Chinese Apothecary, which is directly across from the entrance to The Orphan Girl Mine and the mine’s Head Frame.
His apparition has also been seen by the Pawn Shop as well, and probably around other buildings found in Hell Roarin’ Gulch.
He is protective of the mine, and likes to turn off people’s cameras when they try to get a picture of the mine’s Head Frame.
It is thought that it was this spirit who rocked gently a photographer’s car that had her mother inside, while she was standing by the fence, getting ready to use her camera.
Unseen Male Entities
Staff members that have had the job of locking up all the buildings have experienced hearing male voices talking, and have felt unseen presences watching them intently.
Pale apparitions of male entities dressed as miners have been seen around and in the mine shaft itself, and possibly in some of the displays.
“The dry” in the hoist house by the head frame is a definite hot spot.
The Sound of Bells ringing, perhaps from one of the churches brought in as a donation, has been reported, when the museum was empty.
One witness reported that the dolls that are on display in one of the stores in Hell Roarin’ Gulch are said to be haunted with spirits of perhaps former owners, probably children.
She has strongly felt their presences in the dolls, which has “creeped her out.”
Probably so, though there has been no hard evidence made public, either from investigators or the museum. The reports of staff members, and the experience of the one photographer that shared what happened to her and her mother in the car are very believable.
Plus, places that have experienced a lot of death, often on average have at least a few spirits not ready to cross over yet. It seems that The World Museum of Mining: The Orphan Girl Mine has at least one supervisor, caretaker of the property not on the payroll, or even alive in this world, who looks after and keeps an eye on the mine, perhaps protecting the privacy of the spirits inside the mine from cameras as well.
Since the opening of The World Museum of Mining: The Orphan Girl Mine staff have reported having the experiences listed above. Visiting photographers have long had trouble taking photos of the mine’s Head Frame. Visitors who come during an uncrowded time have reported the above occurrences as well.
Paranormal groups haven’t been allowed in to investigate, or if they have done so, aren’t allowed to share what they found.
Most museums that have spirits don’t want to be known as a haunted facility, but as a place of learning.
155 Museum Way
Butte, MT 59703
The World Museum of Mining: THE ORPHAN GIRL MINE is located on the grounds of the old Orphan Girl Mine in Butte, Montana.
According to the official Montana State Travel Site, The World Museum of Mining and Hell Roarin’ Gulch is located off Interstate Highway I-15/I-90. At Montana Street Interchange (Exit 126), proceed north to Park Street. Turn left onto Park Street and proceed west past Montana Tech to the museum site.
- More Haunted Montana
by Karen Stevens
- The Ghost Hunters’ Field Guide
by Rich Newman
- The Mining Museum Web Site
- The Exhibits page on the Mining Museum Web Site
- The Underground Mine Tour page on the Mining Museum Web Site
- The Mining Museum page on Visit Montana.com
- Review of World Museum of Mining, Butte, Montana, on TripAdvisor.com
- “Butte’s World Museum of Mining and Spooky Antiques” on Paranormal Montana
- The World Museum of Mining page on Haunted Places.org
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr