When Butte was a rip-roaring copper town, there were two things to do—work in the mines and drink in the saloons. Your choices aren't quite so limited these days. The city's rich history has been preserved—with a kind of rambunctious elegance—in everything from old mines to old buildings, making it one of the country's largest National Historic Landmark Districts. The Berkeley Pit, site of the largest open-pit copper mine in the country, is on the northeast side of town. Its polluted waters are a harsh reminder of the environmental problems that remain from the mining era.
Take the walking tour of Butte's historic district, and don't miss the Copper King Mansion, the 32-room home of mining baron William A. Clark. At the World Museum of Mining, you can see the restored 1900-era Hell Roarin' Gulch mining camp (look for the Chinese laundry).
Butte, 225 mi/360 km west of Billings, is at the crossroads of Interstate 90 and I-15, and is a great stopping point for travelers going to Yellowstone or Glacier national parks.
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