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Havre Beneath the Streets
Tours start at the Havre Railroad Museum at 120 3rd Ave., Havre. (406) 265-8888

Probably one of the most popular attractions in northcentral Montana is the historical tour through Havre’s underground. In January of 1904, a devastating fire wiped out a large part of the Havre business district. A shortage of building materials made it difficult to rebuild immediately, so the businesses moved their stores to the steam tunnels running under the city until their buildings could be replaced above ground. This created what was probably one of the first shopping malls in the country.

When prohibition ended, so did the use of the tunnels. Over time the underground was largely forgotten. But talk of the passages below the streets was common among Havre’s older residents, and more than one schoolboy yearned to explore the mysteries of the passages. Frank DeRosa, Lyle Watson, and a group of Havre residents and history buffs decided to explore for themselves the stories of businesses and bootleggers using the underground. What they discovered was not just a bootlegging past, but a whole world of businesses and history that had largely been forgotten. They formed the Havre Beneath the Streets Committee and began the restoration.

It took over four years to bring the project to fruition. Easements needed to be obtained, garbage and rubble needed to be removed, hallways needed to be created, old plumbing and electrical wiring had to be moved or removed. The highway through town had already destroyed a part of the area. In all, the community effort took countless hours to complete.

But complete it they did. Since it opened in 1994, over 80,000 people have taken the tour. Today it is one of the finest museums of Montana history anywhere. The one hour tour will take you through a post office, the Holland and Son Mercantile, Wright’s Dental Office, the Sporting Eagle Saloon, a bordello, the Bruce Clyde Dray & Tack Shop, the Casady Blacksmith Shop, a sausage shop, the Pioneer Meat Market, C.W. “Shorty” Young’s Office and Game Room, the
Gourly Brothers Bakery, Tamale Jim’s, Boones Drug Store, Wah Sing Laundry, an opium den, and the Fountain Barber Shop. Two new exhibits recently opened include a motor service garage and Studebaker dealership and the old Havre Herald. The museum is open daily in the summer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Winter hours are Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. An admission fee is charged.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia

This Date in History: January 1, 1968
The Antics of Evil Knievel

Born in Butte as Robert Craig Knievel on October 17, 1938, Evel Knievel quickly established himself as Montana’s premier daredevil. Traveling across America with his dangerous motorcycle stunts in the 1960s and 1970s, Knievel became a national legend in 1968. On January 1, 1968, Knievel was scheduled for an appearance at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace Fountains. While he cleared the fountains on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he crashed on the landing ramp and suffered severe injuries requiring an extensive hospital stay. This event, although painful, jolted Knieval into the national spotlight and ensured future performances throughout the following decade. By his January 8, 1971 performance at the Houston Astrodome, Knievel commanded the attention of sold-out crowds anxious to witness the Montana daredevil’s antics.

Lewis & Clark's 1850 New Year Celebration

Excerpt from Clark’s Journal Entry: Tuesday January the 1st 1805 - Fort Mandan on the NE bank of the Missouries 1600 Miles up

The Day was ushered in by the Descharge of two Cannon, we Suffered 16 men with their Musick to visit the 1st Village for the purpose of Danceing, by as they Said the perticular request of the Chiefs of that Village, about 11 oClock I with an inturpeter & two men walked up to the Village, (my views were to alay Some little Miss understanding which had taken place thro jelloucy and mortification as to our treatment towards them I found them much pleased at the Danceing of our men, I ordered my black Servent to Dance which amused the Croud Verry much, and Somewhat astonished them, that So large a man should be active &c.&c. a Chief returned from a Mission on which they had been Sent to meet a large party (150) of Gross Ventres who were on their way down from their Camps 10 Miles above to revenge on the Shoe tribe an injury which they had received by a Shoe man Steeling a Gros Ventres Girl, those Chiefs gave the pipe and turned the party back, after Delivering up the Girl, which the Shoe Chief had taken and given to them for that purpose. I returned in the evening, at night the party except 6 returned, with 3 robes, and 13 Strings of Corn which the indians had given them, The Day was worm, Themtr 34 degrees above 0, Some fiew Drops of rain about Sunset, at Dark it began to Snow, and Snowed the greater part of the night,

Reprinted from “The Journals of Lewis and Clark” edited by Bernard DeVoto

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