Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beaneath the Streets, Havre, Montana (Part 1)

Poker table in the Sporting Eagle Saloon

While we were on vacation last week, my in-laws took our family on the most interesting homeschool field trip to date.  We got to go under the streets of Havre into shops that had been built in the early 1900's.  An arsonist set a fire in the business distric of Havre in 1904.  The fire destroyed a majority of downtown Havre.  Building materials were scarce and expensive, so the proprieters moved their businesses underground.  Think of it as an underground mall.  With nearly 20 stores in the tour, there was a lot to see!  Each room contained authentic pieces from the time period, and many that were original to the stores represented in the tour. 

One of the Bordello rooms

The Bordello was first used as underground living space for the Chinese railroad workers.  Racism was prevalent in this area and time period, so most of the Chinese workers "hid out" in their underground rooms to escape poor treatment from the white and Native population.  After the railroad tracks were completed in this area, the small rooms were converted into a "cozy" bordello.  The guide didn't go into more detail than this due to the large number of children (mostly mine) in our tour group.

Some of the equipment in the Casady Blacksmith Shop

The Casady Blacksmith shop had more tools and equipment than I ever would have guessed!  (Check out the huge bellows in the bottom left of the picture!)  There was also a tack shop (Bruce Clyde, Dray and Tack Shop) attached with an old Singer sewing machine, an Antique Stetson hat, and a saddle that was handmade by a local leathersmith. 

Boones Drug Store was my favorite stop on the tour.  When taking a prescription in to be filled, you could pass the time in their department store shooping for fine china and toiletries (like the toilet waters and egg shampoo in the picture at right).  You could also settle in at the soda fountain (pictured above) for an ice cream treat.  Each summer, there is an event held in the city beneath the streets and they actually serve ice cream and sodas in the little fountain area, baked goods in the bakery, and deli items from the meat market!

We had a great time, and this is just the beginning!  I will get another post ready with more pictures next week.  Come on back.  I'd hate for you to miss the Opium Den or the Holland & Bonine Mortuary!

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Laurie said...

What an awesome, amazing piece of history! I had no idea that such a place existed. I'll be showing this post to my kids. Cannot wait for the second post.

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