Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beneath The Streets of Havre

Havre, MT   High 66  Low 46


The city of Havre was built as a railroad supply depot by the Great Northern Railway. It grew overnight and was a collection of hastily built wooden buildings. The 1904 fire took out the entire town, but residents were not going to give up and they moved into the basements of their buildings and continued to run their businesses until the buildings were rebuilt above ground. This time, the buildings were built of stone to reduce the chance of fire.

Arriving in Havre


A series of tunnels was dug to connect the underground businesses. After the respectable businesses moved back above ground, the railroad decided to have their Chinese workers live in the tunnels for their own safety. The businesses they ran were a laundry, an opium den, and a bordello.

Havre now offers tours of part of the underground. We had taken this tour about 15 years ago when Todd was a teenager and we were really looking forward to visiting again.

Kathy, our tour guide, was fabulous. She was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable it was a really fun tour. It was really hard for me to pick out the pictures for the blog so there are quite a few in this post.


Our first stop was the automobile service company. Notice the pieces of glass in the ceiling. These are actually sky lights and were used for lighting the businesses underground.


This is what the pieces of glass look like up on the sidewalk. They turned purple from the sun affecting the magnesium in the glass.


Holland and Son Mercantile



Wrights Dental Office



Tack Shop


Notice the size of the bellows in the blacksmith’s store


Boone’s Drug Store



On to the mortuary – these are what were used as body bags


One of the best stops was Sporting Eagle Saloon


Complete with swinging doors


The Chinese run businesses weren’t necessarily as tame. An opium den


The laundry


And, of course, the bordello


Notice the numbers on the wall – the girls were only known by number and you can see how close the “rooms” were. No privacy except for the curtain.


This is one of the passage ways


This tour was worth the stop. So glad we decided to take the time for it.

Across the street from the depot is the Hands Across the Border statue of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the United States Border Patrol.



  1. When we were in Havre we never got beyond the trains. Thanks for showing us there is more to the place.

  2. Now that looks like a really fun tour thanks for taking us along.

  3. What an interesting post, Sandie! I think it's amazing how resilient the early settlers were, and even to think of the different businesses that could survive. The dentist chair made me grimace a little. You and Jim are looking good. Thanks for sharing a story that I can now share. (Oh, I forgot up until I was trying to see the details in your pictures that all I have to do is click on them to make them larger. DOH)

  4. What a great tour. Now I'll have to look on the map and see where Harve is located.

  5. That is an amazing story - thanks for posting it.

  6. How interesting that they just kept on doing business just underground. Those glass blocks where used in a few places to light the basements of stores. I have seen them before and yes they turned purple also. Thanks for sharing this fun tour

  7. What a fantastic place to visit and I'm sure not many of us were ever aware of it!

  8. Are you aware of that "HAVRE" is Norwegian and means OATS?

  9. This is a place I would love to visit. Just amazing how everything looks in fairly good condition. Wrights Dental Office chair looks like it belongs in a torture chamber.
    The bordello was very interesting. How embarrassing though! Great photos. Thanks for the great tour.

  10. I can tell what you've been up. You're definitely on the road to more adventures and more touring. I think the "wanderin" dna exists in both our veins. Enjoy yourselves and see you in a few days.

  11. What a great tour, Havre, who knew?

  12. So cool! I want to do that. Atlanta has an underground. I think their story had something to do with the town sinking, if I remember correctly.

  13. So cool! I want to do that. Atlanta has an underground. I think their story had something to do with the town sinking, if I remember correctly.


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