The Montana Heritage Commission takes pride in managing some of the most valuable and fascinating historic sites in Montana--Virginia City, Nevada City, plus Reeder's Alley and the Pioneer Cabin in Helena.
In 1997, the Montana Legislature purchased Virginia City and Nevada City from the Bovey family. These historic 1860's gold mining towns tell the remarkable stories of growth in this part of the Rocky Mountains, from an ordinary unpopulated mountain pass, to booming Alder Gulch. The 14-mile stretch of this gold-rich mountain stream was once home to the largest population between Minneapolis and San Francisco and is considered one of the richest placeLegendary Virginia City and Nevada Cityr gold recoveries in U.S. history. Though the boom of the late 1800s was short-lived, Alder Gulch remains active today with 150 year-round residents who vow to keep this place authentic but alive. Concentrated preservation efforts are underway, and many events take place each season to tell the great stories of discovery, good and evil, and the building of society. Visitors still enjoy experiencing the past here with living history weekends, stagecoach rides, our refurbished 1910 Baldwin steam locomotive, two live theaters, ghost walk tours, tours on a 1941 fire engine, unique shops, fine restaurants and old-time saloons.
Reeder's Alley in Helena was built between 1872 and 1884 by Lewis Reeder, a mason from Pennsylvania. The thirty one-room apartments that make up this quaint brick "village" are nestled against the slope of Mt. Helena, and comprise the town's most complete remaining block of this era. Today, Reeder's Alley is home to a number of offices, the Stonehouse building, and the Helena offices of the Montana Heritage Commission. Stop by when you're in town and say hello.
The Pioneer Cabin in Helena was built when Wilson Butts, a veteran of the California gold rush, arrived at Last Chance with the first wave of miners in the summer of 1864. Wilson traveled to Montana from Missouri and arrived at Bannack July 10, 1863. He was in a good position to join the rush to Last Chance when gold was discovered the following summer on July 14, 1864. His timely arrival is evident in the excellent location of his claim along the banks of Last Chance Stream that once flowed directly past the cabin he built. The small but serviceable one-room of hewn and un-hewn logs, chinked to keep out impending winter cold, is the back room of the present Pioneer Cabin. It is the oldest documented dwelling in Helena, and the only documented miner's cabin built during the first months after the Last Chance discovery.