America’s Underground Sin City

Havre, Montana, is more than meets the eye. The railroad city had its hidden vices: saloons, brothels, and opium dens, mostly in the steam tunnels and basements beneath its buildings. When an arson fire destroyed the homes and businesses of Havre's Chinese railroad workers in 1904, legitimate businessmen moved their stores and offices underground instead of waiting for the town to be rebuilt.   

You’ll know when you’re walking over the Underground when you come across small grids of purple glass that illuminate the darkness below. They cover about ten blocks of the city.

Think of them as pioneer skylights into the non-operational, but still-standing Sporting Eagle Saloon, or one of the many bordellos and opium dens that were popular there in the 1920s-30s. The Great Depression was also a two-sided coin for Havre, whose innocent small businesses were suffering, while the Underground’s clandestine bootleggers were doing quite well…

The thriving underground city included a post office, mortuary, bakery, blacksmith shop, dentist office, pharmacy, barbershop, general store, and a chapel along with the saloons. As the years went by, the underground city fell into disuse, but now the local community has restored and open it up to tourists as Havre Beneath the Streets. Read about the underground city at Messy Nessy Chic

(Image credit: Flickr user Pattys-photos)

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