Our Lady of the Rockies
Our Lady of the Rockies is a 90-foot (27 m) statue, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that sits atop the Continental Divide overlooking Butte, Montana. It is the second tallest statue in the United States after The Statue of Liberty.
The statue was built by volunteers using donated materials to honor women everywhere, especially mothers. The base is 8,510 feet above sea level and 3,500 feet above the town. The statue is lit and visible at night.
The statue was first imagined by local resident Bob O'Bill. In 1979, his wife was seriously ill with cancer. He promised the Blessed Virgin Mary that he would make a 5 foot statue of her in his yard if his wife recovered. When she recovered he began the project with his fellow workers who gradually changed the initial vision to a 90-foot-high mountain top statue. Many people in Butte donated materials and time to make the statue a reality. The design for the statue was engineered by Laurien Eugene Riehl. He was a retired engineer for the Anaconda Company who donated his engineering skills to the project. The statue had to withstand the powerful windsheers that buffet the ridge tops. Joe Roberts donated his lot and buildings for the construction of the statue. The statue was airlifted from Roberts Rocky Mountain Equipment to its present site on the Continental Divide.
Work on the project began December 29, 1979. Volunteers spent many summer evenings blasting a road to the top of the Rockies, sometimes making only 10 feet of progress a day. The base of the statue was poured in September 1985 with 400 tons of concrete. The concrete was provided by Pioneer Concrete Company, a longtime family business in Butte, Montana. On December 17, 1985, a CH-54 Tarhe from the Army National Guard's 137th Aviation Company lifted the statue in four sections into place.
Two-hour roundtrip bus tours are available from June until September from the Our Lady of the Rockies shop at the Butte Plaza Mall. A tram consisting of two 25-passenger handicapped-accessible cars is in the planning stages. As proposed, it would carry visitors over a mile-long vertical rise of 2,000 feet to the base of the statue in about 5 minutes.