BUTTE – A recently completed feasibility study indicates that a gondola or tram could be built to transport people to the statue of Our Lady of the Rockies overlooking Butte.
However, it will take a large sum of money, but those who believe in the project have a lot of faith.
“It took 1979 to 1985 and in 1985 when they erected the Lady, it seemed insurmountable, so all of these insurmountable things might be surmountable,” said Our Lady of the Rockies Council President Ray Ueland.
“More than 4 million travelers go through I-15 and I-90 through Butte, Montana, 4 million. If we can stop just some of that, it would be a big tourist attraction,” Ueland said.
Engineering firm SCJ Alliance conducted a study and determined that the tram could be built for between $10 million and $30 million.
Proponents of the project admit that it will be difficult to find this kind of money, but believe that the tram will ultimately be worth it.
“More than 4 million travelers go through I-15 and I-90 through Butte, Montana – 4 million. If we can stop just some of that, it would be a big tourist attraction,” Ueland said.
Tourism officials agree that a tram to the statue would entice more people to come to Butte.
“It would really draw people into the community and encourage them to stay here, to spend more time having fun,” Butte Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager Maria Pochervina said.
The proposal is to build the tram base on 12 acres of land just off Continental Drive.
The trolley would head north along the freeway to a transfer point, where it would continue on Interstate 15 to the statue.
“Allow people to go up more frequently if there are people in town who want to go up, and that’s a great way to sit down and think and get you up those mountains pretty quickly,” Pochervina said. .
Ueland wants to see this project realized for the people who built the statue more than 35 years ago.
“They are no longer with us and it was their dream not only to have the buses but also to have a tram, and they are dead now. So jokingly I say I hope we will get before I die,” he said.
It’s a lofty goal that just might be within reach.