Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Gregory Campbell

Commitee Members

Kelly J. Dixon, Michael Monsos, Pei-Lin Yu


historic preservation, underground, missoula history, identity, landscape, archaeological survey, urban archaeology


University of Montana


The American West’s urban undergrounds are laced with mystique and lore. Well-known historic undergrounds exist throughout the American West in cities such as Portland, Pendleton, Seattle, Boise, and Butte. Tales exist of secret underground passages to houses of prostitution, Chinese opium dens, and Prohibition-era alcohol smuggling operations. While in some cases these stories can be based in fact, it appears that many underground spaces were less nefarious than imagination might suggest. In Missoula, Montana, a local, urban archaeological survey was conducted to see what evidence remained of the puzzling historic underground landscape. This study of Missoula’s subterranean archaeological features included an analysis and inventory of steam tunnels, sidewalk voids, and a mix of mundane and clandestine basement spaces. An integration of archival, architectural, and archaeological evidence, and local collective memories aided in identifying the physical remains of Missoula’s historic, urban underground landscape. This data was analyzed to determine if identity in early Missoula affected the use of space and the built environment throughout the community’s history of urban development. The hope is that this could empower preservation needs by more closely linking them with cultural and natural resources, and design planning.



© Copyright 2014 Nikki Manning