MISSOULA — The Missoula Historic Preservation Commission organized a tour of downtown Missoula for Walk and Roll Week back in 2017.
Expecting 50 people to show up, organizers were blown away when over 1,000 people arrived for the tour.
The “Unseen Missoula” tours have now become a staple of downtown programming and even through the pandemic they held strong and gave people a reason to get out of the house.
The future of Missoula can be seen on every corner -- the sound of construction, the hard hats, and the tape.
Missoula’s past may not be as glaring, but it’s there -- hidden in tunnels and alleys, silently revealing itself through paintings and street signs.
Bringing this rich history to life, are the increasingly popular Unseen Missoula tours -- one of the few downtown programs to withstand the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ever since the beginning, the first season, it was an automatic sellout,” noted Downtown Missoula Partnership program director Kalina Wickham.
Now entering its fourth season, “Unseen Missoula” will once again welcome townies and tourists -- highlighting Missoula’s heritage, history, and even scandal through two unique walking tours.
The Basement and Back Alleys Tour really focuses on development and how Missoula has changed but also stayed the same throughout the years,” Wickham explained.
Meanwhile, the Hotels and Hooligans Tour looks at how Missoulians would have lived and recreated during the city’s railroad boom.
Each tour is unique and features bits and pieces of Missoula you didn’t even know existed.
For example, one tour ventures into the basement of the Dana Gallery where supplies from a Cold War bomb shelter still sits, untouched.
“We've also [did] a music history tour last year, which will most likely bring back in August to coincide with our River City Roots Festival,” Wickham said. “nd then we also are working on a haunted type tour.
It’s easy to list all of the events and all of the time lost to the pandemic but one day, that’ll be yet another tale on the tour of Missoula’s past.
“We haven't really skipped a beat. We can kind of just go back to what we were doing and still be safe and still offer some really great heritage programming for our community,” Wickham told MTN News.
The tours are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and they fill up fast! You can look at open slots online.