People Are Paying to Visit a Toxic Pit in the Middle of Montana

Aug 5, 2018

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You can’t make this stuff up: there’s a giant toxic hole in Montana — and tourists from all corners of the world are flocking to it. It also may or may not hold the secret to curing cancer. The catch? Water levels are still rising… and one day it’s going to flood the town.

The hole in question is called the Berkeley Pit, and it’s located in Butte, Montana. Back in the 1950s, the town was a hotspot for miners; but the resources dried up in the ’80s, and a giant, gaping hole filled with water and toxic heavy metals was left in its wake. Intrigued? Us, too. You can read more about its history here.

Some marketing geniuses in Butte figured out how to make this toxic hole one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and now, you can pay $2 to stand on an observation deck while looking down at the 1780-foot-deep hole below. It’s also a mile long and half a mile wide.

According to a report from Slate, water levels are rising at a little less than a foot per month. In 2003, the city built a water treatment plant to prevent the water from rising to a critical point of 5,410 feet above sea level… which is predicted to happen in 2022. If it does reach that level, it could potentially contaminate the ground water of the 30,000 people who live in the area, and ultimately, continue on into the largest drainage in western Montana.

The hole has some pretty crazy stories attached to it, too. Take, for example, the flock of 342 snow geese that decided to congregate on its edge  in 1995. They were all found dead with their insides charred the next morning due to the corrosive water.

It gets even weirder: Scientists believe it may hold the key to curing cancer. Yes, seriously. Back in 2007, they discovered hundreds of microscopic organisms living in it. This doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, except said organisms don’t exist anywhere else on Earth. Plus, this was back when it was just assumed that nothing could even survive there — and because these organisms had to mutate to survive, scientists think these adaptations may give us some clues.

For one reason or another, we can expect to see more and more news about this pit in the months and years to come.

Featured image by NASA via Wiki Commons.

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