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ghost towns

Garnet Ghost Town

 

 

 

garnet1If your adventures bring you to Western Montana then on your must do list should be exploring Garnet Ghost Town. An isolated old gold mining town preserved beautifully in time and an intriguing homage to the past of the American West. Only 30 miles from Missoula, lives a remote, intact ghost town sheltered deep in the forest. Located on Wallace Creek road, the drive is twisty on a dirt road climbing to the elevation of 6000 feet. Upon arrival, you are frozen back in time from the moment you exit your car.
In 1895, people began to settle in this area to mine garnets. Garnet was named after the semi precious stone. One year later, an abundant gold discovery from the Nancy Hanks mine brought miners and their families from all over. It is said the Nancy Hanks mine produced $690,000 in gold and this gold fever pushed the boom town to build. In days, Garnet went from a few minors to over 1200 in the community. Life in Garnet brought wealth and wealth meant more building: 13 saloons, 4 hotels, 4 stores, a butcher shop, a doctor’s office, a school, and the Minor’s Union Hall. The Minor Union Hall doubled as a dance hall, boxing matches, and religious services. Garnet even sported a jail to help keep order from the wild saloons. Stagecoaches ran supplies and people between there to Missoula, Bearmouth, or Deer Lodge. People would arrive late to pick up their gold and stay at one of the hotels for 1 to 3 dollars. For poorer miners they would be given a small crawl space in the attic for a quarter.Mine-1900
By 1905, gold was going dry, leaving only 150 left in the community. In 1912, a raging fire and World War sent most away, despite a brief renewal of gold mining happening in the Great Depression of 1930.
Garnet is one of Montana’s best preserved and least visited ghost towns. Every year there is a festival called Garney Day which occurs at the end of June.
Preservation efforts went into effect in 1970 after looting began. Today the town is ran by BLM, open to public for tours in the summer months. Guided tours are available when staff is on site. Thirty buildings remain, including a log frame cabin, a store, a saloon, and the remains of the J.K. Wells hotel. There are also several miners’ cabins. A visitor’s center is located on site with historical books and gifts, as well as the self guided trails with interpretive signs.
For avid ghost hunters, check out Kelly’s saloon where many have reported laughter and the sound of music being heard.

a bustling town
a bustling town

Many of the buildings will force a chill knowing there is story to be told on each path which leads to it. Garnet Ghost town can be what each visitor expects to find. For some it is the history, others it is the beauty of this frozen- in- time town sitting like a picture in the remote mountains. And for those looking for chill down their spine it is the haunting. Garnet Ghost Town is a true non-commercialized American West experience.

Granite Ghost Town State Park

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East from the town of Philipsburg is the road to Granite. This narrow road climbs to 1,280 feet in elevation. The road is steep and winding, opening to the deserted camps. A vehicle with good clearance is recommended as the road can be considered a white knuckle ride. The park is scenic and worthy for the photographing of this historic area. The state park preserves the Granite Mine Superintendent’s house in the Historic American Buildings Survey along with the old miner’s union hall.
The history of this ghost town begins in 1865 with a man by the name of Hector Horton. He was the first prospector to find silver. In the fall of 1872 a man named Eli Holland claimed the mine and relocated it. This mine almost went undiscovered when a telegram from back east was delayed. The telegram ordered the miners to pull out of operations and leave the mine. And as the story goes, it was that final blast in which Granite was deemed the richest silver mine on earth to the eye -opening amount of $40,000,000.
1879 with Charles McLure who found a piece of high grade “ruby” silver ore in the Granite Mind shaft. His ambition and steadfastness made him move quickly to purchase a lease and option on the claim for 30,000 dollars. When Granite was in full bloom, it formed a modern community with a hospital and school as well as 18 saloons, a thriving brothel, churches and the Miner’s Union Hall. The streets were named and several homes existed for the prosperous inhabitants. Remnants of the old miner’s union hall remain, once reported to be the “Northwest’s Finest Dance Floor.” The famous building was a popular community center point for the community of Granite. On the second floor where the dancing began, so did vaudeville and melodramas. The auditorium packed a full house to entertainment. On the first floor the club had a pool parlor along with a library. The spirit of the town remains in the shell of the Old Miner’s Hall which can be seen in Granite Ghost Town. The third and second floors have collapsed, the roof is caved, and the first floor club and café are near the end.HPIM1841
Ranking eleventh in size of Montana Cities, Granite was part of Deer Lodge County until 1893 when Granite County was incorporated. Also in 1893, The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed. Silver prices dropped down and the mine was closed on the morning of August 1, 1893. In a swift move, the majority of people left Granite leaving behind much of their worldly possessions. One year later Granite had a population of only 140 people.
The park is open from May to September. To access the ghost town, enter Philipsburg until a flashing light and stop sign appear (middle of Philipsburg). Take a right, drive past the railroad trestle and then go left. This dirt road will continue for a mile. The sign for the ghost town appears. Take a right. Granite Ghost Town State Park is approximately 4 miles from Philipsburg.