The Ghost Towns of Garnet and Granite Montana

I’m a little behind on posting trip pictures, but in September my Dad, sister and I ventured across the country to Missouri to visit family we have back there. Along the way we stopped to see ghost towns, national monuments, and other random things. We had so much fun seeing parts of the country we had never seen, and created memories that I know we will all cherish. Here is a random stop we made at this beautiful old homestead along HWY 90 on our way to the ghost town of Garnet, Montana.

Garnet Montana

I’ve decided I need to spend more time in Montana. It is rugged, and beautiful, and full of ghost towns. 🙂 One of these ghost towns is Garnet, an abandoned mining town and Montana’s most intact ghost town. This place has been on my bucket list for a while, so it was awesome to finally get to see it, and to get to experience it with my Dad and sister. Garnet was named for the stone found in the area, and was extensively mined for the gold filled quartz in the mountains between 1870 and 1920. In 1898, about 1,000 people lived there. there were four stores, two barber shops, a union hall, a school, a butcher shop, a candy shop, a doctor’s office, an assay office and thirteen saloons. Twenty years later it was abandoned when the gold ran out. In 1912, a fire destroyed half of the town, and was never rebuilt.

According to the website garnetghosttown.org: “After 1900 many mine owners leased their mines out, the gold having become scarcer and harder to mine. The Nancy Hanks yielded about $300,000 worth of gold, and an estimated $950,000 was extracted from all the mines in Garnet by 1917, but by 1905, many of the mines were abandoned and the town’s population had shrunk to about 150. A fire in the town’s business district in 1912 destroyed may commercial buildings, most remaining residents moved away to defense-related jobs. By the 1940’s, Garnet was a ghost town. Cabins were abandoned, furnishings included, as though residents were merely vacationing. F.A. Davey still ran the store however, and the hotel stood intact.

In 1934 when President Roosevelt raised gold prices from $16 to $32 an ounce, Garnet revived. A new wave of miners moved into abandoned cabins and began re-working the mines and dumps. Then, World War II drew the population away again. The use of dynamite for domestic purposes was curtailed, making mining difficult. Garnet again became a ghost town. Once again F. A. Davey and a few others remained.”

Garnet receives thousands of visitors every year. While we were there I talked to one of the park rangers about volunteering. They recruit volunteers to come stay in Garnet and help give tours and sell souvenirs. One of these days I’m going to make that happen. It would be a dream!

Philipsburg, Montana

The next ghost town we visited was Granite, Montana. Along the way, we stopped in Philipsburg to get some lunch, and check out the ‘world’s greatest candy store, Sweet Palace. This place had every type of candy and sweets imaginable! The walls were lined with shelves which were chock full of jars filled with chocolates, and old fashioned candy, and jelly beans, and literally like all the things. Philipsburg was a super cute town.

Granite, Montana

The road out to Granite was a bit rough and narrow, but was full of beautiful views as we climbed the winding road toward the abandoned town.

Granite was a thriving silver boomtown in the 1890’s. According to the Montana State Parks website (http://stateparks.mt.gov/granite-ghost-town/), “Hector Horton first discovered silver in the general area in 1865. In the autumn of 1872 the Granite mine was discovered by a prospector named Holland.

The mine was relocated in 1875. This was the richest silver mine on the earth, and it might never have been discovered if a telegram from the east hadn’t been delayed. The miner’s backers thought the venture was hopeless and ordered an end to its operation, but since that message was delayed the miners worked on and the last blast on the last shift uncovered a bonanza, which yielded $40,000,000.In the silver panic of 1893, word came to shut the mine down.

The mine was deserted for three years, never again would it reach the population it once had of 3,000 miners. Today there is no one living in the camp. The state park preserves the Granite Mine Superintendent’s house and ruins of the old miners’ Union Hall which have been included in the Historic American Buildings Survey.”

It was so amazing getting to visit these incredible and remote pieces of American, and Montana history with my dad and sister. We’ve got some ground to cover, but our next stop is going to be Mt. Rushmore!

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