Uncharted Territories: Abandoned Places Hidden in Montana's Vastness

Uncharted Territories: Abandoned Places Hidden in Montana’s Vastness

There’s more to Montana than just thriving cities and little towns—it’s a state where the wild spirit of the West endures. It also has a number of deserted locations, all of which have a tale woven into the very masonry of their dilapidated buildings.

We will explore the historical echoes that reverberate through these abandoned locations in Montana. These places provide a hauntingly beautiful peek into a past that refuses to be forgotten, from abandoned homesteads that speak of hopes unfulfilled to ghost towns that once flourished during the gold rush.

Come along as we explore some of Montana’s most intriguing deserted locations in peace and quiet.

Granite Ghost Town State Park

Known as “Montana’s Silver Queen” during the late 1800s, Granite was the biggest silver mining camp in the state.

At its height, the town of 3,000 people was home to the Granite Mountain Mining Company when it was established in 1884 as a company town. In its prime, Granite’s mine yielded roughly $300,000 in silver annually, or nearly $10 million in current currency.

After the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the government to purchase millions of ounces of silver annually, was repealed in 1893, the mines finally went bankrupt.

Granite was declared a ghost town when Mae Werning, the only living resident, passed away in 1969. Today, Granite is made up of the massive edifice that formerly stood there as well as a few structures that border the main roadway.

Read More: Silent Streets: The Haunting History of Georgia’s Ghost Towns

Chromium Mill

Sometimes people confuse the East Side Mine from Red Lodge’s former mining heyday with a chrome concentrate mill that was built in the early 1940s and ran for less than a year. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, as the United States prepared to enter another world war, materials were needed for the building of battleships and armaments.

Uncharted Territories Abandoned Places Hidden in Montana's Vastness

Early in 1942, the mill started to process chromite that had been discovered close to the famous “Mae West Curve” on the Beartooth Highway.

The mill was abandoned in 1951, but the concrete foundations remain today. The mill was completely destroyed by fire, having stood empty for almost ten years.

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Coolidge Ghost Town

As early as 1919, the town of Coolidge had started to expand, and construction on the mine tunnel had started. It was rumored that Allen’s friend Calvin Coolidge inspired the town’s name. It was reported that the future president owned stock in the Boston-Montana Development Corporation.

As more individuals relocated to Coolidge, the school district was established in October 1918. There was a post office that opened in January 1922.

Skiing and sledding or spending time in the pool hall provided winter entertainment for the locals. Thanks to a power line that connected Divide to Coolidge, the town had access to both telephone and electricity by 1922.

In 1927, a dam owned by Montana Power Company burst, flooding twelve miles of the Boston-Montana Railroad and necessitating the construction of many bridges. In 1932, the school district was closed, and mail delivery to Wise River replaced the post office.

Rusted piles of abandoned machinery from Montana’s past as a silver mine can still be seen sometimes.

Read More: Shadows of History: Louisiana’s Haunted Ghost Towns and Their Mysteries

Elkhorn Ghost Town

After substantial silver reserves were found in the state officially known as Treasure State, and numerous small settlements sprung up around the mines, Montana experienced a silver fever in the late 1800s.

Uncharted Territories: Abandoned Places Hidden in Montana's Vastness

Elkhorn was one such silver mining town, established in central Montana in 1872. At its height, Elkhorn was a family town of about 2,500 people, complete with all the facilities of a normal boom town in the West, including a school, hotel, church, and saloon.

Abandoned in the 1970s, only few occupants made it into the twenty-first century. What’s left of Elkhorn is undergoing various stages of repair, and the ghost town is currently Montana’s smallest state park.

Old Montana Prison

The Montana State Prison is a men’s prison maintained by the Montana Department of Corrections located in unincorporated Powell County, Montana. Due to the outdated building’s ongoing deterioration in downtown Deer Lodge, the new structure was constructed between 1974 and 1979.

The “Old Prison” served as the Montana Territorial Prison from its founding in 1871 until the state of Montana gained its independence in 1889. The jail has experienced persistent overcrowding, a lack of funding, and antiquated facilities for the entirety of its history.

The institution had suffered from degradation, poor management, and financial restraints for almost forty years until a dramatic uprising in 1959.

After the facility closed in September 1979, the prisoners were moved to the current jail. 1976 saw the Old Prison—now a museum—added to the list of National Register of Historic Places.

To Conclude

Montana’s derelict locales offer a look into the state’s rich, wild past, from abandoned mines whispering tales of silver rushes to a frightening reminder of terrible jail conditions. Curious visitors can investigate each weathered edifice, which stands as a witness to the dreams, hardships, and achievements that transpired there.

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