Ghost Towns Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Ghost Towns

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Montana Ghost Towns: Walk Through Time

During the late 1850s, prospectors struck gold in Montana. And by the turn of the century, thriving boomtowns were scattered throughout the state. Once the gold disappeared, so did the people, turning the once wild and roaring mining camps into historic ghost towns in Montana. Over the years millions of dollars of gold, silver, copper, zinc and other precious ores have been taken from the landscape.

Today, these towns stand as a reminder of the past and the miners, families and honky-tonk men and women that made a living working the mountains and streams of Montana. Listen closely and you may hear the sounds of a piano melody from an old saloon floating through the empty streets. And who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of a long-forgotten miner clutching a cache of gold.


Northern Tier

Keystone

Located off US 2 in the northwest corner of Montana in the Yaak, Keystone is located is some of Montana's wildest country. While a major strike was never found, the mine did produce a hefty amount of gold.

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Southern Tier

Beartown (Bearmouth)

One of the earliest towns in the Bearmouth area, this present-day ghost town yielded one million dollars in gold and silver in 1866, housed the notorious "Beartown Roughts," sought to be Montana's capital and then died out. Local folklore says that a Chinaman buried a fortune in a five-pound baking can and adventurers today are still on the hunt to find it.

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Coloma

Active from 1893 – 1906, Coloma is often referred to as "Mystery Camp" as very little is known about it. Mining in the Coloma area has been active on and off throughout the years, while mines near the site still remain. The structures standing today are dated by old newspapers and catalogs that were used to insulate cabin walls. Located off I-90 between Drummond and Missoula, Coloma is also accessible from the Garnet Range Road southeast of MT 200 and is located a few miles north of Garnet. Garnet Range Road makes a circular route for 13 miles through old mining campsites, including Reynolds City, Springtown, Beartown and Garnet.

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Garnet

Located about 30 minutes east of Missoula in the Garnet Mountain is the aptly named ghost town of Garnet. Located at about 6,000 feet, the area is now mostly under the administration of Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Named for the ruby-colored stones found nearby, Garnet became a boomtown with the discovery of gold in the 1850s. Today, this well-preserved ghost town offers a glimpse of life in a turn-of-the-century gold camp while some 20 buildings still remain, including a jail, post office, blacksmith shop, school, cabins and a hotel. During the winter months, travelers can rent a primitive cabin in Garnet with access via snowmobile or cross-country skis and snowshoes.

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Hell Gate

Located three miles north of Missoula is Hell Gate Ronde, a small settlement that was home to a trading post built by Frank Worden and Christopher Higgins in 1860. During the winter of 1863 – 1864, local settlers worried about members of Henry Plummer's gang loitering here, until a posse from Alder Gulch road in and hanged them all.

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Pardee

Located on a mountainside in Hall Gulch 10 miles north of Superior, Pardee was once home to a saloon, boarding house, dance houses, post office and various mining structures and cabins. At one time, Pardee's Iron Mountain Mine was said to be one of the most profitable silver mines in Montana, yielding a half million dollars in profits in eight years, before it was shut down in 1897.

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Taft

Once described as the "wickedest city in America..." by the Chicago Tribune, Taft was said to have 200 – 500 prostitutes and one "decent" woman that made their home here. Today, the ghost camp is made up of a few unoccupied frame buildings, while during its heyday it was home to 2,000 inhabitants, saloons, gambling houses and dance halls. It was also a frequent stop for bootleggers.

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Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northwest section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.