Garnet Ghost Town, Montana

Garnet Ghost Town, Montana

There are a lot of so-called ghost towns in Montana. These are towns that were once thriving communities but have since been abandoned. Some only consist of a few derelict buildings or even just some foundations, but Garnet is the exception. 

Garnet Ghost Town is located about 30 miles east of Missoula and to get to it you have to exit the interstate and travel 11 miles along what is essentially a dirt track. The road is very narrow, very dusty, very winding and very bumpy. We were glad we had a four wheel drive truck as I can imagine it would be a pretty uncomfortable ride otherwise. But it is so worth the drive.

When you get to the top of the road you will be at aroud 6,000 feet above sea level. From the parking lot at the end of the drive, it's a short hike to the town. 

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You will reach a raised platform which allows you to view the town as a whole. Chris took this photo and gave it that sepia look to take us back in time.

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Garnet is Montanas best-preserved ghost town and was set up back in the 1860's when gold was discovered in the quartz here. In 1898 there were nearly 1,000 people living here. The town consisted of 4 stores, 4 hotels, 3 livery stables, 2 barber shops, a union hall, school, butchers shop, candy shop, doctors office and an assay office. But, the most popular buildings by far were saloons, there were 13 of them!

By 1905 only 150 people remained and in 1912 a huge fire destroyed many of the buildings which were never rebuilt. By 1920 no one remained.

One of the first building you come to is Kelly's Saloon owned by L.P Kelly who served men downstairs whilst the women were banished upstairs where Mrs. Kelly welcomed them via a back stairway. Over the years the saloon was in danger of collapse, so in 1992 it was raised off the ground, a 2-foot foundation was built and the building lowered onto it. 

Next is one of the general stores.

The nest building is one of the living quarters and is one of the largest buildings remaining in the town. It is a three-storey structure and all the interior sepia photos are curtesy of Chris.

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Billy Liberty's Blacksmith Forge.

More of the ghost town.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Garnet Ghost Town, it was really informative and really managed to take you back. Times were really hard for those who lived here and being so remote must have been an added burden.

On the bright side, when you leave and travel back down that narrow, winding, dusty dirt road you get the chance to see some of the beautiful views. 

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