Imagine it’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you need to go to the bathroom. So you put on your warmest jacket, step outside and wade through 3 feet of snow to the outhouse. As you sit there, you’re glad it’s day time as the temperature drops to -5F at night. When done, you wade back through the snow, enter the house and immediately throw several logs into the potbelly stove and stand as close as you can until you start to warm up before taking off your warm jacket.
This is how I imagine things were at Garnet, Montana’s most famous ghost town.
I’ve always been fascinated by these old ghost towns and my imagination runs wild as I try to visualize what it must have been like. Garnet is no different. Literally located in the middle of nowhere, your first thought is “why here”? Turns out that was easy to answer, it was gold. Placer gold to be precise. Placer mining, of course, is the mining of gold by sifting through a stream bed and only requires a gold pan or a rocker if you were really serious.
The gold was mined there during the 1860s and the town has a history of boom and bust, but was still actively mined well into the early 1900s. What I found particularly amazing is that the town was still occupied as late as 1960! The Dahl Saloon gets the honor of being the last abandoned building. It still stands today and is now used as the visitor’s center. In 1960 it had a gasoline-powered generator in the back, but today we spotted an array of solar panels that provided electricity. Now get this, 1960 is in my lifetime! Amazing! And did I mention that Garnet is in the middle of nowhere? It is a 25 mile drive, over a dirt road, just to get there! Whatever kept this saloon going until 1960 is beyond me.
Because the town is relatively “young” there are some old photos around that showed what it was like.
And the is how that same street looks today.
Pretty cool, huh?
Some more photos of Garnet (click the thumbnail to view a larger picture).