Take a step back in time by exploring Garnet Ghost Town, nestled in the Montana Mountains. As a relic of the western gold rush, Garnet provides a glimpse into the region’s rich history.
Established in the 1890s and deserted by the 1910s, Garnet is now preserved by the Garnet Preservation Association and the Bureau of Land Management. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, the town experienced a boom after Sam Ritchey struck gold at the Nancy Hanks mine, attracting prospectors and mining companies.
At its height, Garnet was home to around 1,000 residents, boasting 13 saloons, 20 mines, three livery stables, four hotels, four stores, two barbershops, a school, a doctor’s office, and a butcher shop. Entertainment for miners included dances, gambling, prostitution, drinking, and parties. However, by 1905, gold reserves dwindled, and the town’s population decreased to just 150. A devastating fire in 1912 led to the town’s abandonment.
Preservation efforts began in the 1970s, and in 2010, Garnet was declared a historic district. Today, it stands as one of Montana’s best-preserved ghost towns, with around 30 structurally sound buildings remaining. Highlights include Kelly’s Saloon, J.K. Wells Hotel, Dahl House, and miners’ homes.
Visitors can also enjoy a variety of recreational activities, including hiking trails such as the Sierra Mine Loop Trail and the Placer Trail, as well as special events like Garnet Day in mid-June. In the surrounding area, camping, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities are available. Garnet Ghost Town offers two winter cabins for rental, and nearby lodging options include Sugar Loaf Lodge & Cabins, Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, and The Resort at Paws Up.
- Garnet Ghost Town is named after the semi-precious garnet stones found in the region, which were frequently discovered during mining operations.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offers guided tours and educational programs at Garnet, providing visitors with historical context and insight into life in a gold rush town.
- In 2014, Garnet celebrated its 120th anniversary, featuring historical reenactments, music, and special events to showcase the town’s rich past.
- Garnet Ghost Town has been featured in several documentaries and television series, highlighting its preservation efforts and the stories of the people who once lived there.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious, Garnet Ghost Town provides a fascinating glimpse into Montana‘s gold rush era, offering an array of attractions, activities, and accommodations for visitors.