Peek Population: 3000ish (early 1890's)
Present Population: 0
Turn south at the four way stop in downtown Philipsburg. Continue through the railroad underpass and take the first left. Continue straight ahead for one mile. Turn right on the road marked with a white sign reading Granite. Keep on the left road and continue up the road for four miles to the outskirts of Granite. It is recommended that you have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Nicknamed "Montana's Silver Queen," Granite had its hey day in the early 1890's. It is located on Granite Mountain, just four miles from Philipsburg.
In 1872, Eli Holland is said to have found a piece of high grade ruby silver while following a wounded game animal, either deer or elk. A shallow shaft was dug on the outcropping. The site lay dormant for over five years until Charles McLure found a piece of the silver ore on the shaft dump and thought the prospect showed promise. He traveled east to St. Louis where he obtained capital to begin exploration and development of the property.
The town eventually became a thriving city and boasted as many stores and commercial establishments as any other modern Montana city at that time. One of the most famous buildings in Granite was a large Miner's Union Hall with a pool parlor and club area on the first floor, and an office, a library, a large dance floor, and an auditorium space on the second floor called the "Northwest's Finest Dance Floor." Quite often the auditorium played host to minstrel shows, melodramas, and vaudeville. Some of the other amenities Granite offered were eighteen saloons, a thriving red light district, a roller rink, a hospital, five doctors, a school, four churches, several banks, a water system, named streets, and several homes for the more than 3,000 inhabitants. However, there was no cemetery. All of the bodies were interred in the Philipsburg Cemetery because the ground was so rock infested in Granite that a grave could not be dug.
In 1893, the U.S. Congress repealed the Sherman Act resulting in lower silver prices, and on the morning of August 1, within twenty-four hours of the repeal, many men, women, and children came down the mountain in search of new homes, leaving their worldly possessions behind them. One year later, only 140 people remained in Granite.
Points of Interest
On the road to Granite, at about the two-mile mark, look for the jack knife turn in the road and the small mining development below. Just farther on, the ore bin of the Kentucky and Silver Lode claims and about a half of a mile farther, the wooden towers, which were part of the tramway to carry ore from the mines in Granite to the Bi-Metallic mill in Kirkville. Upon reaching Granite, large mine dumps of the Granite Mountain Mine can be seen on the hillside directly to the east. In the foreground are a wooden head frame and the mine yard of the mainshaft of the Bi-Metallic Mining Company. The remains of the hospital can be seen in the gulch to the right of the road. In the area of the former city site, you can observe building foundations of former homes and businesses. If you drive to the hilltop ridge, which was the mainshaft, you will see a few small buildings still standing and farther on the remains of the Miner's Union Hall. Across the street was the location of many of the saloons, and in the gulch behind the saloons was the red light district. A short distance beyond is the only remaining structure, a small weathered cabin on Dougal Street where many of the Danish miners lived. Visit Magnolia Avenue, known as "Silk Stocking Row," where many doctors and officials lived. The Weir House sits on the left side of the avenue. This was the superintendent's house who managed the Granite Mountain Mine. On the street above Magnolia Avenue one can see the remains of the old bank vault. Down this street the remains of the old smelting and milling operations can be seen. Higher up the Granite Mountain are the remains of the Ruby Shaft (Granite Mountain Mining Company). As you will notice, the head frame has collapsed.
Kirkville Ghost Town
Peek Population: 125
Present Population: 5
Turn south from the four-way stop in downtown Philipsburg. Go under the railroad overpass and take your first left. Continue to the crossroad, and take a right turn heading south. The company houses and offices are located on the east side of the road. Continue to follow the road; note the barn, warehouse, assay offices, and retort building. Turn on the lower road toward the flotation mill, and pass by and view the ruins of the Bi-Metallic Mill on the left.
The two company houses are inhabited and the brick office is in respectable shape. The barn and buggy shed, the assay office, and the retort building are still standing. The boarding house and rooming house are in disrepair, but are still standing. Only the foundations remain where the workers' dwellings once stood.
The Bi-Metallic Mill was over 360 feet long, 150 feet wide, and had two smokestacks, furnaces, chimney flues, and a massive foundation built of cut granite. The structure was burned in 1967 for safety reasons. The remains of the structure are both interesting and impressive to view.
There is a modern flotation mill owned by the Contact Mining Company. This mill operates from time to time as a processing plant on a contract basis. The area is private property, so please respect it.
Granet and Bear Gultch
Peek Population: 5000ish
Take Montana Highway 1 to Drummond. Cross under the overpass and take the frontage road towards Missoula. At a distance of about 11 miles, turn right at the sign Bear Gulch/Garnet 10 miles. From this point notice the placer mining activity up Bear Gulch. Continue and ascend the China Grade to Garnet. Beartown was located where the road crosses Deep Creek before the China Grade.
Rich gold-bearing quartz ledges were discovered in the Garnet Range as early as 1866. From this mother lode, placer gold was deposited down Deep Creek, Bear Creek, and smaller canyons which ran into Bear Gulch. The placer deposits were present from the top of Garnet Range to 20 miles away on the bank of the Clark Fork River.
The news of the discovery in the Garnet area attracted thousands of miners. In 1867, 5000 whites and Asians dug placer in the gulches. By 1870, fewer than 450 lived in Bear Creek and Deep Gulch. Twenty-five years passed before lode mining was in full production. By the 1880s, the placer supply was depleted.
Garnet was constructed between the years of 1886 and 1889. In 1887, Garnet was home to numerous residences, two barber shops, three livery stables, an assay office, and a butcher shop. In 1898, the school had an enrollment of forty-one students. There is no evidence of a church having ever been present. The nearby area had three hard rock mines (The Nancy Hanks, The Lead King, and the Grant-Hartford). The Nancy Hanks was the best producer, mining about $950,000 from 1897 to 1917.
Beartown was once a town of considerable size, but now the only evidence of its existence is letters and newspaper articles from the past. The town was located at the junction of Deep Gulch and Bear Gulch. In 1867, there were ten stores, many saloons, and three restaurants. The town was dependent upon the placer-deposits of Deep Gulch, Bear Gulch, and the smaller gulches which ran into Bear Gulch. By the 1870s, the placer deposits had played out, and the town to cease to exist.
Evidence of extensive gold placering operations including dredging and hydraulic mining. China Grade: Considered as Montana's steepest road in commercial use.
Take a moment to explore the J.K. Wells Hotel. Garnet is the only ghost town in Granite County which has undergone major restoration. Parking lots include facilities for the handicapped and two restroom areas. Twenty-one buildings have been restored.
Peek Population: 500
From Philipsburg, take Montana Highway 1 (Pintler Scenic Route) for approximately twelve miles to the turn off of Discovery Basin Ski Area. Enter this road and continue one mile to a three-way split in the road. Take the middle road to St. Timothy's Chapel.
Southern Cross received its name from a sailor. The ore mined at Southern Cross contained gold in a matrix of iron (hematite and magnetite). Most of the hard rock mining occurred during the time from the 1870s through 1910. In 1910, the Anaconda Copper Mining Company purchased the property, and ceased operations in 1919.
In 1965, the Bowman family built St. Timothy's Chapel in memory of their son. It is a beautiful, well-kept building located at the beginning of the old town site. The church is open to the public. In front of St. Timothy's there is a parking lot with a spectacular view of Georgetown Lake and the Pintler Wilderness Mountains. The mining buildings and some of the older dwellings are still present. In fact, some are inhabited by people, mostly as summertime residences. Included in these mining buildings are the residences of former mine supervisors, hoist buildings, two boarding houses, and a bunk house.
From Philipsburg, turn right on Montana Highway 1 to Maxville. Continue up Boulder Creek Canyon. Cross the first bridge over Boulder Creek and drive up the east side of the creek for about six miles to Princeton.
The mining activity in Princeton started in the early 1880s. The district produced gold, silver, lead, and phosphate. The total production up until 1907 was approximately $1.25 million. In the late 1800s, the district employed approximately fifty men in its mining operations. Princeton had a post office, a school, a hotel, a store, and almost twenty dwellings. Some of these dwellings are now occupied by year-round and summer residents.
Black Pine Mining District
Peek Population: 240
Present Population: 0
Go from Philipsburg toward Drummond on Montana Highway 1 for two miles. A highway sign reads Black Pine Road. Turn left on this road and continue for eight miles to top of the hill. Cross the cattle guard and continue straight ahead on Black Pine Road. Continue another two miles to the top of the ridge. The Black Pine community was located where the road splits in four directions. Take the left road where you will see the head frames of the Harper Shaft near the road on the left hand side. Continue downhill and straight ahead; only a short distance is the head frame of the Lewis Shaft. Continue on the road downhill. Middle Town was located about one-half mile down the grade and Combination was located on the bottom on Lower Willow Creek itself. Here one can see the old remains of the mill, foundations of dwellings, offices, and mine buildings. The tailings pond (settling pond) can also be observed in a flat area near Willow Creek.
Located in the Black Pine District were three communities:
The location of the mining activity on the ridge between Smart Creek Basin and Lower Willow Creek.
Located approximately one-half mile down the west slope into Lower Willow Creek.
Located on lower Willow Creek. This was the site of the milling operation. It consisted of a stamp mill, assay office, office, and mill buildings.
In 1889, a forest fire burned the towers of the district and some of the head frames. The operation was rebuilt and operating again by 1891. However, the falling silver prices in 1897 forced the closing of the mill and mines. The Black Pine Mining District was again ravaged by fire in the 1988 Combination Fire. Little remains except for a few foundations in the three communities and two headframes, the Harper and the Lewis Shafts.
New Chicago (West Chicago)
From Philipsburg, travel 24.2 miles toward Drummond on Highway 1. Turn right and the road crosses Flint Creek. Continue on the road to the intersection of Cemetery and Mullan Road. Cemetery road is the left fork of the intersection and is where the founders (John Featherman, William Dingwall, and Allen McPhail) of New Chicago are buried. Note the circular stone structure (smokehouse) behind an old barn. On Mullan Road (the right fork) notice the Featherman house (brick) and several older wooden structures (the Dingwall house is the first one). Also visit the restored village school originally built in 1873 which now stands in Drummond as a tourist visitation center.
New Chicago, first called West Chicago, was located on the west bank of Flint Creek. However, the town site was established on the east side of Flint Creek because this was where the junction of the Mullan Road and the road to Philipsburg were located. In other words, New Chicago was established as a commercial trade center.
The town had many amenities, including a Post Office, of which founder John A. Featherman was the postmaster. New Chicago also included two hotels, two stores, two saloons, a flour mill, a telegraph station, several stables, a stage station, and a Wells Fargo office. In 1874, a village school was built which was later restored and currently stands in Drummond. With the arrival of the railroad to Drummond (Edwardsville) in August of 1883, the hopes and dreams of New Chicago slowly ceased to exist, as did the town.
Drive out the south entrance to Philipsburg past the U.S. Forest Service to Highway 1. Head towards Anaconda. Turn left at the first road, which is about an eighth of a mile on Highway 1. Follow this road for five miles and you will pass a sign for Mountain Valley Ranch. The old mill site is located a half mile from this point.
The town was built in 1888 on Fred Burr Creek as a mill town for the Granite Mountain Mining Company. The company established a hundred stamp mill, which received its ore from Granite by means of an aerial tramway. The community had saloons, hotels, a boarding house, stores, and a school. Probably the most unique structure was a railroad turnstile to turn the locomotive around for its return trip to Philipsburg. The narrow canyon made other means of switching possible.
The area has been extensively sub-divided into home sites. The mill site has been bulldozed, but there is still some evidence of the past location of the town.
Take Discovery Basin road from Georgetown Lake. Continue about one mile from where the road crosses the North Fork of Flint Creek. Turn right on the road past the Cable Campground and continue up the North Fork of Flint Creek for about four miles. The site sits near the curve of the road as it starts up the grade to reach the ridge of the nearby mountains.
Founded in 1906, Red Lion is located up the North Fork of Flint Creek. At its peak in 1906, Red Lion was home to two hundred people, mostly miners. The mine produced gold from a hard rock vein made up of about forty percent hematite, magnetite, and pyrite. There still stand the remains of the old tram line and old foundations of past buildings (a mill, a saloon, a restaurant, a blacksmith shop, and a boarding house).
Leave Philipsburg going toward Drummond on Highway 1 past Maxville to a point approximately two miles. Look for a stone house on the right hand side of the road. The next turnoff to the left at Stone Station will cross Flint Creek and take you directly to Henderson Gulch. The distance from the Stone turnoff is about five miles.
Henderson Gulch, founded in 1865 by Joe Henderson, produced over $300,000 prior to 1870. It had a ghost town called Emmettsburg, which had a population of 133. This town has completely vanished. However, above the place which was thought to be the town site, is a monument to seven miners killed in the late 1860s.
Three hydraulic dredging operations have operated from the mouth to near the head of the gulch, leaving behind piles of rock and rubble. This rubble not only covered the site of Emmettsburg, but changed the character of the original gulch.
Sunrise, located in the upper limits of Henderson Gulch, was home to copper and gold mining in the late 1890s. The aging mining structures sit near the bottom of a steep mountain, called Sunrise Mountain, with the mining operations on the face of the steep hillside. The original operation had a twenty stamp mill, cabins, and mine buildings. Some of the structures have withstood the test of time and can be seen today.