(Missoula, MT) Hi 74 Lo 52 – Today we took a drive about an hour east of Missoula to see the Garnet Ghost Town. Garnet is a former mining town that was established during the gold rush days of the late 1800’s. The population peaked at around 1,000 in 1898, but by 1905 the gold was about played out and only around 150 people remained. A major fire in 1929, combined with the hardships on the home front during World War I, drove the rest of the miners and their families packing. Garnet slowly slipped into obscurity. There was a brief renewal of mining operations during the 1930’s, but it’s been a ghost town since World War II. It’s since been taken over by the Bureau of Land Management and they’ve done a great job of keeping it up.
It was a beautiful drive into the country and up into the mountains. On the way we saw a few vehicles parked on the side of the road, which usually means there’s some wildlife around. We pulled over and were treated to an up close look at four Bighorn Sheep just moseying along the side of the road.
That was pretty cool! The road up into the mountains was narrow and winding, with the last six miles of it gravel. The washboard surface limited us to less than 20 mph in many spots. We stopped at a pullout to check out the view around us.
We finally reached a parking lot. Garnet was down a 1/4 mile trail. On the way down the trail we caught sight of a motorhome parked on a side road. We later learned they’re volunteers who work in the town as work campers.
At one point on the trail we got a nice overall view of the town of Garnet. It looks like it’s right out of a TV western.
Garnet was a typical mining town. There was a two-story hotel.
One thing we liked about walking through all the buildings was the amount of original furnishings there were, most of them very old and dilapidated. Look at the old bedsprings and furnishings in these two hotel rooms.
This is the hotel dining room. There were several signs warning not to sit on the chars, because they’re original, and old.
And of course behind the hotel was the outhouse. This was a big one, as far as outhouses go.
Every mining town had a saloon, and Garnet was no different.
Inside were some cool old beer cans.
This wall was papered with old newspapers from the 1920’s.
The general store.
There were many old items on display.
We liked this list of what groceries cost in 1906.
Behind Main Street and up on the hill were several cabins that the miners lived in. It was pretty rustic living back then.
We talked with a couple who are working as volunteers (not the ones in the RV). They’re living in this cabin.
They’re provided with firewood, propane, and a propane refrigerator. But they have no electricity, no cell service, and no wi-fi. And they have to tote their water up the hill from a central source down below. We asked how they spend their off duty time and they said they both read a lot and he does a lot of wood splitting, as you can see by their supply of firewood in this photo.
Their tour of duty is 3 1/2 months. They’re made of pretty tough stuff! We’re ready to move on if we end up in an RV site with no wi-fi.
Here’s another overall view of Garnet from up on the hill behind Main St.
We spent over two hours walking around this wonderful old ghost town. Nothing makes us appreciate our modern technology and conveniences than seeing how our ancestors lived in the “old days.”
We made our way back to Missoula through some intermittent rain showers and relaxed the rest of the evening.
See you tomorrow.