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More Montana Ghost Towns - Page 3


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Gold Creek - Gold Creek, Montana was the first place that gold was discovered in Big Sky Country. In 1852, a trapper named Francois Finlay, who was also known as Benetsee, found the first recorded gold in what became known as Benetsee Creek. Keeping his find a secret after doing a little gold panning, it be six more years before anything really developed. In 1858, three more prospectors, namely James and Granville Stuart and Reece Anderson, discovered gold in the creek, but having no supplies and concerned about Indian attacks, they soon left the area. Four years later, they returned and a small mining camp developed at the mouth of the creek that was first called American Fork. Later, both the town and the creek were renamed "Gold Creek.”


The mining camp never grew very large, maxing out at about 50 people, as soon after it was established, bigger finds were made at Bannack, and later, at Virginia City, drawing all the miners away.


Gold Creek, Montana

A barn and outbuildings in the Gold Creek vicinity,

July, 2008, Kathy Weiser.

Gold Creek, MontanaToday, Gold Creek is a small agricultural town located  about 12 miles southeast of Drummond, Montana, just off I-90. There are no mining remains in Gold Creek, but just southwest of the tiny town, are the remains of a number of old buildings and near the creek, evidence of dredging and tailings can be seen.


Hassel - Situated near Indian Creek in Broadwater County, Hassel, which was first called Saint Louis, got its start in 1869 after gold had been discovered in the nearby creek. Like other mining camps of Montana, it would have a number of fitful starts and stops for several decades. As early as 1866 placer gold was discovered. Later, simple quartz mining with shallow tunnels and open pits were utilized to retrieve the precious gold. The camp was officially formed around 1875 with about 40 miners working in the area.  By 1880, placer mining was replaced with stamp mills and some hydra sluicing operations. Mines in operation included the Bunker Hill, Ajax Mine, Big Hill, Lone Star, the Diamond Hill, which was considered the Mother Lode in the area, and several other smaller operations.


When a post office was established in August, 1895, the camp was renamed Hassel in respect for pioneer miner, Joseph E. Hassel. At that time, the camp was called home to about 200 people, boasted several businesses, a Masonic Lodge, and a number frame homes in addition to the numerous log miner's cabins. At various times, the camp was also known as Knoxville, Placerville and Florence City.


For about two decades the mines continuously produced, grossing about $5,000,000 in gold. The camp was most famous for its huge Diamond Hill 120-Stamp Mill which operated at full capacity from 1898 to 1900.

By 1910; however, the ores were beginning to decline and Hassel was all but abandoned. During the 1930s, mining reconvened for a short period until World War II stopped it again.  

Last ditch efforts were made in 1946 when Indian Creek was dredged, a process that destroyed the mine tunnels and covered much of what remained of the mining camp with high waste tailings.



Edward F Mine and Mill, Hassel, Montana

Edward F Mine and Mill, Hassel, Montana


Today, the Apollo Mining Company has taken over the site, where once again, mining is in full swing. Though much of the original site has been destroyed, some old buildings and mining remnants can still be seen.


Homestead - Located in southern Sheridan County, Homestead was a agricultural and railroad town that was first settled in 1910. In the beginning, it had several names, starting with Barford, because of its proximity to the historic N Bar N Cattle Company’s Missouri River crossing, when trailing their cattle to Kenmare, North Dakota. The first postmaster changed the towns name to Pederson, after himself, but postal authorities objected. It was then changed to Fort Peck, but that didn't work either, when the Fort Peck Indian Agency in Poplar, Montana, protested.


Finally, the town was called Homestead. The town became a popular shipping point with its Great Northern Railroad Depot. The town once boasted a meat market, a saloon, a grocery store, hotel, barber shop, the Pioneer Press newspaper, a school, livery stable, lumber yard, two churches, a bank and a Community Hall. Today, this tiny community still has a few residents, but no open businesses. Several old buildings continue to stand, testifying to more prosperous times. Homestead is located six miles north of Froid and six miles south of Medicine Lake.  

Independence - Located high in the Absaroka Range in Park and Sweet Grass Counties, gold was first discovered in what would become the Independence Mining District in the 1860s. However, it would be two decades before any significant mining would occur, as the land was part of the Crow Indian Reservation. Prospectors were run out of the area by the federal government, but after receiving pressure from numerous mining interests, the government reversed itself and forced the Crows to cede the land in 1882.  Almost immediately, miners returned to the area.

Though a number of small finds were made in the upper Boulder River and at the head of Basin Creek, no work was done on a major scale until 1888, after a pack trail had been cut through the timber to the high elevation veins located at 9,000-11,000 feet elevation. The first stamp mill was hauled up the steep and rugged road the same year. Between 1889 and 1891, several mines were opened, including the Poorman, Hidden Treasure, Daisy, King Solomon, and Independence. The camp that grew up around them, located at the fork of Basin Creek in Park County, about three miles below the head of the Boulder River took the name of the Independence Mine, which by 1992 was running at full capacity. Independence eventually boasted about 500 people, four saloons, two general stores and numerous cabins. Other camps also developed nearby at Solomon City and Horseshoe Basin.

Independence soon became the service center for the mining district and was the site of seven stamp mills, a sawmill, and several concentrators. By 1893, Independence boasted both telephone and electricity due to all of the mining activity. However, it was a difficult trek to the mining district that required five days by wagon to reach Big Timber, some 50 miles to the northeast.

Production in the district peaked between 1890 and 1893, with the Independence mill producing about $42,000 in gold bullion. However, the mining boom ended with the depression of 1893, exhaustion of easily accessed ore, difficult transportation, and poor management of the operations. The Independence Mine closed but in August, 1894 was leased out, re-opened and operated until 1897.  At that time, the Independence, the Daisy, the Hidden Treasure, and other properties were sold and consolidated, and continued to operate until 1904 when the Hidden Treasure Mill burned down in 1904. From 1890 to 1905 the district reportedly produced gold and silver ore valued at about $120,000.

Workings were revived intermittently over the next several decades, but all were found to be unprofitable and quickly abandoned. Today, all that remains of Independence and the other area mining camps are a few tumbling cabins and mining remnants.

What little is left of Independence is located about 53 miles southwest of Big Timber, Montana. Head southeast towards McLeod on Montana Highway 298 for about 27 miles, then continue on Main Boulder Road and Forest Road 6639 for about 26 miles to the old town site. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.



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From Legends' General Store


Photo Art by Kathy Weiser-AlexanderWild West Photo Art - Images include collages, photographs with with watercolor and poster effects, colorized black & white photos, and digital enhancements to improve the composition of the finished product. Prints are available in photos, giclee fine art, and canvasArtwork by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.




Wild West Photo Art by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Wild West Photo Art by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Wild West Photo Art by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Wild West Photo Art by Kathy Weiser-Alexander


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