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More Montana Ghost Towns - Page 3

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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.




Jardine, MontanaJardine, aka: Bush - Located in Park County about five miles west of Gardiner, gold was first discovered in Bear Gulch in 1866. However, until the turn of the century, only small placer mine operations worked the area. However, this changed when a man named Harry Bush came to the area in 1898, leasing and buying a number of claims. He first enlarged an existing mill to include 20 stamps and laid out a settlement that was first called Bush. Within a year, the mining camp had about 130 building and miners were flooding into the district. Organizing the Revenue Mining Company, Bush continued to acquire more claims and actively promoted the area.


However, the ambitious man was unsuccessful due to inadequate mine develop, insufficient funds, and financial mismanagement. In 1901, his company went into receivership and work was suspended.


The following year, the camp's name was changed to Jardine. In 1903, the claims were bought by the  Kimberly - Montana Gold Mining & Milling Company who built a 150-ton cyanide plant, added additional stamp mills, and utilized new air compressors for underground drilling. Though the improvements aided in bringing out the minerals, they were more costly than the company anticipated and in 1906, it too, failed. 


The mine then changed hands several times before the Jardine Gold Mining &Milling Company acquired the property and equipment, which included 23 patented claims, several developed mines and the town site. Mining and milling of gold and low-grade scheelite ores began again in 1918 and in continued until 1921, when the properties were purchased by the Jardine Mining Company. The new company discovered arsenic and in 1923 built an arsenic plant, which operated almost continuously from 1923 to 1926, then intermittently until 1945. The mill continued to process various ores until 1948, when a fire destroyed the cyanide plant and the Jardine Mining Company closed the mill.


Today, the old camp provides numerous old miners cabins and mining remains. It is located  about six miles northeast of Gardiner on Jardine Road.


Kendall, Montana in 1906.Kendall - Situated in the North Moccasin Mountains north of Lewistown, Montana, the North Moccasin Mining District got a later start than many of the mining areas in Big Sky Country. Placer mining first occurred in the area in the 1880s with large gold nuggets taken out of Iron Gulch; however, lack of water caused the miners to leave without any significant development. When large lode deposits were found in the district in 1893, more attempts were made to get at the gold, but the ore was difficult to treat and little was done until improved cyanide processes were developed at the turn of the century.


With the new technology, capital was flowing and when Harry T. Kendall installed a cyanide mill in 1900, the area began to boom. In 1901, a townsite was platted and named Kendall. Within no time, the town sported two hotels, a bank, a newspaper, restaurants, retail businesses, a school, a brothel and several saloons. Two stage-coach lines connected Kendall to Lewiston. A few years later, the town also included the Jones Opera House, two churches, and peaked at a population of about 1500.


The most prosperous mines were the Kendall, Santiago, Barnes-King and Horse Shoe Mines. By 1903, the district was leading the state in gold production.

Plans were made to build a railroad spur to the flourishing town, but it never happened. Instead, supplies and ores, began to be moved by automobiles and trucks. The town continued to prosper until the largest mine, the Barnes-King, folded in 1920, at which time it began to decline.

Soon other mines also closed and the once prosperous camp became a ghost town. Throughout the years, the area mines produced as much as $15 million in gold. Once the mines closed, sporadic placer mining continued to occur, but large quantities were never found.

Though Kendall once boasted several substantial buildings, only three stone buildings remain today. Unfortunately, several of the buildings collapsed because of the many mine shafts below them.

Kendall is located north of Lewistown on Highway 87, along with the old mining camps of Gilt Edge and Maiden.


Kirkville, Montana todayKirkville - Located about one mile southeast of Philipsburg, Montana, Kirkville got its start in 1888 when the large Bi-Metallic Mill 100 stamp mill was built on Douglas Creek. The town, which reached a peak population of about 125 people, was primarily inhabited by mill workers. It once included numerous cabins, a boarding house, company office, warehouse, and assay office, along with the large Bi-Metallic Mill site. In 1967, the 360 feet long mill building was burned for safety reasons, but its two smokestacks and foundations continue to stand. Also standing are two company  houses, the brick office building, a barn, assay office, and the retort building. A modern flotation mill still operates periodically. The old town site is located on private property, but some of its remains can be seen from the road.


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