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After leaving Pullman, Washington our next stop was Missoula, Montana. We had reservations at Gardiner, Montana but had an extra day because we cut our visit to the Palouse short. So we were looking for something to do and discovered the Ghost Town of Garnet Montana.

Garnet Montana

Garnet Montana

We were trying to figure out how to get to Garnet. One road was not recommended and the other sounded like it might be ok. We ended taking Montana 200 then at around the 23 mile marker turning right on Garnet Range Road. This turned out to be a nice road it was paved most of the way and the last few mile of gravel road were in excellent condition. The other route in is a one lane tract that is not to be attempted in bad weather.

Frank A. Davey's Store

Frank A. Davey’s Store

Garnet turned to be one of those hidden gems that you sometimes find. It was a great experience and we spent most of the morning walking around the town and talking with the ranger and a local volunteer who happened to be from Wisconsin.



Garnet was founded in 1895 by a couple of doctors who owned claims in the area. A rich gold strike at the Nancy Hanks mine resulted in a gold mining boom. The town had “four stores , four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, a butcher shop, a candy shop, a doctor’s office an assay office cabins, 13 saloons and a school.”

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

By 1905 the boom was over and the population shrank to 150 only to grow to 250 in the 1930’s. Only to die with the advent of the second world war. The town has been preserved and it looks like folks just walked away and expected to return shortly.

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

I happened to mention to the ranger that I had read an article asking for volunteers to live for free in the town. Apparently a short blurb was sent to the news outlets asking for volunteers for the summer. The perk was you could live in Garnet free of charge.

J.K. Wells Hotel

J.K. Wells Hotel

It was picked up by the national and international news outlets and got out of hand. Some of the news outlets claimed the government would put you up for free without any conditions. When we visited they already had 5,000 applications from all over the world. One couple drove up from the south and suddenly appeared asking for free housing.

Garnet Montana

Garnet Montana

My wife stopped at the local gift shop and purchased some gold leaf earrings. Apparently they were made from gold leaf mined by a local miner. While she was in the gift shop the miner drove by on the way back from his mine. Too bad I didn’t know she was going to buy something we could have gotten them autographed.Kelley's-Saloon-Garnet-Montana-15-6-_1282

It was an enjoyable morning at Garnet. If you are in the area be sure to make the trip. On the drive back we stopped to take some photos of the Lupine that was abundant along the road.


More photos of Garnet can be found on my website.


One Comment

  1. There are so many ghost towns in Montana, glad you got to visit one of them.

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