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Top 3 Ghost Towns in Montana

Updated on April 24, 2010

Montana tourism offers many activities and attractions. There are the rodeos held throughout the summer, hiking, camping snowmobiling and more in Glacier or Yellowstone National Park, historic locations and Indian reservations, and the beautiful scenery to be found no matter where you look. However, if you are looking for adventure of an eerie sort, then visits to Montana’s best ghost towns is a must. Some of the best are listed here, but with more than 20 to choose from, you could spend some time getting your ghoul on!

  1. Bannack- Although the town once served as Montana’s territorial capital, it is better known for being the most well preserved ghost town in the state. It was home to Sherriff Henry Plummer. Today guests can see the gallows, the Hotel Meade, Montana’s first jail, and the Methodist church. Bannack was the site of Montana’s first gold rush during which its population grew to over 3,000. Today, there is a visitor’s center, picnic area, camping sites, and fishing available.
  2. Virginia City- Like many other western towns, Virginia City was found due to the discovery of gold. Due to its central location it became the “Social City “of the Old West. Unfortunately, lawlessness abounded until a group of concerned citizens formed a group known as the Vigilantes who set about using frontier justice to govern the town. It was here, that Sherriff Plummer was hung on his own gallows along with 5 deputies. The town eventually calmed down, and then as the abundance of gold was depleted so was the town. Today the town can be toured and enjoyed, making for a great afternoon adventure.

3.    Granite – Unlike other ghost towns of Montana, it was Hector Horton’s 1865 discovery of silver that gives this ghost town its claim to fame. It is thought by many to be one of the best ghost towns in the Old West. Within a few years, the town’s population was 3,000 and growing until the 1893 silver panic when the mine was ordered to be shut down. Before long the town population had significantly reduced. Three years later the ban was rescinded, but the town never again saw an increased population. Guest today can see shell of the Union Mining Hall, and the hospital, other structures there, but are nearing collapse.

Montana’s ghost towns offer a glimpse into the past. Take some time to explore their streets and read their stories. Who knows, you might just hear the sound of ancient spurs as you walk along the boardwalk.


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      Jen 5 years ago

      I think Garnet belongs on this list before Granite.