On my last road trip through Montana I visited the well-known ghost town of Bannack. In keeping with tradition, I wanted to visit another out of the way gem. Fortunately, the ghost town of Garnet was not far from my path (recently made famous by this ad looking for volunteer rangers), and the warm month of May had melted away all the snow from the mountains where the mining town is nestled.
Garnet was founded in the 1860s as a gold mine on the Garnet Lode, 20 miles southwest of Missoula and 11 miles up into the mountains, in a ravine known as First Chance Gulch. The town sits 6,000 feet above sea level. By 1898 about 1,000 people called Garnet home but in 1912 a fire swept through, destroying half the town. By then the gold had run dry and most of what was lost was never rebuilt. Today it is preserved by the Bureau of Land Management, receiving upwards of 16,000 visitors annually (according to BLM). During the summer Rangers occupy some of the buildings and volunteer campers act as tour guides while living out a three-month vacation like old settlers. That kind of takes away from the ghost town feel for me, but rest assured if you visit when no one else is there, you’ll feel the pressing loneliness of the surrounding wilds.
Rumors are that some of Garnet’s buildings are haunted. You know the thing about rumors, however, so believe what you want. Of course, I tend to be pretty null regarding spirits and hauntings, having wandered many places with supposed ghosts without notice.
Sadly, I wasn’t paying much attention to my camera settings, and used the wrong light metering, resulting in pictures much too bright and washed out. It’s even more unfortunate since I likely won’t ever get back to Garnet.