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The remnants of Granite, a ghost town in Montana, once thriving 1890s silver boomtown

David Goran

Granite is a ghost town in Granite County, Montana, United States, east of the town of Philipsburg. Granite thrived as a silver mining town in the 1890s but is now completely deserted.

The state of Montana maintains the mine superintendent’s house and the ruins of the union hall as Granite Ghost Town State Park.

The city of Granite, taken in about 1895. Source

The city of Granite, taken in about 1895. Source

 

Hector Horton first discovered silver in the general area in 1865. Source

Hector Horton first discovered silver in the general area in 1865. Source

In 1872, Eli Holland found a small quantity of high-quality ruby silver in the area. A shallow shaft was dug but later abandoned until 1877, when Charles McLure found a rich specimen of ruby silver at the site, which assayed at 2,000 ounces of silver per ton.

He later traveled to St. Louis to obtain the capital necessary to begin development of the mine. He partnered with a man named Charles Clark and the two bought the property and formed the Granite Mountain Mining Company.

Ruby Shaft Mill. Source

Ruby Shaft Mill. Source

 

By 1889, the Superintendent’s House stood at the head of Magnolia Avenue, or Silk Stocking Row,” where the elite of Granite lived. Today, it is the only home left on the block. Source

By 1889, the Superintendent’s House stood at the head of Magnolia Avenue, or Silk Stocking Row,” where the elite of Granite lived. Today, it is the only home left on the block. Source

In 1896, Granite was the largest silver mine in the world. The company actually sent a 4,307-pound bar of silver to the World’s Fair in Chicago to showcase the areas riches.

This was the richest silver mine on the earth. Source

This was the richest silver mine on the earth. Source

 

Remnant of Miners Union Hall, Granite, Montana. Built in 1890 at a cost of $23,000, the union hall was the social center of the bustling mining camp. Source

The remnant of Miners Union Hall, Granite, Montana. Built in 1890 at a cost of $23,000, the union hall was the social center of the bustling mining camp. Source

Granite eventually grew to a town with more than 3,000 inhabitants. For the time period, there were many modern amenities, such as the large Miners Union Hall, a library, 18 saloons, brothels, a hospital and school as well as churches. Granite also had a water system, named streets, many homes but no cemetery due to the rocky nature of the mountain.

The camp struggled as there was no local water and initially it had to be hauled in by wagon from Fred Burr Lake. Later, a flume and cistern system was built to support the camp. Source

The camp struggled as there was no local water and initially it had to be hauled in by wagon from Fred Burr Lake. Later, a flume and cistern system was built to support the camp. Source

 

In the silver panic of 1893, word came to shut the mine down. Source

In the silver panic of 1893, word came to shut the mine down. Source

The Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed in 1893, drastically lowering the price of silver, and many residents left Granite, leaving only 140 residents a year later. Granite is currently entirely uninhabited.

There are several other remnants of smaller buildings and miners cottages around the townsite. Source

There are several other remnants of smaller buildings and miners cottages around the townsite. Source

 

Most of its buildings are gone, some moved, others consumed by fire. Source

Most of its buildings are gone, some moved, others consumed by fire. Source

The few structures that remain have either been stabilized or lie in ruins. The town is full of granite foundations; an indication of a prosperous time past.