When America was a young nation, homesteaders rode steamboats and rail cars in search of untouched land and the freedom to choose their own destiny, and in the mid-1860’s expanded into the Montana territory.
Many scoured the mountains for gold and other precious metals, and settlements grew overnight around mining claims. Such was the case with the town of Garnet, which was born in 1895. Within several years of its founding, hundreds of people called it home and the blasts of dynamite and the shouts of miners echoed through the gulches. This remote town boasted hotels, stores, and saloons, as well as a school, laundry, drug store, assay office, and even a weekly newspaper. But Garnet’s success was not destined to last. By 1912, the large strikes were depleted, fire had raged through the town, and most miners had left in search of new riches. The struggles of the Great Depression brought a brief revival in the 1930’s, and while never becoming a huge settlement again, Garnet has been home to a number of residents.
Today, most of the town is publicly owned, and is one of the best preserved gold rush towns in the nation under the management of the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM stabilizes and preserves the remaining two dozen buildings and provides visitors a glimpse into this fascinating part of our past. Despite being deserted, Garnet still seems like it might be nice place to settle down and start a family.
Know Before You Go
The road from the north is much better than the one from the south, if you don't have an off-road vehicle. Signs say to go south toward I-90, and this is slightly faster if you're headed south, but the road is very narrow and rocky.