The little ghost town of Coolidge is a little known gem nestled in the Pioneer Mountains of South Western Montana, south west of Butte. This historic settlement allows you to step back in time, and explore the history of this beautiful and interesting region. www.travelrows.com
Getting to Coolidge Ghost Town
You can reach Coolidge ghost town by traveling 70 miles on paved road from Butte (I-15 and Scenic Route through Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest). If you have a 4×4 you may then take 5 miles of gravel roads (NF-73 – Wise River Polaris Road), and then hike a quarter mile from the parking lot.
Coolidge Ghost Town on the map:
What To Expect on the Trail
Along the short trail from the parking lot to the ghost town you will pass through dense forest, seeing here and there rusty piles of old mining equipment between the trees. The only sounds you are likely to hear is the burble of the river, birdsong, and perhaps the odd rustle of passing squirrels or other wildlife. Yet once, this would have been a noisy place – the area would once have resonated to the sounds of nearby mines. It is hard to imagine what life must once have been like here when you pass through today.
Through the trees on the right of the trail, you will see at one point, across the river, the remains of what was once the largest mill in Montana.
The History of Coolidge Ghost Town
After a time, you will reach the outskirts of the former town. Its buildings are now in various states of decay – some leaning precariously, others already crumbled to the ground. It is difficult to imagine how different things would have been back in 1922, when the town had electricity, a phone service and a post office.
This was the site of Montana’s largest and last silver mining development. It was thriving as early as 1919, developed by William R. Allen, a Republican, Montana’s lieutenant governor, who bought and developed a number of claims in the Elkhorn Mining District. He named the town after his friend Calvin Coolidge who, it was rumored, was an investor in Allen’s company before he became President.
Unfortunately, by the time the mine tunnel and operation were ready to go, the economy took a tumble and silver prices plummeted. Allen lost his fortune and the town was abandoned shortly thereafter.
Coolidge ghost town is just one of a number of former mining settlements in this part of Montana that were abandoned after the collapse of silver mining in the region. Just one of a number of haunting locations which tell the story of the state’s interesting mining past.
Visitors to this part of Montana should also consider a visit to Bannack, one of the best preserved ghost towns in the country, which was abandoned once gold reserves were exhausted, and Elkhorn State Park, where more examples of abandoned frontier architecture can be seen, as well as to a number of other interesting local destinations.