This past Sunday we took a family road-trip over to Philipsburg, Montana, a charming 19th century mining town that happens to be a favorite place to visit for many Montanans. With its countless activities and wonderful hospitality, you always feel welcomed and entertained.
The Chamber of Commerce website states:
"Long the county seat of Granite, Philipsburg has a rich history of mining and ranching. Officially registered as a town in 1867 and incorporated in 1890, Philipsburg was named after Philip Deidesheimer, a prominent mining engineer who hailed from Nevada. The town prospered as a booming mining community until the Silver Crash of 1893, which forced the mills to close. Most of the population vanished overnight, rendering Philipsburg and the surrounding area a ghost town.
Over the years, Philipsburg has evolved into a thriving community with a vibrant sense of history. Today, we celebrate our roots in a variety of ways, through ranching, sapphire mining, and commemorating our past in our museum and cultural center. What began as a boom town is recognized and appreciated by outdoor enthusiasts for its natural wellspring of lakes, rivers, streams, and panoramic mountains. In 1997 and again in 2000, Philipsburg was named a finalist in a contest for Prettiest Painted Places in America."
This was actually our second trip to Philipsburg this year, as we initially visited this past summer when my niece and parents were out here. My eldest son could not get the day off from his job that time and didn't get to go, so we decided to make a second trip over so he could experience the town before he leaves for boot camp on the 13th of November.
One of our favorite parts of visiting Philipsburg, is taking the 4 mile bumpy mountain road up to the Granite Ghost Town.
Peek Population: 3000ish (early 1890's)
Present Population: 0
"Nicknamed "Montana's Silver Queen," Granite had its hey day in the early 1890's. It is located on Granite Mountain, just four miles from Philipsburg.
In 1872, Eli Holland is said to have found a piece of high grade ruby silver while following a wounded game animal, either deer or elk. A shallow shaft was dug on the outcropping. The site lay dormant for over five years until Charles McLure found a piece of the silver ore on the shaft dump and thought the prospect showed promise. He traveled east to St. Louis where he obtained capital to begin exploration and development of the property.
The town eventually became a thriving city and boasted as many stores and commercial establishments as any other modern Montana city at that time. One of the most famous buildings in Granite was a large Miner's Union Hall with a pool parlor and club area on the first floor, and an office, a library, a large dance floor, and an auditorium space on the second floor called the "Northwest's Finest Dance Floor." Quite often the auditorium played host to minstrel shows, melodramas, and vaudeville. Some of the other amenities Granite offered were eighteen saloons, a thriving red light district, a roller rink, a hospital, five doctors, a school, four churches, several banks, a water system, named streets, and several homes for the more than 3,000 inhabitants. However, there was no cemetery. All of the bodies were interred in the Philipsburg Cemetery because the ground was so rock infested in Granite that a grave could not be dug.
In 1893, the U.S. Congress repealed the Sherman Act resulting in lower silver prices, and on the morning of August 1, within twenty-four hours of the repeal, many men, women, and children came down the mountain in search of new homes, leaving their worldly possessions behind them. One year later, only 140 people remained in Granite."
In modern day, only the foundations, rubble, and sparse remains of the town buildings are left on top of the mountain, but it is so very interesting to see where they were once built, and imagine all the town folks and miners bustling along the streets of the mining town on top of the mountain.
There was plenty of snow when we made the trip up this time since Granite is situated at 8,000 ft. in elevation, approximately a mile and a half above sea level, and it is October in Montana, after all...
My youngest son and I standing in front of what used to be the General Store...
I am wearing -
*J.Crew Long Downtown Field Jacket - now on sale
*Eileen Fisher Ribbed Merino Wool Pullover in charcoal grey
*Sorel Winter Fancy Boot which I swapped out for my Sundance Ashville Boots in Grey once we went down the mountain into town.
*Brighton Braided Black Leather Bracelet that my mother gifted to me.
Once we finished exploring the ghost town on the mountain, we came down into the quaint town of Philispburg itself to browse the local shops, grab an Americano from one of the cafés, visit one of the town's museums, enjoy a picnic lunch, and let the younger boys play on the super cool playground in the school yard.
Now of course, a visit to Philipsburg would NOT be complete without a stop at The Sweet Palace (arguably the world's best candy store), to fill up on sugary goodness for the ride home.
(Because an SUV full of boys loaded up on sugar is always a good thing...said NO mom, EVER.)
We headed home as it was getting close to sunset after a long and very enjoyable day...after all, a trip to Philipsburg always promises a wonderful and enjoyable time, filled with lots of great memories, and this visit was no exception.
If you are ever traveling through Montana, definitely consider putting a visit to Philipsburg on your list of things to do and see...you won't be disappointed!