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Granite Ghost Town

This unique State Park known as “Granite Ghost Town” has become a favorite pitstop adventure for me and my son every year. Its surrounded by natural beauty, rich Gold mining history, and a hidden locale of Montana. Granite has been called “City in the Sky”, “Silver Queen”, “City without Nights”, and “Silver Queen of the WEst”. It was named after the mountain the town clings to as the topsoil consists mostly of decomposed granite. At the bottom of the mountain is historic Philipsburg – a touristy living history gold mining town. My son adores the area. Winding up a mountain road ascends 1,280 feet from Phillipsburg takes you to the ruins of Granite, a once thriving gold mining town and encampment. The road requires high clearance as it is narrow, winding, rough, bumpy, and steep. Though we got up there everytime with a passenger car. Some spots are harrowing as you hope no one else is coming up or down when you are. This town can be explored within 1-2 hours. The

Granite is preserved by the Montana State Parks system as it is a State Park in of itself. It is rustically located atop a mountain overlooking Phillipsburg. The park embraces the 1890’s silver and gold boom town known as Granite. Silver was first discovered in the area by 1865 by Hector Horton, and by 1872 the actual site was discovered by prospector Holland and mined. The mine was established and yielded over 40 million in assets. The mine was then relocated in 1875 notably as the richest silver mine on earth they declared. Granite’s mines produced more than 20 million in silver and gold from 1885-1892 with miners working upwards of three shifts a day. Mines began to shutter with the 1893 silver panic and ultimately deserted for several years. Mining picked back up later. Many mining structures, tools, and equipment still exist. The mine was shut down after the silver panic of 1893, deserted for three years, and its booming population of 3,200 miners in 1890 went to almost none.

Granite is approximately 8,000 feet above sea level perched atop a mountain. The claim was made in 1878 and tunneling began in 1881. It became a silver bonanza and reputed as the greatest silver mine in the world. It hosted two main mines – the Bi-Metallic and the Granite Mountain

Granite boasted having a stagecoach stop, two hotels, 18 saloons, two stores, a telegraph station, stage station, wells fargo offices, stables, schoolhouse with four rooms teaching upwards of 150 students, hospital with 5 doctors, four mill, sawmill, blacksmith shop, bank, drug store, law offices, barber shops, bakeries, a brewery, soda bottling facility, restaurants, post office, . It apparently had four churches – Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal as well as a redlight district. It had a citywide gravity fed water system coming from wooden pipes via an alpine lake above it. In 1890 a Miner’s Union Hall was the most impressive building in the town with ornate wrought-iron beams and foundat footings made in Butte. The town also boasted an ice skating rink, a roller rink, a Knights of Labor Hall, a Masonic Lodge, an Oddfellow’s lodge, and the Bleichart Aerial Tramway.

Water was rough in the beginning until water was piped from the lake above. Households were issued 4 five gallon cans of water a day and an extra gallon on wash day until water was resolved as wells were hard to dig.

The park consists of 183 acres originally owned by the Antonioli family of Butte and Helena. The wealthy residents and most of the town’s buildings were located along the ridge tops, the miners, Chinese laborers, and prostitutes dwelt lower on the mountainside in descending order of social standing. Most of the buildings were dug into the side of the mountain, utilizing the geology.

A ghost walk is run for free by locals as well as a self-guided tour. You can find this trail marked as “GGW” signs and cairns set along the trial. This includes historical information and drawings of the original structures.

1884 saw tragedy when black diphtheria struck the town with at least 35 children dying and a large unknown number of adults.

It was tough to bury the dead atop the mountain since it was primarily decomposed granite, so many bodies were sent down to Phillipsburg for burial.

Granite Ghost Town State Park is accessible during Spring, Fall, and Summer generally Memorial Day to the end of September – but base your visit on the seasons, special restrictions ,and /or closures – check the park page for details and updates. It is notoriously blocked by snow even in late May. It is not recommended for RV’s or buses, and recommending high clearance. Day use is free for Montana residents, non-residents have a day use fee of $8 per vehicle, or $4 for walk-in, bicycle, or bus passenger. More details about the park can be found by contacting Granite Ghost Town State Park, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, PO BOX 489, Whitehall, MT 59759; phone 406-287-3541 or

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