Ghost Towns of Montana (O-Z)

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Pardee

County: Atchison
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Latitude / Longitude: 39° 29′ 7″ N, 95° 17′ 16″ W
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Time Zone: Central (CST) (UTC-6)
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Comments: Pardee is a ghost town in Atchison County, in the U.S. state of Kansas.
Remains: Pardee was platted in 1857, and named for Pardee Butler, a local reverend and abolitionist. A post office was established at Pardee in 1858, and remained in operation until it was discontinued in 1903.
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Perma

County: Sanders
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Pioneer

County: Beaverhead
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Princeton

County: Granite
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Pony

County: Madison
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Latitude / Longitude: 45°39’31N 111°53’40WC
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Pony is an unincorporated community in northeastern Madison County, Montana, United States on the eastern edge of the Tobacco Root Mountains. It includes the 192-acre (78 ha) Pony Historic District, a historic district with 95 contributing buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Remains: The town gained its name from the nickname of one of its early miners, Tecumseth Smith, a small man nicknamed “Pony” because of his diminutive size.
Current Status: Settled in the 1860s, in the late nineteenth century, Pony was a prosperous gold-mining community with at least 5,000 residents. Mining operations declined in the early 20th century and all were closed by 1922. A number of historic buildings from Pony’s boom era remain in the old town today.
Remarks: Former Montana Lieutenant Gov. Karl Ohs owned a ranch in Pony.

Quartz

County: Mineral
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Quietus

County: Big Horn
Zip Code: 59027
Latitude / Longitude: 45°05’47N 106°16’59W
Elevation: 4,070 ft (1,240 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Quietus is the site of a former town, centered on a post office now closed, and a community in the surrounding area. It was located in Big Horn County, Montana. No one lives at the site of the former town. The surrounding area is now an unincorporated community. It appears on the U.S. Geological Survey Map.
Remains: Quietus was established as a post office in 1907 to service homesteaders and ranchers living in the valleys of the Otter and Quietus Creeks. Though never a large community, the local population eventually dwindled to less than a dozen residents, until the post office closed in 1957. Today, Quietus is a “ghost town,” the loop road and the post office building remains, though it has collapsed.
Current Status: According to local anecdote, Frank Brittain sent a list of fifteen names with the town’s application for a post office in 1914, and all of them were rejected. “Well, I guess they put a quietus on that,” Brittain said to his wife. She saw the opportunity and renewed the application, and a few weeks later the name Quietus was approved.
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Red Bluff

County: Madison
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Red Lion

County: Granite
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Rimini

County: Lewis & Clark
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Latitude / Longitude: 46°29’17N 112°14’48W
Elevation: 5,285 ft (1,611 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
Established: 1864
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Comments: Rimini, [‘rm naj] Montana is a ghost town which is one of the oldest mining districts in the state. It was established when silver lodes were discovered in 1864. Other names for the town were Lewis and Clark, Tenmile, Vaughn, Colorado, and Bear Gulch. It was the site of Camp Rimini, which trained dogs for use in World War II. The town was named for the character Francesca da Rimini, or for the Italian city of Rimini.
Remains: At its peak in 1890, Rimini’s population was about 300 people. The town had “several hotels and stores; a school; saloons, gambling houses, and pool halls; livery stable; physician’s office; church; several boarding houses; and a sawmill.”
Current Status: As of 2012, there are only “a few full time residents,” with part-time residents arriving during the summer. Camp Rimini, Montana trained sled and pack dogs for use as war dogs in World War II. Between 1942-1944, 263 sled dogs and 268 pack dogs were trained. The facility was run by the Quartermaster Corps, which was responsible for running the Army’s K-9 Corps.
Remarks: The main road through Rimini was completely excavated and backfilled to remediate contaminated material. Approximately 18,000 cubic yards of waste were removed from one mile of Rimini Road. Removal of this waste reduces the potential for residents to be exposed to contamination as well as prevents future erosion and distribution of wastes via the adjacent Tenmile Creek. Nearly all of the residential yards were remediated, with new septic systems installed and landscaping completed; four yards remain to be remediated. Approximately 6,000 cubic yards of waste were removed from the yards in Rimini and 9,000 cubic yards from the Lee Mountain site.

Rimrock

County: Yellowstone
Zip Code:
Latitude / Longitude: 45.802°N 108.703°W
Elevation: 3,468 ft
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Rimrock is a populated place located in Yellowstone County
Remains: Rimrock was established as a stop on the Great Northern Railroad and was named after a distinct sandstone cliff formation that it stood at the base of.
Current Status: Today the area is closed to the public, including the 72nd Street West access. The area is primarily used for agriculture. Only a few trees and the now unused railroad siding and mound can be seen. There is little else at surface remaining. Much is hidden from ground view due to the high berm of the railroad, but the layout can be viewed from Philps Park, which occupies part of the cliff formations just above the site.
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Ringling

County: Meagher
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Latitude / Longitude: 46°16’18N 110°48’26W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Ringling is a small unincorporated community in southern Meagher County, Montana, United States, along the route of U.S. Route 89. The town was a station stop on the transcontinental main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (“the Milwaukee Road”); it was also the southern terminus of the White Sulphur Springs and Yellowstone Park Railway, which ran from Ringling to White Sulphur Springs. Ringling served as a community center for ranchers and homesteaders in the vicinity, but the town’s population declined throughout most of the twentieth century as the region’s agricultural activity dwindled. Both railroad lines were abandoned by 1980, and only a handful of people remain in the town today.
Remains: Ringling was originally called Leader, but was renamed for John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus family when the White Sulphur Springs and Yellowstone Park Railway was built. John Ringling was a financier of the railroad, as well as its president. He also owned a summer home & Spa in White Sulphur Springs, and considerable ranch land in the area.
Current Status: The lower Shields Valley (which contains Ringling and environs) has one of the warmest average January temperatures in the state of Montana, due to chinook winds. This same consistent warming was responsible for the ice-free corridor which possibly enabled the ancestors of most Native Americans to enter the mainland of North America during the Pleistocene.
Remarks: Ringling is widely known as the setting for portions of Ivan Doig’s 1979 book, This House of Sky. The town was also the subject of the Jimmy Buffett song “Ringling, Ringling” featured on his 1974 album Living & Dying in 3/4 Time.

Rockvale

County: Carbon
Zip Code: 59041
Latitude / Longitude: 45°31’21N 108°51’42W
Elevation: 3,480 ft (1,060 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Rockvale is an unincorporated community in Carbon County, Montana, United States.
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Current Status: It is currently the site of a bar and casino, and some homes. Little remains of the original town site except the nearby cemetery.
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Ruby

County: Madison
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Ruby Gulch

County: Phillips
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Silesia

County: Carbon
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Latitude / Longitude: 45°33’24N 108°50’29W
Elevation: 3,400 ft (1,000 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Silesia is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Carbon County, Montana, United States.
Remains: The town was named after the region of Silesia in Central Europe by Julius Lehrkind, an immigrant from Silesia.
Current Status: As of the 2010 census it had a population of 96.
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Silver Bow

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Latitude / Longitude: 46° 0′ 13 N, 112° 40′ 4 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Silver Bow is a neighborhood in Butte, Montana, United States. It lies near the interchange of Interstate 15 and Interstate 90, near Rocker. Silver Bow is at Exit 119 off I-15, near the Port of Montana.
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Current Status: It is well known locally as the location of the Silver Bow Twin Drive-In. Silver Bow has no school. The school is located approximately 2 miles west in Ramsay.
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Sixteen

County: Meagher
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Latitude / Longitude: 46° 12′ 55 N, 110° 59′ 52 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Sixteen is a former unincorporated community in southwestern Meagher County, Montana, United States. The town was a station stop on the transcontinental main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad (“the Milwaukee Road”), and was a community center for a small number of area ranchers and homesteaders. The rail line through Sixteen was originally constructed in 1895 by the Montana Railroad, and the town served as a base camp for railway construction crews.
Remains: The town took its name from Sixteen Mile Creek, which runs through the narrow valley containing the village. Sixteen Mile Canyon, immediately west of the town, was considered a scenic highlight of the Milwaukee Road line. Eagle Nest Tunnel, one of the railroad’s better-known engineering features, remains intact and is located about four miles west of Sixteen. The Sixteen post office was first opened in 1890, and closed in 1944.
Current Status: The population of Sixteen was never large, and by the late 20th century the town was nearly deserted. The railroad through the area was abandoned in 1980, and Sixteen is now a ghost town.
Remarks: Sixteen is home to an annual private event, The Rattlesnake Round-up.

Southern Cross

County: Deer Lodge
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Elevation: 7,000 ft
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Southern Cross is a ghost town in Deer Lodge County, Montana, at 7,000 ft. altitude, overlooking Georgetown Lake.
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Current Status: Its population was 4 or 5 people in 2008.
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Square Butte

County: Chouteau
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Latitude / Longitude: 47°30’54N 110°11’54W
Elevation: 3,140 ft (960 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Square Butte is an unincorporated community in Chouteau County, Montana, United States. Square Butte is located along Montana Highway 80 6.8 miles (10.9 km) south-southeast of Geraldine.
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Current Status: The Square Butte Jail, Square Butte School, and West Quincy Granite Quarry, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are located in Square Butte.
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Stark

County: Missoula
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Storrs

County: Gallatin
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Sumatra

County: Rosebud
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Latitude / Longitude: 46°37’06N 107°33’04W
Elevation: 3,202 ft (976 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Sumatra is an unincorporated community in far northwestern Rosebud County, Montana, United States.
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Taft

County: Mineral
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Latitude / Longitude: 47° 25′ 8.4 N, 115° 36′ 7.2 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Taft is a ghost town in the western United States in Mineral County, Montana. Located in the Bitterroot Range near the Idaho border along the route of the Mullan Road, it was a thriving railroad town c. 1908, named after William H. Taft (before he was elected president in 1908) after he visited the nameless town in 1907.
Remains: The town was founded when the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (“The Milwaukee Road”) built its Pacific Coast expansion and had to bore a 1.66-mile (2.67 km) tunnel through the mountains near its site. Tunnel #20 on the railroad, it is known as St. Paul Pass Tunnel or Taft Tunnel; its East Portal is two miles (3 km) southwest at approximately 4,150 feet (1,260 m) above sea level and heads southwest into Idaho.
Current Status: Today on Interstate 90 the site is noted by exit 5, marked “Taft.” The area hosts a maintenance yard for the Montana Department of Transportation, access to the Route of the Hiawatha rail trail, and access to St. Regis (Sohon) / Mullan Pass vía Randolph Creek Road, which heads north and west from I-90.
Remarks: Taft burned to the ground 108 years ago in 1910 on August 20, during “The Big Burn” – a wildfire fed by Palouser winds, and was not rebuilt. (see “The Big Burn” by Timothy Egan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2009.)

Thoeny

County: Valley
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Latitude / Longitude: 48°52’37N 106°55’03W
Elevation: 2,480 ft (756 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Thoeny is a ghost town in the northern part of Valley County, Montana, near the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Thoeny is located north of Hinsdale and west of Opheim.
Remains: Thoeny was named for its first postmaster, Jacob Thoeny, in 1915. By 1918, the community had two general stores, a newspaper, a blacksmith shop, and several other businesses, all without the benefit of being located near a railroad. A schoolhouse, a cemetery, and a few foundations are reminders of the community. Thoeny is located near the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, north of Hinsdale and west of Opheim.
Current Status: The school house still stands. There is also a cemetery located on the hill.
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Tower

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Trapper City

County: Beaverhead
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Trident

County: Gallatin
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Vananda

County: Rosebud
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Latitude / Longitude: 46° 23′ 31 N, 107° 0′ 8 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Vananda is a former unincorporated village in northwestern Rosebud County, Montana, USA, along the route of U.S. Highway 12. The town was established in 1908 as a station stop on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, then under construction across Montana. The railway used Vananda as a water stop for its steam locomotives, and built a small reservoir near the townsite to ensure an adequate water supply.
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Current Status: Although the land around Vananda attracted numerous homesteaders during the decade following the railroad’s completion, the region proved to be far too arid and inhospitable for intensive agricultural use, and by the 1920s the town was in decline. The railroad through the area was abandoned in 1980, and Canada is now a ghost town.
Remarks: The Vananda townsite has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Vananda Historic District in 1990.

Vandalia

County: Valley
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Latitude / Longitude: 48°21’16N 106°54’34W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Vandalia is a small unincorporated community in Valley County, Montana, United States. It was established in 1904 with a post office and a store along the Hi-Line of the Great Northern Railway. The community’s chief industry was the manufacture of bricks that were used in public buildings across Montana. Vandalia also shares its namesake with a local dam on the Milk River that diverts water for the Glasgow Irrigation District.
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Virginia City

County: Madison
Zip Code: 59755
Latitude / Longitude: 45°17’39N 111°56’28W
Elevation: 5,761 ft (1,756 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Virginia City is a town in and the county seat of Madison County, Montana, United States. In 1961 the town and the surrounding area were designated a National Historic Landmark District, the Virginia City Historic District. The population was 190 at the 2010 census.
Remains: In May 1863, a group of prospectors were headed toward the Yellowstone River and instead came upon a party of the Crow tribe and was forced to return to Bannack. On May 26, 1863, Bill Fairweather and Henry Edgar discovered gold near Alder Creek. The prospectors could not keep the site a secret and were followed on their return to the gold-bearing site. A mining district was set up in order to formulate rules about individual gold claims. On June 16, 1863 under the name of “Verina” the township was formed a mile south of the goldfields. The name was intended to honor Varina Howell Davis, the first and only First Lady of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Verina, although in Union territory, was founded by men whose loyalties were thoroughly Confederate. Upon registration of the name, a Connecticut judge, G. G. Bissell, objected to their choice and recorded it as Virginia City.
Current Status: The Historic District of Virginia City and Nevada City is currently operated by the Montana Historical Commission and is the top state-owned tourist attraction in Montana. The Commission operates gold panning, a historic hotel, and the longest continuously operating live summer theater company in the western United States. Virginia City also has a Boothill Cemetery. The 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad transports passengers by rail to the nearby ghost town of Nevada City, Montana, and back.
Remarks: In the 1940s, Charles and Sue Bovey began buying the town, putting much-needed maintenance into failing structures. The ghost town of Virginia City began to be restored for tourism in the 1950s. Most of the city is now owned by the state government and is a National Historic Landmark operated as an open-air museum. Of the nearly three hundred structures in town, almost half were built prior to 1900. Buildings in their original condition with Old West period displays and information plaques stand next to thoroughly modern diners and other amenities.

Washoe

County: Carbon
Zip Code:
Latitude / Longitude: 45° 9′ 50 N, 109° 12′ 48 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Washoe is a settlement in Carbon County, Montana, at the foot of the Beartooth Mountains.
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Current Status: The town was completely devastated by the Smith Mine disaster of Feb. 27, 1943, considered to be the worst coal mining disaster in Montana history. The traumatic mining accident coupled with the withdrawal of the railroad sealed the demise of the town. Today Washoe is a ghost town with many buildings still standing intact. The town can be easily visited by taking the Washoe turnoff on State Highway 93. Washoe is located on Highway 308 between Belfry and Red Lodge. The population, which was as high as 3,000, is now only a “handful of people.” A post office operated in Washoe from 1907 until its closure in 1959.
Remarks: In 1907, on the headwaters of the Bearcreek stream, the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. and its subsidiary, the Washoe Coal Co. developed the company coal mining town. Large daily freight shipments of 1,200 tons of coal went to the Anaconda smelters, via the Northern Pacific Railroad. “With the formation of the Montana Power Co. in 1912, soon there was less use of coal and the Washoe Mine closed.”

Wagner

County: Phillips
Zip Code:
Latitude / Longitude: 48° 22′ 14 N, 108° 4′ 39 W
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Wagner is a small, unincorporated village in Phillips County, Montana, USA. The town lies along the Hi-Line of the Great Northern Railway.
Remains: In 1903, Fred and Annie Bartels purchased the land from the U. S. Government. Coal mining was a thriving industry in this area. Anaconda Copper Company purchased the land from the Bartels in 1906.
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Wheat Basin

County: Stillwater
Zip Code:
Latitude / Longitude: 45°55’02N 109°03’46W
Elevation: 3,947 ft (1,203 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Wheat Basin is a ghost town in Stillwater County, Montana. Wheat Basin is sourced from the USGS (United States Geographical Survey).
Remains: In 1915, four years before John Stolte platted Wheat Basin, the town of Nora grew up from a railroad construction camp midway between the towns of Rapelje and Molt near the mouth of Big Lake. By the summer of 1917, the railroad had been completed, the Riopel family had opened a mercantile store there and the postal service in Washington, D.C. changed Nora’s name to Wheat Basin in 1918. The town supported a developed main street with a grain elevator, a bank, stores, a dance hall, and lumberyards. The town was primarily an agricultural community with a stop and depot. The Wheat basin post office was closed in 1936. The railroad later pulled out and the town descended into steep decline.
Current Status: Today, Wheat Basin is a ghost town, with little remaining that is easily visible except a number of concrete building foundations and depressions where buildings once stood. The streets and main roads are also still present. The last surviving structure was the Grain Elevator, which burned down in 1997. A sign placard indicates the site of the former town.
Remarks: In 1937, the town was gripped by a bloody double homicide committed by Frank Robideau. The murder victims were Michael and Frieda Kuntz, who ran the “Occidental Grain Elevator.” Robideau was quickly tried and hung.

Wickes

County: Jefferson
Zip Code:
Latitude / Longitude: 46°20’59N 112°06’12W
Elevation: 5,203 ft (1,586 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Wickes is a ghost town in Jefferson County, Montana, United States located about five miles west of Jefferson City, Montana, and can be reached from the I 15 Jefferson city intersection and following Corbin Road until it intersects into Wickes Road at the old Corbin townsite, which is itself a historic mining community.
Remains: The silver mines around Wickes were among the earliest developed in Montana. The first mine, the Gregory, was located by an unknown prospector in 1864 and was the site of the second silver smelter built in Montana in 1867. Discovered in 1869, the Alta proved to be one of the richest silver mines in Montana. In 1876, its original owners sold the property to a group of New York capitalists head by William W. Wickes. The cartel organized the Montana Company that same year and platted the community of Wickes in either 1876 or 1877. The camp had around 400 residents by 1880.
Current Status: One of the beehive-shaped charcoal kilns is still in good condition – the others have been partially razed. There are still a few standing structures on Wickes’ Main Street (only one dates to before the 1901 fire); even more foundations mark the presence of other structures in the camp.
Remarks: The community of Wickes was a booming, although atypically quiet, mining camp by mid-1880. The Weekly Herald reported that: “No liquor is allowed in the camp, and any employee who becomes intoxicated loses his place at once. The consequence is that but a small part of the dissipated element which is ordinarily found in a mining settlement of this kind is represented here.”

Yellowstone City Park County

County: Park
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Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Zortma

County: Phillips
Zip Code: 59546
Latitude / Longitude: 47°55’04N 108°31’35W
Elevation: 4,032 ft (1,229 m)
Time Zone: Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
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Comments: Zortman is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Phillips County, Montana, United States. Its population was 69 as of the 2010 census. Zortman has a post office with ZIP code 59546.
Remains: Zortman was home to a mine operated by Pegasus Gold Corp., which was shut down in 1997. The company went bankrupt the following year, in 1998. The Zortman mine is about a mile and a half from the Landusky mine. Both are cyanide heap-leach gold mines.
Current Status: The community includes the Zortman Motel and the Buckhorn Store and Cabins. The Buckhorn Store is the only store in the community. Zortman is a popular place for hunters to have dinner and stay while on their trip. Prospectors arrived in the Zortman area in 1868. About 2,000 men came to Zortman in 1884, when Pike Landusky and Dutch Louie discovered gold. By 1893, Pete Zortman and a partner owned the Alabama Mine. Other mines in the area were the Ruby Mine and the Little Ben Mine. It is estimated that local mines had produced $125 million in gold by 1949.
Remarks: According to the Bureau of Land Management, “Precipitation runoff from Zortman and Landusky mines has deposited dangerous substances into nearby tributaries and rivers. A $13.8 million trust fund was set up to construct and operate three water capture and treatment systems.” Water treatment plants for Zortman and Landusky are operated on behalf of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in order to preserve the water quality of the Milk and Missouri Rivers, and of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

How Many Ghost Towns Are In Montana?