Taft

Name:

Taft

County:

Mineral

Zip Code:

 

Latitude / Longitude:

47° 25′ 8.4 N, 115° 36′ 7.2 W

Elevation:

 

Time Zone:

Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)

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.

Established:

 

Disestablished:

 

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.)