Garnet, Montana

Garnet is a ghost town in Granite County, Montana. Surrounded by mountains and forests, it is an abandoned mining town that dates from the 1860s. The town is located 11 miles up the dirt Garnet Range Road and is at about 6,000 feet elevation.

Garnet was originally named Mitchell in 1895 and had ten buildings. The main part of the town was built on the Garnet Lode. Later changing its name to Garnet, it was a rich gold mining area. In 1898, as many as 1,000 people lived here; it was abandoned 20 years later when the gold ran out. A fire in 1912 destroyed half the town, which was never rebuilt. Supplies needed in Garnet were generally obtained from nearby Bearmouth.

Among the many preserved and intact buildings are the Wells hotels, Kelly Saloon, Daveys Store and several outer buildings. During the 1890s it had close to 13 saloons, and food stores, barber shop, mercantile store, 3 hotels. The hotels were started for passers-by, or people coming to pick up gold. They typically ranged from 1-3 dollars, and the poor miners who could not afford that price could sleep in the attic without any windows for a quarter. It is suspected that Garnet even had a brothel, but prices and the exact whereabouts are uncertain. Garnet was famous for its saloons; at its peak the saloons were one of the hottest spots in Garnet.

Garnet is one of Montana’s best preserved ghost towns with 16,000 visitors annually. The nearest city is Missoula, about 20 miles to the west.