Friday, October 31, 2014

Montana ghost town evokes thoughts of long ago mining past

Falling into disrepair, there is still
beauty in the abandoned Castle buildings.
Buildings were beautifully built, apparently intended to be home for many years, in Castle, Montana.
A visit to Castle, Montana, opens doors
to Montana's colorful past.



Castle is no ordinary ghost town.  It was built to last.
MY BROTHER, Rick, likes to take the road less traveled.
His last trek took us to the abandoned town of Castle in north-central Montana.
Once, years ago, dozens of families lived in this quiet valley not far from White Sulphur Springs.
Now, only ghosts inhabit the hills, dales and empty homes of Castle, Montana.
Cookie pauses with Nora, on the trail to find Castle, in very rural Montana.
My intrepid brother took us on a detour on our way back from Glacier Park and we tromped around the now deserted town, located on private farm land. A couple of trucks slowed down on the dirt and gravel road to eye us.  But they passed on by with a friendly wave, after seeing we were only taking photos.  We hoped we were not being arrested for trespassing!
Signs lead travelers here, even though it is on private property. Here's a bit of history about this beautiful area:
CASTLE BECAME a map dot in 1884, when the North Carolina Mine opened, according to a U.S. Forest Service interpretive sign.
Calamity Jane,
it is said, lived
briefly in Castle.
Miners were drawn by the lure of silver ore and by 1891, Castle hosted 991 mining claims and was an incorporated town with several thousand inhabitants. Its most colorful inhabitant was Calamity Jane, who lived there briefly when she entertained the idea of opening a restaurant and becoming a lady! That endeavor didn't pan out.
Today, ghost town lovers may drive down the road to the deserted town, being careful to respect that it is indeed now private land.
IT'S TOUCHING to wander about, examining the vestiges of a time when families moved in, building multi-story homes with tall bay windows, adding decorative shingles and other embellishments.  Some of the homes sport crumbling but once spacious porches on the town's grassy hill, nestled along a cool stream, snuggling up against the timber line.
This beautiful archway could have been a private garden, or sanctuary.
 Businesses popped up along Main Street - now a Meagher County road - including Baker's General Store and Post Office, Kidd's Furniture Store, Minnie's Sporting House and Berg's Meat Market.  There's an interesting archway just inside the town.  One wonders if that were someone's special garden, or a place to meditate and sing Sunday hymns surrounded by gorgeous fir trees. I can picture an organ inside and glorious acoustics for chorale music!

Will this building be here much longer?

ABOUT A dozen buildings remain in Castle, their ghostly appearances contrasted by  beautiful wildflowers. Wildlife scamper around the ruins, and we saw deer, elk and squirrels. I even spied a prairie dog suning lazily on a disintegrating rooftop.
Although the buildings appear ready to fall if someone sneezes in their direction, the quality of the construction indicates people planned on staying here long-term.
Rome's Colosseum is like no other place on Earth -- vast, artful, full of history.
Alas, when the boom fizzled, this Castle -- once a golden coach -- became a pumpkin again!

COMING UP:  Ah, Rome.  City of romance, handsome men and women, terrific food, cheap wine and history, history, history at every turn. If you have only a couple of days, consider hiring a private guide.  We've done it the last few trips and we recommend it.  Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends for a fresh look at travel, the arts and life.

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