Exploring A Past Mining Era In Philipsburg

Phillipsburg Montana

Philipsburg Montana

I’m determined not to miss a single detail as Jagger and I move South for the Winter. At times my daily activities do just that, the experiences come too quickly to document with pen and photo. The first few days while staying at Philipsburg Bay Campground, are no exception.

When I arrive at each new camp, my plan is to try and see all of the local attractions. Philipsburg is a small, somewhat quiet town, that is except for its many visitors. The Philipsburg Mining History is really what this town was about at the end of the 1800’s. Gold and silver were found here and the town, along with Granite grew with their pocketbooks.

Our Morning Drive

Our Morning Drive

Today, our second morning, I head into town. It’s relatively cool today so I take Jagger with me, even though I don’t know what we will encounter. He is excited any time he gets to go anywhere in the Workhorse.

Our first stop will be Granite Ghost Town just outside of Phillipsburg town limits. Bob told me about an old ghost town outside of Philipsburg. So I take a chance and head down the dirt road, being lead by Google and an occasional old wooden sign. It was a bust. Every road was either dead end or was undriveable at some point. I am really bummed, I was looking forward to exploring an old gold and silver mining town. One that was the started with its neighbor Philipsburg back in the late 1800’s.

Later when I returned to camp, I looked up Granite Ghost Town online, discovering more information about it and its location. Sometimes I just don’t learn. I make another mental note about doing a better job researching my visits.

I sit alongside the dirt road and sulk while trying to find the town. No luck, very limited cell service. I pull away, and see another dirt road that seems to have had some heavy traffic. We haven’t tried this one so I turn, following the road. This will be our last opportunity as the day is wearing on.

I avoid a gated turn that says “No Trespassing” and continue on winding down into a small valley where abandoned buildings start popping up along the road. I pass a few old houses that look like someone may be living there. We continue down the road.

Our persistence pays off. I find a deserted mill. I later find out that this is known as the old “Contact Mill”, In its heyday many pounds of gold and silver were milled here, creating a fortune for the investors in the company and mines. Now in a state of disrepair. It looks like they may be selling off pieces and the old stacks and structures that were built around them are falling apart. Since this isn’t really a site for visitors and entertainment, my questions of each buildings use and history are spoke into the wind with no answers coming back.

After spending a good amount of time walking around the ruins, Jagger and I head into the town of Philipsburg to walk around, shopping for trinkets and saving a visit the candy store (Sweet Palace) until the very last.  I don’t want that fudge to melt 😉

At the Sweet Palace I purchase a small plastic bag with assorted treats for each of my grandchildren. I go up to the register to pay and stand in line. Probably at least ten people ahead of me. It’s a popular place. As I am paying, they offer samples of fudge. Oh my gosh, it is so good and they give you quite a bit as a sample.

After getting back to the truck, Jagger and I pull out and travel back to camp for the night.

Camp Vistors

Camp Visitors

This morning, as I update my journal sitting at the window in my Coach, I see deer running across the campground. Probably startled by all the campers leaving. It’s Sunday and all but a very few are deserting the campground heading back to their homes and work responsibilities. Jagger and I remain in the forest, vigilate for bears.

Living the life of a Vagabond for almost three years now and I again didn’t allow enough time in my schedule to see all that I wanted to see. My plans South with family have given me a deadline for my arrival. I will definitely be making a return visit someday soon on my trips back to my homebase, here in Montana.

Safe Travels…Gary

More Photos: Philipsburg Montana, Contact Mill Ruins


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