Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wild West Towns and Ghost Towns

I felt like hitting the road so I decided to head to Virginia City and Nevada City, MT. Both are historical gold mining towns of the old west back when it was 'wild'.

The drive was beautiful getting there. I headed out of the park at the West Entrance following Hwy. 287 out of West Yellowstone.

Hebgen Lake:

Hayfield near Ennis, MT:

There were dark clouds behind Virginia City. I decided to wait in my car for the clouds to pass. I sat here snapping some pictures of the town.

Well, it started raining and quickly turned in to hail. The hail got bigger and bigger. It sounded awful sitting in my "new" car (new to me). When the storm passed, the ground was covered in white.

During the Civil War, gold was discovered here in 1863 bringing an influx of emigrants from all over the world. Majority were southerners. The mine was producing enough gold that could finance a victory in the war for whichever side could capture it. So, President Lincoln sent northern emigrants which lead to tensions in the town. Virginia City quickly became one of the most lawless places in the West.

A secret society of vigilantes was formed to stop the outlaws. Lynchings became routine in the streets of Virginia City.

The building below is known as the Hangman's Building. The vigilantes used the heavy center support beam of this building to hang 5 men.
Virginia City was home to Montana's first public school, newspaper and telegraph.

Just a couple miles down the road is Nevada City, MT. It was also formed around the gold mines. As the gold faded, so did the town.

Today, the properties are owned by the Montana Historical Society.

Notice the grass growing on the roof of the bakery:
Hwy. 287:
Earthquake Lake - In August 1959, a 7.5 earthquake struck this area in southwestern Montana. It caused a massive landslide which caused a landslide dam of the Madison River. This dam formed Earthquake Lake seen below.
On the night of the earthquake, 250 people were camped along the Madison River canyon. The river was quickly flooding due to the landslide dam caused by the earthquake. The highway had been destroyed at Hebgen Lake on one end and was blocked by the landslide on the other end. Realizing they were trapped, many gathered on the ridge just behind this sign. A National Forest Service Smokejumper rescue team parachuted to this point to give first aid and prepare the injured for evacuation. They were flown from the area by U.S. Air Force and Forest Service helicopters.
Here is a video I took of the hail storm in Virginia City.

1 comment:

  1. Laura I loved the pics about the ghost towns!!!