Tidal Wave, taken 2004
Granite, Magnolia Avenue, 1888
Elkhorn, Gillian Hall and Fraternity Hall
More than 600 mining camps and towns existed at some time in Montana's past. Most were temporary encampments with shelter provided by tents, shacks, lean-tos and quickly built log cabins. Evidence of many of these camps vanished almost as quickly as they had appeared when their inhabitants followed rumors of other strikes.
The ghosts of many other towns remained essentially undisturbed for years due to their often isolated locations. However, increased mobility of people after WW II increased the human impact on ghost towns. That impact became most acute beginning in the late '60s when weathered wood came into vogue for paneling in home and businesses.
Sensing the value of Montana's ghost towns and aware of the rapid rate at which they were disappearing, four concerned Bozemanites founded the non-profit Montana Ghost Town Preservation Society in 1970. In 1971 the Society received its charter from the state of Montana. That fall the first of its annual statewide conventions was held in Helena. The first of its quarterly newsletters was published in 1972.
The goal of the Society was defined "to preserve and maintain ghost towns and historic sties in the state of Montana, and to develop an appreciation of the cultural benefits in the sites, buildings, and artifacts that are part of the living museum formed from the beginnings of Montana."
The diversified membership is now made up of residents from many states across the nation.
Preservation by the Society takes two forms - informational and physical. Informationally, the Society makes continuing efforts to inform the public and elected officials of the urgent need to save the physical evidence of our past - before weather and/or vandals destroy it forever. A quarterly newsletter and annual meetings are the two main informational outlets. In addition, members have testified before State legislative committees to obtain needed restoration funds and have given talks and slide presentations to various groups.
Researched and obtained title to Miners Union Hall and Superintendent Weirs' house; title was then presented to the Parks division of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; volunteers restored the roof on Supt. Weir's House; unfortunately, the Union Hall was lost to weather before work could be done on it.
Performed structural analysis and assisted financially to obtain Fraternity Hall and the adjacent Saloon for a state park site.
Stabilized the hotel.
Testimony helped obtain funds for purchase; members were involved in Homestead "clean-up days."
Arranging funds for the purchase of interpretive signs showing early mining methods in the area.
Providing funds for the clean-up and renovations performed on the Lower Bridger Canyon one-room school house.
Cleaned up site, made safe the well and fenced the property for the Virginia City Preservation Association the owners of the site.
Provided funding for the Fort Connah Restoration Society to complete renovations on a second cabin at the site.