Coolidge Montana Ghost Town





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Published on Dec 13, 2011

Coolidge Montana started out as a small town at the base of Elkhorn Silver Mine around 1908, and was Montana's largest and last silver development. William R. Allen named the town after his good friend Calvin Coolidge who became President in 1923 - 1929. With telephone service, electricity, a post office and a school, Coolidge was a lively town for a short while. In 1927 the Montana Power Dam at Wise River broke washing out 12 miles and numerous railroad bridges. By the time the railroad was repaired, the price of silver had dropped dramatically. The school district closed while the post office was moved to Wise River. In it's prime, Coolidge had 350 people living a rugged life. A favorite pastime in the winter was to ride up to the upper Elkhorn mine in the ore cars, and slide down the shute to the lower mine on huge fry pans!

Our July 04th, 2009 roadtrip began on MT278 though Jackson, stopping at Wisdom for brunch. The food was amazing, and we'll definitely be going back to The Big Hole Crossing Restaurant. They have a unique selection of clothing and artifacts for sale too. We grabbed a map and some more bug spray for the horrid mosquitos at Conover's Trading Post and headed out. We camped at a small informal campground called Dickie Bridge Campground. Mike caught some trout for breakfast, and we toured some forest service roads behind our camp spot. We found an erie abandoned quarry, which seemed bottomless.

The next day we filled up with gas at Wise River and turned onto the most beautiful part of The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway! There are several small well kept campgrounds on the byway. We passed by a herd of 40 elk and a few deer who seemed curious about us but not very scared. The turnoff to Mono Campground will take you to the parking spot to visit Coolidge Ghost Town. You'll have to hike about a half mile up a trail to the townsite from the parking lot. We decided to find a spot for the night and explore the next day, and after touring through each campground we decided to stop at Price Creek Campground, the last on the byway. There are beautiful trees for shade and large camp spots. There also was very few people there which is just what we like! The next morning we started out on our Polaris ATV, determined to explore the area, no matter what the weather did. The trail to the Upper Elkhorn Mine ruins and to Coolidge leaves straight off the road turning into Price Creek. The Upper Elkhorn Mine is set up on the tops of the beautiful Pioneer Mountains. There is old memorabillia lying around everywhere, making us realize that at one time, there were some tough hard-working people out in this wilderness. We made sure we had our rain gear just in case, and sure enough it started to sprinkle on our way down the trail from the mine to Coolidge. Stopping to put on our rain gear, Mike noticed elk hoof prints in the mud by my feet..........and a bear paw right after it! It was downhill and rocky, but scenic and remote. Exploring Coolidge gives you an admiration for the people who lived in such a beautiful but isolated frontier. Meandering through the town is a small charming creek, with huge boulders placed artistically by Mother Nature. Most of the buildings are at various stages of decay, with one rooftop lying in the middle of the creek. The U.S. Forest Service has restored a few buildings and placed a few informative placards to view. Don't forget to sign the guest book! (if it is still there and has room)

Another awesome July 04th adventure to add to our memories!
Check out our website for other adventures!

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