Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lonesome ghosts ...

There are certainly lots of ghost towns here in Montana ... old mining camps up in the mountains, and homestead villages out in the prairies. I'm a particular fan of the prairie ghosts, partly because they don't get as much attention, and partly because their settings can be exceptionally evocative. And for me, the old towns don't even need buildings in order to be interesting.

Here's a photo I took when I visited the site of Coburg, Montana a couple of years ago. All that's really left is a few feet of concrete sidewalk, marking the long-vanished site of a building that once housed the general store and post office. And up on the hill, a little ways away, there's an old building foundation ... maybe it was where the schoolhouse used to stand. And that's it.


  1. Mark, where IS Coburg?! I've not heard of it, at all!

    Prairie towns seem to be absorbed back into the land, don't they? I think a lot of times, the buildings were sort of "recycled", people moving them for other uses or even taking them apart for the materials, to build other things.

  2. Heh ... I should have mentioned where Cogurg was! I completely forgot about that. The town was west of Dodson, along the Great Northern tracks in eastern Blaine County ... it's a couple miles north of the highway, now.

    It's sometimes easier to find the old prairie townsites, I think, because there's not a forest to reclaim the land. But you need to have an archaeologist's mindset, because as you said, the buildings were often recycled. And of course, the lives of many of those towns were so very short ... for some of them there wasn't much of a chance to build anything permanent.

  3. my grandfather fred ellis homesteaded near colburg in 1912.I tried to find the old site but had no luck.He lasted about 10 years

    1. It's definitely an interesting and somewhat pretty area ... doesn't quite fit the mental image most people have of the Hi-line. A lot of the farming up there is irrigated now, and it would probably have been pretty tough as a dry-land homesteader. I know I wouldn't have been that tough!