Sunday, December 2, 2018

Comet, Montana Ghost Town


The last ghost town we visited on our summer camping trip, Comet, Montana, was one of my favorites.  Comet’s first mining claim was in 1869 by John W. Russell and the town was started in 1876.  The area was called the High Ore Mining District.

A row of old cabins greats visitors as they enter town.  There were about 300 people here until the mines started to play out and Comet was described as a ghost town in 1913.

In 1926 the Basin Montana Tunnel Company built a 200 ton concentrator which became the second largest mining venture in Montana.  Local mines went on to produce over 20 million dollars of silver, gold, lead, zinc, and copper.  The mill shown here with the bunkhouse was closed in 1941 and the equipment salvaged.

There are lots of wonderful old buildings like this boarding house.  Miners stayed here for 75 cents room and board.

There wasn’t enough left of this truck to identify it, but my guess is it was used to haul ore, based on the 16 leaf springs.  Comet is privately owned and there is one occupied house, so private property must be respected.  However, buildings can be viewed from the road.


There are still a few houses scattered across the hillside.  The town once had a school with 20 pupils, but they were outnumbered by the 22 saloons.


We had some pretty good clouds that day, and some of them worked well with the collapsing buildings.




There is usually an opportunity for interesting detail photos in places like Comet.

Comet was built on mining, so I will end with a photo of a mine headframe with a trestle connected to an ore bin. There is still a winch in a small building with a cable leading to the shaft on top of the hill.

Remember, these photos are copyrighted and should not be used for any purpose without permission, and usually a small payment, unless used for charitable or academic purposes.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Granite, Montana Ghost Town





I knew that Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson would enjoy Granite, Montana based on my visit there in 2005 with my wife and our neighbors.  So, Granite was one of our destinations on our summer camping trip.





There was a silver bonanza in the 1880’s on Granite Mountain, and soon the mountaintop was packed with buildings.  The centerpiece was the magnificent Miner’s Union Hall, now a big brick ruin.  The elegant building once had a dance floor / auditorium, lodge room, office, library, and more.

Mae Werning’s house is down the street.  She was the watchman and last resident of Granite and died in 1969 at age 75.  Most houses now are just piles of lumber or overgrown rock foundations.


Granite Mills A and B together ran 80 stamps until the 1890’s.  In the 1950’s the buildings were intentionally burned for safety reasons, leaving these gigantic foundations.


Just down the road along the face of the mountain ruined structures of the Ruby Mine are on the verge of collapse.
Granite has some of the biggest ghost town structures we have found on our camping trips.  It is amazing to think about what it was like to live and work here more than a century ago.
I hope you enjoy these photos, but please be aware that they are copyrighted and can not be used for any purpose without permission and reasonable compensation.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Elkhorn, Montana Ghost Town


I am still trying to catch up on reviewing photos from our annual camping trip to Montana.  So, here are photos of Elkhorn, Montana, one of five ghost towns we visited in July.

 This silver mining town was established in 1872 and had a peak population of about 2500.  Now the population is 10, but I’ll bet most of them are part time residents.

The big attraction for ghost town hunters is Gillian Hall (left) and the Fraternity Hall (right).  These buildings are now preserved as Montana’s smallest state park.

The National Register of Historic Places states that the Fraternity Hall (built in 1893) is perhaps the most photographed ghost town building in the United States and lists it as number 1 of 12 western structures that should be saved.  This room was used for dances, meetings, and theatrical shows.

Elkhorn is a mix of abandoned and restored buildings.






The beautiful cemetery is on a quiet isolated hillside.  A large number of children were buried there after a diphtheria epidemic in 1888 - 1889.







Mining relics and ruins are scattered around, but most are in areas posted “no trespassing”.  The mines opened and closed several times and were finally closed for good in 1937 after producing about $14 million of silver.  Except for the two Halls, most of the town is private property but can be photographed from the road.






Please be aware that these photos are copyrighted.  If you would like to use them for any reason, please contact me.  My fees are very reasonable, and often free for charitable purposes.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fantasy Canyon, Utah


Fantasy Canyon is a strange area of eroded gray sandstone about 40 miles from Vernal, Utah.  It covers about 10 acres and has an easy trail.



The entire site is covered with fantastically eroded pillars and gargoyle-like figures.  Early names were the “Devil’s Playground” and “Hades Pit”.




The quartzose rocks of Fantasy Canyon were deposited 38 to 50 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch.  This area was once prehistoric Lake Uinta.




These rocks were on the shore of the lake and different minerals have weathered at different rates, creating the fantastic figures here.




Fantasy Canyon is very fragile.  As old formations erode away, new ones will be formed.




You should be aware that Fantasy Canyon is the territory of pygmy rattlesnakes, although I didn't see any.



Getting there can be tricky.  After driving on good roads for about 35 miles, you turn into a maze of dirt roads in a desert gas field, but the BLM has posted very helpful signs.  We have been told than even a small amount of rain makes these roads impassable, so stay out if clouds are moving in.


As usual, my photos are copyrighted, so please ask for permission before you use them for any purpose.  In most cases, a small fee will be charged.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Moonshine Arch, Utah


Linda and I are visiting her sister, Pat, in Vernal, Utah.  This is wild country near Dinosaur National Monument, and we have explored it several times.  But until now we have never heard of Moonshine Arch.






Getting to the arch was half the fun, and at my age I wasn’t sure I could do it.  I drove about a mile on dirt roads before hiking another mile or so, including about a half mile up a fairly steep, rough ridge, and back down again.  It wouldn’t be a big deal for a younger person, but I was glad to find I could still do it.


The arch is remarkable.  It parallels a huge rock alcove.  Obviously, thousands of years of flash floods have roared downhill, scoured out the alcove in a huge curve, and worn through a wall of rock to form Moonshine Arch.  The arch is about 85 feet long and 40 feet high.


I made the hike in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat, and the light was on the back of the arch, visible from the alcove.  The outside of the arch was in shadow.


If you plan to go, take plenty of water, park outside the fence, and hike the rest of the way.  An ATV or jeep might make it part way, but the ruts and rocks are a real challenge.

Please remember, my photos are copyrighted.  Please contact me if you want to use them.  My fees are reasonable.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Mr. Hot Dogs




I’ve never posted about a restaurant on my photography blog, but I found one in Butte, Montana that deserves to be here.







We were on our annual camping trip and stumbled on Mr. Hot Dogs tucked in a tiny room on a side street.




Every inch of available space inside was devoted to Italian style decorations.  People Magazine chose Mr. Hot Dogs the best hot dog in Montana May 23, 2018.

























There were lots of fancy hot dogs on the homemade menu sign, also pizza and other Italian food.  The hot dogs are all “100% Montana beef and buffalo”.




Mr. Hot Dogs appears to be a one man operation.  We ate there twice, and both times our order was taken, cooked, and served by the same friendly gentleman.  This is the view through the order window into the kitchen.

So how was the food? Here’s the Brat, actually two brats end to end in a home baked bun. Everything was unique, and very, very good. If you are ever in Butte, Montana be sure to visit Mr. Hot Dogs at 1806 Cobban Street.

Please be aware that these photos are copyrighted.  They are available for a very small fee.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

White-faced Ibis


Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Idaho is home to about 5000 white-faced ibis in the spring.  The birds breed in colonies in the bulrushes, and the refuge has one of the largest nesting colonies.


Just outside the refuge I came across lots of birds flying in and landing in the deep grass of a hay field.  They eat aquatic insects, earthworms, larvae, and so on, and often find food in damp soil.  I’m not sure why they were gathering in this field.



It was fun watching them glide in and disappear after they landed.  They just kept coming, and every once in awhile a few would poke their heads up to see what I was doing.



I have no idea how many were hiding there, but they tend to congregate in huge colonies.  I was lucky to be able to watch these interesting birds.
Please remember to ask for permission to use my copyrighted photos.  They are available for a small fee.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Shane Cabin


Linda and I stayed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for two nights so we could explore Grand Teton National Park.  After seeing most of the popular sights we left the crowds and drove to the Gros Ventre River Road.  Here we found a cluster of three log buildings popularly known as the Shane cabin.

This is an old homestead with a remarkable history in popular culture.  It started In 1916 when Luther Taylor homesteaded here.


Extra care was made to make the cabin comfortable.  The inside of each log was flattened, insulated with newspapers, whitewashed and covered with layers of decorative wallpaper.  The marks of the ax or adze can still be seen, but the paper covering is gone.  Through a window we could see one of the outbuildings.


In 1948 the property was sold to rancher Andy Chambers and his son Roy, who rented the cabin out for a couple of years.  The cabin had been vacant for a while when it was used in the 1953 movie "Shane" and has been abandoned since then.  The black and white photo shows the other remaining outbuilding.


This beautiful view of the Grand Tetons was probably one reason the cabin was selected for the iconic western movie, thought by many to be one of the best ever.

Now the cabin is returning to the earth.  The roof and floor are gone, and the cabin’s floor joists balance on a few remaining foundation rocks.  No one has tried to preserve the site and there isn’t even a sign to describe its wonderful history as a homestead and then a movie star.

Please be aware that these photos are copyrighted.  They must not be used without my permission.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Millions of Wildflowers



There are foothills in the Bear Lake Valley that always have a lot of spring wildflowers, but this year is exceptional.  Linda and I were invited to a wedding at a beautiful house on 300 acres high in the foothills and were amazed at the view and the mass of wildflowers.  The owners graciously invited us to return for photos, and we went back twice.








Most of the flowers are arrowleaf balsamroot, a showy, large flower.  Many acres of the hillside are a mass of yellow because of these flowers.



This area had several varieties of lupine mixed with the arrowleaf balsamroot.



Here are two of the many variations of lupine.


Patches of blue camas were a surprise because they are usually found in wetlands.  When I went back a couple of days later many of them were drying out.


We continued higher up the hill on our second visit.  The mass of yellow flowers disappeared and were replaced by scattered Indian paintbrush.  It is remarkable how the elevation change made such a difference.  It has been a beautiful spring.

Please respect my copyright and do not use these photos for any purpose without permission.  Thanks.