Sunday, May 3, 2015

Would You Volunteer in a Ghost Town?

This summer a unique opportunity is being offered--at least that is how it is advertised.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking volunteers to stay and work in a historic frontier-mining ghost town in Montana.

The volunteers would help out with the care and upkeep of Garnet Ghost Town. Garnet at one time was a booming mining community but has been abandoned for 100 years.

Garnet is located 6,000 feet up at the head of First Chance Creek in the forested mountains east of Missoula. It is named after the semi-precious stone that was originally mined here.

Garnet 1890s
In 1865, gold was discovered at First Chance Gulch. At its peak Garnet had a population of 1,200 residents. The town had 4 stores, 4 hotels, a barbershop, a doctor’s office and laundry facilities. The town had 13 saloons.

Garnet unlike many other mining towns also had a school and a stage line.

The buildings in Garnet like most built in frontier mining towns were not meant to last but many remain standing even without foundations. Today 30 buildings remain.

Volunteers are provided with a furnished cabin complete with propane refrigerator and range--there is no electricity or running water in the town. Volunteers are provided a stipend and food allotment.

Volunteer Cabin
Duties include--helping with tours and setting up exhibits. Help is also needed in the gift shop. Volunteers also help with general upkeep--I imagine this means general custodial work.

Volunteers typically stay one month--several couples from back east have been doing this for years--this summer the months of August and September are still unfilled.

So what is the payoff for giving up all modern conveniences?

Garnet is haunted. Volunteer’s shifts end at 5:00 p.m. and after this they are allowed to explore this interesting ghost town.

Creepy sounds, laughter and phantom music are heard coming from Kelly’s Saloon--one of the most active spots in town. When people approach the sounds stop.

Many volunteers and staff have observed doors opening and closing on their own when no one is present and footsteps are heard running through the old Wells Hotel--even in the dead of winter.

If you are interested in a rustic lifestyle with little pay and a few ghosts the contact information is here.

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