Coolidge drew miners after silver discovered

By: 
Jolene Ewert-Hintz
Special to the Outlook

Preston Sheldon is credited for discovering the first vein of silver in this area in 1872. Rumor has it, he named the mine “Old Elkhorn” after finding a pair of elk horns nearby. Not long after, more veins were discovered and more miners arrived to take on the task. As with many mining towns, transportation was soon discovered to be quite a challenge. In the beginning, ore was shipped by bull teams to Corrine, Utah and then shipped by railroad to other locations to be processed. The next challenge were the harsh, Montana winters that forced many to retreat to lower elevations until the deep snows melted away. Despite the obstacles, numerous mines still managed to make a profit, especially after railroad transport reached nearby Silver Bow in the early 1800s. But, even the little camp that could, couldn’t survive the silver market crash in 1893. Mining activity fell silent for nearly ten years.
It was William R. Allen, former Montana Lieutenant Governor who would break that silence. He began buying claims in the area in 1911 and a couple of years later, established The Boston-Montana Milling and Power Company. Plans for a rail line were laid out. The settlement started humming again and was named Coolidge after Allen’s friend, Calvin Coolidge. The community hadn’t seen the last of tough obstacles, however. World War I broke out and financing was scarce. The rail line was eventually completed in 1919. It was the state’s last narrow gauge track to be laid.
In 1922, a new mill was completed at the cost of $900,000 and a 65,000 volt power line to run the mill for $150,000. Unfortunately for Allen and the locals, the mine couldn’t produce enough ore to pay for the cost of construction. As silver prices plunged again, so did production. By 1923, operations had gone into receivership and Allen lost everything.
The mill operated off and on during small intervals from 1923-1953.
Once a town with a school, post office, company store, pool hall, company offices, living quarters and 350 residents; Coolidge once again stands silent except for the winds whistling through the tall trees and the boards creaking on the old buildings falling into ruin.
Allen may have lost his fortune on his vision for Coolidge mining but, he never lost his determination. He continued searching for investors until his death in 1953.
Coolidge is located south of Butte. From I-15, travel west on SR-43, then south onto NF-73, the Wise River Polaris Road.

Ewert-Hinz shares her passion for Montana’s ghost towns and history on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ghosttownsandhistoryofmontana/ You can also visit her shop, The Ghost Town Gallery at 427 Main Street in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Category:

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

Poll

What is your favorite thing about summer?

The Laurel Outlook

 

Click Here to Check Out Our Latest Ads

We use Google cookies to determine our demographic of visitors to our site. You can opt out here.

We also use Twitter Analytics to track clicks from our twitter feed. 

You can find all the City Council documents that we have received here.