Southwest Montana was settled in the late 19th century when gold was discovered in the region. The gold rush drew people from far and wide in hopes of solidifying their future. Many of the region’s towns share a similar story; it is a story of undiminished hope, a rich strike, and eventual growth. While nearly all of the towns reached the growth stage, not all towns survived the eventual shift to being more than a “mining” town. As the gold finds in an area petered out, so did the town’s population as miners left for more promising claims elsewhere.
What this leaves Southwest Montana with is a rich mining history, bustling communities, and, of course, numerous ghost towns.
To truly understand Southwest Montana as “Montana’s Sweet Spot,” we first need to take a look at the origins of a couple of our vibrant communities that still stand today: Virginia City and Philipsburg.
Virginia City was the second territorial capital of Montana, the capital having moved from Bannack to Virginia City because of its central location and position along the main stagecoach routes. Virginia City and Alder Gulch were the sites of major gold strikes and kept prospectors busy for quite some time. As the gold ran out however, and it came time for Montana to join the Union, the capital was moved to Helena, the population dwindled and today Virginia City is but a ghost town – albeit a lively ghost town with plenty to explore!
Philipsburg, unlike much of the region, was not founded on gold but on a silver lode. The primary claims were found in the mountains above the town in 1866. Montana’s first silver mill, Hope Mill, was constructed in Philipsburg ensuring that the community would remain a trading hub. Unlike Virginia City, Philipsburg withstood the test of time and the community, although small, remains lively and upbeat today.
This leads us to the tie between these towns: their Candy Shops – hence the designation as Montana’s Sweet Spot. Philipsburg’s Main Street features The Sweet Palace while Cousin’s Candy can be found along the boardwalk in Virginia City, two of Montana’s most popular candy shops!
These candy shops have been staples in their respective communities for decades. Step back in time as you enter through their doors, and why not grab a free fudge sample while you are in the area!
We would tell you how amazing these Candy Stores are – from the candy to the atmosphere, they offer an experience that you will not want to miss – but why take our word for it when you can see for yourself?
The Sweet Palace is considered the greatest candy emporium in the American West. This Victorian style candy shop will take you back in time as you wander up and down the seemingly endless rows of confections. The antique taffy puller is constantly rotating, mesmerizing guests as they enjoy a sample of fudge from the front counter. The Sweet Palace has added a commercial kitchen, the Copper Cauldron, just down the street where many of the chocolates and other sweets are made!
Established in 1926, Cousin’s Candy Shop has been around for nearly a century, serving sweet treats to everyone who has walked through its doors. They make their chocolate and fudge onsite daily and offer a variety of other wrapped candies and delicacies.