Granite Ghost Town

Granite ghost town, once a city of three thousand, sprawls over the top of a mountain southeast of Philipsburg. Today, only a few dozen buildings remain, scattered throughout the trees. Some, like the mine superintendent’s house, seem to be in the process of restoration, others, like the Methodist Church, are noticeable only because of a state parks sign. We never did find the Presbyterian Church, though our map insists we walked right past it.

From Philipsburg, Granite is incredibly easy to find. At the four-way stop (the intersection of Sansome and Broadway, as far as I can tell, the only four-way stop in town) turn south on Sansome (which is also Highway 10A). Go under the railroad tracks and on the left, about a half mile from town, is a road marked “Granite.” In all, less than five miles from the heart of Philipsburg. Incredibly easy directions, still a difficult place to reach. The road quickly turns into a one-lane track that feels the need to climb straight up the mountain. The road is rutted and narrow. I know that it’s possible in a car, because we met one on our way up, but you’d want to have really good clearance and a completely dry road. Four-wheel drive is definitely the way to go.

Granite only lasted about sixteen years, from 1877 to 1893, but in its heyday it boasted a brewery, a soda pop bottling facility, an ice rink, a roller rink and a newspaper, in addition to the usual saloons, hotels, restaurants and red light district. Most unusually, the town never had a cemetery. The townspeople shipped all their dead to Philipsburg because the ground was too hard to dig graves. Today, only a few structures remain, but the combination of native rock and brick work in the Union Hall, the Mills and the superintendent’s house lend themselves particularly well to photos. In addition, the view from Granite is spectacular, as the mountain drops off into the valley and the valley rises into the distant spine of the Pintlers.

The remaining structures of the town are scattered all across the mountain, so be sure to give yourself a few hours or more to hike along the walking trail (marked with signs that say “GGW” I guess for “Granite Ghost town Walk”) that meanders through the forest and hits all of the attractions. The ghost town has very little signage, but the Philipsburg chamber of commerce has written up a walking tour that you can get at the information center in town or print off here. In all Granite is absolutely worth the trip.

The Methodist Church, or a rusting barrel in a hole.
Methodist Church, or, The Miners Union Hall, in Granite.
The Miners Union Hall, in Granite. One of the most elaborate buildings.
The Pintler Mountains.
The Pintler Mountains.
The back side of Discovery Ski Area.
The back side of Discovery Ski Area.

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