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Filed under: Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, The Road Less Traveled

Where Only Ghosts Reside: Nevada City, MT

April 17, 2011 by · 5 Comments 


Further along our drive through the Montana countryside a few years ago, after we visited the “living ghost town” of Virginia City, MT, we happened upon a true ghost town, Nevada City, MT. Similar to and at the same time as Virginia City, the settlement sprang up in response to the discovery of a large deposit of gold in Alder Gulch in the spring of 1863.

Nevada City Emporium

Nevada City Emporium

Nevada City is, in fact, an old placer mining camp approximately one and one half miles west of Virginia City. When the gold was discovered, numerous settlements established themselves along Alder Gulch, surrounding Virginia City. They were scattered up and down the gulch for some 14 miles and became known for a time as Fourteen-mile City.

As the gold ran out, the population began to fall. By 1869, it had dwindled to about 100 people. By 1876, Nevada City had all but become a ghost town as miners moved on to more lucrative claims in other locations. The services that had cropped up to support the mining operations moved on as well.

In 1896, a mining company was organized to dredge the gulch for the last remnants of the gold and did so for the next 24 years, destroying many of Nevada City’s buildings. The town has since been restored as an outdoor historical museum, linked by rail to the Virginia City Historical District with numerous historic buildings, artifacts and furnishings. It is currently owned and operated by the State of Montana.

As we toured the abandoned town, it appeared as if the residents and shopkeepers had simply closed the doors and moved on—perhaps to a better, more lucrative life. We discovered the ancient remains of a general store, a bakery, several residences, a hotel and a barber shop, each looking much the same as they must have in the late 1800’s. Today they remain, a living testament to the history and past of the gold rush and Alder Gulch.

It was a bit eerie and unsettling, walking among these unoccupied properties. We were left with the sense that the occupants were still there, even if we couldn’t actually see them. In fact, though it was an interesting experience, and one we wouldn’t have missed, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when we put Nevada City in our rear view mirror.

For more information about Montana camping adventures browse Woodall’s listings of Montana camping.


5 Responses to “Where Only Ghosts Reside: Nevada City, MT”
  1. Love ghost towns. As an avid photographer, I find that they make very interesting photo opportunities!

  2. Patti Faustini says:

    Hi Diane, and yes, Montana ghost towns are the best! Did you happen through Bannack ever? That’s also a pretty nice ghost town. I haven’t been to Nevada City, but your post makes me want to go. Maybe this summer! thanks,

    Happy Tales,


  3. Diane Berry says:

    Karen–Thanks for the comment. I love them too. And they are wonderful for photos. Happy travels!
    Patti–Haven’t been through Bannack but hope to get back out that way in the next year or so. Will definitely check it out. Thanks!

  4. Dan Highley says:

    Hi, Just wanted to toss out there that during the summer, each weekend Nevada City comes to life through skilled Living History interpreters doing and demonstrating all kinds of period skills from period foods and firearms demo’s through log hewing, blacksmithing, heck you can even set in on period games at the saloon with a real gambler or play a game of graces with the kids you may encounter. We do a lot of research to try and get it correct right down to the little intricate details, and believe me, it makes a difference, especially to all of us that know the difference. We follow the historic time line of Alder Gulch from the gold discovery through the hanging of Jack Slade (1863-1865) And this year we started doing “Lantern tours”. A night event where you get guided through town by lantern light, and get a glimpse into the life of the people of Alder Gulch in the 1860′s. No matter what type event you pick, it will be a one of a kind memorable experience where you have stepped back in time to a place where the history lives. Hope to see you up the trail. 3-7-77

  5. Diane Berry says:

    Thank you Dan for this wonderful addition to my post. I enjoyed reading it and plan a return visit myself, but I’m guessing you’ll see many of our readers after adding this terrific information! Thanks again–hope to see you soon!
    Diane Berry

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