On our recent trip to Yellowstone we took the road less traveled to visit the ghost town of Nevada City.
We left Missoula, passed through Butte then turned south onto country roads lined with arrowleaf balsamroot. There was not another soul in sight for miles.
After an hour or two off the grid we arrived.
“Alder Gulch was the scene of Montana’s greatest placer gold rush in the spring of 1863. By the fall of 1864 nearly ten thousand people crowded the surrounding hillsides. Small settlements were so numerous and so scattered that contemporaries called the area, ‘Fourteen-mile City.’ Virginia City and its near neighbor, Nevada City, were the main centers of commerce.” Montana Heritage Commission
The Star Bakery can be seen from the highway and is one of the original Nevada City Buildings still standing.
To see more of the old town we entered through the Living History Museum for a small fee, where we were free to wander under the hot sun.
Many of the buildings are originals from Nevada City or were moved here from nearby towns. There are also a few reconstructions. The Barber shop is from 1870’s Elkhorn, a booming silver town south of Butte where you could get a bath for 75 cents on a Saturday, with free towels and soap.
Miners would take their ore samples to the Assay Office on Brewery Street to see if what they had was worth the cost of mining. The Sedman House at the end of the street was built in 1873 in nearby Junction City.
The school below is reputed to be Montana’s oldest standing public school and served nearby Twin Bridges from 1867 until 1873.
The Dimsdale School built in 1863 served as Virginia City’s first school. Older than the one above, I was puzzled until I read the fine print – Dimsdale’s school was privately operated, he charged $1.75 per week.
The Richards Cabin was built in 1863 and is original to this site. Alcide Richard came from Canada and became a successful miner. He raised 7 children in this cabin, living here until his death in 1907.
Criterion Hall, one of many notorious dance hills, is a reconstruction and appeared in the movie Missouri Breaks, filmed here in 1975.
In fact, many movies and TV Shows were filmed in Nevada City and Virginia City.
The Applebound and Crabb Store was featured in Little Big Man in 1970. Dustin Hoffman was ‘Crabb.’
I can’t think of a better place to film a Western than in an authentic Old West Town, can you? It’s all here.
After our tour we headed up the road to Virginia City and stopped for lunch – it was the best burger I’ve had in years. It’s cowboy country, after all.
That’s all for now.