View single post by jtrain
 Posted: Sat Apr 2nd, 2016 09:14 pm
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Joined: Sun May 27th, 2012
Location: Missoula, Montana USA
Posts: 1000
While there are abandoned towns all over the west and Northwest, I think I've found a ghost town with a bit of a unique twist.  Pardee Montana was built under the summit of a mountain north of Superior and East of St. Regis.  If those towns sound familiar it's because both the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific ran through the Clark Fork river valley and past these towns. Anyways, the town was located directly at the site of the Iron Mountain Mine.  The Mine claim held lead, zinc and silver in high concentrations along with some gold and copper.  But, the valley was too narrow for a larger mill, so the mill was built further down in the valley.  To make transporting the ore from the mine to the mill easier, a narrow gauge railroad was built and used one or two porter engines.  If following the creek, the distance was only about  1/2 mile or so, but the train line took roughly a mile of track to make the grade.

The mine was producing good amounts of minerals, but a new Montana state law in 1897 required at least two mine shafts for every active mine and a second shaft couldn't be built in the Iron Mountain mine.  So by 1898 (I'm guessing) the site was completely abandoned and the mine closed.  Residents would have likely moved down the mountain to the Clark Fork River at the town of Superior.  However, according to a historical context made up by the State of Montana, in 8 years the mine produced over a half million dollars (in 1890 dollars) and hence was one of the most profitable in the state.  According to the article, the final 27 carloads was worth $50 dollars per ton.  Despite this, I doubt the mine would have lasted long into the 20th Century since nearly all the ore veins on Montana are highly concentrated, but quite shallow.  Mines would spring up, make their profit, and then be forced to move on within a few years.

In order to shave a couple of paragraphs off of this post, I'll just give some trivial facts:

--If you calculate for inflation, one US dollar in 1890 would be worth about $25 today.  Overall the mine made the equivalent of 12.7 million dollars (I forgot to mention earlier that is the net profit after deducting the cost of building the town and mine).

--The Mine employed between 100 and 125 people at any one point, so the town probably held around 200 people total, 300 perhaps at it's height.

--The town quickly grew from the initial settlement in 1888, by 1890 the article said that the town had a saloon, multiple gambling halls, a Union hall (for the miners) and a post office.

--The tramway, as made clear in some photos I've found of the town, did not carry passengers.  Pardee is very close to Superior (looks like it's only about 4 miles or so) therefore the town would have used a trail to get in and out of the town as well as obtain supplies and ship out the ore.

--The town was partially destroyed in the 1930s by a forest fire, and no doubt some structures were lost in the Mullen Fire of 2013 (the town sits right in the middle of the fire area)

All this info I've obtained from an article written by the State of Montana that gives a lot of information.  Through this article, I was able to pinpoint the town's location on Google Maps and will be making a run at finding this town next weekend if the whether cooperates.  Here's the article:

Montana DEQ

Photos in the next post.


James W.

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