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- Pardee, MT -
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 Posted: Mon Apr 4th, 2016 05:59 am
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Herb Kephart
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Very interesting, James.

Anxious to see what an on-site inspection reveals.



Herb



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 Posted: Mon Apr 4th, 2016 06:24 am
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jtrain
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So am I herb, if the snow is gone this weekend should prove to be eventful.  From Google Maps I couldn't see if there was a pathway up the mountain to the old ore bin, but since it's National Forest I can probably just walk up the hill right beside the remains of the old ore chute.

I also figured out that if you look close at the photos of the mill, there was eventually a second tunnel drilled, this time headed horizontally through the mountain. 

Here is the image taken when the train was still in use:



At the very top you can see the trestle and then the chute heading down the mountain to the mill.  That small tower on top of the mill is later used by a narrow gauge mining cart system after the claim was leased following closure of the original mine.  This is evidenced by the other photos of the mill, and were likely taken after the turn of the century:



In this photo you can clearly see that the tower is missing it's large chute, and a new trestle has been built that would have ran to the new tunnel.  Overall that means the train only ran for the 8 years or so that the original mine was open.  It would be nice to figure out where the locomotive and the mining carts went... maybe still on the mountain somewhere?

Who knows, I'll have to find out on Saturday.

Anyways, to add on I recently bought a book that contains information and photos of Pardee as well as neighboring Superior, Keystone and Louisville.  The book is called "Ghost Towns of Montana, A Classic tour Through the Treasure State's Historical Sites".  Author is Donald C. Miller.  ISBN # is: 978-0-7627-4517-3

Here's a link to the book on Amazon:  Ghost Towns of Montana

The Book is 163 pages long and includes both obscure towns, like Pardee, and known ghost towns such as Bannack, Elkhorn, and Virginia City.  I'll have to do a review on it later.

--James



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 Posted: Mon Apr 4th, 2016 06:37 am
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jtrain
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Also just found out how confusing all this really is.  So to set things straight, the Iron Mountain Mining Company was set up to mine a claim in Hall Gulch, which feeds Flat Creek.  They named the town Pardee, even though Pardee Gulch is over the next ridge.  The mine was then labeled the West Hall Gulch Mine or Hall Gulch Mine.

So then, to save words on an already lengthy series of posts, I found an interactive map that everyone can play with:

Map Carta

Hopefully that should help alleviate potential confusion.

--James



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 Posted: Mon Apr 4th, 2016 07:01 am
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jtrain
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Of course, Pardee was only a flash in the pan in Montana's history.  The mine and the train only lasted 8 years before being abandoned and made obsolete with new shafts and better equipment.

So if you want to find out more about life in Northwest Montana, I found a blog that chronicles the industry, homesteading, mining, logging, farming, ranching, and of course the railroads that tied it all together:

http://www.behindthesemountains.com/

The person who has assembled this blog goes by the name of Mona Neeson Vanek out of Spokane, Washington.
--James



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 Posted: Fri Apr 8th, 2016 11:04 am
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jtrain
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Okay, the weekend has finally come!  Tomorrow I will be getting some supplies on my list for exploring this town (which includes a measuring tape in excess of 50ft, tennis balls, SD card for the camera, and a yard stick).  The law is that I can't pick up or walk off with historical artifacts, but I can measure, take pictures, and plant objects nearby so long as I don't disturb the actual artifacts.

My plan here is to first find the site tomorrow, and then spend Saturday exploring the mill ruins, and whatever is left of the town.  I can use the tennis balls to mark the corners of a building footprint, and the tape will be used for measuring.  All this will be documented with pictures so that I can create a map of the area and compare my findings with the historical pictures.  This, thankfully, is possible due to a photographer who must have also thought the tramway was neat, since having around 10 photographs of a town back when the town was only 200 people and film was expensive is a very rare thing.

Wish me luck, this will be a long but exciting weekend.

--James



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 Posted: Sat Apr 9th, 2016 04:35 am
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Herb Kephart
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Good Luck, James--

Go for it!!


Herb



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 Posted: Sat Apr 9th, 2016 09:48 pm
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NevadaBlue
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Hope you are having fun! Neat idea for marking corners... gotta remember the tennis balls.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 10th, 2016 06:29 am
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jtrain
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Thanks Ken.  Just got back from visiting the site and I must say, this mountain isn't going to let go of all her secrets!  As you'll see in the photos, the entire mountain-side is covered in thick bushes and being early spring, this is about as clear as the mountain will get.  What I did run across though was the mill/concentrator, remains of the ore chute, 1 standing cabin that seems to be from the same period, two more cabins that are nearly down to the foundation, and a lot of rubble, grates, water pipes, and steel rebar (rebar from a long time ago when it was just a smooth rod.  Near the top of the road where the mine and town site was there was only a few chunks of concrete.

Coming back down the road to the mill I think I found the old roadbed.  The train line is nearly buried from over a century of road maintenance pushing debris down the slope off the switchback, but is there under the rubble.

I also checked out a large flat area that may have also been the townsite, but I'm not sold on that just yet because 1) the town in historical photographs was at the same elevation as the train line and 2) that trainline, if it went to the mill from the flat area, would not be high enough on the mountain to be at the top of the chute.

Overall I will have to take multiple trips into the site in the future.  Perhaps I'll wait for a forest fire (which could happen this season, given the light snow and already 70+ degree days) to clear all the brush out of the area.

Finally, back down at the truck I did another quick pass at the mill and toured the remains of some service sheds by the creek.  Enoguh talk though, here are the photos:





This is the first and most intact building.  I appears to have been a cabin built for mill workers and/or a supervisor.



Some ruins among this large pile indicates that this was the concentrator site.  All the rip-rap is the extra rock debris left over from the concentration process.



On top of the tailing pile sits the remains of the ore chute.





Looking up the hill there is a trail that would follow the chute remains to the top.  If you recall from an earlier post I could clearly make out the ore bin/unloading trestle at the top of this knoll.  Next time I'll have to hike up there but I didn't have the footwear, time, or energy to climb straight up a 60 degree slope.  One thing that didn't chance was the incline of the site, that's for sure!



More remains of the chute



What made the site confusing is all the old trails in the area.  This particular one caught my attention and could have been the roadbed IF the train went to this flat gravel lot that is in the middle of the gulch (we will see the gulch later).



I noticed that our pathway was just about as steep and just as curvy as the wagon road in the historical photos.  From this point on I assumed the roadbed was high above us and the road would meet the roadbed at the town site.

At the top of the trail, the road switchbacks and heads Southeast.  Knowing that I wouldn't get any further than that today, I stopped to look for clues.  Alas the only definite proof that the town site was in this area is this little piece of concrete which used local rocks in the mixture.  I've seen this style of concrete before on the family farm and so this is likely over a century old.  It was found by the side of the trail and could have either been plucked out of the weeds or rolled down the hill in a rainstorm.



The only other thing that we (the figure happens to be my mother who wanted to go on a short hike) found was this shelf built into the hill side that has not been used in ages, as evidenced by the bushes and saplings taking over.  A few yards in the shelf abruptly ended.  Now, if this were the roadbed that could have either been the termination of the track (which I rather doubt) or a bridge that spanned a washout.  From the records there was less than a mile of track, so the town must be less than a mile from the mill, and this was about a mile.



One thing I was looking for was the ridgeline.  Here is a clear view.  If that ridge can be matched with old photos, I know I will be close to where the historical photograph was taken.





Downhill from here is the road, and I was standing on the switchback.  But in the middle foreground you can see a level area that I think was the roadbed.  Shooting straight and level from this point would put this shelf at the same elevation as the ore dump.


It's not any easier to see in this picture, but it shows the challenge I'm up against.  When the forest service widened the road, debris was shoved down the hill so that the roadbed was covered.  None the less, those young trees growing in the middle are on a level section of dirt.  If the trail on the right was the ox cart road, it would make sense since the rail line and road were on the same hill side and only separated by a few yards.


Coming down from the switchback revealed that the rail line would have continued to the upper right of the photograph through the trees.


About 30 yards down the trail from the switch back and my guesstimate roadbed is this pathway that was clearly carved to be a road.  There are 3-4 of this trails, so it's hard to say which one was where the old road went into the town site.



One thing I do know for sure is that the dark object on that distant knoll is yet more remains of the ore chute.  It's far too thick to be a felled tree.  Therefore right about here is where I reckon the rail line would have came through, which again points to the roadbed being between the switchbacks and therefore half-buried.



Coming down though we ran across this, a large, flat bar of rock with marking flags and slate in little piles.  Not only that, but we ran across slightly newer building foundations (evidenced by the cinder block chunks that littlered the ground.  But this was mixed with much older wood.  So while not as high up the valley as expected, this very well could be Pardee.  The only thing that bugs me though is that it is too close (less than 1/4 mile) from the mill site.  If that were the case, then a narrow gauge railway is completely unnecessary.  So I don't think this is Pardee proper, but could have been a place for the miners or mill workers to stay.  None the less, there are artifacts there that pre-date the cinder blocks by a very long time.



Here's a large pile that would probably be mine tailing.

This is at the end of the large rock bar, where the gravel slopes steeply downhill to meet the creek that flows around the West side of the embankment.





Here is one possibility for the roadbed IF the train came to this gravel bar built in the valley.  Still doesn't match the historical photos though.

Back down in the valley by the creek I did another quick look around the site.  Below shows the mill area and remains I stumbled across:















Perhaps this IS all that remains of the town, not the village of Pardee itself but rather the mill, it's support buildings, a couple of old trails, and a lonely ore bin sitting at the top of the knoll all by itself.

What I did learn through this day-trip is just how important photography is to history.  The fact is that I don't have to explore the area because these historical photographs documented the town.  Aside from the distance between the mill and the mine, everything else is clear.  Someone could model this entire line just from those photographs.

Anyways, I'll be back to this site in the future, and this time I'll make an attempt to hike up the steep slope to that ore bin.  Because right there is where I know I'll find a roadbed which I can follow through the woods to the town site.  In the meantime, the mountain's secrets are still hidden.

You can check out the other 60 some photographs I took on my blog:

http://jjwtrains.blogspot.com/2016/04/pardee-very-very-old-ghost-town.html

Thanks!

--James;)





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 Posted: Sun Apr 10th, 2016 10:49 am
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NevadaBlue
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It looks like a beautiful day in a beautiful place. The forest sure took over. I can almost smell the fragrance of the trees. Thanks for the pics.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 10th, 2016 09:55 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Love forests, James..Too bad Si got there first with his bulldozer!  Any hope of getting to the mine it's self on a future trip?

In the future, if you limit the width of the photos that you post to 800 pixels, folks wont have to scroll across to view the whole shot (and the accompanying text)

Herb



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