Elkhorn – A Montana Ghost Town HD – near Boulder, Montana MT

Elkhorn – A Montana Ghost Town HD – near Boulder, Montana MT
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Elkhorn, a Montana ghost town in HD, is near Boulder, Montana.

Join me as I explore Elkhorn ghost town in the southwestern part of our state of Montana. Silver was initially discovered in the Elkhorn Mountains and over $14 million in silver was carried from the mines in the area. In 1890, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act passed, creating a high demand for Elkhorn’s silver.

During this peak period, Elkhorn boasted 2,500 inhabitants, a school, hotel, church, stores, saloons, and brothels. Unlike most mining towns, Elkhorn was populated mostly by married European immigrants. In 1893 the Fraternity Hall was constructed for social gatherings, and still remains as one of the most well-preserved buildings in Elkhorn.

In the years following, the silver boom and Elkhorn’s prosperity began to lessen as the desire for silver decreased. A diphtheria epidemic also struck Elkhorn, resulting in many deaths, particularly of children. Soon after, railroad service to Elkhorn was halted and only a fraction of the original inhabitants remained.

This was my second journey to Elkhorn ghost town. The first expedition was in 2001. I took a few pictures and made a slideshow Thinking back, I believe the town had only a couple of hardy souls living there.

Boy was I surprised when I arrived in town. Not only did I have a flat tire, but many cabins have been renovated and the year-round population is now up to ten! Most residents are descendants of early miners and shopkeepers.

Everyone I met was extremely friendly and related stories of relatives who worked, built cabins or were buried in the cemetery.

Elkhorn John was the first resident I met. He lives across the street west from the Elkhorn State Park, the smallest state park in Montana. The park consists of two buildings, the Gillian Hall and the Fraternity Hall.

Elkhorn John lives in a cabin built by his grandfather in 1892! He, along with his two friendly dogs, opened up the fire hall and aired up my flat tire. This did not fix the problem but it did tell us where the rock hole was! Replacing the flat with my spare was my next project.

I also met Tom and a friend of his. Tom lives across the street north of the state park. He assisted me in replacing my flat tire with my spare tire. His friend actually went looking for a spare when we were having difficulties removing my spare from under the truck. Tom filled the spare with his portable compressor since it was also low on air (a new tire but had not been checked for air since it was new, six years ago!)

Tom related a few stories about Elkhorn. As a teenager, he assisted in the Elkhorn Mine delivering dynamite to the blasters (at 500 to 1800 feet underground!) His grandfather built a cabin on the land where he now lives.

Tom recommended I visit the cemetery and also the old railroad water tower built in 1889 by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The water tower and short-line railroad from Boulder were active until rail service was discontinued in 1914.

The 48,000 gallon water tower is the last-known example of a first-generation Northern Pacific wooden water tank which, because of its 6,000-ft. altitude, included a wooden skirt around the tank supporting structure.

Another person I met was just leaving the cemetery when I arrived. She is from Helena and her great grandfather was buried here. He died during the Diphtheria epidemic that hit the town especially hard from 1884-1889.

Now, THAT’S a lot of history in my short four hour stay in Elkhorn ghost town! I just wish I had budgeted more time. The next sojourn will be sooner than 15 years from now, for sure!

This sequence was captured with a DJI camera on a Phantom 3 Advanced quad copter (aka drone or UAV) and a Canon Vixia HFS-100 camera. Post production utilized Adobe Premier Pro 6.

Music is “Unpromised” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Direct Link:
ISRC: USUAN1100603
© 2009 Kevin MacLeod

And “Wagon Wheel” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Direct Link:
ISRC: USUAN1500051
© 2015 Kevin MacLeod

And “Scissors” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Direct Link:
ISRC: USUAN1100781
© 2011 Kevin MacLeod

And “Trio for Piano, Cello, and Clarinet” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Direct Link:
ISRC: USUAN1100033
© 2007 Kevin MacLeod

All above music is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

33 Replies to “Elkhorn – A Montana Ghost Town HD – near Boulder, Montana MT”

  1. This is cool, BUT…..these buildings have been established as a State Park and it is illegal to fly your drone here. For the sake of other drone pilots who want to fly legally, and to ensure that stricter laws are not established due to other drone flyer's carelessness, PLEASE respect and follow the rules as to where you can fly. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

  2. Awesome, Dave! Please never stop. The delivery and presentation of these places is right on Q. ( You can make some of the people happy some of the the time) I am happy you are only trying to please yourself with what you do ,because , if your not happy with your own work, than what would be the point. Right? Keep these history lessons coming. The best is yet to come I am sure!

  3. David, thanks again for the wonderful vids! I wonder how much time you actually spend researching, planning, traveling, recording, editing, posting, responding ! Whew! Then doing it over and over again. It's amazing that there are folks like you out there. I'm still trying to figure out how to take just a couple of days a year to drive around our area and explore the old mining digs and shacks that still exsist here.(Ketchum and Wood River Valley area) There is a real connection in our area to the past and actually, it was not so long ago. Things they are changing and fading so it's best to do exactly what you and others are doing and record at least the scenes and areas of the work and living landscapes of those times and lives gone by. If your ever down this way, I'd be glad to show you around!

  4. 4:45 through 4:07 are too surreal. My father was an artist and photographer and he would have been stoked as heck to have been in and around a place as full of contrasts and texture as this wonderful old town! Please keep the vids coming! And if you're in the neighborhood , come on down to Idaho. There is much to see and discover here that will be relevant in your quest to rediscover the past . Great work!

  5. Being a tire man I know best that nothing lasts forever Dave. However, with your films of the forgotten places of America , the past history of our forefathers will live on ! Thanks for another grand view of a place few will ever know exsisted without the guide of a steady and sure recorder of places and things forgotten or unknown to most.

  6. Beautiful job, Dave; WELL DONE ! We live close to Elkhorn, and go up there every couple of years or so. Lot of history and memories there – just being there, inspires folks to do some research about the life and times of Montana back then. You captured the FEEL of the buildings and the texture of the very materials used to make this town. The cemetery above the town has got its own sad feeling – of children who died of diphtheria in the late 1880's. This video is a remarkable jewel, THANK YOU!!!!

  7. Thank you for this wonderful offering. My father and his family lived in Elkhorn the early 1920s when the mill had been revived. He and his sisters went to elementary school there for a few years before moving to Boulder. I've visited Elkhorn many times and really enjoy your photography and the music. Thanks, again.

  8. Good ole Days Mining Town. Say I know a fellow whom would be hired to go from Rapid city to Montana Namely The PIANO GUY and he showed me some of the most awesome pictures I ever saw of a Mining town up their some wheres. I think he still lives in Rapid City, S.D. He tuned my wives new piano and thats how I met him. He's a Famous Turner ! Well known in the USA. the Music you used reminded me of him and the Pictures he shared. Some where very old piano's and the other types too.
    He was having left hip issues where he was close to get Surgery last I seen Him.

  9. Wow… a comprehensive work of art. Combination of ground, aerial and all of the techniques employed to capture this fascinating place is incredible. I find myself admiring your work throughout… like the POI on Fraternity Hall, ultra smooth zooms and pans, that sliding shot near the beginning, water tank aerial… and close-ups on the electrical, walls. If I were there, I would be pointing the lens at the same things if I were clever enough to think of it all!
    This is one of my favorite videos yet… I love historic locations like this. And you did it wonderfully all around! NICE.

    Quick story to share… I tried to shoot Bodie, CA (old mining town South of Tahoe) but was treated unprofessionally by an odd Ranger there who insisted I needed a permit because I must be a professional and that was their policy. Though my wife and I insisted I was not, I was toting a Pelicase and apparently that was all he needed to see.

    I never got a shot; he followed my wife and I closely everywhere we went for an hour or so until we got discouraged, creeped-out and finally left- even though we'd driven 3 hours one way and then simply returned flabbergasted.

    I never showed him what was in the Pelicase – my quad copter! I'm sure if he'd seen that he would have tazed me- or worse! Ha!

    Anyway, it was cathartic to see your video in all of it's glory. GREAT WORK, really enjoyed it. (I need a couple of days with your channel; great stuff! Will keep surfing soon…) BEST ~LTG

  10. To me, I rank this one in the top 10 of your video's. I guess it's because you take a subject that is near and dear to me (ghost towns/mining towns) and present it with grace and views we don't get to see very often. The music and shots seem to flow well. I will have to visit this place. You always do a great presentation. In the end, your final product seems well worth the time you spend editing, and to render. For doing all that, I say Thank you!

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