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In addition to my interest in geology, I love human history.  I remember as a kid going on family camping trips looking out the car window following the hillside scars of old roads twisting with the topography of the land. I always wanted to walk those abandoned roads and look for treasures from the past.  In 6th grade I decided I wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. But then I changed my mind when I thought I would have to memorize dates and I wasn’t good at memorization.  The strange logic of a child.  In western Montana there is lots of history to explore.

An old truck I found during my wanders

Due to my lame dog I decided to change my travel plans and start heading home westward.  It was a challenge getting Rocket in/out of my trailer and truck.  He hurt when he moved.  But with the drugs given to him by a vet, maybe he would heal soon.  So I headed westward to Georgetown Lake by Philipsburg to explore history if he got better or to continue home from there if he wasn’t getting better.  Happily the next day he was almost back to his normal self.  We stayed at Georgetown Lake for a few days.

Smelter site south of Philipsburg.
Smelter south of Philipsburg

The smelter stacks have me puzzled, they seem to come out of the ground and not be connected to anything. The property is signed “Do Not Trespass” so I couldn’t explore. Perhaps there are tunnels that connected to the smoke stacks?

Metal grating seen while wandering by the Southern Cross mine

The picture above is another puzzle I’ll look into when home. This is a metal grate over a vertical shaft. I couldn’t see the bottom of the shaft. The shaft was about 3-4 feet diameter with no indication of a ladder, or any reinforcement on top to support a headframe or ventilation fan.

A sweet lonely flower. The only bloom in the area.

The weather forecast was for cold weather soon.  Snowflakes were in the forecast for Georgetown Lake.  Because of the California wildfires I didn’t want to head south, so I skedaddled back to Seattle.  Time to plan a new trip.  Death Valley in February?

The Facts:

  • I drove to the Black Pine mine NW of Philipsburg and found almost no historical remains except a relatively new metal headframe and a ventilation fan at the site of the former upper headframe.  A local man told me that the area had been environmentally cleaned up and that had removed most evidence of the town and mine.
  • The only campground that was open on Georgetown Lake was the Stuart Mill Bay campground.  Mid afternoon it had many sites open.  By the end of the day, it was about 80%  full.
My Georgetown Lake campsite. Roomy
  • I stayed at the same campground (Stuart Mill Bay) in 2018. Link
The trip