Coolidge is an old mining ghost town located in Southwestern Montana’s Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest. It is vehicle accessible to within the last one-half mile, requiring a comfortable hike to the isolated town.
Empty of residents, Coolidge is an authentic ghost town. Though dozens of buildings continue to stand, they are quickly deteriorating, the majority in ruins. The lower mill is no longer standing, but the upper mill is visible across the creek, high above town.
Mining in the area began in the 1870s, but Coolidge wasn’t established until 1914, after the recovery of silver prices. A politician and friend of future President Calvin Coolidge began buying mining claims, formed a development corporation, and the community of Coolidge began to take root.
The town was quickly serviced with telephone and electricity. A company store provided food and supplies to the residents. A school district was organized and a post office established. The railway, needed for efficient transportation, and the new mill, the largest mill in Montana, were completed. Amazingly, there was never a saloon or a church.
Shortly after mining and processing started, silver prices again plummeted. The operation went into receivership, then a dam failed, washing out twelve miles and several bridges of railway. The school district was abandoned, and the post office closed. By the time the railroad was repaired, metal prices had declined so dramatically, that the mine was not profitable to operate.
Because of the limited development of the veins to supply sufficient ore, the mill never worked at full capacity. Despite the limitations, tons of gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc had been processed by the late 1920s. Over the next years, operations were intermittently continued, but were never very successful.