Cabin Remnants Left from the Gold Mining Days in Montana

Looking through this window frame in the late 1880’s would show miners hard at work in this mountainous area of Montana trying to make it rich by hitting a valuable gold vein. At one time there were about 500 people living in this desolate area year round meeting challenges that are hard for us to fathom. If only these cabins could talk to share some amazing stories of these Montana pioneers!

cabin remnant 1

The Independence mining district was located in the Basin Creek drainage of the upper Main Boulder River. Gold was discovered in the area in the 1860’s, but it was not actively developed until the Crows ceded the land to the government in 1882. The mining boom occurred from 1888 until 1893 when a number of stamp mills for crushing rock, and the town of Independence flourished.   Remnants of cabins still remain in what is now the ”ghost town” of Independence.

 cabin remnant 2
 cabin remnant 3


The Cowles mining district is located farther south of Independence in the headwaters of the Boulder River. These mines were higher up with elevations close to 10,000 feet. One can only imagine the conditions endured by these miners as they struggled to find gold, silver, copper, or lead. Their living quarters were crude, but the rustic cabins were a palace compared to the tents and other choices to stay warm and dry. The two photos below are found in the Cowles district and are believed to be the mercantile for supplies purchased by the miners. Exploring these mining areas with guests from Hawley Mountain Ranch takes our imaginations back to the early “rough and tough” days of mining in the rugged mountain of Montana.

cabin remnant 4
cabin remnant 5