January, 2010. Trudging up the steep and icy Forest Service road that leads to the ghost town of Garnet. Cold feet, cold hands, runny nose. Beautiful scenery, but still…cold feet, cold hands, runny nose. To distract myself, I think about Emily Thomas, who lived in Garnet during the winter of 1910. Emily was 38, and married, but her husband had left long ago. She cooked in a boarding house for seven miners. The winter wind was bitterly cold, the boarding house was drafty, and the wood stove was as cantankerous as the miners. I imagine Emily got pretty cantankerous herself at times. Garnet is located high up in the Garnet Mountains, about 60 miles east of Missoula, and was pretty much snowed in and cut off from the rest of the world from November through April. It still is.
I don’t know what happened to Emily Thomas, but she was a nice diversion from my discomfort as we made our way up the 1500 foot climb from closed gate at the bottom of the 3 mile road that leads to Garnet. In the summer, you can drive right to this ghost town, but the road is closed in the winter. But, in the winter you can rent a cabin in Garnet, and actually see what it’s like to be all alone in a ghost town at night.
Well, you actually have your choice of one of two cabins, so if the other cabin is rented, you wouldn’t be all alone. But we’ve been to Garnet three different winters, and we’ve always had the town all to ourselves. The cabins are heated by wood stoves, so if you rent the larger cabin (the Dahl cabin) which has three rooms, it takes quite a few hours for the place to heat up. The one room McDonald cabin heats up in in no time, though.
I prefer the smaller cabin:
Who knows? Maybe Emily Thomas lived in this very cabin. Here are some more views of Garnet: