Elkohorn, Montana | Montana Landscape Photography | Photography Blog | The Hills Hold Secrets

February 26, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

"Those hills of ours hold secrets, of a past we cannot see. Stories of the mining town, and the town that used to be" 

~Ken Granby~

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Elkhorn, Montana was once home to 2,500 inhabitants, as this silver mining community boomed during the late 1800's. As of 2020, the census recorded a population of 12 people, most having refurbished the old homes that adorned the streets of this once vibrant western community. A four AM wakeup call awaited me, as the two hour drive northwest would lead me to some pretty spectacular captures. 

I reached Elkhorn just before sunrise, hoping to catch some colorful skies, but mountains surrounding the village hindered much of the golden hour surprise. Upon setting up my camera, I awaited my first captures of the morning. Then my camera decided to act up on me, as the auto focus wouldn't work. It was having an issue locking in on the subject, so I had to switch to manual focus for most of the day. Being close to 13 years old, the camera has become finicky recently, so I'm not sure if the cold weather was affecting her rickety bones, or maybe she's just slowly dying before my eyes, but either way at least she was able to capture the moments presented before me. 

Fraternity and Gillian Hall was my first photograph of the morning, and by all accounts is one of the most photographed ghost town buildings in the United States. Built in 1893, it once served as a hall hosting a variety of dances and theatrical presentations. Remaining open to the public, you're able to walk around inside, taking in the ambiance of what was once a very jovial place.

Barn Art | Elkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape PhotographyBarn Art | Elkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape PhotographyBarn Art | Elkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape Photography As I continued my way through the town, I tried to focus on relics of the past. Some buildings having been refurbished, just didn't give the town that late 1890's feel to it. A structure with a no trespassing sign on it leaned a little to the left, an old rusted out car with bullet holes in it sat peacefully in its final resting place, and an old wagon wheel sits outside a cabin, once having been used for work, but now remaining stationary.

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A diphtheria epidemic would strike the town from 1884-1889, reducing much of the population. Many of the deaths would include children. A resident once reporting, "in one week we buried seven people from one family, first six children, and then their mother." The Elkhorn cemetery which is the final resting place for many of these gentle souls, sits about a mile outside of the town. The dog and I decided to trek our way there, following some of the old Northern Pacific Railroad grade, which ran through the town until 1914. (More on that in a bit...) Our hike through sometimes calf deep snow would eventually lead us to the cemetery, as an eerie hush would envelop the environment. I snapped a couple of a photos and remained silent, remembering to pay my respects to those who once breathed in the same winter air. 

CA2A1725-6416-4EA1-99A6-172BE744E38CCA2A1725-6416-4EA1-99A6-172BE744E38C We backtracked our way down the old railroad grade and would find ourself at the Northern Pacific water tower. Built in 1890 and later refurbished in 2017, it's the only remaining structure of the old rail line. Stop and listen behind the trees, as you may just hear a steam engine blowing in the distance! 

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Just before leaving the grounds, the auto focus on my camera decided to start working again, so I wanted to take a few more shots of Fraternity Hall and its sister structure Gillian Hall. The sun rose perfectly between the two buildings casting its rays downward, as quite possibly spirits from the past were saying their goodbyes.

Elkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape Photography | Barn ArtElkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape Photography | Barn ArtElkhorn Montana Ghost Town | Montana Landscape Photography | Barn Art Visit my bechance account to see a photo of the old butcher shop, not shown in the post. Click the link: HERE

If you missed my last blogpost entitled, Livingston to Bozeman by train, you can find it by clicking the link: HERE

A few of these photos are now for sale in my shop. Hover over the photo you like and click away. Contact me for more info on photos not yet listed for sale. 

Elkhorn Montana | Fine Art Photography Print | Montana Landscape Photography | Photography Blog | Montana Photographer | Montana photography | Fraternity Hall | Northern Pacific Railroad | Abandoned Photography Prints
 

 


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