Ghost town convention to unearth histories

Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Montana Ghost Town Preservation Society (MGTPS) will be holding its convention in Red Lodge Sept. 6-8 at the Old Roosevelt School.

This year’s convention chairman is Don Black.

The convention will include a guided tour of the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum on Sept. 6 from 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

On Saturday at the Old Roosevelt School presentations will begin at 9 a.m. with Prof. Larry Loendorf presenting ‘Horse Bones and Horse Pictures on the Rocks.’

Loendorf, PhD, is a native Montana who received a BA and MA degrees from the University of Montana and a PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He taught at the University of North Dakota and then New Mexico State University. He currently manages Sacred Sites Research, Inc. During his career he has located and excavated dozens of sites in the Pryor Mountains. For the past 30 years he has concentrated on rock art related research. He has written numerous books and articles about Montana archaeology.

At 10:15 a.m. Montana Historian Jon Axline will present a talk on ‘Bearcreek: Life and death and life in a Montana Coal Camp.’ 

Axline, MA, is a graduate of MSU and is the historian at the Montana Department of transportation. Published extensively on a wide variety of historical subject in Montana The Magazine of Western History and Montana Magazine. He has written numerous books on the Big Sky Country.

Lunch will be from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Pollard Hotel.

At 1 p.m. there will be a field trip led by geologist and historian Linda Dutcher.

Dutcher, PhD, has been an MGTPS member since 2000 and has researched Montana geology and mining history since her retirement as a geologist employed with industrial minerals, fluorspar and coal mining companies.  She has contributed articles to the Montana Ghost Town Quarterly.

A social hour, banquet and annual meeting will commence at 5:45 p.m. with presenter and speaker Jeff McNeish at the Old Roosevelt School.

On Sept. 8 there will be a field trip in the morning to Mountain View with Linda Dutcher as a guide and host. 

 McNeish, BA, was born and raised in Billings. He works in software development but his hobbies include history and genealogy. He is related to 11 members of the “underground day shift” that reported to work on Feb. 27, 1943, the day of the Smith Mine Disaster. The lives of two other relatives were lost to the Smith Mine during the 1930s.

The goal of MGTPS is "to preserve and maintain ghost towns and historic sites in the state of Montana, and to develop an appreciation of the cultural benefits in the sites, buildings, and artifacts that are part of the living museum formed from the beginnings of Montana."

According to the MGTPS website more than 600 mining camps and towns existed at some time in Montana's past.