We traveled up a steep and winding mountain road to Granite Ghost Town State Park. We didn’t need 4-wheel drive, but our truck’s high clearance was a good thing. Four miles up we found the remnants of an 1890s silver mine and boomtown.
Three thousand people lived in Granite which had a library, a hospital, a school, a newspaper, saloons and churches. Chinatown and a red light district were nearby.
The largest building in town was the miners’ Union Hall. It was a three story building with union offices, a recreation hall and an event center with a special “spring floor” for dancing.
Of course, Granite was here because of the nearby silver mine. Interesting tidbit, the mine’s backers were giving up on the venture and sent a message to end operations. The message was delayed and the last shift found the silver that was eventually worth $40,000,000.
The 1893 silver crisis closed the mine and like many other mining boomtowns, Granite faded away.
Randy shows off a 100+ years old square nail and a cable with 32 strands. The cable was used to trolley the ore to another plant 8,750 feet down the mountain side. That is a long cable, since it had to run back up the hill too. That is at least 17,500 feet of cable, or about 3.3 miles worth.
Back down the mountain into Phillipsburg, we had lunch and then went to the highly recommended Sweet Palace. What a candy store!
Randy loves salt water taffy and they had so many flavors made right here! I asked him to get me a few pieces of licorice taffy but he didn’t want to contaminate his bag. So I got my own and gathered a few other flavors he wouldn’t like. Meanwhile Randy filled a second bag! I got a few dark chocolate covered pretzels and a few hard candies and pretty soon we had $29 worth of candy. Crazy!
Our fun continued at Montana Gems. We bought a 35 pound sack of gravel and sifted and washed through it looking for sapphires.
After we found ten sapphires, employee Doug went through our tailings and found three we had missed.
The fun final results were 13 sapphires found, 7 of which are worth cutting, totaling 9.3 carats. (The six smaller sapphires were 3.75 carats combined.) We could have had them cut for $20 each but since I don’t know what I would do with them, we just took them home. Something to think on….
And while all this fun was going on, we were in email and phone conversations with a volunteer coordinator for Oregon State Parks. We are super excited to say we will be volunteering at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in May and at William Tugman State Park in July. Both parks are on the southern Oregon coast near Reedsport. Whoohoo!