Monday, November 26, 2012

Castle, Montana

The town of Castle in Meagher County was a wild camp where men died with their boots on. In the 1880s, two thousand residents rivaled the likes of the great camps of twenty years before. In the 1890s, the town’s death was rapid as people left by the dozens. Their log cabins waited forlornly for owners to return and claim the household goods and belongings they left behind. But they never returned, and the buildings fell into decay. Two last residents kept up hope that the town would again come to life. Joseph Hooker Kidd and Joseph Martino were the last holdouts, optimistic that Castle would revive. In 1936, as Kidd and Martino wintered in their neighboring cabins, the snow piled up in drifts as deep as forty feet. The winter was extremely severe and supplies ran out. Kidd decided to go eight miles up the road to Lennep for groceries. By evening, his cutter and exhausted team had only gone three miles. He stayed the night at the Grande Ranch and the next day made it to Lennep. On the return trip, Kidd again shoveled drifts until he finally got within a mile of Castle. His team would go no farther so he turned them loose and set out on foot, reaching Martino’s cabin late that evening. After some hot coffee, Kidd started out for his own cabin five hundred yards away. A few minutes later, Martino heard Kidd call out and saw him stagger. When Martino reached him, Kidd was dead. The population had been cut in half, its last resident left to foolishly dream that a great strike was still in Castle’s future.

The scattered remnants of Castle, Montana
Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 940-607

P.S. Remember the Thanksgiving-day murder at this ghost town?

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