Coolidge, Montana is a ghost town in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in the southwestern part of Montana. It is located high in a mountain range in what is even today a very inaccessible part of Montana.

Coolidge was formed a bit later than many ghost towns, which mostly date from the 1800s. Coolidge was built mostly in the first few decades of the 1900s. Also, many boomtowns were formed by a mad rush of prospectors, but Coolidge was formed more as a planned company town from the start. This is perhaps because its location, even by the standards of prospectors, is foreboding. The city was developed within a few years to have electrical and telephone service, and its own school district. And just as quickly, these were abandoned, and by the 1930s the city was disintegrating.

Today, a few dozen wooden buildings are all that remain of the town. Unlike some ghost towns, which are kept in a condition where the buildings are at least structurally sound, most of the buildings at Coolidge have been left to the elements, and many are nothing but piles of lumber. In some ways, this makes it even harder to imagine this isolated location as ever being a thriving boom town, but it also gives an air of realism and authenticity to the site. There is also a minimum of interpretive material available at the site, meaning that piecing together just how the town was put together may be harder for the visitor. However, ghost towns are by definition not something that people go to because of their ease of access.

Which brings us to another point: the isolation of the town, which I have mentioned several times. Even by Montana standards, the area is isolated. It is located in a mountain range above the Big Hole Valley, where the valley floor is a mile above sea level. The closest town with a (single) gas pump is 30 miles away. The town is reached by a half mile hike off of a five mile gravel road off of a state highway over a mountain pass that is closed in winter, with winter being about nine months long. In other words, the site is not for the casual tourist. However, this isolation just heightens the experience of visiting the ghost town, because if it is a hard location to reach now, imagining what life must have been like in earlier days is quite amazing.

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