Last weekend Blue Eyes and I packed up and headed north to escape the interminable spring allergies. I think we went far enough, it snowed on us for two days. We ended up exploring this fantastic abandoned mine in Comet, Montana. The Comet Mine, located in the High Ore Mining District southwest of Helena, opened in 1883 and experienced it’s hey-day in the 1890’s, miners pulled $20 million in lead, zinc, copper, silver, and gold out of the mountain, making it the most profitable in the area (although, it is incomparable to the enormous mines in nearby Butte). The Comet Mine closed for good in 1941 when the resources had been exhausted. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)
Today what remains is an enormous dilapidated building where the ore was processed, a dozen houses and other buildings that are in ruins, and one active residence: 4 satellite dishes on top of a double-wide trailer with several pick-ups parked in the front yard. In the last 15 years much of the area has been reclaimed, although the only vegetation that has returned in high numbers so far are grasses, a few wildflowers and some scrubby sage brush, but I did see a couple of knee-high pine trees growing.
Luckily, Blue Eyes likes an adventure as much as I do, and we were not content with standing on the road taking pictures (I was taking pictures, he was standing). We decided to go exploring, despite not wearing nearly the appropriate footwear for the muddy and steep mountainside. Don’t worry, we were very careful about where we walked; Blue Eyes is a civil engineer who specialized in mining, he knows his way around a mining site and made sure we were stepping on concrete and not rotten floor boards or anything.
No idea what this is or what it was used for….but I kind of want it. The top of that notched ring on the right came up past Blue Eyes’ shoulder, this thing was massive!
I never really saw myself as someone who had a thing for ruins…but I just could not get enough of this place!! The history, the destruction, the looting, the effects of time. It was just so beautifully fascinating!
This is looking down three or four stories into the bottom of the structure. I totally have a crush on the light coming through the roof (long shorn of it’s shingles).
Mmmmm, rusty things just photograph so well! (Don’t worry, I am current on my tetanus shots and didn’t touch anything sharp or rusty.)
“Harriet, what are you doing? It’s just a rusty pipe…” I know it is!! But, dammit, I’m going to take 5 minutes trying to get the right photo of it because apparently I LOVE RUSTY PIPES!
This weathered and aged wood was everywhere, and I just thought it was so incredibly beautiful. Swoon.
After an hour of wandering, hiking, climbing, and exploring we finally found the mother-lode, a delightfully rusty chain, something I’d been hoping for since we drove up to the site. There is no color enhancement or other processing on this photo–just a little crop. It really was that beautiful orange color!
This was an enormous site, this photo was taken near the top of the mining building (which was several huge stories and built into the mountain). You can see the broken and rotten houses across the road, our old red jeep, and on the far left you can see the white pick up of the one family who currently lives in this ghost town. At it’s height, Comet had a population of 300 people, a school with 20 children, numerous homes and businesses, and 20 saloons.
For more photos (and there are a LOT more photos), check out my Flickr album.