Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day #4 - Kendall Ghost Town

The day started with a delicious and hearty breakfast of apricot scones with homemade jam, fresh fruit, a cheese omelet with homemade salsa, toast, orange juice, and coffee served elegantly on a Stickley table in the formal dining room. During the meal, we discovered that our host's grandfather owned the drug store located just across the street from my great grandfather's blacksmith shop in Kendall and one of her children owns a business I have often frequented in Portland. It is indeed a small world.

It didn't snow last night. In fact the streets were dry and the sun was out as we headed north to find Kendall, the gold mining town where my grandmother's family lived from 1901 to about 1911. We missed the turnoff and traveled about 20 miles out of our way before we realized our mistake, but the rolling countryside surrounded by snow covered mountains was lovely.

After retracing our route, we turned onto the gravel road leading up into the mountains. Before long, the former Kendall Town Site came into view - rising up before us in a small protected valley surrounded by snow covered hilltops. The ruins of several stone buildings in various stages of decay were sprinkled along both sides of the road.

We spent more than an hour wandering from ruin to ruin taking pictures and comparing the locations to a map of the town. Even though my great grandfather's blacksmith shop made of wood was long gone, we located a large stone where he placed his anvil. The nearby ruins of the Presbyterian Church still rise two stories high punctuated by two rows of windows one above the other. While we wandered the town, I wondered what my grandmother would think about our expedition.

The drive back down from Kendall offered us the broadest panorama of the countryside we have seen. It was as though all of Montana was stretched out before us. We could see at least 75 miles in a 280 degree arc. Rebecca took 10 to 15 photos to stitch together to create a complete picture of snow covered mountains and bordering a rolling plain.

Upon our return, we split up for the afternoon. Rebecca checked out Main Street and I went to meet with the President of the Genealogy Society located on the second floor of a handsome Carnegie Library. Marilyn was waiting for me with my great grandmother's obituary and Lewistown address in hand.

The highlight of the afternoon was an unexpected visitor - Marilyn had asked a gentleman who has done extensive research on the history of Kendall to join us. Much to my surprise, I discovered this man is the author of an article I found online several months ago. Not only does he know a lot about his topic, he also showed me nearly 100 photos of the town and excerpts from the local newspaper of the time. I scribbled furiously in my notebook and made copies of dozens of photos, some of which show the blacksmith shop.

The experience of finding the graveyard yesterday and visiting Kendall today is more satisfying than I could ever imagine.

Tomorrow on our way to Beach, we will cross the 1,000 mile mark.

1 comment:

  1. Ooo: I love ghost towns. Thankyou for taking me "virtually" to another one, especially one so personally meaningful to you. The images are superb. You go, girls!