NAME: Hughesville
COUNTY: Judith Basin County
CLIMATE: Hot in the summer, cold & snowy in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring, summer or fall, inaccessible in winter
COMMENTS: Ruins are spread out over a fairly large area. Look on both sides of the road for ruins, before you actually come to the main part of the town.
REMAINS: Large number of ruins of cabins, boilers, smelters, etc. UPDATE 9/30/2012

I checked out Hughesville Montana today. All of the buildings except for the remains of one cabin and the two mine shafts have been torn down. There is still a few remains of the bins/foundation and a boiler as you come in from the east. Otherwise, it's all gone. There is a mining operation there now and they have totally excavated the site.

I talked with some locals too on the way in and they said that the mining operation tore everything down.

Another piece of history - gone.

Jim Goudy

Patrick Hughes and E. “Buck” Barker were looking for gold on Galena Creek in 1879 when they discovered silver and lead. By the summer of 1879, there were dozens of mines operating in the area. Three main camps were built in the area - Hughes City, Galena City and Leadville. They ultimately combined to form the town of Hughesville. In the beginning, ore from Hughesville had to be moved by freight wagon to Ft. Benton. It then was then transported to Swansea, Wales for smelting. Colonel G. Clendenin built a smelter in Hughesville in 1881. Colonel Clendenin was subsequently killed in a cave in in the “Wright & Edwards” mine in early 1882. The smelter was operated for 18 months, then it was closed and sold off in 1890. The smelter was destroyed by arson in 1895. The population of Hughesville declined until there were only 40 people living there in 1889. A rail line was built to Barker, near Hughesville, by the Great Northern Railroad in 1891. After the arrival of the railroad, mining activity increased in the area. In 1892, there were 1,000 people living in Hughesville. That year, there were fifteen saloons in town. The silver mines in the area were hard hit by the silver crash of 1893. The railroad line was ripped up in 1903 and nearly all mining activity in the area ceased by 1904. The population in Hughesville rebounded in 1906 when the Gunn Thompson Company bought up some of the properties and installed new equipment. By 1911, there was a seventy-five ton concentrator working in Hughesville. The concentrator was expanded to one hundred tons in 1912. Copper ore was found in the area around the same time. In 1927, the town was taken over by the St. Joseph Lead and Zinc Company. They installed $1,500,000 worth of equipment at the site, including a 10,250 foot tramway with 52 buckets, to move ore. A two story hotel with steam heat, electricity and refrigeration was built and construction on a new rail line to Monarch was begun. At this time, Hughesville was described as the largest lead producer in Montana. The mine was closed, again, in 1930, after the stock market collapse. The mine flooded in 1937 when the pumps were removed. Rising lead prices led to the mine being re-opened in 1937. Four hundred people lived in Hughesville during this period. The mines were closed for good in 1943. Hughesville had a post office from 1881 to 1883; from 1891 to 1883; 1891 to 1892; 1912 to 1938; and 1942 to 1943. Submitted by: M.S. "Doc" McClanahan

Smelter Ruins
Courtesy M.S. "Doc" McLanahan

Smelter Ruins
Courtesy M.S. "Doc" McLanahan

Hughesville, MT 1928
Courtesy Rob Haerr