By Robert Lucke
One of the fun things to do in this part of Montana is to pack a lunch, pack the family in the car and head out to visit the remains of the scores and scores of old towns around here that have vanished from our vocabulary.
When the vast multitudes of homesteaders settled here, travel was difficult so post offices and stores were located in vicinities that would help homesteaders.
And, remember these were the days when there was a station every seven or so miles along the Great Northern Railway so that the locomotives would never be far from water.
Some are just place names with absolutely nothing left. Some are still towns and some are ghost towns complete with deserted hotels, schools, churches and stores.
For information about a particular area that you and yours might want to explore, the Havre-Hill County Library has maps. Maps are available on the Internet too.
In the Little Rockies there were Whitcomb, Landusky and Phillips.
In the Bear Paws were Bear Paw, Oscar, Ada, Warrick, Riedel, Lloyd, Cleveland, Maddux, Shambo and Fiedler along with Henry's Basin.
North Hill County consisted of, among others, King, Sage, Fairchild, Wheatbelt, Lilacs, Hausman, Simpson, Miller, Amos, Cottonwood, St. Joe, Tosland, Casady, Tonjum and Phipps.
Head from Chinook to Chester and a traveler would run into Adams, Lohman, Toledo, Havre, Pacific Junction, Burnham, Fresno, Kremlin, Xenia, Gildford, Hingham, Rudyard, Inverness, Joplin, Buelow and Chester.
The list goes on and on. There were towns everywhere. Today when driving over Marias Pass, there is Essex, which could possibly be described as a village. Going from west to east there used to be and in some cases are still remains of Citadel, Lake Five, Grizzly, Belton (West Glacier), Red Eagle, Nyack, Hidden Lake, Pinnacle, Walton, Essex, Nimrod, Java, Singleshot, Summit, Rising Wolf, Bison, and Glacier Park or Midvale, which today is East Glacier.
For more information there is a Montana place name book called "Names on the Face of Montana" by Roberta Carkeek Cheney which actually mentions most of these old Montana towns. Lilacs, for instance, was near Fairchild and had a post office from 1911 to 1914. Phillips was named for cattle baron B.D. Phillips, who had a ranch near the post office. Fiedler was named for the family of the first postmaster, Camille Fiedler.
Plenty of these old settlements are gone but plenty remains if you know where to look and what you are looking at.