Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring Montana’s East Pioneer Mountains. In a couple of the entries I made a references to Vipond, MT. This week we will explore the scenic 8,000-foot high plateau known as Vipond Park and all of its secret places.
First a little history. Vipond Park and the mining district that followed were named after the Vipond brothers who settled in the area in 1868. In April of that year John Vipond filed the first mining claim in the area. His brothers soon joined in prospecting the area and discovered what would become the Gray Jockey mine the next year. During the ensuing years, the Gray Jockey mine and mill yielded 22,789 ounces of silver from 2,161 tons of ore taken from the mine. The remains of the Gray Jockey are one of the few ruins visible from the Quartz Hill Road.
Other notable mining properties in the area that were discovered and mined in the late 1800’s include:
The Queen of the Hills mine, which employed about 50 men to develop a producing gold mine and construct a 10-stamp mill at the site. In the early 1900’s the mine and mill traded hands, more improvements were made, but little if any profitable ore was mined. The area around the Queen of the Hills contains the largest amount of ruins in the area.
The Old Faithful mine was probably the largest producer in Vipond. It produced a total of 1,037 tons of ore, yielding 69,512 pounds of lead, 6700 pounds of zinc, 2582 pounds of copper, 1576 ounces of silver and 268 ounces of gold. Judging by the newer ruins at the site, it looks like mining attempts occurred here until the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. Tableware still sits on the counters and canned goods are in the cupboards in one old cabin.
The Keystone Mine contains a couple of old cabins located on a hill above several collapsed mine openings. I wasn’t unable to find any historical production data on the mine, but it appears it was mined in the 1880’s and again as late as the 1930’s Learn more about the Keystone claim here.
I hope you have enjoyed our adventures through the East Pioneer Mountains of Montana over the past few weeks and are able to explore this area for yourself in the near future.
Exploring Vipond Park today:
Ghost town books and websites will make reference to Vipond as if a centralized town once existed. From my research and visiting the area, Vipond was never a town, but more of a settled area, so don’t expect to find a main street with abandoned buildings lining the sides. What you will find are scattered ruins hidden off side roads in a very scenic forest setting.
With that said, those that desire to seek out the ghosts of Vipond Park should have a good map, GPS navigation, good wayfinding skills and an appropriate vehicle for traveling old mining roads.
Coordinates of the mines listed above:
Gray Jockey: N45° 41.648 W112° 56.000
Queen of the Hills:
Multiple ruins below the mine: N45° 40.282 W112° 56.891
A large building with a nice view of Vipond Park: N45° 40.407 W112° 56.930 (Just north of here is an old log cabin with trees growing within it)
Mine adit: N45° 40.332 W112° 57.137
Mine shafts: N45° 40.402 W112° 57.271
Old Faithful Mine: N45° 41.536 W112° 56.835
Cabin: N45° 42.465 W112° 56.177
Another cabin: N45° 42.420 W112°56.231
Other ruins not mentioned above:
The remains of a cabin can be found at: N45° 40.555 W112° 54.809
Remains of two more cabins can be found at: N45° 40.695 W112° 54.754
These were probably housing and/or related to the wood cutting operations mentioned in an earlier post.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
din foster says
real nice , i would like to travel around there. dont think a motorhome would make it.
Dave Helgeson - Adventures in RVing says
Unless it is a 4×4 class B I wouldn’t recommend it. You could probably make it up Quartz Hill Road from Dewey with a shorter 2WD Class C, but you would need to walk in to the actual sites from Quartz Hill Road. Under no circumstances would I recommend any type of motorhome coming in from the Melrose side. Note: We used dirt bikes and an ATV to access the sites.