Elkhorn is one of the most photographed ghost towns in Montana. The Fraternity Hall building (1893) pictured above on the right is the subject of most of those photographs. Other than the two buildings above, Elkhorn has few surviving substantial structures. Elkhorn briefly boomed during a silver rush from the mid 1880s to the mid 1890s. The 1880 census counted 17 people in Elkhorn village. In 1890 the population had risen to 663. Elkhorn's population may have risen above 1,000 briefly in the late 1890s. I'm not sure where the widely sited peak population of 2,500 comes from. There are no separate census numbers for Elkhorn from 1900 until 1920 when Elkhorn's population had fallen to 82. The silver market crashed in 1893 leading to the abandonment of silver mines and silver boom towns all over the west. Elkhorn never recovered.
Scattered parts of Elkhorn including Fraternity Hall are owned by the state of Montana. The publicly owned land in Elkhorn constitutes Elkhorn State Park. Most of Elkhorn however is privately owned. The delineation between public and private land in Elkhorn is not always clear. Elkhorn has about 10 permanent residents who occupy a few recently constructed and a few renovated homes. The former Elkhorn mine is marked with no trespassing signs.
Getting to Elkhorn is easy. The 12 miles of gravel road from highway 69 is well maintained and marked. Figuring out what parts of town are okay to explore and which parts are private property is slightly confusing but the residents I saw seemed friendly and must be used to a steady flow of tourists. There are no open businesses in Elkhorn that I know of.
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