Suggested Reading List
Witness to History: The Remarkable Untold Story of Virginia City and Nevada City, MT.
Author: John Ellingsen
Description: John Ellingsen, Virginia City Curator Emeritus, begins with a description of the rough beginnings and gold rush glory days of both Virginia City and Nevada City. He then goes on to detail, in a writing style that is ‘part history, part memoir and part passionate essay,’ the importance of historic preservation. This unique and often moving book by the man who has dedicated his life to the restoration and saving of the two cities is illustrated with familiar and rare photographs as well as his own discerning drawings. The author’s numerous awards include a lifetime achievement award from the Montana Preservation Alliance, The Governor’s Award for historic preservation and a special award for preservation from the Department of the Interior for his work at Garnett Ghost Town.
Montana Pay-Dirt: A Guide to the Mining Camps of the Treasure State
Author: Muriel Sibell Wolle
Description: This history of Montana's most famous mining camps is accurately and thoroughly chronicled via Wolle's extensive archival research, fascinating interviews with old timers and her first-person stories. The sites were researched and visited in the early 1950s and include wonderful narrative of the author's explorations and adventures in the backroads of Montana's mountains. Wolle, a talented artist, illustrated this book with her 'handsome sketches of ghost town streetscapes.' The book endures as a standard history of Montana's mining frontier.
A Day Late and a Dollar Short
Author: Spike Van Cleve
Description: Gloriously written short stories of ranching in days gone by for nuances of Montana - poignant, funny, real. Read this before you come to Big Sky Country. The author was born on the family ranch in 1912, attended Harvard University and returned to Montana where he and his wife, Barbara, continued to ranch and to operate the historic LAZY K BAR Dude Ranch. Among other offices, he served as president of the Dude Ranchers Association and as chairman of the board of trustees and a director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. For his most poignant and lovely story in this collection, “Cody and Terry,” and for the movie documentary, “Spike-Montana Horseman” he was awarded Wrangler Awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame
Montana Mining Ghost Towns
Author: Barbara Fifer
Description: A recording of Montana's historic and abandoned mining towns is presented through colorful images, historical photographs, newspaper excerpts and text describing life in the mining camps - prospectors, outlaws, colorful characters, vigilantes and corporate shenanigans.
Montana Ghost Towns and Gold Camps: A Pictorial Guide
Author: William Whitfield
Description: Pictorial history includes over 400 photographs and textual commentary detailing ghost towns and mining and gold rush camps at 71 historic locations around the Treasure State. Writer-photographer Whitfield's book reflects more than a dozen years of research and field work.
Vigilante Days and Ways
Author: Nathaniel Pitt Langford
Description: This first person account of Vigilante justice in Montana was written in 1890 by Nathaniel Pitt Langford who, as a member of the Virginia City, Montana Vigilance Committee in the 1860s, was on the inside. This is the Montana Vigilante story of 1862-1866. The dramatic scenes and action that the author heard, witnessed and participated in were the dealings of Vigilante Justice to clean up violence in Virginia City and Bannack, Montana. The book begins with an historic photograph entitled 'Vigilante Execution' and a dedication ‘to the memory of those unknown pioneers who lost their lives in laying the foundation of the empire of the new great west.’
This western classic had been out of print when it was reintroduced in 2003 to a new generation of western history enthusiasts. It is written in the style of the age, in flowery, melodramatic Victorian prose style which leaves no doubt of its authenticity and substance. ‘Here is the old west as it really was,' the Montana gold frontier before formal law enforcement arrived. Here’s gold rush history, Vigilantes and Frontier Justice.