Laurin Ghost Town of the Month

laurin02 Alder Gulch is the name of the general area where a number of mining camps were located including the better known   Virginia City as well as Laurin(pronounced locally as La-ray) and Alder itself.  As a supply center near Alder Gulch, Laurin  shared in the $100,000,000 riches of the gulch. The first strikes occurred in 1863 and, for a time, Laurin was known as the  El Dorado of the area. Today, Laurin still has some of the old relics of its early years amid buildings of a more modern time.

The town was established around a trading post ran by the Frenchman, Jean Baptiste Laurin. Laurin’s store prospered  because of the supplies carried for the miners and the furs traded with the Indians. Laurin was sometimes called Cicero, or  Lorrain.

M. Laurin was a five foot seven inch tall man, weighing in at a grand total of 350 pounds. He was a very shrewd  businessman even though he couldn’t read or write. It has been estimated that he built an economic empire of $500,000.  Another report indicated that he owned all the stores, bridges, and most of the ranches, cattle, horses, and mules from fifty to one hundred miles of the valley. Laurin was also a money lender charging between twelve to thirty-six percent on unsecured loans.

The most interesting structure left in Laurin is the Saint Mary’s Assumption Church. The church contained a 400 lb brass bell that was cast in 1848. In 1930, when the Virginia City church was razed the citizens began to attend Saint Mary’s Assumption Church that was built in 1901.  The congregation brought the bell with them to their new church where it stands today. In addition to the church there is  a lumber store and an Army Navy surplus store.

On July 4, 1864, two members of the notorious Plummer gang were hanged here. The tree is now known as Hangman’s Tree.

Laurin is located south of Butte and 87 miles northwest of Yellowstone National Park. It is can be reached off of Highway 287, between Twin Bridges and Ennis.




Ghost Towns of Montana by Donald Miller