Montana Outdoors

August 28, 2009

A brief look back

Every month or two I have to visit “The City” for supplies. In my case that is Missoula, a town with a population of around 70,000, and it’s about 80 miles from where I live. While I typically hate going there, it seems that on every trip at least one thing of interest presents itself, be it a photogenic scene, a close look at some of western Montana’s wildlife or, as on yesterday’s trip, a brief glimpse into a bit of the area’s past.

There are two main routes of travel between here and Missoula, one by a state highway and the other by a combination of Interstate and state highways. On the way there I chose the state Highway: on the way back I chose a third route.

After driving west on I90 for about 23 miles from Missoula one will find a turn off to a Forest Service highway that runs past the historic Ninemile Ranger Station, on up through the beautiful Ninemile valley and over the very scenic Siegel Pass. It’s a dirt road all of the way and not suited for passenger cars, but in all it is 20 miles shorter than either of the other routes and replaces about 60 miles of highway driving.

Yesterday after I took the Ninemile turn off and drove about 18 miles up Forest Service road 412 in a nicely forested area far from any habitations, my sharp-eyed daughter who was with me exclaimed that she thought she saw a tombstone on the mountainside above the road. I turned around and returned to the spot and, upon a little investigation we found a short, steep trail that did indeed lead to a headstone (in this case, a wooden one) that marked an old and lonesome grave.

Lonesome grave

Some research today showed that the grave was not far from the location of an old mining camp called Martina at the site of what was, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a gold mine called “San Martina”. The forest has long since reclaimed the camp of Martina and the mine site, and that Grand Old Man is now peacefully at rest in a beautiful and wild part of the Lolo National Forest.

(For those who might be interested in more information about that area, the Montana State site DEQ Nine Mile Creek Mining District may be useful.)



  1. That is so cool. And it is great that someone is maintaining the grave (at least repainting the headboard ocassionally).


    Comment by Kateri — August 28, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

    • That’s what I thought too. The little trail told me that someone has been visiting the site occasionally. I’d like to know that story.


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  2. What a unique find! That would be an interesting story to get to the bottom of.


    Comment by Candace — August 28, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

    • It sure would be, Candace. A veteran of the Boer War, an active trail to a hundred year old grave…I’d sure like to know more!


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  3. Your eagle-eyed daughter did good! Nice find. Great photo. Also interesting narrative to go with the photo. Thanks.

    And thanks for being so encouraging with your visits by my blog.


    Comment by Iona — August 28, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

    • I’m glad she spotted it. I will visit there again I’m sure and maybe see if I can find where the mine site may have been.

      I enjoy your blog very much, Iona. You have a way of putting things that remind me very much of some of the members of my own family.


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  4. Nice catch, daughter! I’ll bet that Mr. Palmer is happy .. he’s got a great place to sleep.


    Comment by Cedar — August 29, 2009 @ 6:11 am

    • That’s about as peaceful as a place gets and it’s very pretty all around there.


      Comment by montucky — August 29, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  5. He seems to have led an interesting life.


    Comment by burstmode — August 29, 2009 @ 6:25 am

    • Seemed like he got around a lot for that time. I have to wonder what the African connection might have been; possibly he was British.


      Comment by montucky — August 29, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  6. Nice place to be buried. Nice capture. Thought provoking.


    Comment by Preston Surface — August 29, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    • t is a nice place. I’ll visit again when I’m in the area.


      Comment by montucky — August 29, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  7. I just looked up the definition of sourdough. An experienced prospector/miner. You probably knew that, though 🙂


    Comment by Candace — August 30, 2009 @ 12:07 am

    • Also referring to the self-sufficiency and persistence of those types of folks.


      Comment by montucky — August 30, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  8. How very interesting and an unique discovery! Those lonesome graves always have a story to tell. A lovely place to be buried and how neat inscribed: “A Real Sourdough and Grand Old Man.”


    Comment by Anna Surface — August 30, 2009 @ 5:12 am

    • I’ve asked a few of the older local people that I know to ask around if they know anyone with the name “Palmer”. It would be interesting to know if there are relatives in the area who may know more of the story. We’ll see.


      Comment by montucky — August 30, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

  9. u r daughter has a keen eye. hope she carries a camera!!


    Comment by kcjewel — August 30, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  10. what a find!


    Comment by silken — August 30, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

    • In an unexpected place. Something to think and wonder about. Personally I’d prefer that place to Arlington.


      Comment by montucky — August 30, 2009 @ 9:45 pm

  11. I wonder if those who maintain the state and county “graveyard books” and tombstone records are aware of this one.


    Comment by knightofswords — August 31, 2009 @ 8:37 am

    • I wonder too. I’m not even sure anyone around here maintains such records.


      Comment by montucky — August 31, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  12. What a cool find and a wonderful marker!

    I am catching up on all the posts I missed during my August “off.”


    Comment by Patia — September 21, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    • Yes, I thought it was a great find. Glad to see you back. I’ve been a little idle too and won’t be hitting on all cylinders again for a few more weeks. Just so much other stuff to do at the moment.


      Comment by montucky — September 21, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

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