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Philipsburg Mail
Philipsburg , Montana
June 15, 2017     Philipsburg Mail
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June 15, 2017

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Philipsburg Mail - Thursday, June 15, 2Ol7 19 In the late 18oo's the town of Gran- factual, others say the story came about that none could hurry at that elevation, mately 7,000 men (this number did ite, which lines six miles northeast of as the result of a few too many in the The area was known for its well not include families, which would have Philipsburg, was booming with the saloon, below zero temperatures. It was such brought the population to lO,OOO). discovery of silver. The old prospec- In Granite there were two mines - that a man's true size could not be It is only natural there would be tors, with wrinkled whiskered faces and The Granite Mountain Mine and the judged until he was down at one of the some deaths, sometimes the preacher mud covered overalls, strolled into the Bi-Metallic, owned largely by St. Louis, local saloons and could shed his outer- would be busy three times a day with growing town. Following close behind Mo. interests. The Granite Mountain garments in a suitable temperature., such services. were their dingy white mules, who were Mine and Mill produced $33 million in Besides the sub-zero temperatures, the In 1884 death struck quickly. To packed with rusty picks, heavy shov- silver to become known as the greatest wind had a clean sweep of the town shock the whole city, Black Diptheria els, a week or two of food and bulky silver producer in the United States in from the north and east. ran rampant throughout the town. The bedrolls that kept the miners warm the 1882 - 1893 era. Granite Mountain was so-called "Black Death" as it was called, claimed on harsh, cold Montana nights. These The city of Granite was busy 24 because it was all granite. There Was many of the children of the families. mules carried everything the miners hours a day with the mines runningno dirt. The loose soil was decomposed It was said that there was no time to needed to live and tools to help them three eight hour shifts, and downtown granite, no more than coarse sand. grieve for lost children as mothers find their fortune, establishments also running on a 24- Wells or graves could not be dug. fought desperately to save the rest of There is a story told, whether fact or hour basis to keep up with working Water was carded around in a bar- their families. fiction, we do not know, that Eli Hol- standards, rel on two wheels, drawn by Many mothers never knew which was land and James Hill are the two men Granite is situated at a horse and the water was the grave Of their own child, as so many credited with the discovery of silver in 8,000 feet in elevation, sold in ten gallon tins. died there were few markers on individ- the Granite area as the result of an 1893 approximately a mile Later a reservoir was ual graves, before the epidemic ended. deer hunting expedition, and a half above sea built back in the moun- In 189o the city of Granite was llth The story goes that Hill or Holland, level. The air was tains and the water in size among Montana cities. Such or both, had killed a large buck deer so thin, strangers was conveyed to the was Granite in 1894 where men were on the slopes of the Granite Moun- seeing the miners mine in an open boasting that no one had found the tain Peak. The animal, in its struggle walking up to work ditch. The dead bottom of a Montana silver mine. A against death, kicked loose some rock might have thought were brought five few years later, due to adverse legis- and earth while the men were dressing them a lazy bunch of miles from Granite to lation, silver was not used to make the animal. They found the deer had fellows or just plain the cemetery in Philips- money. From the old hustling, bustling unearthed an outcropping of silver, reluctant to go to work. burg. camp, Granite soon was to become a Some old-timers claim the story is Although they soon learned The camp had approxi- town of ghosts. Solar array comes to Maxville home, along with tax credits continued from page one is tied into the power. But as array in the air. When this thing is running out. All in all, he said, solar it becomes more and more Once NOrthwestern Energy full boar she'll produce 6.5 makes a lot more sense than But the mountainous draw in common you're seeing more approves the work and the kilowatts," he said. it used to. Maxville favors the afternoon electricians getting gearedcustomer signs a Net MeterWing0 explained that "They're getting better, very sun so Wingo "cheated" the up to provide alternative agreement, the owner will solar panels are designed much so. Not too long ago, array a bit to the west. energy," Wingo said of his start to see the electric to operate at an outside it took you about 30 years The customers' goal, he said, foray into solar, meter's wheel begin to slow temperature of 70 degrees, to pay for the system but the was to save about $1oo per The footers for the array, he down. "Winters are going to be the cells were designed for only month on their Northwestern noted, are huge. "If you were at my place worst time of year, especially lO years. These cells will Energy bill and with that goal "We're basically creating (in Philipsburg) where youhere in Maxville with the last 30 years," he said. The in mind, Wingo calculated the a giant sail and those panels have no trees, this array really bad sun exposure andowner estimates that, with the size of the array, are not designed to flex and would perform better. I can the panels will be cold a lot," federal incentives his payback When the ground thawed, give, so the structure we put it watch the sun come up and he said. will be less than seven years. with most of the materials on on had to be quite sturdy," he watch the shadow go acrossThe owner in Maxville was "And they are pretty much hand, he was ready to build explained, the valley and right in the able to use federal tax credits maintenance free but the a 3o-feet-wide by lo-feet tall The footers are six feet inmiddle of that valley would to offset the cost of the array cleaner you can keep them the solar array in Maxville. the ground, solid concrete,be optimal. Each one of those and Wingo said that he seesmore effective they'll be. Me? "Solar, in the past, well it three feet in diameter. In 40 panels produces about 320 Northwestern Energy "picking I'd go out and hit them with has kind of been autonomous the center of each of thosewatts. These are top of the line up the ball on solar energy" a hose every once in a while and electricians, where we footings is a six inch steel panels, you ca2 buy panelsand that grant money is also and then maybe a squeegee." really got involved is where it pipe. Those pipes hold the that produce bout 200 watts, available to those who seek it Wingo added. I wou want to in anq continued from page five When the photographer and I first came up to the house, there was tiny place with a carport and a deck across the street, half hidden by a wild garden growing around it. It had a "For Rent" sign in the front, a bathtub in the back, a sink to gut fish, a veggie garden, an apple tree, and the pounding sound of the ocean, and after some deliberation, and some emailed prodding from David, that was where I ended up for my final summer. The last time I saw David while he was still well, was when he pounded on my glass door, while I was scrambling eggs without having opened the curtains to the morning yet, to tell me there was a beached whale down below and the whole town was down there trying to refloat it. The next time I saw him was in hospital, for a follownp interview for his exhibition. The last time I saw him was at the exhibition, in a wheelchair, and he was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open. That Friday, I got a text f om an editor saying that an obituary for David had just come through to the paper. I called his sister, and she said they were going to bring David back to Omaui. She added that there wasn't a day in hospital that he didn't ask to be brought home. When I did go to see David, finally, it was in the early evening, when I got home from work. I parked my car, got out, and marched over, ready to get this over with, so I could go out for a run on the beach without feeling like I was being silly and childish. There was only one car in the driveway, and the door was open to the kitchen and I stepped inside, knocking, seeing figures on the porch. Two young guys came through the house, and I remembered them as students from around town and I said who I was and that I was David's neighbour and then I just started to cry. One of the students put an arm around me and wiped his own eyes, and said they had been neighbours too for awhile, last year and we talked about how David looked after all of us, bringing us muffins and making sure we were happy here and how he told us we shouldn't swim past the waves or we'd get dragged out to sea, and then pointed to the small room around the corner from the kitchen counter, where people had put loaves of bread and cards and baked goods, and I went in. David was on the single bed. The curtains were open and the sun had just gone down. It wasn't how I thought it would be. The sky was red, the sea had pulled back and the lagoon was full of new saltwater. There was going to be a moon that was close to full that night. I stood there for a few minutes and it was how people described it: that it seems like that person could just open their eyes, or move a hand. It was more unbelievable that David wouldn't do those things. Just outside his room, you could see that first photograph he had taken after his diagnosiS, of the storm coming over the mountains. There were books, and CDs and music posters still up. I had thought I would want to walk in and walk out, but it was the opposite. I wanted to stay. I wanted to talk to him. If there had been a seat in the bedroom, I would have sat, and stayed for a long time. It was like standing in a very small cathedral. Afterwards, I went for a run on the beach, and then for my first night swim in Omaui. The moon rippled on the water of the lagoon as I slid through it, then turned on my back, and realised then that the aching in my upper body that had frightened me all that week, didn't mean that I was dying, I just hadn't been doing backstrokes properly and had probably pulled a muscle. I remember that I woke'up late that night to the house shuddering with wind and rain and it was cold in the room. A huge, wild, bottomless sadness filled me, the kind of sadness you have in the middle of the night when You've woken up from a dream you can't remember. David's death made me feel alone an.d un-buffered, and other things :- made me lousy too. All of it seemed to involve the storm. It seemed to be taking something away and I laid awake thinking, well, that was it, that was summer. I made the decision to come back to California not long after this. I gave notice at my job and told my landlord that I would be moving out at the start of winter. I was tired of feeling nn-buffered. I missed my family and I wanted to be closer to them. The final three months became this lovely, long drawn-out autumn in that tiny community. I rode a neighbor's horse in the evenings up until I left and I have these photos that I took of the fall light on the sand dunes. I came across those photos this weekend. The beauty and the wildness I look at makes me ache, though there is nothing in me that wants to go back to where I was four years ago. There are photos of my mailbox on a gravel road across from a windswept beach; of sheets hanging from a clothesline propped up with a tree branch above blooming lupines; a moon framed by a horse's ears. These photos are enough for me. I can put them away and not long to return there. Like David, I just needed to capture everything about such a beautiful and wild place before leafing it for good.