Here is a bit of history on the town of Pony, Montana and its surrounding area:
Hidden in the Tobacco Root Range of the Montana Rockies is the historic gold mining town of Pony, Montana.
It languishes in the beauty of the Deer Lodge National Forest at the base of Hollowtop Mountain. Less than one hundred families live in Pony today. It's hard to imagine that during the gold prospecting days, over 5,000 people lived here.
In 1860-1870, settlers coming west for the gold rush found this beautiful spot. One was a man named Tecumseh Smith, nicknamed 'Pony' because of his small stature.
Gold mining in Pony between 1870-1880 was profitable. Five million dollars in ore was taken out. An eastern syndicate believing a large deposit of ore was high grade, built a 100-stamp processing mill. The ore body turned out to be low grade and consequently the massive mill never turned a wheel. The historic 'brick office', assay office, is still standing and part of the town's character.
The twenty stamp mill was erected in 1883 by Henry Elling, a Virginia City, Montana entrepreneur who invested in land and mines in and around Pony. All that remains of the mill is the foundation and one side wall, constructed of stone.
Downtown Pony, the old Isdell Mercantile Co. building still stands. At one time, fourteen clerks were employed there. It was built of stone in 1880 and in its early days housed a school, post office and accommodated town meetings.
The Pony Hotel still stands, although stripped of its brick veneer. In its day it had unique furnishings and was last used in 1958.
The Morris Bank boasts beautiful brick construction and is located at the corner of Pony Street and Broadway. It was an active place in the early days of Pony and the building at one time housed not only the bank, but the U.S. Post Office, a barber shop as well as doctors and lawyers. The bank fixtures were typical old west iron teller's cages and arched windows.
Pony Public School sits on the hill overlooking the valley and was once considered one of the finest. It was built in 1902 for $10,000 and the gymnasium was built in 1920. In 1943, the high school was closed. The grade school closed some years later. The buildings are still used today for reunions, weddings and social functions.
Another brick building, on Broadway, is the Masonic Hall. Many tourists stop to snap pictures on the unique cast iron front. The lower part was a community dance hall, and is still used for the Masons' meetings, and also as a Senior Citizen Center.
Three churches were built, a Presbyterian (in 1894) which is in use today, an Episcopal (in 1903), built of a cut stone with imported stained glass windows costing $7,000 (also in use today) and a Catholic church, which was moved away. Another attraction off of Broadway, is the city jail, a solid stone structure with the iron bars still on the windows.
Long gone are numerous businesses, a creamery, two Chinese laundries, a Chinese restaurant, real estate offices, hat and tailor shops, a blacksmith shop, rooming houses, a movie house and an electric power plant. At one time, there were twelve saloons, a slaughter house on the outskirts of town, a music band and a baseball team. Pony's main claim to fame is that it had electricity before New York City.
In 1920, a tragic fire swept through the main part of town. It destroyed the livery stable and many other buildings. The Morris State Bank and the Masonic Building survived.
At one time, three brick yards operated in Pony, resulting in many beautiful brick homes. Many of these Victorian homes are enjoyed and lived in today.
Pony is listed as a ghost town and tourists come from all parts of the country to walk the streets, take pictures, explore the old trails and mines or just enjoy the clean air, brilliant blue sky and majestic mountains. In the spring, the hills are full of color from wild flowers.
The Tobacco Root Mountains and surrounding areas are familiar grounds for the elk, moose,
deer, antelope, bear and mountain lion. And the bird hunting is great too: duck, geese, quail, turkey,pheasant, and more.
There are two trailheads, Albro Lake and Hollowtop Trail, at the end of the road of Pony, Montana. Many people hike to Hollowtop, where there is a "sign in box" for people that have made the approximate 6 hour hike to Hollowtop Mountain! The trout fishing in the high mountain lakes is super, with the golden trout, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. Contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for education, hunting and fishing guidelines.