Seldom is a town named for a man whose name no one could remember. Such is the case with Pony, Montana. He wasn’t even five feet tall. He had done nothing for which others should remember him or his name. He would pan enough gold to survive and move from camp to camp in the hope of finding his bonanza. He did at a site in a small creek bed just below Old Hollow Top Mountain sometime during the late 1860s. He found a partner and together they worked their claim. Apparently not given to steady work, he moved on. But nobody knew his name. All anyone remembered was that he responded to the name “Pony” given his small size. Although vanished to other parts, he left his nickname attached to what would become a booming mining town. It lasted until 1922 when all the mines were closed. If you’re in the neighborhood, take time to visit Pony.
Submitted by Henry Chenowith.
mines were not all shut down after 1922...the old stamp mill above the
old Purdy residence was constructed by the Japanese shortly before
World War II. It was torn down and used for the war effort shortly
after completion. Tecumsa Smith was Pony's real
name. Legend has it that he was very frustrated with the lack of gold
that he was finding ..so he threw his pick and it landed in a patch of
wild strawberries.. upon retrieval of the pick he discovered
gold where the pick landed that's how the Strawberry mine got it's
name.. There are numerous mine sites above town...
population of Pony in 1877 was 300-400, by 1878 it had dwindled to 100,
the 1880 Census recorded 87 people, in 1881 a newspaper noted that Pony
population had fallen to 50, a boost around 1900 brought the population
to around 1000 which coincides with the building of the Fraternity Hall
and the School. That was the greatest the population of Pony ever was.
By 1910 it dropped to 369 and today it is 188. The exaggerated numbers
that have become folklore had more to do with promotion than fact.
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