We organized a tour to Virginia City and Nevada City, historic gold mining towns in Montana. Virginia City is a living town of 150 year round residents who host the West's best preserved gold mining town from the 1860's. Visitors walk the same board walks that desperate vigilantes once patrolled. There are over 100 historic buildings complete with artifacts and furnishings.
We rode the Alder Gulch Short Line Railroad to Nevada City just 1.5 miles away. Nevada City has 14 historic buildings original to the site plus a collection of more than 100 other historic buildings from locations all over Montana, including the Nevada City Music Hall with its collection of historic music machines, gaviolis and player pianos.
On the way to Virginia City we stopped at Hegben and Quake lakes. On August 17, 1959 at 11:37 PM a powerful 7.3 earthquake struck in Madison Canyon, an area in Yellowstone National Park. During the earthquake the surrounding landscape dropped as much as 20 feet and shock waves caused numerous seiches to surge across Hebgen Lake for 12 hours. Water pushed by the seiches poured over the dam which did not collapse.
The landslides caused by the quake carried 80 million tons (40 cubic yards) of rock, mud and debris down into the valley and created hurricane force winds strong enough to toss cars. In Madison Canyon, a family of seven were swept away by the landslide, five of whom perished. Two more fatalities were also reported in nearby Cliff Lake to the south. In Rock Creek, tourists camping there were caught off guard by the quake and landslide, which swept them into the creek by causing a seiche which inundated trailers and tents, uprooted trees, and injured one additional person.