PHILIPSBURG, Mont. - At noon Thursday church and school bells rang out across Philipsburg to mark the 150th anniversary of the town's founding. The sesquicentennial celebration is a big deal to the residents of a community that's refused to give up, unlike the abandoned mines and settlements surrounding the town.
In 1860 Philipp Deidesheimer invented a timber framing system for the silver mines in the Comstock Lode region of Nevada. On June 22, 1867, Philipsburg was named after the German engineer.
While the silver mines around Philipsburg played out long ago, the town surged on. In recent decades the community has experienced a rebirth as tourism became the main commodity.
Representatives for Gov. Steve Bullock and Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester were in attendance at the opening ceremony for the weekend festivities.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer was also in attendance.
"Mining towns all across America look at each other and say ‘We can't do any more, we'll close the shop down.’" Schweitzer said. "But in Philipsburg, it's the people, the people who said ‘We can do this.’ They said ‘We can bring candy,’ (referring to the famous Sweet Palace) and the people came. They said ‘We can brew beer here again. We haven't brewed beer in over 100 years. Now we make the best beer in America right here.’"
The Philipsburg Rotary Club presented the town with $23,845 to help finance badly needed infrastructure repairs to water, sewer and drainage systems. The money was raised by auctioning off bars of silver.
Inside the fire house student artwork and a series of exhibit posters were hung for all to see. The posters highlight the restoration of each historic downtown structure. The exhibits will be displayed around town as part of sesquicentennial festivities through the end of the summer.
Celebrations continue Friday with a seminar at the Granite County Museum starting at 6 p.m. Saturday will feature walking tours of Philipsburg and the nearby ghost town of Granite. There will also be tours of the newly restored Royal Stamp Mill on East Broadway Street at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.