Old Hotels, Deserted Dots

Hotel Calvert. I saw the Hotel Calvert in Lewistown, Montana on a trip across Montana earlier in the year. I really wanted to stop to stay there, but it was only 2pm. I got a chance this time, and I’m glad I stayed. The hotel was originally a dormitory for those attending the high school across the street. I’m sure that was a useful thing, given the great distances some kids had to travel just to get to a school, and given the horrendous winters in this part of the continent (both of which can be seen in the movie The Slaughter Rule). The Hotel Calvert website says that the dormitory opened in 1917, and it was sold and conversion to a hotel began in 1928. When I showed up at around midnight the hotel, there was no one at the desk, but there was a couple phone numbers given to call. I called one, and got no answer. The second one finally got me someone, who then apparently had to drive over. He apologized for having no rooms with a bathroom available, but I was actually glad to get a room that probably hadn’t been renovated in the last half-century. This turned out to be mostly true, except that the walls had been covered in wood paneling, presumably in the 1960s or 70s. Presumably the doe-eyed clownchild was added around then as well.

Moccasin, Montana is the closest to a ghost town that I’ve ever seen. It’s not completely deserted, but it’s close. There’s still a post office and grain elevator, but that’s about it.

Trainspotting? Though I’m many forms of geek, railfan isn’t one of them. Then why would I pick up SPV’s Comprehensive Railroad Atlas – Dakotas & Minnesota? I picked it up because most Everydots that I’ve photographed were built along rail lines, and some of the tiniest dots only have signage thanks to the railroad. The SPV atlas shows current and former rail lines, and current and former stations and sidings. Since the existence of many of these tiny towns was defined by the railroads, these maps end up being pretty comprehensive. It also helps explain why some maps would list some of these basically nonexistent spots and others would list different ones — the data for those must have come from railroad maps. For me, this means that if I want to be comprehensive, I now have even more dots to visit. While I expect that most of them will have nearly nothing that indicates they were a town, sometimes finding the smallest piece of evidence that they existed feels like a great discovery.

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