Welcome to Ingomar Montana
For the past few years I have heard about a funny little near ghost town in the middle of nowhere rugged Montana. It's called Ingomar and it has quite a past--it's a very interesting place! To get there you have to drive some pretty desolate roads. You hardly see another car and all you have to accompany you is wind and dust. It's worth the trip!
Ingomar is a town in decline. It has some very notable buildings, but they are falling into disrepair (save for the newly remodeled depot). In the days to come you'll be seeing two more sets of Ingomar photos--because it has alot to offer for a photographer :)
Here's the history (it's very worth reading!):
"Upon completion of the Milwaukee Railroad in 1910, Ingomar became the hub of commerce in an area bounded by the Missouri River to the north, the Musselshell River to the west and the Yellowstone River to the south and east. Ingomar was an ideal location for a railhead and shipping center for the thousands of acres between the Yellowstone and the Missouri Rivers. The town site was platted in 1910 by the railroad and named by railroad officials. The depot was completed in 1911.
Contributing to the growth of the area north to the Missouri and south to the Yellowstone was the Homestead Act of 1862, later amended to give settlers 320 acres of land which, if proved up in 5 years, became their own. The railroad advertised the area as "Freeland" and was responsible for bringing settlers into the area.
Ingomar was also the sheep shearing center to the migratory sheep men using the free spring, summer and fall grass. Ingomar became the site of the world’s largest sheep shearing and wool shipping point. Two million pounds of wool a year were shipped from Ingomar during the peak years. Shearing pens in Perth, Australia, were designed using the Ingomar pens as a model. Wool was stored in the wool warehouse located adjacent to the shearing pens, and shipped out by rail through 1975, when the wool warehouse was sold to William Magelssen. Rail service was discontinued in 1980.
Since potable water could not be found at the town site, water was supplied by the Milwaukee Railroad using a water tender. The water tender was left in Ingomar as a gift by the Milwaukee Railroad when services were discontinued. In late 1984, a water system was installed for the few remaining Ingomar residents.
Between 1911 and 1917, there were an average of 2,500 homestead filings per year in this area. The post office was established in 1910, with Si Sigman as the postmaster. Ingomar soon became a bustling town of 46 businesses, including a bank, 2 elevators, 2 general stores, 2 hotels (of which, one remains), 2 lumber yards, rooming houses, saloons, cafes, drug store, blacksmith shop, claims office, doctor, dentist, maternity home and various other essential services. To the northeast of the town site is what remains of Trout Lake, a body of water impounded by the embankment of the railroad, which provided boating and swimming in summer, skating in winter, and a source of ice that was cut, harvested and stored in 3 ice houses to provide summer refrigeration. Fires, drought and depression have wreaked havoc on this community over the years. The dreams of homesteaders vanished as rain failed to come in quantities to assure a crop with sufficient frequency to enable them to make a living. A reluctance to abandon the town has kept it alive through the devastating fire of 1921, which destroyed a large portion of it. Some businesses rebuilt, but others moved on.
The Ingomar Hotel located at the corner of Main Street and Railway Avenue was built in 1922 and connected to an older dining room which was managed by Mrs. H. J. Broom, and by Stena Austin after Mrs. Broom’s death. The mortgagor, Emil Lura, took over ownership and management of the property, after twice foiling Stena’s efforts to torch the hotel. At that time rates were 50 cents per night and no women allowed; after World War II rates were raised to $1 per night. The building was purchased by Bill Seward in 1966 and is no longer operated as a hotel. The present day Jersey Lilly had its beginning as a bank in 1914, known as Wiley, Clark and Greening, Bankers. On Jan. 1, 1918, the bank was reorganized from a probate bank to Ingomar State Bank; it received a federal charter, and operated as the First National Bank of Ingomar from January until July 21, 1921, when it closed. On October 13, 1921, the bank went into receivership. In June, 1924, William T. Craig was charged in Federal Court in Billings with misapplying certain funds of the bank. Craig was found guilty and sentenced to 16 months and fined $1,000. In April, 1925, the Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed the Montana decision and the indictment was ordered quashed. Craig was dismissed. The money lost by the bank customers was never repaid.
In 1933, Clyde Easterday established the Oasis bar in the bank building; Bob Seward took over the bar in 1948 and named it the Jersey Lilly after Judge Roy Bean’s bar of the same name in Langtry, Texas. Bob’s son, Bill, purchased the building in 1958, and the Jersey Lilly continued under his ownership, serving as the local watering hole, cafe and general gathering place for area residents until August, 1995, when it was purchased by Jerry J. Brown. The Jersey Lilly is internationally known for its beans and steaks. The cherry wood, back bar of the Jersey Lilly is one of two which were transported from St. Louis by boat up the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and installed at Forsyth in the early 1900s. This bar was stored at Forsyth during Prohibition, sold to Bob Seward, and installed here in 1933; the other back bar was destroyed in 1912, when the American Hotel burned in Forsyth.
The original frame school building, the Jersey Lilly and Bookman Store were all placed on the National Registry of Historic places in September, 1994. Both the original frame school building and the Milwaukee Depot are now privately owned.
Ingomar retains its post office and one rural route with mail delivered every Friday in spite of snow, rain, heat or gloom of night.
Area residents banded together to construct a rodeo arena, which has become the home of one of the best NRA rodeos. Rodeos are held throughout the summer and early fall.
Across the street from the Jersey Lilly, the local 4-H club has constructed a park with horseshoe pits and picnic tables for public use.
A campground with hookups is open throughout the year. If you are planning a stay in Ingomar, call the Jersey Lilly at 358-2278 for information.
From the grazing of buffalo to Texas cattle to early sheep men and through the homestead era, this land has completed a cycle, bringing it back to its primary use, production of natural grasses. Ingomar survives today because of the social needs of the people of this vast and sparsely populated area." -ultimatemontana.com