The ghost town of Castle is one of many towns created and ruined by the silver rush in the late 1800s. The first mine registered on the site was the (oddly named) North Carolina mine in 1884, but within the next 7 years, 991 claims had been made.
The main street of Castle, incorporated in 1891 with a population of about 1,500 people, the result of the influx of miners, and the barkeeps and prostitutes which provided them with services should they have a good day in the mine.
At its peak the town had 2,000 residents, “a fine school, numerous merchants, several fraternal organizations, a jail, 7 brothels, and as many as 14 saloons”, according to this site.
The best-known one time resident of Castle Town was Martha Jane Cannary Burke, or as she is better known Calamity Jane. A frontierswoman, alcoholic, Indian fighter, sometimes prostitute, she came to Castle to open a restaurant in the 1890s. This seems to have come to an abrupt end, since the local papers reported that “Mr. and Mrs. M. Burk, who started a restaurant here a few weeks ago, were arrested last Sunday morning” on charges of “absconding debtors”, all of which seems to somehow have been related to the couple not paying for a team of horses in their possession. They soon returned to their wandering lifestyle, eventually ending up back in Deadwood in the Black Hills. Like many other mine towns, the silver panic of 1893 caused the town to die a rapid death. It was finally abandoned by the last residents in the 1930s.
Today once can still see the remains of the town, and the open rock basement is the remains of what was once the baker’s general store and post office. Berg’s meat market and Kidd’s furniture store was across the street and on the far hill side was Minnie’s sporting house.
Castle is located on private lands, and permission is required for access.
Know Before You Go
Just southwest of White Sulpher Springs.
- Calamity Jane: the woman and the legend By James D. McLaird