Mining gold in Garnet was difficult. Gold was located 40 to 50 feet below the surface on bedrock, meaning that miners often had to drain water out of their shafts with nothing but buckets. Miners had to work in teams in order to build shafts. The most profitable mine in Garnet was owned by Nancy Hanks, who was able to produce over half a million dollars from the gold mined on her property.
The revenue generated from gold mining in Montana encouraged people from all over the world to immigrate to the booming state. For instance, Frank Holmes immigrated from Sweden to the in the 1880s, arriving in Garnet in the 1890s. Holmes remained in Garnet until his death in 1914.
Like other Montana mining towns, Garnet suffered from fluctuating gold prices and a shortage of mineable ore. By 1905, Garnet’s population had dropped dramatically from 1,000 in 1898 to only 150. On top of the dramatic population loss, the town of Garnet would also be struck with disaster. A devastating fire in 1912 caused considerable damage to the town's business district and prompted many residents to leave town. Frank A. Davey, who owned a store and hotel in Garnet, was one of the only businessmen to remain in town after World War One. In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt increased the price of gold, instigating a short-lived revival of mining in the area. However, by the late 1940s Garnet’s population had dwindled to nothing.
The Garnet Preservation Association has collected oral histories documenting the history of the town. The Association aims to preserve the town in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. Garnet can be accessed year round, but in the winter visitors have to use skis or a snowmobile to get there. There is a $3 visitor fee.