SOUTHERN CROSS, Mont. - The handful of locals in this Montana ghost town are haunted by the specter of eviction. Protected by a 1998 court injunction, homeowners earned borrowed time to stay put. But they still face a court challenge from the development company that owns the land beneath their homes.
About 20 people own homes at Southern
Cross, a 7,000-foot elevation, 500-acre parcel, born of a
gold-mining claim in 1866. Current residents bought old structures
- a dance hall, post office and various cabins - renovated them,
restored the antiques left behind, and called these places home.
For the last 10 years, they paid to lease the land from the mining
company. But last March, the Southern Cross Co. bought the land
from then-owner, Magellan Mining Co., and issued 60-day eviction
notices to all residents.
"Sixty days was
designed to be confiscatory," said Roy Andes, the attorney who is
fighting eviction for three residents. He says previous owners
promised that leases would last for a "considerable" length of
Meanwhile, volunteers organized a publicity
blitz and the ghost town has been profiled on television and in
People Magazine. With views of the Anaconda Pintlar Wilderness
peaks, the Flint Creek range and Georgetown Lake, Southern Cross
sits close to unlimited recreation possibilities. For now, however,
District Court Judge Ted Mizner has halted the developers' plans to
build a hotel and house, while he studies the tangled knot of
conflicting ownership claims. No court date has been set.