Spooky Historical Place
Wow that went fast. The first leg of my 1,700 mile, month long trip south, was less than three hours before arriving in the middle of nowhere! Hidden in a tranquil valley sits Bannack Ghost Town, just like it has for over a hundred years. Of course now it’s deserted and only ghosts and memories walk the boardwalks. In fact when I arrived there were only two other cars in the parking lot. That seemed weird, but it is off season now making this place even spookier, if that’s possible.
Settling In My Camp
After registering at the town office, I pulled into my campsite for the night. I then went about the task of getting my camp set up before going back into town about a half a mile away.
My camp was prefect for dry camping. It was right on the Grasshopper Creek, close enough that I could cast a fishing line out my Coach’s window.
The entire park was only large enough for about a dozen rigs and a few tent sites.
Little did I know at the time over a hundred years ago the Creek would be crowded with miners panning for gold and more than one murder would happen here.
One of my camp neighbors, it turns out, lives near my home-base in Hamilton. What a coincidence. I had just met them at a dinner held at a friends house a month or so earlier. I had no idea they were coming here to get away and celebrate their wedding anniversary. They said they come here to camp occasionally and it’s close to home.
Heading Back to Town
After finishing camp I head back to town down the lonely trail.
During my walk I wonder about visitors on my way back this evening.
Like most ghost towns there is an eerie feeling when going into buildings with so much history. This is the first ghost town that I have been to that let you freely explore the town and buildings inside and out.
The Hotel was in better shape than most of the other buildings in town. A sign indicating the state had spent over $200,000 to redo the foundation and stabilize the structure. They also were working on refurbishing the plaster on the walls. What a great building. Of course there are stories of a little boy who mysteriously died here and can been heard banging on the wall to get out.
The school was also in good shape. They had brought in “period” furnishings to resemble what it looked like when in use many years before.
The playground was especially eery. Why the merry-go-round keeps turning I’ll never figure out. Walking away I look back quickly. What was that? Oh it’s gone now.
Strolling down the main road in town you can imagine what it was like so many lifetimes ago.
I had to check out the jail so I moseyed over to the Sheriff’s and went behind to see the crude structures in the rear.
It is told that the Sheriff at the time had the Jail built so the prisoners could see the gallows up on the hill, dreading the day they would take their last swing there before being buried in Boot Hill.
They were built out over the small cliff and “Grasshopper Creek” allowing a hole cut to be cut in the floor that was used as the “facility”. Inside the wood seemed to be in decent shape. Very heavy planks and Iron bars on the small windows. No one would be getting out of here.
I’m Glad I was on this side of those iron bars.
The gallows and boot hill was some distance away and I had no desire to hike out to the site this late in the day although I wouldn’t mind seeing boot hill cemetery.
It’s my understanding that eventually the sheriff used the jail he had built for bad guys, but as an occupant. He also experienced using the gallows from the rope end. Apparently he wasn’t the person he once thought to be.
Bannack Ghost Town had so many buildings I was unable to see them all in the time I had, I’m sure I will return one day. For now I travel back to my camp and prepare for the long night.
Tonight, along a lonely creek far away from civilization, I will be listening to the whispering voices of long ago. They will be telling of the excitement trying their hand at striking it rich panning for gold or stealing some and paying the price in the very spot I’m camped along the Grasshopper Creek in Bannack Ghost Town of Montana.
Note: I had many more pictures to share, too many for this blog. I chose twenty-five, including these and they are shared on my gallery at: Bannack State Park Photo Album
Safe travels until next time, Gary and Jagger