As I was writing another blog today I came across one of my early camps in 2014. At that time Jagger and I had been together for less than six months. As it turns out, this was my first experience “dry camping”. I’m glad it was early in my travels as the batteries were new. – When preparing to leave the next morning the batteries struggled when I tried to pull in the slides. Apparently they don’t last as long as I thought. Were we trapped here in a ghost town with no cell service?
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 and fifty years. Of course, now it’s deserted and only ghosts and memories walk the boardwalks of the once capital of Montana town.
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. Leaving the town office I hear a faint sound. Was that organ music drifting through the afternoon breeze of this deserted town?
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 walking the secluded half mile trail back into town along the Grasshopper Creek.
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 campground was only large enough for about a dozen rigs and a few tent sites.
Little did I know at the time over a hundred and fifty years ago the Creek would be crowded with miners panning for gold. 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 friend’s 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 since it’s close to home.
Heading Back to Town
After I finished setting up my camp I head back down the lonely trail into town.
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. Especially alone. This is the first ghost town that I have been to that lets you freely explore the town and buildings inside and out. Every room I entered had the whispers of history.
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 be heard banging on the wall to get out. Thump, thump…
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.
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, but whispers and giggling remains…
Strolling down the main street in town, listening to the quiet thump of footsteps following me – imagining what it was like so many lifetimes ago.
I had to check out the jail so I moseyed over to the Sheriff’s office and went behind to see the crude structures in the rear.
It is told that Sheriff Plummer had the Jail built so the prisoners could see the gallows up on the hill while dreading the day they would take their last swing there before being buried eternally in Boot Hill.
The jail was built out over the small cliff, suspended over “Grasshopper Creek” allowing a hole cut in the floor to be used as the “facility”. Inside the dark heavy planks seemed to be in decent shape. Iron bars covered the small windows. No one would be getting out of here anytime soon including the lingering spirits. As the breeze blew through town and the Sun started to set, I backed away and headed down the street.
I’m Glad I was on this side of those iron bars.
The gallows and boot hill is some distance away and I had no desire to hike out to the site this late in the day just to visit those outlaws still left haunting the cemetery. Maybe another day.
It’s my understanding that eventually the sheriff made use of the jail he had built for the bad guys but as an occupant. He also experienced using the gallows from the end of the rope. Apparently, he wasn’t the person he was 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. I wanted to get back to camp before it was completely dark, especially since I didn’t bring a flashlight.
Back at camp, I prepare for the long night, along a lonely creek far away from civilization. I will be listening to the whispering voices telling stories of long ago. I’m sure they will be telling the excitement of 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.
Yes the slides slowly came in and Jagger and I were able to travel to our next camp that day avoiding the haunting ghosts from that night. I did learn something. I needed to purchase either a generator or solar panel soon.
Safe travels until next time…Gary and Jagger