When you say America - and you are thinking of Arizona, Utah or California, but also Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi - it is almost impossible that the famous ghost town, ghostly ghost towns where the only inhabitant seems to have remained the wind after they were abandoned out of the blue at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the gold mines ran out. The list is endless, and today we want to tell you about one in particular: Bannack, found in the Montana, more precisely in Beaverhead County, on the Beaverhead River of the same name, not far from Dillon.
The Bannack Story
Bannack it has its roots in the second half of the nineteenth century (1862 to be precise): it is the first city in this state where the search for gold has taken hold. It was considered such an important nucleus that it deserved, two years later, the appointment of capital of Montana, reaching 3000 inhabitants. As the gold mines ran out, Bannack's fame also waned, and he remained alive and well until 1970, when the last resident died.
The city has been very well preserved: you can enjoy it by taking a walk along the main street, overlooked by houses, saloons, hotels, blacksmiths' workshops, shops, stables. Inside these buildings - most of them can be visited, and it is not obvious - it will be easy for you to notice a series of particular objects: on the official website there is a section that offers a quiz about it!
Just outside the "center", as usual, you will find the cemetery and the gallows. By contacting the Visitor Center, you can also take advantage of the guided tours of the old factory and, listen, hear, the Masonic lodge! You read that right: Bannack is there Historic Masonic Lodge 3-7-77, where every year, on the second Saturday of September, 20 delegates from various states of America gather to ensure that adequate maintenance is provided to the building and to the entire town of Bannack, a historical heritage of the state of Montana and of the whole 'America.
How to get to Bannack
Bannack State Park, as we have mentioned, is located in the southwestern area of Montana, at a distance of about 25 miles from Dillon, the nearest inhabited city center. To reach the ghost town, take I-15 south to Exit 59 (State Highway 278), travel 17 miles west, and as soon as you see Bannack Bench Road, turn left and continue for another 4 miles. . On your right you will see the park entrance. The price is $ 5 per car.
When to visit Bannack
If you want to immerse yourself in the ghostly atmosphere of Bannack, however, it will be useful to know what the opening periods are, in order to avoid going so far unnecessarily:
- a May the city can be visited from 8.00 to sunset;
- from Memorial Day (May 25 this year) to Labor Day (September 7 this year) the city can be visited from 8 to 21;
- starting from Labor Day until the third week of October, the times return to the regular ones, from 8 until sunset;
- while if you are planning to visit Bannack between the end of October and the end of April, you will have relatively shorter deadlines, because the park will close at 17pm.
I Bannack Days
But the best time to visit Bannack is undoubtedly that of the Bannack Days, which usually coincide with the third weekend of July: two intense days in which the town miraculously comes back to life.
On Saturday (from 9 to 17) and Sunday (from 9 to 16.30) you will start your day with a rich breakfast and then you can attend a series of interesting demonstrations and typically pioneering activities: you will see for yourself how to send a cart with horses, how iron is worked, you will shoot with the rifle, you will experience a day of feverish search for gold with your sieves, after a ride around the country in an old Ford AA to the rhythm of bluegrass and country , slipping through the old cowboys shootings.
Starting in 2014, a similar event is held on the third weekend of September, under the name of Bannack Living History: keep an eye on the official website to better orient yourself.
Ghost Walk: walking with ghosts
If you are in the area around the end of October, beware of Bannack's ghosts - book yours Ghost Walk and, when night falls, enter the darkness of the ghost town, to meet the souls in pain of the old town, who will tell you their story. In this case, as the visit is limited to 100 people, it is advisable to book in advance at the Visitor Center ($ 10 for adults, $ 5 for children).
After a day spent photographing ruins and old mining tools, you will want to rest for a while: you will undoubtedly find a motel or a hotel in Dillon, but if you want to experience ghosts in the palm of your nose, there is the possibility of camping (from May 27 to September 9) in one of the park's two campgrounds. The largest is the Vigilante Campground, where Indian tents are also available, the "types", at a relatively low price: find all the info at this address.