25 April, 2010

Bannack State Park in Montana

Founded at the beginning, of the Civil War, after gold had been discovered in nearby Grasshopper Creek, the town of Bannack Montana was once a booming mining town and the county seat of Beaverhead County. In only a few short years this town grew to 3,000 residents with as many as 2,000 more people living down the creek. However, by the 1880's the gold rush in that particular area was over and the population quickly dwindled. By the 1940's the town was practically deserted and the mines shut down for good.

In the 1950's, rather than let the town fall apart completely, the State of Montana declared Bannack a State Park and began to preserve the remaining structures. Today over sixty buildings and two cemeteries remain, most of which can be explored freely.

If you would like to visit the best time would be during the summer months. There's no place to stay in the town site, however, there are two campgrounds within a quarter mile that are worth checking out. Expect to pay about $15 a night for tent sites, RV sites are also available. Dogs are allowed in the state park and both campgrounds as long as they are on a leash.

If you visit during the summer months you can catch different activities every Saturday in town. The events vary and might include music, star-gazing, poetry or lectures. Guided or self-guided tours are available. The third weekend of July a celebration of pioneer life is held called Bannack Days. Get breakfast at the Hotel Meade, learn to shoot a black powder rifle, see a gun fight reenactment, ride a stage coach or stop by the many food and art vendors. You can also watch live demonstrations of pioneer skills like spinning wool, making candles and panning for gold.

A Spooky Legend

This is the Meade Hotel which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a young teen named Dorthy Dunn.

In August 1916, Dorothy, her cousin Fern and their friend Ruth Wornick were playing in a pond near Grasshopper Creek when they got into trouble. A passerby named Smith Paddock managed to pull the three girls out of the water, but unfortunately 16-year-old Dorothy had already drowned.

Dorthy lived at the hotel with her family (her mother worked there) and since her death there have been numerous sightings of a girl wearing a long blue dress on the second story of the old hotel. These reports most often come from children. The ghost of Dorothy has also been seen standing in an upstairs window by passersby on the street below.

Paranormal investigator Greg Burchfield collected evidence of EVP inside the Meade Hotel which many people think is proof that the ghost of Dorthy Dunn still lingers there. At the time of the recording Mr. Burchfield was the only person in the building. Here is how he explains the experience: "I walked the upstairs hallway and back to the locked doors, and in one specific area it was much colder than the rest of the upstairs. I then decided to try and egg this ghost on into talking to me so I proceeded to ask her if she is a chicken. In the recording you will hear me ask the question then you will hear a distinct giggle, then I say 'I think she's a little chicken,' and I believe quite clearly in a playful voice and tone she says, 'Little chicken from the farm,' with a pronounced accent in her voice." You can find the EVP recording of her voice here. Warning! It's pretty creep.

Here are some more pictures of various building and the cemetery in Bannack. Enjoy!

I used information from these sights for this article: Bannack, MT on Haunted Houses. The official  Bannack, MT site (lots of info!). More information can also be found  here.


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