Scenic USA - Montana

Bannack State Historic Park

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Bannack State Historic Park - Montana

Photos by Ron McEwan

     Not nearly as far removed from the War Between the States in the east as one may think, discoveries of gold brought thousands into the new Montana territory. When John White staked his claim on Grasshopper Creek in 1862, the town of Bannack soon followed. Lured by the promises of a new Eldorado, the gold Masonic Lodge - Bannack State Park, Montana found here was some of the purest in the West. However, the town's claim of first territorial capital was short lived, as the fickle population moved on to Virginia City, the next boom town.
     For those that stayed in Bannack (named for the local Bannock Tribe), gold mining continued for almost another century. While its early days were marked by road agents, murders, vigilantes, gangs and lynch mobs, later years saw a quiet Bannack, Meade Hotel - Bannack State Park, Montana utilizing all the latest improvements in mining techniques.
     By the 1950s Bannack was established as a state historic site. With more than 60 buildings on site, Bannack is Montana's most complete ghost town. Buildings included hotels, blacksmith shops, bakeries, saloons and a Masonic Lodge. The Grand Lodge of Masons officially chartered the Bannack Lodge and now hold their annual meetings here every September. Masonic members and the Bannack Association work hand-in-hand with the Montana State Parks Department to promote and preserve this marvelous historic site. Bannack Days, held the third week of July, offer visitors one of the best ways to experience frontier life of the 19th century.

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