Touring the old wild west ghost towns is a good way to step back in time and learn something about the historical past first hand. Photographs of a ghost town sure do create interest, but the glossy pictures do not convey the ominous feelings that are experienced when visiting an abandoned old west settlement in person. Every town has some character, but a ghost town takes it one step farther. The paranormal realm does come into play and this certainly can add character to the ghost town experience, especially on a dreary day.
Bannack, Montana certainly is a place where the ghosts of the past still walk the streets. This is one of the most famous ghost towns in the entire west and it actually predates the nearby ghost towns of Nevada City and Virginia City. The history of those two neighboring Montana ghost towns actually is directly connected to Bannack and it all started at cozy little place in this vast wilderness called Grasshopper Creek.
Grasshopper Creek is where rich gold placer deposits were discovered in 1862. When the word got out, the Montana gold rush officially began and wagonloads of prospectors made the pilgrimage to this place. Simple equipment was all that was needed to get the placer gold out of the ground, so this gold camp did not heavily depend on supply lines. Grasshopper Creek was basically a mountain man's gold camp and as wealth was quickly earned the town of Bannack was established on site. Bannack eventually came into its own as the commerce center for this unsettle territory, which was not even a state back then.
With no statehood regulations to worry about, the entire Grasshopper Creek gold strike region was as lawless as it gets. Roving gangs and desperados called Road Agents raided gold shipments and supply lines throughout this region, which was actually still indigenous territory. A few lawmen and local posses rounded up the Road Agents in a continual battle and when one was caught there was guaranteed to be a hanging party. There are a few Boot Hill Cemeteries in this region where the Road Agents were buried and the one at Bannack is well worth checking out.
The original Bannack Boot Hill Cemetery was located near the old gallows and this is where many bad guys rest in peace. A newer cemetery was constructed for the town of Bannack back in the 1870s and this is the town cemetery that can be viewed on the roadside on the way into the State Park. Some classy looking gravestones are mixed in with plenty of markers that have faded away, so there are plenty of history's mysteries waiting to be rediscovered when researching this old west cemetery.
There are a few information placards at the old Bannack Cemetery and Grasshopper Creek that will provide some insight, so it is well worth touring these historic sites on the way into the park. The State Park Visitor Center is located at the entrance to the old Main Street area and this is where plenty of information about the intriguing history of Bannack can be found. The local Park Rangers are knowledgeable and they provide insight into the history of Bannack too. Bannack definitely is one of the best preserved ghost towns to explore in the west. Starting the tour at Grasshopper Creek and the spooky old graveyard is the best way to set the stage!
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