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“The real 'Wild West'...If only these buildings could talk.......”
Review of Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park
Ranked #1 of 18 things to do in Dillon
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A park with over 60 original structures still standing from the 1800s, including the old hotel, the governor's mansion, the Masonic Hall and the Methodist Church.
Reviewed December 9, 2010

Bannack State Park is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, MT. - about 20 miles west of I-15 off Highway 270. The site is a ghost town of mostly wooden buildings of which a majority may be entered. Once hailed as capital of Montana Territory in 1863, its population slowly diminished as the gold mines played out. A self-guided tour is available from the visitor center in the form of a souvenir booklet ($2) which gives historical and other details. The site is open year round, at a modest charge, although the main season is May to October. In July each year, 'Bannack Days' is a special two-day celebration of life in a frontier town, with craft demonstrations, pioneer food, music and 'shoot-outs' Details on website www.bannack.org
We visited in late September and found the place almost deserted, which added to the atmosphere. Most of the buildings to visit are along the main street. Numbers etched in the wooden sidewalk refer to the self-guided trail booklet. The County Courthouse was built in brick in 1875 but after the county seat was established in Dillon, MT. the building was empty until becoming the Hotel Meade about 1890. It remained a hotel off and on until the 1940s. The other brick building from 1874 is the combined Masonic Lodge (upper floor) and Schoolhouse (lower floor). Both have been furnished with contemporary materials. The school operated until the early 1950s, whilst the Masonic lodge is still active from time to time. Wooden buildings include simple cabins and some quite elaborate constructions. In Skinners Saloon, there are informative displays about Henry Plummer and his Road Agents. All in all it is a fascinating place and fully justified a half-day visit.

3  Thank tourmanagerSussex_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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264 - 268 of 279 reviews

Reviewed September 6, 2010

Sprinkled throughout the U.S. are many assembled 'old time' cabins and towns. Caretakers of such places painstakingly round up remnants and antiques, and sometimes volunteers or actors, to fill in 'lost' objects or events, or to demonstrate old processes, such as blacksmithing or candlemaking. Bannack is different in that, with the exception of a single house, restoration is structural, not decorative. Where there is wallpaper, it remains as originally hung. Otherwise the rooms are empty, allowing visitors to imagine putting themselves into the environment. The result is both less and more - less bonnets, spittoons, ruffles, and six-shooters, but more thinking about building, gathering, hunting, and creating a life without flush toilets or electricity.

4  Thank AG1593
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2009

Quiet, unique, very interesting. A glimpse into the past. Would like to go back and stay at one of the campsites. Enjoyed looking though the buildings and walking down the wooden sidewalks. Very peaceful, half day adventure. Lots of history. Be sure to check out the cemetary

4  Thank wde92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2009

Astonishingly well-preserved and unaltered pieceof history, like something risen from the grave, blinking. At home in Maryland I'd spent a quarter for a copy of a book called "The VIgilantes of Montana: being a correct & impartial acount of the chase, trial, capture and execution of Henry Plummer's notorious Road Agent Band" -- written in the 1860's by the local school teacher and newpaper man. The book, vividly detailed and fresh, is still for sale at Bannack. In its pages I learned that the cliches of every horse opera in my youth had once been fearful realities, notably in Bannack, A bone-dry climate and geographical isolation have preserved the gold-rush town. Had I not read the book, I might have seen only a large collection of abandoned wooden buildings, very like the abandoned farmhouses of my eastern childhood. One may wander through the many open buildings and down the one street in half an hour, if one is incurious, and a little longer if you care to people the place with figures from its incarnadine past. I made a side trip to Bannck and its sister in vigilantism, Va. City, while in Wyoming for the national parks.,

1  Thank Venturesome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 12, 2008

Bannack State Park is a really well-preserved ghost town. You can actually walk into the houses, businesses, jail, etc. Watch your head in the log jail! (ouch!) Bannack had its heyday during the 1880s gold rush, but was pretty much abandoned by the 1930s.

Around the middle of July, Bannack comes back to life during Bannack Days. There are people in period costume, food, activities, gunfights... I particularly enjoyed hand-dipping candles. DO bring drinking water and wear good walking shoes. Wander up to the cemetery and see the gallows.

This is a great place for photography, especially when it's not Bannack Days. You're likely to have the whole place to yourself most days, and the buildings can make for some wonderful photos!

While in the area, I also recommend checking out Elkhorn Hot Springs (a short drive to Polaris) and Crystal Park (bring digging equipment and mosquito repellent!)

4  Thank helenros
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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