Held the third weekend in July, Bannack Days celebrates the history of this local ghost town, a testament to days gone by and the frontier past that is still alive in the region. The town was founded in 1862 when John White struck gold (well, panned it) in Grasshopper Creek. Prospectors made a rush to Bannack, hoping to strike it rich too, and with them came enterprising businessmen of the age ready to profit off of the influx of people. The town began to grow.
Just a year later, in 1863, miners found gold in nearby Virginia City. The prospectors started to take their leave of Bannack, though some people still remained. The population fluctuated through the years as mining continued through the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. By the 1950s, most of the people were gone, and Montana named the site a state park.
Today, visitors can still see and explore the 60 structures left from the town’s heyday. Many of the buildings are open to the public to wander through as you like without a guide. The sense of the past is alive and thriving here.
During Bannack Days, the annual historical celebration, uncover an even livelier side of this ghost town. This is a festival for the family and the history buff alike. Find out all the details below.
Dining in History
Eat breakfast at the Hotel Meade, the grand relic of a building that once housed Bannack’s vacationing elite. You’ll find lunch and other goodies (lemonade, kettle corn, and more) available for sale throughout the day, so you won’t go hungry.
Music of the Past, in the Present
Live music seeds the air with melodies of the era, with local musicians playing everything from bluegrass to gospel and old-timey fiddle music. Tap your feet and dance a two-step or two while you enjoy the day.
Do you have the skills it takes to be an early pioneer in Montana? Find out the answer when you peruse demonstrations all around town. See a quilt get stitched together, and watch how wagon wheels and baskets are made. You might want to try your hand at gold panning, and see if you can uncover a few nuggets to grow your wealth.
You never know when a gunfight will break out in the streets during Bannack Days (only historical reenactments, of course). There are ruffians about, with road agents around every corner and rabble-rousers raising Cain about one thing or another—women protesting for the right to vote is just the start. Take a guided tour of the Masonic Lodge or the mill to get a deeper look into aspects of life more than a hundred years ago.
Bannack Days takes place over Saturday and Sunday of the third weekend in July. The cost of admission for the event is $5 per person. Ages 8 and under are free. Breakfast at the Hotel Meade starts at 7:00am and is offered for a nominal fee. Bannack is just two hours from Three Forks, making it an easy day trip, and well worth a look.
For more information about the Bannack Days, click here and go to their official website.
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