Bannack stands out among Montana's wealth of historical sites. Preserved rather than restored, Bannack offers perhaps the most accurate glimpse into the living conditions of the Montana gold rush era. Prospectors struck gold in nearby Grasshopper Creek in 1862, the first of Montana's many gold discoveries. By 1863, Bannack's population had swollen to over three thousand-prospectors, miners, shop keepers, bar tenders and crooks.
During the middle of the twentieth century Bannack became a state park, and sixty one sites were declared National Historic Landmarks. Today visitors can explore the buildings on their own, or take guided tours that lead them through the fascinating history of this uniquely preserved gold rush town.
When planning a trip to Bannack, aim for the third week in July and the annual Bannack Days, an interactive living history celebration of Montana's early days. While there, take part in a wagon ride, candle making, gold-panning, Main Street gunfight, old time dancing, pioneer craft demonstrations, and lots of music.
In addition to the guided tours and Bannack Days, Bannack presents a few other novel ways of experiencing history. In late December through March, weather permitting, bundle up and skate on Grasshopper Creek's dredge pond. The night-time tours of the town in October will send chills of a different kind running down your spine as the Bannack Association presents the Bannack Ghost Walks-reenactments of Bannack's history with a creepy twist.
The gold rush made Southwest Montana, come see the town that started it all.
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