Ghost towns litter the American west. There are many in Nevada including Aurora and Virginia City, in California, there is the stunning ghost town of Bodie that used to be one of the largest cities in the state. Montana has its own, one of the most notable is the ghost town of Bannack that now forms the Bannack State Park.

This is much more than just another ghost town, and the folks of Montana work hard to keep this historical treasure alive and well. Be sure to call in for a visit and plan one's trip for the Bannack Days or the Ghost Walk Tours.

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History Of Bannack

Bannack was founded in 1862 and named after the local Bannock Indians. Like so many other ghost towns it was the site of a major gold discovery also in 1862. Virginia City in Nevada is a living old-timey boomtown ghost town that never died and is definitely worth a visit. Bannack'ss early importance is seen in that it was briefly the capital of the Montana Territory in 1864 before the capital was moved to Virginia City (different Virginia City).

  • Founded: 1862

For years it continued to cling on as a mining town with a dwindling population until the last of its residents finally packed up and left in the 1970s.

  • Peak Population: About Ten Thousand

One of the problems that plagued Bannack was its remote location and only being connected by the Montana Trail. It reached a peak population of about ten thousand and once had three blacksmith shops, three bakeries, a billiard hall, and four saloons (by contrast Bodie is reputed to have had 65 saloons at one point).

Haunted History Of Sheriff Henry Plummer

One tale of the past is that Bannack's sheriff, Henry Plummer, was secretly a ruthless criminal himself. The story is that he led a band of highwaymen that were responsible for over a hundred murders in the Virginia City and Bannack goldfields as well as the trails leading to Salt Lake City.

No one will ever know if this was true or not, but one way or the other both he and two of his deputies were hung without trial in Bannack on January 10, 1894. Others of his associates were lynched while others were banished on pain of death should they ever return. A total of 21 individuals were hung after informal trials. Bannack boasts legitimate Hollywood Wild West history and is really worth a visit.

Related: 20 American Ghost Towns You Should Visit (But Not Alone)

Visiting Bannack

Visitor Center Operating Hours

  • May: Open 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (Weekend only)
  • End of May To September 30: Open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Seven Days A Week)
  • October: Open 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (Weekends Only)

Today the remains of this once bursting town are preserved in the Bannack State Park. The park contains sixty historic log buildings, brick buildings, and frame structures. For the most part, they are well preserved and are open to the public.

  • Listed: As A National Historic Landmark Since 1961

It is now one of Montana's historical treasures and volunteers also work with the state authorities to preserve the remarkable ghost town.

Bannack Days

If possible the best time to time one's visit to the ghost town is on the Bannack Days. Every year these take place on the third weekend of July. This abandoned town once again becomes a bustling frontier town full of life. The historical reconstitution witnesses folks come and attempt to revive the old times of Bannak's boomtown days.

  • Next Bannack Days: Scheduled For July 16-17, 2022
  • Fee: $5.00 Per Person
  • Children: $0.00 (Under 8 Years Old)
  • Family Pass: $20.00
  • Parking: Parking Is Very Limited, It Is Recommended To Car Pool

The Bannack Days reenacting is a must-see. See the day-to-day lives of the miners who once lived there during the gold rush. See the dead town come to life seemingly from the graves. The fortunate will have an authentic, old-fashioned breakfast served in the old Hotel Meade. More information is on Bannack's official website.

Related: The Now-Abandoned South Dakota Town Of Ardmore Was A Failed Pursuit, But You Can Still Visit

Ghost Walk Tours

The Bannack Days are not the only special attraction to this interesting location. They also have their ghost walk tours (it's not called a "ghost town" for nothing!). Typically on Fridays and Saturdays before the week of Halloween, the ghosts come out to play. These fun and spooky performances are presented by the Bannack Association and are based on some of the historical events that occurred in this haunted ghost town.

  • Times: 7:00 pm And Again At 9:00 pm

These are live reenactments of the specific haunting events in the history of Bannack (of course they feature the afore-mentioned Sheriff Henry Plummer). See the stories of this Wild Western town's many rouges.

  • Limit: Each Show Is Limited To 100 People (Plan Ahead)
  • Tip: Dress Warm and Bring A Flashlight
  • Adults: $15.00
  • Children: $10.00 For 12 Years Old And Under
  • Caution: Not Recommended For Kids Under 6

Next: Winchester Mystery House: Why You Should Visit California's Most Haunted Home