My next adventure brings us to an amazingly historically preserved location, Bannack State Park outside Dillon, Montana. Founded in 1862, when gold was discovered around the nearby creek. People flooded into this little town hoping to get rich. The town grew and flourished becoming the first territorial capital of Montana. As quickly as it grew, it quickly declined! It’s very existence depended on the extraction of gold. When World War II began, gold mining was put to a halt. This led to Bannack’s ultimate demise. By the mid-1940’s, people left Bannack in search of new jobs. With the post office closing in 1938 and the school house in the early 1950’s, the town ultimately was abandoned leaving behind a ghost town.
Visiting in 2020, the town looks exactly the way it was left in 1950!! The buildings line the narrow street, doors creaking in the wind. The floors crackling from the weight of your footsteps, wallpaper hanging from the walls, empty root cellars, crooked outhouses, ghastly gallows and lonely grave sites all preserved to tell a story. A story that I can visualize and feel and even smell as I walk through this town. A story of a people with dreams, hopes, and fears. Some making it rich, some losing it all. I imagine them as I lean against the buildings where they once leaned. I imagine them as I touch the banister as I walk up the stairs in their now abandoned residences. I imagine them as I lock myself into the tiny cell with memories carved into the wood. This is indeed a treasure from the past!!!