Bannack is a very well executed history park/ghost town. Bannack was founded in 1862 and briefly served as the first capital of Montana Territory. The local gold mines were not as rich as people had initially hoped, so after attracting several thousand fortune seekers in the 1860s, Bannack declined quickly. The Bannack State Park website estimates Bannack's peak population at 3,000 with 2,000 more living nearby in the spring of 1863. By the 1870 census Bannack had 381 residents. Many who had come to Bannack looking for gold left for Virginia City which assumed the role of territory capital in 1865. Small scale mining activity continued around Bannack until the 1940s. In the 1950s the state of Montana began acquiring land in Bannack and preserving its buildings. The last permanent residents of Bannack left in the late 1970s at which point the state owned the entire town. These early preservation efforts are the reason why Bannack is in such good condition today.
Bannack is a Montana State Park and is open from 8AM to dusk. There is a $5 fee for out of state visitors. The park has a nice looking developed campground next to Bannack townsite. There are no permanent residents in Bannack nor are there any commercial developments or services.
The preservation and presentation work in Bannack is excellent. There are no obtrusive interpretive signs in front of the buildings! There are hardly any modern artifacts in view within the townsite. Bannack has no cheesy re-enactors and no badly placed historic artifacts. It has no modern walkways or pavements or railings and no "do not enter" signs! The buildings have been carefully maintained but none of the restoration work I saw compromised the authenticity of the structures. Almost all the buildings can be entered and explored. And even inside the buildings there are no modern signs. All of the interpretation at the site is done at the visitor center and with handout guides. There aren't even any stupid numbered posts in the townsite! I think it might be the best executed history park I've ever seen. Anyone who works on presenting and interpreting historic sites needs to go to Bannack to see how it should be done. All of that said, it isn't very big and did get kind of crowded later in the morning.
Bannack is accessible from highway 278 via the paved Bannack Bench Road. From the south it is accessible from 324. Bannack Bench Road from 324 to Bannack is gravel but was in great condition in 2014 and is flat and fairly straight.
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