Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dillion, MT

I stopped in Dillion, Montana for a few day at the end of June and stayed at the Southside RV Park.  While there I saw this driving thru the RV park --

I also saw this one --

Humm, should I be a bit nervous that an Army jeep with gun and a small tank like vehicle were driving around the RV park.!! Actually in this park there is a military museum and the owner of the RV park had pulled out a few of the vehicles he had. 

One of the first things I did was visit Bannack State Park.  Bannack is one of several ghost towns that I visited.  This particular one is a state park, where they have been preserving the buildings.  They say they don’t restore, but to me it look like some of the preserving was more like restoring.  A few weeks after I was there they had a major flood which damaged 80% of the 60+ structures in the park.  At this time the park is still closed  (a month after the flood) while they clean up and fix the damage caused by the flood.

Below are 2 pictures that I took from the Bannack Association Facebook page that were taken during and after the flood.



I got to the park very early and when I walked in I heard a strange noise.  I looked around and finally saw that there was a Red-Naped Sapsucker pecking on a metal sign.  As I walked by, he flew to the fence and I got the picture below. 

I’ve noticed this before, but I always think it funny that while in one area this may be a rare bird and bird watchers go a bit crazy(such as in Mission, TX when I first saw a Red-naped Sapsucker) while in others it is fairly common (such as here in Montana).

Above is the Assay Office.   I have read that this building was destroyed in the flood.  The gold that was found in this area was unique.  Most gold is 80 to 95% pure, while the gold found here was 99.5% pure. 

A reflection of the Masonic Lodge and School House--

Bannack is an interesting place.  While some ghost towns are too touristy for me (such as Virginia City and Nevada City), this one is not.  Some of the buildings are open, but many are closed and you can look through the windows at the stuff.  Everything in these buildings was found in Bannack, nothing has been brought in except for a few things in the visitor’s center.   It was fun looking in the windows and seeing everything. By the late 1940’s most people had left this town. A few people did live here off and on up until the the 50’s or 60’s (including some bootleggers) so there are a few “newer” items. 

The picture above was taken through the window in Chrisman’s General Store.  The item in the middle appears to be a coffin, I guess the stores sold everything!

Below is the Methodist Church--

The picture of the town below was taken from the Cemetery Hill just behind town.  The larger building on the right is the old hotel.

Below is the Bannack Prison.  The prisoners had to be chained to the floor because of the sod roof. 

There were lots of old tools (mining and farming) scattered around town. 

A lot of the houses had linoleum floors and wallpaper on the walls.  I always think of these as being more modern than these houses (most were built in the mid to late 1800’s, but may have been remodeled in the early 1900’s), but I found out Linoleum was first made and used in the 1860’s and wallpaper was first used in 1785. 

Below is the inside of Skinner’s Saloon --

On the other wall were some signs that said “Skinner’s Saloon was built in 1862 by Cyrus Skinner down at Yankee Flats.  In 1863 the saloon was moved to it’s present location.  Nice people did not wander into Skinner’s.  This was where the most dangerous, meanest and ruthless men in the territory congregated.  It was not safe to walk down the streets of Bannack and Virginia City after dark, and even sometimes in the daylight.  Shooting and killing was a normal standard here.  The demise of Road Agent George Carhart happened in this very building.  One evening when gambler George Banfield and miner Dick Sapp were playing poker, Banfield’s love of winning got the best of him and he was discovered cheating.  Both men emptied pistols at each other…..” (I won’t give away the ending)  It continues “So much shooting and violence occurred daily in this saloon that the barber in the corner wouldn’t miss a stroke with a straight edge razor when the bullets started flying”. 

The buildings are very interesting, inside and out, but the stories really bring the town to life.  By the way, the barber’s chair is still in the saloon.


Other buildings and an old wagon--

I took several pictures of the truck that I posted earlier in the blog.  Below is the inside of that truck. 

There are many ghost stories about this town, which of course makes it even more interesting!!

I went to a couple more ghost towns, but since I posted too many pictures of Bannack, I’ll post another blog to finish up my Dillion, Montana visit.


  1. Oh, what a shame - I would have loved Bannack...

  2. I too like poking around these old towns. Thanks for providing some of the history and stories about them.