Bannack, Montana is one of the most popular ghost towns in the United States. It is located in Beaverhead County and many people visit it for the sole reason that there have been reported ghost sightings and paranormal activities here.
An aerial shot of Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://cultimedia.ch/ghosttowns/htme/bannack.htm)
History Of Bannack, Montana
Bannack, Montana was once a mining town that was built in 1862 specifically because it was the time of the Gold Rush. Many people flocked to the West because of the news that spread regarding golden rivers in the area.
A postcard showing Bannack, Montana in the past. (Link: https://store.legendsofamerica.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1862)
Bannack was named after the local Bannock Indians. It thrived for many years and during its peak, there were about 10,000 residents. It was very remote and people can only access the area through the Montana Trail. At that time, there were three bakeries, a billiard hall, three blacksmith shops, a brewery, a cemetery, a grocery store, three hotels, two meat markets, a restaurant, four saloons, a school house, and two stables.
The church at Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g45145-d107268-i70315807-Bannack_State_Park-Dillon_Montana.html)
One of the saloons at Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g45145-d107268-i335590997-Bannack_State_Park-Dillon_Montana.html)
A photo of the blackboards in the school at Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/detail/altered-images/school-house-bannack-ghost-town-bannack-montana-hdr-cannon-t3i/)
One of the controversial events in Bannack pertain to the sheriff, identified as Henry Plummer. He was accused to have secretly lead a band of road agents to Bannack. Allegedly, these people murdered over a hundred people in Virginia City and in the Bannack gold fields. There were only eight deaths recorded in the area though so historians aren’t sure if the gang really existed. Despite the absence of more proof regarding the gang’s existence, Plummer, together with his two deputies, were hanged without trial in January 10, 1864. The other associates of Plummer were either lynched or banished from the area.
Henry Plummer in an undated photo and where he was hanged. (Link: http://hermitjim.blogspot.com/2017/03/henry-plummer-for-western-wednesday.html)
More on the hangings, 22 others were reportedly accused, informally tried, and then hanged by the Vigilance Committee, who are also known as Montana Vigilantes of Bannack and Virginia City.
The population started going down and in the 1970s, the last residents finally left making Bannack an official ghost town.
Now, the area is known as Bannack State Park and has become a National Historic Landmark. There are around 60 historic structures that stand at the Bannack State Park to this day. Many of which are still preserved in its original state. Annually, the Bannack State Park officials organize what they call two days of “Bannack Days.” People can check the event out to see how the officials try to revive the times when Bannack was full of life during the Gold Rush. The event reenacts the lives of miners and an authentic and old-fashioned breakfast is served to those who will attend.
The Ghosts In Bannack, Montana
As earlier stated, Bannack, Montana had three hotels. One of which was Hotel Meade. This was one of the busiest hotels when Bannack was still bustling with residents and visitors alike. It was the center of the town’s social activity because it hosted major social events and served as a reception.
A photo showing the facade of Hotel Meade. (Link: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/mt-bannackghost/)
Accordingly, this hotel is responsible for many of the ghostly activities in the ghost town. In this hotel, there are reportedly many ghost spots and it houses the apparition of a teenage girl named Dorothy Dunn. This teenager is said to have drowned in a dredge pond along the creek near the hotel. Shortly after dying, she has been seen in the area. The first person she showed herself to was her best friend, who was with her at the time she drowned. Many have claimed that she wears a long blue dress and could be normally spotted on the second floor of the hotel.
An old photo of Hotel Meade. (Link: https://arc.lib.montana.edu/brook-0771/item/598)
Most of those who see her ghost are children and one of them shared that Dorothy even tried to talk to her. The child said Dorothy’s mouth was moving but no sound was coming out so she cannot make out what she was trying to say. Passersby also claimed they have seen Dorothy’s ghost standing in a window upstairs looking out on the street below.
One visitor named Greg Burchfield went to the hotel one evening. While he was on the second floor, he felt a presence and a cold spot. When he checked his EVP equipment, it recorded the words “Are you a little chicken?” It is unclear whose voice it was but he said it sounded like it belonged to a teenager so it is possible that it was Dorothy who was talking to him.
Other paranormal activities at the hotel pertain to the sounds of crying children. Most visitors report this when they are in the said hotel. It is believed that these crying children sounds are impressions from the days when the hotel was used as a makeshift hospital. Many children died in that building during those times.
One visitor shared her experience on Legends of America. The visitor said that the visit took place years ago and she was with her husband, their daughter, and her mother-in-law. She continued that she and her daughter decided to sit on the front steps of the Meade Hotel. She added, “After about 10 minutes, I got up and stood next to the front door and said to my daughter ‘I wonder if we are allowed to go into this building?’ The front door immediately groaned and creaked open – all the way to welcome us in. I was stunned. I went in and closed the door firmly behind us and waited for about five minutes to see if the door was not latched properly and would open on its own, or if there were a breeze (there was no breeze that hot day). It did not open by itself while I was there.”
The lobby of Hotel Meade. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/575757133581723783/?nic_v1=1aAOQ7kSAvm7AycI8LwyjMzXJgqKW%2BAMT2d0wDUCgi3XjvPJrcht8RgA88NHz7j8bd)
Another shared that she was likewise at the Hotel Meade when she felt cold spots downstairs. When she went upstairs, her ghost meter was off the charts. She said there was an unpleasant feeling when she was there although she did not see or hear anything.
In the other hotel, the Goldhill Hotel, one visitor shared her experience. She said that she was 50 yards from the door in the main lobby when the heavy, wooden door suddenly slammed. She said that there was no breeze that day and she believes an entity wanted to let her know she was not alone in the area or that it was upset because she left the door open. She apologized verbally and left. Later, she went back to explore the second floor and this time she was with her husband. She said that it was not at all pleasant because the atmosphere was unnerving and different. One of the rooms on that floor is locked and accordingly, it is locked because of the supernatural activities taking place there.
The Bessette House is also reportedly haunted. Accordingly, all the children that died here during the different epidemics that hit the town remain in the home. Many people claimed to hear babies crying. This could be explained by the fact that babies died there because of small pox.
Bessette House in Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://www.wallpaperflare.com/bessette-house-bannack-state-park-montana-historic-vigilante-wallpaper-ehgma)
Also, the spirit of the sheriff who was hanged could be seen in the Skinner Saloon and the Chrismans’ Store. Many believe he roams the area because he wants to prove his innocence.
Skinner Saloon in Bannack, Montana. (Link: https://www.wallpaperflare.com/skinner-s-saloon-in-bannack-henry-plummer-road-agents-outlaw-wallpaper-avxqn)
There have also been sightings all over the ghost town of women in period clothing.
Items left in Bannack, Montana. (Link: http://www.willhiteweb.com/montana_travel/bannack_state_park/information_032.htm)