Gold was struck near Grasshopper Creek in 1862 and the fledgling town of Bannack, Montana was founded. Bannack was named for the nearby Bannock Indians, however, a mistake in Washington forever named the town Bannack. In 1864, Bannack was briefly the territory capital before moving to Virginia City just a little more than 80 miles to the East.

GOLD MINING 1862 – 1930’s

Gold mining drew as many as 3000 residents to Bannack in the early years. The population had as many as 10,000. Businesses sprouted up supporting the mining town. In town, there were three hotels, three bakeries, three blacksmith shops, two stables, two meat markets, a grocery store, a restaurant, a brewery, a billiard hall, and four saloons.

Town Hall at Bannack Ghost Town in Montana
Abandoned Homestead at Bannack Ghost Town in Montana


Shortly after the town was founded, Henry Plummer, a gold prospector, arrived in Bannack and was soon elected sheriff of Bannack. The wild west was a lawless place. A gang of road agents terrorized the territory, stagecoach robberies and violence were commonplace on the road between Virginia City and Bannack. A group of masked men formed, known as the Montana Vigilantes, and visited suspected gang members in the night issuing warnings if the robberies and violence did not stop.


The vigilantes took to hanging outlaws and road agent gang members. One gang member announced before he was hung that Sherriff Henry Plummer was also a gang member. The vigilantes tracked down Plummer and two of his deputies and hung them without at the Bannack gallows.

Hotel Meade in Bannock Ghost Town
Bannack Ghost Town

Visiting Bannack Ghost Town

Bannack is located west of Dillon, Montana. An easy drive from the Silver Bow Club, take I-15 south to Dillon and then take exit 59, MT-278 West for 21 miles. Next, take Hendrick’s Mill Road and follow the signs for Bannack. A Montana State Park, the area is open year round. You’ll find more than 60 structures, more of which are open and can be explored.

There is a visitor center which features interpretive exhibits. The staff is wonderful and enjoy talking about the ghost town’s historic past.

Seen through the hotel windows, Bannack Ghost Town

Looking Through The Windows of the Hotel Meade

Bannack Ghost Town Window 1

Image Life in Bannack Ghost Town