Monday, July 27, 2015

Bannack: A Ghost Town with Ghosts


Bannack, Montana was established in 1862 when gold was found along Grasshopper Creek.

Like other gold rushes, miners flooded into this settlement in search of their fortunes. It was not long before the hills surrounding the community were filled with as many as 10,000 miners.

With this large population came violence.

In 1883, a fast-talking, handsome, well-dressed newcomer, by the name of Henry Plummer, impressed several leading community members. It wasn’t long before he was elected sheriff.

Henry Plummer
But what the unsuspecting citizens of Bannack did not know is Plummer was actually the head of a secret band of road agents called the “innocents.”

They began to terrorize travelers between Bannack and Virginia City, robbing and killing more than 100 men within a few short months.

In December of 1883 the miners formed the Montana Vigilantes and during the next 42 days they hanged 24 gang members, including Henry Plummer.

Later, the authenticity of this story was questioned by historians—some believed it was just a cover the vigilantes used to mask their own nefarious activities in the area.

Today the ghost town of Bannack is a state park. Many people believe that the ghost of Henry Plummer—wrongly hanged—haunts the area. His motivation is said to be the need to clear his name.

Hotel Meade
Another ghost that resides in Bannack is seen on the second floor of the Hotel Meade.

This structure built in 1875 was originally used as a courthouse. In 1881 when Bannack lost its county seat status to nearby Dillon the building was abandoned until 1890.

It then was remodeled and reopened as a plush hotel. It remained a hotel for many years—in its final reincarnation it was used as a hospital.

Today visitors experience cold spots and see the apparition of a teen-age girl on its second floor. Others report hearing the sounds of children crying. One investigator caught these sounds during an EVP session.

The first sighting of this ghostly girl happened over 100 years ago. It is said she is Dorothy Dunn a 16-year old resident of Bannack who drowned while swimming in a dredge pond along Grasshopper Creek.

Shortly after her death, Dorothy’s ghost first appeared to her best friend who was with her at the time of her death.

Since this initial encounter numerous witnesses have reported seeing a teen-age girl wearing a long blue dress on the second floor of the old Hotel Meade.

Children most often see her. One 7-year old saw Dorothy and she states this ghost tried to talk to her. She saw Dorothy’s mouth moving but heard no sound.

Others have seen Dorothy’s ghost standing at an upstairs window as they stood in the street below.

Yet other witnesses have seen ghostly women dressed in their best finery in various places around the old town.

When the mines played out in Bannack it quickly was abandoned. By the 1940s it was a ghost town.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks stepped in to save the town from the elements and vandalism by making it a state park in August of 1954.

Today, over 60 structures remain and the staff gives tours—as well as allowing individuals to explore this historic site on their own.

The following photograph was taken at Bannack’s General Store. Two photos were taken one right after the other. In the second photo this mist appears—it is believed to be paranormal in nature.

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