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Bannack State Park
Bannack State Park

Montana's first territorial capital, Bannack was the site of the territory's first major gold strike in 1862 and the cradle of Montana's government.

Today a quiet ghost town 25 miles southwest of Dillon, Bannack slumbers alongside Grasshopper Creek, once the source of millions of dollars in precious dust.

During its heydey, Bannack was terrorized by renegade Sheriff Henry Plummer, whose desperadoes murdered 102 individuals and robbed countless others.

Bannack's law-abiding citizenry rebelled against those atrocities, however. Formation of the "Vigilantes" spelled an end to Plummer's forays. Twenty-eight of his murderous gang, including Plummer himself, were hanged. Some on a gallows previously built by the outlaw sheriff.

The "Toughest Town in the West" then faded as new strikes lured its one-time population of over 3,000 away.

Its reputation, however, lives on in Western history and fiction. The remnants of some 60 buildings remain as mute testimony to its rich and oft times violent beginnings.

Visitors can relive that era during annual "Bannack Days", staged on the third weekend of July. Bannack was made a part of the Montana Park System in 1954 and now is open year-round during daylight hours.



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