Day 102: September 12: Bannack to Jackson

We almost froze in our bags overnight. The temperature had gotten down below 20 degrees, and the water bag was full of ice. We started a fire to try to warm up.

After breakfast, the park ranger came around to collect our fees. He told us about the ghost town that the park was built around. Had he not told us, we would have just gone down the road.

Bannack was a busy mining town after the discovery of gold in 1863, and continued as a town until the 1930's, when the mines ran out and everybody left. There are a number of buildings still standing, many of which date back to the early days of the town.


Bannack's main street
Instead of the touristy towns of Virginia City and Nevada City, Bannack was just left as it was when people left. Many of the buildings are not in good repair, with plaster falling and roofs leaking. Old tin cans lie around the buildings, and the general feeling is of a town whose life was suspended. The town's boardwalk is empty except for a few visitors, and doors bang in the wind. The old hotel, one of the few brick buildings in town (most are log structures), remains in good repair, with the elaborate wood trim attesting to former days of prosperity.
The Hotel
We walked around town, walking through many of the buildings. I tried to imagine the town full of people busy with their work and families.
Back yards
In the building that had been the general store, a wall had been branded with the various brands used by the ranchers in the area.
Brands on the wall
The jail buildings still stood. Law in the early days of Bannack was hit and miss. A group of outlaws called the Road Agents had been preying on prospectors traveling alone. A citizen's group, calling itself the Vigilantes, formed to deal with the Road Agents. One captured Road Agent told the local people that the leader of the outlaws was the local sheriff, Henry Plummer. The Vigilantes, after a quick trial, hanged Plummer outside of town.
Bannack Jail
One building was cut into a hillside. I couldn't figure out what it was.
Building in hill
In one of the buildings, I took a photo because I liked the colors of the old paint.
An old cabinet
The ornately carved hardwood bar still stands in the saloon where Henry Plummer used to spend his days.
The saloon
We rode up over Big Hole pass, and down into the town of Jackson. It had been so cold the night before, none of us wanted to freeze again. So we got a large room at the Jackson Hot Springs Lodge for about $40 (with four beds in two rooms). We also treated ourselves to a good dinner at the lodge and a few beers.