Bannack State Park
Bannack State Park isn’t too far from Clark Canyon Reservoir. It had some of my favorite stuff, old abandoned buildings, so we decided to take a look.
We took a back road to get there and managed to knock quite a bit of mud off our jeep that we had picked up the day before. It was a very pleasant drive but the highway we returned on was much faster. We did manage to catch site of some antelope grazing in the area.
Bannack State Park preserves the original capitol of Montana Territory. Gold was discovered in a local creek and the rush was on. The town got pretty big but the gold eventually ran out, and so did the town. Some stayed and continued trying to mine up into the 1950s when the rest of the town was abandoned. The state of Montana took it over and turned it onto a state park.
As far as ghost towns go, Bannack has an amazing array of buildings. There are over 60 in various states of repair. Some cannot be entered due to conditions, some are being used as storage sheds, some have been cleaned up and restored and can be walked through. The one thing I noticed is that most of the spaces were empty; there was no evidence of daily life here in the buildings one could enter. All the furniture was hidden in locked houses.
Bannack State Park was a great day stop for a few hours of walking and peeping. We had a beautiful, warm day in which to wander around. The park also has a campground and a couple of the larger sites back up to Grasshopper Creek, where the gold was found creating the town. It would be a nice overnight stop.
A tip for photographing through windows: Often, one cannot get a good shot of what is inside due to reflections on the glass. If one puts their camera lens up against the glass, one can get a pretty decent shot of what is inside. Granted, one cannot aim their camera for a particular location inside, but there can be some pretty interesting stuff to see. Because the lens is so close to the glass, the camera will not focus on it but will focus on what is further away (this is the same principal of shooting through a fence – make sure you are closer to the fence than the object you want to photograph). Let your camera do the work. Because the lens is braced on glass, slower shutter speeds are less of a problem.