The term “ghost town” can have a double meaning. As time ticks by, the spirits of the past sometimes refuse to be on their way. Montana’s Bannack may be a perfect example of a historic American ghost town with real ghosts.
Haunted Montana: Bannack
Bannack is found in Beaverhead County along Grasshopper Creek. The town was established in 1862 and given its name because of the Bannock Indians who were local to the region. Gold was found in the area the same year, which prompted the creation of the town.
Not everyone in Bannack was viewed as a good, law-abiding citizen. Sheriff Henry Plummer was believed to have secretly led a band of ruthless outlaws called road agents. They would attempt to steal gold that was being transported. These thieves were often ruthless and would kill anyone who tried to stop them.
Plummer’s gang may have slaughtered more than 100 people during their reign of terror. Only a total of 8 deaths by the gang are recorded, which has caused some historians to question the nature of the group or whether they actually existed at all.
Regardless of the validity of the claim, Sheriff Plummer was hanged by vigilantes in January of 1864 along with two of his deputies. He was never given a trial. Many of his associates were later banished or lynched.
Paranormal Activity in Bannack
A ghostly woman named Dorothy Dunn has been seen in Bannack by multiple witnesses. Dorothy drowned in a dredged pond in August of 1916. She was only 16 years old and lived with her mother at the time. Sightings began only a few days after her passing when her closest friend, who also witnessed her drowning, claimed to have seen an apparition resembling Dorothy in the Meade Hotel. This place was significant to her because her father was the hotel’s manager when she died.
Dorothy is always wearing a blue gown and is sometimes spotted staring out of second story windows in the hotel as well as in a guest room and the front room. A young boy claims to have seen the ghost of Dorothy recently. She appeared to be laughing at him.
The old Chrismans’ general store in Bannack is also the site of unexplained occurrences. Henry Plummer is believed to have used the back offices. Men would often gather at the store, which was a popular social spot. At least one photograph of a foggy entity has been captured, although it is no longer available to view online.
The Bessette House has also earned a reputation for paranormal activity. Visitors have caught the sound of crying babies in the building. State Park employee John Phillips also noted that people claim to feel unexplained cold spots in the Bessette House. It is believed that the crying infants may be the spirits of children who lost their lives to illness there. The phenomenon has earned the site the nickname “Crying Baby House.”
EVP highlights captured by Montana Paranormal investigators at Bannack
Many believe Bannack is still an active location. It isn’t a highly popular destination among tourists, but it is favored by historians and locals.
Investigators, guests and employees have reported strange experiences in the various buildings that still stand in the ghost town. The park encourages visitors to explore the darker side of Bannack’s history with an October Ghost Walk event.
Have you been to Bannack (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.