to Bannack, MT

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

“The roads and boardwalks are deserted. The doors sway in the wind. There are no Children laughing and Adult gossiping. The gold rush is long over. It is but a memory left in old dusty Journals. With nightfall the spirits return to their tales” [Quote] Sue Kaiser

Hotel Melten  

It was time to ride some paved roads before Old Faithful would start screaming of too much pain from the past gravel roads we have been on. With a general idea of it’s location, we headed toward Bannack, a bit reluctantly, more for the ride than anything else as… “Oh! no… not another Ghost Town!”. Smooth riding, a few pit stops, one in Twin Bridges where I realized leaving behind Spirit’s collapsible bowl, which would still be there on our way back, hours later. Dillon was our first real stop as suddenly I found myself a bit dumbfounded as being squeezed in between two Centuries. A beautiful structure catching my attention, “The Hotel Metlen” built in 1897, and across the railroad track, as the other side of the coin, recently painted graffiti. This is not what the past guests could see from their windows.

Hotel Metlen-3 Hotel Metlen-2

There was truck parked behind us with Texas plates, I have to always chat with Texans! They happen to be a nice couple and had just purchased the Hotel. With it’s ongoing renovations, the rooms should be soon open to the public, as they use to be, the restaurant has already been been leased out, it will turn out to be an interesting landmark with a good view of… the graffiti.

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graffiti graffiti-3
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..and an important message

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We finally get going after some fun with the camera, as I realize why it takes us so long to cover any kind of daily distance. Up the hills and down the hills the wind feels good, Old Faithful is purring, Spirit is paying attention to the road as bicyclists are going the other way. I thought for a moment my vision had doubled or blurred, ah! lets make U turn to check these guys out if it is what I am thinking it is after meeting the Williams the other day.

The Whitneys  

I did not know what to say this time! The “Whitney’s”. Husband and Wife and four children, not going around the World, but from Oregon to Upstate New York. These people are all so nice to stop and chat and specially the two children riding behind their dad, the ones on the left, as I ask them again how good of a time they where having. I could feel the Love for each other but also the endless teasing toward each other. “He cried”… “She kicks me…” “He gets lazy…”. Too funny. They do not have a Blog, one less task they need not to worry about as I cannot imagine the logistics of three meals a day, setting up tents, showers… you name it. Incredible it is.

The Whitneys-2  

Off the beaten path we finally made it to Bannack where right away I knew this was going to be good, very good. I could not smell that lingering Virginia City Pizza in the air, there was no Fire truck loaded with 82 passengers at $8 a ticket for an up and down drive around the ancient neighborhood, driving is not even allowed in Bannack and for that matter “non smoking” signs also are everywhere. Dogs are allowed! It is a State Park… not a Federal Park. It is quiet, and since the many buildings are open, the streets when emptied as it was so often, could have been from a moment of the past.

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This was a rare find for me as I have been told about it since the day we arrived in Ennis. Close call as we are leaving in a few days. Bannack has an incredible rich and colorful History. Since the first gold nugget was taken from the gravels of the “Grasshopper Creek” near by, to the present day, the town has touched the lives of many. It is one space while walking the streets, boardwalks and exploring the buildings I can just imagine what Life was in this early day mining town. Hear and see the sights and sounds of Bannack in her heyday.

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It all started over 140 years ago, in July of 1862, when John White and fellow members of a Colorado based group of “Pike Peakers” discovered gold along the banks of the creek. Unaware that the creek had already been named “Willard’s Creek” by Lewis and Clark, White christened the creek “Grasshopper” because of it’s dense grasshopper population of the area. They originally camped several miles away and found much gold. To protect his discovery, White filed one of the first recorded mining claims in what became Montana. Good news traveled fast and many miners rushed to “Grasshopper Diggins”. The mining camp, soon to be known as Bannack, boasted a population of about 400 that fall and swelled to 3,000 in the spring.

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Over a Century ago Life was full in this town as they say the ghosts do linger often for others to come at night and experience their sights. Building after building, left as they were, this is the real Ghost Town, maintained of course, but not build up from the ground as Nevada City for example is. It is a photographer’s delight, myself will come back again if in this area sometime in the future, nothing will have changed but us, if only we could weather the century as well as those buildings. Many more photographs I have and truly interesting bits of History, all in the next Blog.

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Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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