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Section 6

All Montana Area Codes are 406

25. Food, Lodging

T Beaverhead County Museum 15 S Montana St in downtown Dillon. 683-5027

The Beaverhead County Museum is a time machine reopening the past.

A tour of the museum will unfold the county’s history… its inhabitants, wildlife, agriculture, mining and lifestyle. Included with Indian arti- facts, early ranching relics and mining memorabil- ia, is a huge, mounted Alaskan brown bear tower- ing over the exhibits.

Exhibits depict the manner in which Indians, early pioneers and the medical profession served as caretakers of land and man. A second room fea- tures the local mining industry, while another invites you into the domestic side of early life in Beaverhead County.

Outside, you can read 1,700 branded boards along the boardwalk, leading to an authentic home- steader’s cabin and Dillon’s first flush toilet. Mining equipment, a sheepherder’s wagon, and an old Ford tractor are other interesting outdoor displays.

Continue south on the boardwalk to the 1909 Union Pacific Depot, now housing the Travel Montana Visitors’ Center, the Beaverhead Chamber of Commerce, the Old Depot Theatre and a large diorama of Lewis and Clark.

Take a walk through time and enjoy your visit. Our friendly hosts and hostesses will be happy to answer your questions.

The museum is open year round. While no admission is charged there is a suggested donation. Reprinted from Dillon Chamber of Commerce brochure.

S Mitchell Drug & Gifts

125 E Glendale St in Dillon. 683-2316

S Schwarz Custom Boots

120 S Montana St in Dillon. 683-6652

S Galloping Horse Interiors

120 N Montana St in Dillon. 683-9752

S Bitterroot Trading Company

408 E Glendale St in Dillon. 683-9844

26. Food, Lodging

M Western Montana College of The University of Montana

710 S Atlantic in Dillon. 683-7011 or 800-962-6668. www.wmc.edu

Beginning in 1893 at Montana State Normal College, today Western Montana College has approximately 1,100 students. The school is known for it’s liberal arts studies, especially in ele- mentary and secondary education.


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T Bannack State Park

5 mi S of Dillon on 1-15, 21 mi W on Secondary 278, then 4 mi S on county road. 834-3413

Bannack was the site of the state’s first big gold strike in 1862 and the birthplace of Montana’s government. Gold was discovered in Grasshopper Creek on July 28, 1862. This strike set off a mas- sive gold rush that swelled Bannack’s population to over 3,000 by 1863. The remnants of over 60 buildings show the extent of development reached during the town’s zenith. When the gold ran out, the town died.

Montana’s first territorial capital, was the site of many “firsts” in the state’s history. Bannack had the first jail, hotel, chartered Masonic Lodge, hard rock mine, electric gold dredge, quartz stamp mill, and commercial sawmill. Bannack’s two jails, built from hand-hewn logs, tell the story of the lawlessness that terrorized Grasshopper Gulch and the road to Virginia City. Road Agent’s Rock, just a few miles from Bannack, was the lookout point for an organ- ized gang of road agents, toughs, robbers, and murders. The infamous sheriff of Bannack, Henry Plummer, was secretly the leader of this gang called “The Innocents.” The gang is said to have murdered over 102 men and robbed countless oth- ers during the eight months that Plummer served as sheriff. Many of their escapades were planned in Skinner’s Saloon, which still stands in Bannack today. It could not last. Bannack’s law-abiding citi- zens rose up and organized a vigilance group. In conjunction with a similar group in Virginia City, they quickly hunted down 28 of the “Innocents,” including Henry Plummer, and hanged them on the gallows Plummer had just built.

“The Toughest Town in The West” soon grew quiet due to the reign of the vigilantes and a popu- lation of transient gold seekers that left to follow better gold strikes. However, gold mining activity continued for many years. The reputation of Bannack lives on today in Western history and fic- tion, forming the basis of many Western novels and movies. Many actors in the drama of early-day Bannack went on to play key roles in Montana his- tory. The mines and placer diggings are quiet now,

but the streets of Bannack still echo with the foot- steps of those who seek the rich lode of Western history that Bannack hoards like the gold once hid- den in its hills and creeks. Over 50 buildings remain at Bannack today, each one with a story to tell…from tumble-down, one-room bachelor cab- ins to the once-stately Hotel Meade. The diggin’s are quiet now, but the streets still ring with the footsteps of those seeking the rich lode of Western history that Bannack hoards like the gold once hid- den in its hills…a moment in time for modern-day visitors to discover and enjoy.

Walk the deserted streets of Bannack, and discover for yourself the way the West really was. Bannack is one of the best preserved of all of Montana’s ghost towns. Bannack is unique…preserved rather than restored…pro- tected rather than exploited. Reprinted from Bannack State Park brochure.

28. Food

H Bannack

I-15. MP 55

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, westward bound, passed here in August, 1805.

The old mining camp of Bannack is on Grasshopper Creek about twenty miles west of here. The first paying placer discovery in Montana was made in that vicinity by John White, July 28, 1862, and Bannack became the first capital of Montana Territory. They should have built it on wheels. The fol- lowing spring six prospectors discovered Alder Gulch and practically the entire population of Bannack stam- peded to the new diggings where the new camp of Virginia City eventually became the capital until it was changed to Helena.

Henry Plumme , sheriff and secret chief of the road agents, was hanged at Bannack in 1864 by the Vigilantes. It tamed him down considerably.

D Mer. Lewis

August 11, 1805

“he suddonly turned his horse about, gave him the whip leaped the creek and disapeared in the willow brush in an instant. . .I now felt quite as much mortifi- cation and disappointment as I had preasure and expectation at the first sight of this indian.”

Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia

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