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We left the Big Hole Battlefield and stopped at Jackson (home of Bubba the nearly fifteen year old basset hound at Rose’s Cantina) before our final destination – Bannack.

Bannack was Montana’s first territorial capital and the site of Montana’s first major gold strike. You just imagine its wild and woolly history. It is now a well-preserved ghost town along Grasshopper Creek with over sixty buildings to explore. Being a holiday weekend we found the parking lot to be quite full. However it never seemed crowded while we strolled through the town and poked around in the old buildings. Many visitors brought dogs. Not us. Mary and I took many photos and Ken enjoyed learning to pan for gold along with a bunch of kids. Volunteers were leading tours and demonstrating gold mining and performing music of the era.

 

 

Before we left for BC, I read about various things to see and do and one of the things that caught my eye was a visit to Sandon – a ghost town relic left over from the heyday of silver mining in the area. The region was once one of the largest producers of silver in the west and a busy town with 1000’s of people quickly sprang up along the shores of Carpenter Creek. The mountainsides raise steeply up out of the valley and they quickly ran out of buildable land for homes and businesses and roads. Innovative thinking led them to put the creek in a flume – a four-sided wooden tube – and that became a main street of the town rather than a barrier. They also used it to dispose of trash and sewage. Imagine what the folks in New Denver, at the mouth of the creek, thought of that. Eventually the wooden flume failed and washed out much of the old town. Fire was also hard on the town and when silver prices declined, it was abandoned. During WWII it was used as a camp for Japanese-Canadian internees who were relocated from other areas.

Now the place is more of a junkyard with few intact buildings. Someone decided to store historic trolley buses from Calgary and Vancouver there. They presented an incongruous sight when we first arrived. We were puzzled til be found some interpretive signage. There is a nice museum in one of the old buildings and we enjoyed it, learning quite a bit about the place and silver mining in 1800’s and early 1900’s.

On the way to Sandon we stopped in New Denver and enjoyed their Saturday market with beautiful produce and lots of talented artisans.

 

 

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