SW Montana Historic Ghost Towns Battlefields
Bighole National Battlefield Montana #51788
If you’re like me and enjoy history and learning about the events that shaped our country, a visit to SW Montana will reward you with some wonderful experiences. Our culture is filled with books and movies depicting the Old West and sometimes it’s easy to forget that in a short drive you can see history come to life and learn firsthand what it was really like back in the 1800’s.
On my recent trip I made a point of touring through this section of Montana and visit a few of its historic highlights. My first stop was Bighole National Battlefield near Wisdom Montana. Here one can learn about the tragic flight for freedom of the Nez Percé, one of the saddest chapters in the history of the American West. Along the short trails in the park you can walk through the site where the Nez Percé were camped and attacked by the Army of Colonel John Gibbon. Sitting here amongst the bare tepee frames in the still of the early morning is a very emotional experience that can never be felt reading a book or watching a movie. Across the river you can view the site from the perspective of the Gibbon’s soldiers. The shallow holes the soldiers desperately dug to avoid the fire from the Nez Percé snipers can still be seen. A trip to the visitor’s center is mandatory to learn about the events in detail through an emotionally charged documentary in the theater, boxes of tissue have been wisely and strategically placed here.
Bighole National Battlefield Montana #51769
My next stop was one of the best preserved Ghost Towns in the West, Bannack State Park. Ghost towns are sprinkled all over Montana and most western states but some are nothing more than a few crumbling cabins, stone foundations, or mine shafts, while others are restored beyond their original condition and turned into tourist sites complete with shops selling various wares. Here in Bannack the park has tried successfully to preserve many of the buildings in their original condition. Two of the best are the Hotel Meade and the Mason’s Lodge/Schoolhouse. Here again you can really get a good feel for the history by walking or just sitting around in the quiet hours of early morning or late evening. Of course there are many visitors and locals who will tell you that in certain buildings at certain times you can also experience the history of the town in a supernatural way. One visitor firmly believed that if I examined my photographs closely I will be certain to see evidence of lingering spirits. So far I haven’t, but I was also told that the popular TV series Ghost Adventures is scheduled to film there this summer so maybe they’ll show what I missed.
These are only two of the many historic sites in Montana you can visit, and on future trips I plan on exploring as many as I can find to experience firsthand the rich history of our great land!
Hotel Meade, Bannack State Park Montana 51835
Schoolroom, Bannack State Park Montana #51926
Mining equipment, Bannack State Park Montana #51906
Tepee, Bannack State Park Montana, #51923