Bannack History

DILLON- This weekend, you can go back in time for a real-life taste of what the 1800s Gold Rush was like in Montana.

At Bannack State Park's seventh annual Living History Program, actors give a taste of what life was like in the late 1800s.

Mary Anne Wofford has done living history at Bannack for the past three years. On Thursday, she was the town baker. She started the day by heating up peanuts or "goober peas' as they called them in Bannack for the school children to have as a snack on the tour.

"Seeing, feeling and doing makes it real for the kids, makes it real for us and it lets the students and other people know that life really did happen here," Wofford said.

Gold was discovered in Bannack in 1862, says Park Manager Dale Carlson. Overnight, about 500 miners showed up and by the next year 3,000 people had flocked to Bannack to make it rich.

Actor Tim Soiseth traveled all the way from North Dakota to Bannack. He is portraying saloon owner Siris Skinner and he says life wasn't easy for residents in Bannack. "It was very hardcore," Soiseth says. "Lots of men, lots of ne'er-do-wells in this town and people looking to make a fast dollar."

He adds there was a lot of crime in Bannack and residents often had to fend for themselves.

The program has been a staple at Bannack for the past seven years and staff call the park an outdoor classroom. There are over 20 preserved original buildings and dozens of actors volunteer each year for the program.

Park Manager Dale Carlson says the program is a great way for children and adults to learn about Montana's rich history.

"Bannack is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the west and it is a historic site and historic district, so it's very important to Montana history," Carlson says.

The Living History Program will be going on throughout the weekend. The event is free to Montana residents through their vehicle registration and $6 for anyone out of state.

Click here to RSVP and see event times on Facebook.

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