The photo above was taken on July 30, 2010. The one below, from a spot a little to the north down the street, was taken by John Vachon in April 1942. The four buildings in the upper photo are the Turner House, Assay Office, City Drug and the County Courthouse, which was later turned into the plush Hotel Meade. At the time John Vachon took his series of photos, the town had 12 residents.
Assay Office – While most gold is 80% to 95% pure, some of Bannacks’s gold assayed as high as 99.5%. Gold scales could be found in every establishment because most services were paid for in gold. Along with being an assay office, the building also served as the Oliver Stage Station and a butcher shop. Photographer John Vachon’s notes referred to it as a former bank.
City Drug Store – In addition to it’s use as a drug store, the building was at various times a general store, assay office, and school for a time when the regular school was in disrepair.
Bannack, Montana was founded in 1862 after a major gold discovery. It served as the capital of Montana Territory briefly during the civil war. The last residents left in the 1970s.
“Images from Bannack” are from July 30, 2010, our third visit to Bannack.