Built in 1875 for $14,000 as the Beaverhead County Courthouse, this building was the first brick courthouse in Montana. Prior to its construction, two nearby log cabins served as the chambers for the first territorial legislature when they met here in 1864.
In 1880, the Utah and Northern Railroad established a terminus in Dillon. Stock raising and agriculture were displacing mining as the main industries in Beaverhead County, with mining declining as was Bannack, while Dillon was evolving into a bustling freighting center. Dillon residents petitioned the territorial legislature who called a special election to determine the county seat. By a vote of 665 to 495, Dillon was chosen as the county seat in February, 1881.
The photo below was taken by photographer John Vachon in April, 1942.
The building remained empty until about 1890 when it was purchased by Dr. John Singleton Meade fo $1,250. Dr. Meade remodeled the building into a plush hotel. It became the center of Bannack and temporary home of many travelers. A large kitchen, dining room, and living quarters were added to the back of the building. Hotel Meade operated off and on until the 1940s.
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.