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Ghost town to stay closed for weeks after flooding


AP Photo/Montana State Parks Department

Flood water runs down the main street of Bannack last Wednesday. The flooding destroyed one building from the 1800s, washed out the town’s boardwalk and caused flooding damage to dozens of other properties. The damage will keep the ghost town in southwestern Montana closed at least a month, officials say.

BANNACK (AP) — Flash-flood damage at Bannack State Park will keep the southwestern Montana ghost town closed to tourists for at least a month, state officials said.

Lt. Gov. John Walsh and State Parks Administrator Chas Van Genderen toured the site Monday to survey damage caused by the July 17 flooding. About 80 percent of the town's buildings were damaged by hail, mud and water.

The Assay Office was destroyed, boardwalks were torn out, and last weekend's annual Bannack Days celebration was canceled.

"It's just terrible," Van Genderen said. "As the parks system, we're bringing all forces together to respond to this severe incident."

Walsh noted that steel mining equipment was moved by the 3-foot surge of water that pushed through town.

"You look at some of the mining equipment that was moved several hundred yards, and that stuff is made of steel, so it gives you an idea of the impact the rains had," Walsh said.

State parks officials don't have an estimated cost of the damage, but the park is insured,

Cleanup has started but park manager Dale Carlson said more work is needed before engineers can examine foundations.

Carlson said the cleanup and repair priorities start with several buildings in the center of the town, including the Meade Hotel, City Drug, Turner House, Graves House, post office and jails.

Bannack was established in 1862 and was Montana's first territorial capital.

"Bannack's been around for a long time and people have been coming here since they were little kids," said Tom Lowe, assistant park manager. "They bring their children and grandchildren back to Bannack. It means a lot to a lot of people."

Van Genderen also noted the state park west of Dillon has a significant economic impact to the area.


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