Bannack State Park, Bannack, Montana
When gold was discovered in the frigid creeks of Montana, it didn't take long for a town to take shape around it. Men of all sorts found their way to this overly lawless town.
Among the chaos, the hotel Meade stood proudly as the center of the town’s social scene. The hotel offered new arrivals a warm place to stay before they set off to make their fortunes in the mines of Bannack. For residents of Bannack it was a comfortable place to stop in and gossip.
Due to the hotel's size it was often used as a utilitarian building. At one time a courthouse, at another it was a makeshift hospital when smallpox ravaged the town taking the lives of several children.
The hotel was not able to last forever as the stream of new arrivals looking for a quick fortune were replaced by professional mining operations. The hotel dimmed its lights and closed its doors in the 1940's. While the hotel may not welcome new guests, old guests remain throughout its rooms.
Among the ghosts that Hotel Meade harbors is the young soul of Dorothy Dunn. The Dunn family made their way to Bannack in 1915, among them was sixteen year old Dorothy. She had come with her mother and her aunt’s family; her father had died the previous year. In Bannack Dorothy's mother found work managing the Hotel Meade, where they also took up residence.
On a hot summer day in August, Dorothy, her cousin Fern and best friend Bertie Mathews made their way to the dredge pond off of Grasshopper Creek. Slipping into the cool waters they began daring each other to travel further into the pond. None of the girls knew how to swim, so they held hands for safety. They had made their way into the center of the pond. Dorothy, believing that the pond was completely shallow, took one last fateful step further into the pond. Dorothy had stepped off of a shelf and into deep water. As Dorothy sunk she drug Fern under with her. Bertie desperately clutched onto Fern's hand. As Bertie struggled to stay above water she did the only thing she could, scream.
Twelve year old Smith Paddock heard Bertie's frantic screams and rushed into the water. Fern had freed herself from Dorothy's clutch and made her way back to the surface. Smith swept Fern and Bertie back to the shore. Bertie told Smith that Dorothy was still in the water. Smith rushed back to the center of the pond and could not find her.
Dorothy's body later surfaced and was found near the shore.
A year after Dorothy's death, Bertie joined Dorothy's grieving mother at the Hotel Meade in housekeeping duties. While in a room on the second floor, Bertie saw the ghost of Dorothy appear before her. Dorothy was wearing the long blue dress that she had been buried in, and appeared to be speaking. Bertie stated that she could see Dorothy's mouth moving as if she was talking, but Bertie could not hear any words. Dorothy's ghost repeatedly appeared to Bertie in the hotel, until Bertie finally left Bannack.
Today, the town of Bannack is a ghost town and preserved as a national park. Bannack has become a popular place for ghost hunts, especially the Hotel Meade.
Many people have explained an uneasy feeling come over them as soon as they step into the abandoned hotel. Others have stated that the hotel is filled with cold and warm spots that travel through the hotel.
Many people have claimed to see the ghost of Dorothy Dunn. Often she is seen peering out one of the second floor windows. Others have said they have seen her floating through walls on the second floor. The ghost of Dorothy seems to appear most often to children. Children have stated that Dorothy is trying to speak to them, just like with Bertie, but they too can hear no sounds. Children that have encountered Dorothy have also stated that she's playful. She will try to entice them into a game, or make silly faces at them.
In addition to Dorothy Dunn's ghost, people have stated that they have distinctly heard the sounds of children crying. Many believe that the crying comes from the ghosts of children who lost their lives in the hotel when it was used as a hospital during a smallpox outbreak.
Many people often hear disembodied footsteps echoing throughout the building, often in the same room.
Others have stated that the hotel has more sinister ghosts haunting it. Poltergeist activity is often witnessed in the hotel. The activity includes, doors slamming, objects being thrown, and sounds like someone is banging against the walls.
13 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Dorothy Dunn is my great aunt. The story has many errors. Fern was Dorothy's sister. Fern is my grandmother. Her father (stepfather) was Clarence Edward Dunn, a brother to William Dunn who was then the supervisor of the Gold Leaf mines in Bannack. Dorothy Johnson (Dunn) was born in Dayton Ohio October of 1901. My grandmother, Fern Johnson (Dunn) was born April 29, 1900 in Dayton. This makes Dorothy 14, soon to be 15 at the time of her death. Their stepfather was very much alive and I have pictures of him and Anna (my great grandmother) when they were back in Dayton many years later.
I have 19 pictures from their time in Bannack with pictures of Dorothy, Fern and their brothers and friends. I have pictures of them in front of the house they lived in and the cabin they moved to after Dorothy drowned. I remeber grandma telling that she couldn't hang on to Dorothy and experienced hysterical blindness for some time after the tragic event.
Hello Kathie, I want to thank you for sharing the history of your aunt Dorothy. I'm known as the genealogy nut in my family, and I always enjoy hearing stories from other families. I visited Bannack the summer of 1972 with my family when I was still in high school. I really enjoyed walking through some of the buildings including the Hotel Meade. It was nice to see this frontier town in it's untouched state at that time. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear of the tragedy that happened to your aunt, even though this happened almost 100 years ago. Best wishes, Kathie. Maybe sometime you might want to post some photos of your family from the Bannack era. I'm sure a lot of history buffs would love to see them!
I'm quite impressed. I've been studing Bannack State Park since I was in the 7th grade. I'm a Sophmore in highschool now and I know for a fact that Ghosts do exist in Bannack Montana.
I live in Dillon a little less than 40 miles away and I've visited this beautiful place many times in the past, but I will never again enter the back valt of the Meade Hotel. The story of Miss Dorothy Dunn drounding was sad and people say she is a kind and loving spirit. However, there is a dark soul who inhabits the Meade as well.
My friend and I went to visit Bannack and the first place we explored was the Meade Hotel. My sister and Borther surved as our guardians as we explored. My friend and I desided to explore the second valt in the back of the meade. we closed the door ever so slightly and stood there laughing because my brother in law was looking for us. We didn't think much of ghosts, but this soon changed our minds. "Ok Bekah, let go of me. You're not scaring me." my friend said. I was completely confused because I wasn't touching her. I wasn't even near her and I told her this. Spooked, we got out of the valt. my friend was wearing a short sleeve shirt and on her lower arm, right below her elbow was a slight bruse in the shape of a hand like someone had grabbed her hard. We ran from the hotel to my sister and told her what happened. when we asked a worker about it and our suspisions of it being Dorothy, the woman told us of a woman named Marthia who was a maid in the Meade who died from scarlet feaver.
Me and my friend never believed in ghosts, but after our little runin with Marthia, we had a change of mind.
I recently came back from a camping trip at Bannack. I saw the dredge pond where Dorothy drowned, and my friend and I took some voice recordings in Hotel Meade, but we didn't get anything this time. However, when we went there last August, we caught a couple of really good EVPs. In one, I said "Hello, is anybody here?" and a young girl's voice says "We're here now!" In another, my friend asked "What's your name?" and a female voice answered "June" but now I wonder if it was Dorothy, saying "Dunn" in her accent. Who knows!
poor dorthoy i could feel her presense wen we were there for bannack days we are going there 4 halloween in 2011 on friday i hope i could c her even if i have 2 go in alone dought that but maybe i want her 2 rest in peace i hope 2 c u soon dorothy god bless you.
Dorothy i was looking 4 u in hotel mead i couldnt find u where were u we are goin 2 bannack 4 halloween i will find the hole i want to talk to u to now what u need what u want rest in peace love shelby
hi dorthy this is shelby on my dad daves typing thing rest in peace look 4 me at bannack on halloween 2011 were goin friday c u there i hope let me now wat u want i will help u and get it 4 u just dont hurt or scare me thanks.........
hi dorathy R.I.P when im older i will go see you sorry iv already wrote you a entir paragragh and they must have deleted it but anyways ill be looking for you.
Things in Bannack have been getting a lot weirder around the Meade Hotel especially. My sister and I, Rebekah desided to do a walkthrough with a voice recorder and see if we could catch anything. We went with anouther one of Bekah's friends who holds a great love for our state's history. When we got to Bannack, we immedeatly went to the hotel to try our luck. Since we had heard stories, along with my sister's own personal expeariance. After about ten minutes of walking around and not getting diddily squat on the VR, we desided to leave and return later that day. As we were leaving, we called up the stairs to Bekah's friend to come with us. when we heard her scream. we ran up the stairs as fast as we could only to find her on the floor. when we asked what happened, she told us that she heard something behind her as she walked past a room. when she turned to look, though, she felt pressure on her back and was shoved to the ground. Bekah said that it wasn't Dorothy who is doing it. She seemed to be too nice of a spirit... but her maid, now that was a different story. bekah yelled out telling Martha in a rather unsound manner that she wasn't going to scare her. and that her and I would be returning soon to finish what we started. and we are planning to do just that. M.L. Hammond
I am doing a report on Bannack, Montana for school and I think Dorothy Dunn's death would be a great edition to my 15 minute history report due. This is a terrible death. I'm sorry for your loss Kathie.
I love Bannack and have had quite a few experiences there. The first one was the first time I went there and I saw an elk walking in the creek near the first camp grounds as you come in and I wanted a pic, as I hurried towards the edge of the creek at the end of the camp grounds trying to find the elk I heard a female voice say "I wouldn't go any closer". I stopped and looked around there was nobody there. I didn't go any closer after that cause I felt that was a warning from some where. After I got home from there I goggled the town and found that a young girl had drown in the creek.......Dorothy, I wonder if it was her warning me.
Another time in the Hotel Meade I went upstairs with my ghost meter and told my husband I didn't like it up there cause it gave me a weird, heavy feeling and just than my meter went off. I felt like if the doors up there hadn't been locked and I could open them there would have been something behind them that would have rushed out at us. As I started walking towards the gallows, about even with where there is a trail going up to the cemetery I got this overwhelming feeling of panic.....so strong I could hardly move and it took a while for it to go away. In some of the buildings I have felt things and smelled things that weren't there and on a video I made you can hear someone whistling when no one was there, in fact, we were the only ones visiting the town at that time. Bannack is awesome and I will be visiting there again soon and hope to have more paranormal experiences.
These are stories are intriguing me. I decided to do some research on line here and found this spot. In July, 2006 I as well went on a vacation to Bannack and the Meade Hotel. At the time entering the Hotel, there were 5 of us total and nobody else. I brought my camcorder and camera with me. My camcorder was fully charged entering in and I went upstairs right away. I spent too long apparently in one room on the right, so when I came out into the hallway, everyone was already gone. I thought it was only about a minute, but guess not. I walked down the hallway and went into the last room on the left in the back. It got very cold quickly and I felt drawn into that room. As I was in that room starting to turn around, my camcorder went dead. I didn't run out of video tape and it showed the battery was dead. Now, I KNOW it was fully charged. I'm very strict about this kind of thing. That night, I charged it fully again and it has worked fine ever since. I have no idea for sure what to think of that with my camcorder. ~Shelly M.
I VISITED BANNACK, MT SUMMER OF 1992,,, NEVER THOUGHT MUCH OF GHOSTS ... WHETHER THEY WERE REAL OR NOT... BUT THAT MEADE HOTEL CHANGED MY MIND, THE DAY WE VISTED THERE . IT WAS MY HUSBAND AND I. WE HAVE VISTED A LOT OF OLD GHOST TOWNS IN THE PAST....SO I WAS EXCITED TO SEE BANNACK AND THIS OLD MEADE HOTEL,, WHEN WE SAW THE OLD MEADE HOTEL, MY HUSBAND TOLD ME TO STAND ON THE STEPS IN FRONT OF THE DOOR THAT WAS CLOSE AND HE TOOK MY PICTURE.. AND THEN WENT IN SIDE ... HE NEVER CAME UP STAIRS WITH ME I WENT ALONE. AS I GOT TO THE TOP OF STAIRS THIS WOMAN WITH DARK HAIR, AS HUMAN AS ANY ONE I HAVE EVER SEEN, WALKED PAST ME HEADING TOWARD THE DOOR OUT TO THE BALCONY, BUT WHEN I LOOKED UP HER HEAD WAS TURN BACK TOWARDS ME AND SHE WAS JUST STARRING AT ME...AS I LOOKED AT HER I WAS WONDERING WHAT HER PROBLEM WAS FOR SHE WAS NOT JUST STARRING, SHE WAS LOOKING THRU ME....AS SHE WALKED OUT ON THE BALCONY I TURN AND TOOK A FEW STEPS DOWN THE HALL, BUT DECIDED TO TURN AROUND AND START OUT ON THE BALCONY ...I WOULD FOLLOW THIS STRANGE WOMAN, WHEN I GOT OUT THERE SHE WAS GONE,, I LOOKED OVER TO SEE IF SHE FELL OFF..AND SHE WAS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND... I WAS TOO EXCITED TO GIVE THIS MUCH THOUGHT AT THE TIME... I KNEW SHE DIDNT FALL OFF, SO I LEFT AND CONTINUE BACK DOWN THE HALL WAY . THE FIRST ROOM ON MY LEFT WAS A LARGE ROOM AS I STOOD IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS ROOM IT WAS VERY COLD... I JUST THOUGHT IT DIDNT GET MUCH SUN AND LEFT . WHEN I GOT TO THE BACK STAIR CASE I STARTED TO STEP DOWN AND A FEAR CAME OVER ME... I FROZE , I FELT LIKE SOMEONE WAS STANDING IN THE STAIR CASE BLOCKING ME FROM GOING DOWN... I COULD HER MY HUSBAND SUMMONS ME TO THE KITCHEN BELOW,,, AND THE FEAR LIFTED .. WHEN I GOT TO THE KITCHEN, I WAS MUCH TO EXCITED, SO I DISMISS EVERY THING THAT HAPPEN... WE THEN WENT TO THE CEMETERY.. WHEN WE GOT THERE, I HAD THIS VERY STRANGE FEELING COME OVER ME, I FELT LIKE I COULD NOT LEAVE FOR SOME REASON.. LIKE I NEEDED TO SPEND SOME TIME THERE,, MY HUSBAND ASKED IF I WAS ALRIGHT,, AND I REPLIED I DID NOT KNOW....I JUST FELT LIKE I NEED TIME HERE.. WE SAT DOWN ON THE GROUND OVER LOOKING THE TOWN... I TOLD MY HUSBAND I FELT LIKE I HAD BEEN THERE BEFORE.... AND I KNEW I HAD NEVER BEEN TO MONTANA BEFORE IN MY LIFE...TWO WEEKS LATER BACK HOME, MY HUSBAND HAD THE PICTURES DEVELOPED , WHEN I SAW THE PICTURE OF ME STANDING ON THE PORCH OF THE OLD HOTEL, I SCREAMED.... FOR THERE WAS AN IMAGE OF A MAN WITH HIS HANDS OPEN UP LIKE HE WAS WELCOMING ME THERE... HE HAD ON A CIVIL WAR JACKET WITH WHAT LOOK LIKE TO ME WITH FRINGES HANGING OFF THE SHOULDERS... IT TOOK ME A FEW YEARS TO CALL THE BANNACK MUSEUM.. I TOLD THEM MY STORY AND FELT THE IMAGE WAS CONNECTED TO THE HOTEL AND THAT THE MAN WAS IN THE CIVIL WAR SOMETHING MORE THAN A REGULAR SOLDIER.. THE WOMAN AT THE BANNACK MUSEUM LAUGH AND SAID THE MAN WAS DR. JOHN S. MEADE, I WAS TOTALLY SHOCKED.. RESEARCHING THE LIFE OF MR JOHN MEADE.. I FOUND OUT HE HAD A SON KILLED IN A MINING ACCIDENT IN THAT TOWN...THE STORY WAS HEROIC ONE...NEVER HAD GHOSTS ON MY MIND BEFORE THEN, BUT I SURE DO NOW.... I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR STORIES FROM PEOPLE WITH SIMILAR EXPERINCES FROM THERE...ESP.. IF YOU WOULD KNOW WHO THE WOMAN MIGHT HAVE BEEN....WILMA MORGAN ( firstname.lastname@example.org)