Adventure Details

Project Instructor:
Jeffrey MacDonald, Heritage Preservation Consulting & Services
Jeff MacDonald is a cultural heritage scholar, educator, and specialist in the preservation of historic building materials and historic built environments. For over 20 years, he has remained active in preservation and the advancement of cultural heritage education in the US and worldwide. He has also carried out research into cultural heritage policy, education, and stewardship.

Jeff continues to explore international partnerships in the development of locally sustainable heritage systems, and place-based models. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art & Design, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Heritage & Applied Anthropology at the University of Montana.

Project Funders:
Take this opportunity to support conservation at Bannack ghost town

Project Partners:
Montana State Parks
[Details to be announced] 

University of Montana
[Details to be announced] 

Jeffrey MacDonald 
Heritage Preservation Consulting & Services



DBL US$990 per week | SGL $1290 per week


Discounts! Past Participants always receive a discounted fee

Check out AiP's Loyalty Program

Additional Cost Information:
All costs are per person per session

Your fee includes:

  • Lodging
  • Breakfasts and lunches
  • Excursions
  • Training and materials
  • Airport pickup/drop off

Participants are responsible for:

  • Transportation to Montana
  • Visas, if needed
  • Dinners and meals on excursions
  • Travel health insurance, if coming from outside the US.


Preserve the Ghosts of Grasshopper Creek

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Join this Adventure!


Dates: August 4-10, 2019

Learn specialized preservation treatments to help sustain Montana’s built heritage and uncover valuable historical archaeology.

Why Volunteer at Bannack Ghost Town

A flash flood tore through Bannack, Montana in 2015. Rushing water damaged many of the sixty historic buildings still standing in this 1862 gold rush ghost town. Work began immediately to address problems in order to save a remarkable remnant of the old west. Jammers (AiP volunteers) will have the opportunity to learn from specialists with expertise in both preservation and archaeology.

Project and Need

Bannack was founded in 1862 when gold was discovered on Grasshopper Creek. As news spread, many prospectors and businessmen rushed to Bannack hoping to strike it rich. In 1864, Bannack was named the first Territorial Capital of Montana, and continued as a mining town into the 1930’s. By the 1950’s, gold had dwindled and most residents had moved on. At that point the State of Montana declared Bannack a State Park.

There are very few ghost towns of this size remaining in the western US that still encapsulate this engaging and important era of American history. Saving the town requires creative solutions, and you can be an important part of the effort.

What is truly amazing about AIP is that they bring together people from different areas, backgrounds and skill sets who all share a similar driving interest. We come because we love history and want to become a part of its rediscovery and preservation. – Dalton, 2018

How You Will Help 

An innovative partnership has been formed between the University of Montana, Montana State Parks and Adventures in Preservation. The vision is to establish an institute for preservation education that also encompasses historic archaeology and cultural landscapes.

Be among the first to explore the interface between preservation and archaeology in the repair of foundation systems. Hands-on work will provide an outstanding experiential education.

In 2019, our primary focus will be historic mortars used for chinking and daubing as well as re-pointing. We will:

  • Analyze samples of mortar to determine percentage of sand, lime, other substances
  • Make mortar and daubing mixes
  • Apply mortar and daubing to historic buildings.

Specialized training varies by session and building, which range from log structures, wood frame construction to masonry, plaster and historic finishes. We will also be involved in archaeology around damaged foundations beginning in 2020.

Your participation addresses a critical need to find a sustainable method to offset costs of preservation and maintenance treatments.

Lodging and Meals

Jammers will stay at the Fairbridge Inn Express in Dillon and eat breakfast at the hotel. Lunches will be provided on-site. Dinners are at your own expense, but we will try out several of Dillon’s restaurants and go as a group.

The hotel offers a newly renovated indoor pool, a fitness center, free wifi, microwave, refrigerator, AC and free parking if you choose to drive.

If you prefer, there is the option of camping near the work site. If camping, you will need to provide your own breakfast, as well as dinner if choosing not to drive into Dillon.


Your project fee of USD990 per week covers the cost of lodging in a double room, breakfast and lunch, onsite instruction, transportation to & from the airport, transportation to & from work site, and excursions. If you prefer a single room, an additional single supplement of USD300 will be added to your fee.

If camping, your project fee of USD790 covers the cost of your camp site, lunch, onsite instruction, transportation to & from the airport, and excursions.


We will visit Big Hole National Battlefield, where the Nez Percé fought a delaying action against the 7th Infantry Regiment August 9-10, 1877, during their failed attempt to escape to Canada.

You’ll also have the option of visiting the Jackson Hot Springs, or experiencing world-class fishing on the Beaverhead River. Equipment is available to rent.

Given all there is to see and do in Montana and the surrounding mountain west, you might consider extending your visit, before or after your project session, to take advantage of the area’s many historic and natural sites.

I spent an amazing week with wonderful people and I would recommend everybody to live this unique experience. – Annabel, 2017 

 Travel Details

If arriving by air, the nearest airports are in Bozeman, Montana or Pocatello, Idaho. Airport pickup is available at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at 2pm on Sunday. Rental cars are available at both airports. Drive time from Bozeman to Dillon is 2 hours, and drive time from Pocatello is 2 hours 45 minutes.

August in Montana brings daytime highs between 75 and 92 degrees F, with an average high of 83 F/28 C. The average low is 46 F/8 C. In September, the average high is 73 F/23 C and average low is 40 F / 4 C. With an altitude of 5240 feet, temperatures often cool rapidly in the evening so bring attire suitable for the weather that will also be protective while working. Sturdy close-toed shoes required; water bottles, insect repellant and sunscreen are recommended. Please be conscious that safety is an important issue at any work site.

If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.

Immerse yourself in the history of the great gold rush – Register today!

Join this Adventure!

If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this volunteer vacation, contact us at or call +1 303-444-0128.