Post written by Cassandra Garrison, Real Estate Media Specialist | Web Developer | Techie | Philanthropist | Gypsy Soul | Snowboarder | Top-Tier Millennial
Yes! My favorite time of year is finally here…. Autumn!
I eagerly anticipate the arrival of this season every year! I love everything about fall for many reasons: warm cozy sweaters to snuggle into, visiting the local pumpkin patch, shopping at the local farmer’s market, and the colorful cornucopia of red, gold, and bronze colors that adorn our trees for a short time every year (Although I wish it were longer!).
My favorite holiday also happens to be Halloween. Since I was a child, I’ve loved dressing up and going trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, drinking hot apple cider, and watching Halloween movie classics like Hocus Pocus, Nightmare before Christmas, and Casper.
Yes, it’s true, the kid at heart still lives within me during the holiday season.
Another family tradition I greatly enjoy is telling ghost stories around the firepit or campfire. I’d previously shared with you that my father is a living Montana history book. Turns out our state has its fair share of ghostly history! Whether you believe or don’t believe in ghosts, it’s fun to hear these chilling tales of rumored hauntings.
Throughout the month of October, I plan to revisit the history of some historical sites in Montana that have reported ghostly activity. I’ll begin with 3 places in Montana that are fairly well-known. So who’s ready to go ghost-hunting with me across the state?
Old Prison Museum, Deer Lodge, MT
Our first stop on this haunted tour will take us to the infamous Montana Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana.
From 1871 until 1979, the Montana Territorial Prison housed some of the unruliest prisoners of the Wild West.
During its heyday, the prison witnessed many murders, suicides, and hangings, but the most notorious incident was the prison riot of 1959 incited by inmate Jerry Myles and his accomplice, Lee Smart.
During the riot, several guards and prisoners were taken as hostages, Deputy Warden Ted Rothe was killed, and the Montana National Guard had to be dispatched to quell the riot. Paul Eitner, also known as “Turkey Pete” was a convicted murdered who spent 49 years of his life in the prison, and reportedly still haunts cell block 1 where he was housed.
The prison, now being run as the Old Prison Museum, has continued to operate as a hotspot for local ghost-hunters, and paranormal investigations, under the direction of Museum Director, Julia Brewer.
Julia recalls when she first began working for the Museum that her office would often smell like burning flesh, and this prompted her to start looking into paranormal investigations. One local reporter, Allison Maier, participated in one of these paranormal investigations, and documented her experience in an article for the Montana Standard. Allison Maier’s story can be read here.
St. Charles Hall, Carroll College, Helena, MT
St. Charles Hall was built in 1909, and served as the main campus building for Carroll College when it was known as Mount St. Charles College.
In its early years, St. Charles Hall housed dormitories, classrooms, a library, a dining hall, and faculty offices. Today the building still serves as a dormitory for freshmen and sophomore students in its south wing, and houses performing arts facilities in the north wing.
One night in February of 1962 proved to be unusual for one campus student. A young man, who had presumably been at a party, returned to the dormitories rather late, and proceeded to get ready for bed.
As he stood in front of the bathroom sink brushing his teeth, the young man blacked out and hit his head. He was taken to the hospital, and underwent two surgeries to repair the wounds to his head. A couple weeks after having these surgeries, the young man contracted pneumonia, and passed away in the hospital.
Shortly after the young man passed away, reports of students seeing the reflection of a young man with a head wound in the bathroom sink mirror became numerous. Reports included students hearing heavy breathing, seeing blood pouring from the faucet, and a blood stain on the floor that would return after being washed away.
The college decided to board up the fourth floor bathroom to alleviate fears of students. During Halloween, the College offers a haunted tour of the campus. To learn more about the history of Carroll College, click here.
Other locations in Helena that have reported paranormal activity include: Windbag Saloon, Myrna Lay Center, Kleinschmidt House, T.C. Power Mansion, Grand Street Theatre, Brantley House, Christmas Gift Evans House, Montana Fish, Parks and Wildlife Center, and the Totem House.
Copper King Mansion, Butte, MT
William Andrews Clark was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world when he was alive.
By 1900 he had amassed a fortune reportedly worth $50 million, and the 34-room mansion he built was estimated to cost about a half-million dollars in 1888.
William Clark began making his fortune helping miners record their claims, and making loans to them based on their claims. From there William Clark expanded his interests into politics, and served twice as the president of Montana’s two constitutional conventions.
At the height of his career, William Clark owned newspaper companies, sugar plantations, oil wells, the W.A. Clark Wire Company in New Jersey, the Henry Bonnard Bronze Company in New York, and of course, mining operations in Montana and Arizona.
I’ve visited one of William Clark’s past mining operations located in the little town of Jerome, Arizona, and it continues today as a small tourist attraction that’s as unique as its’ narrow winding streets, glass blowing artists, and the best Italian Restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat at (I recommend their Lobster Ravioli), and a grand hotel at the top of the hill that has also reported paranormal activity.
After William and his wife passed away, the Mansion changed hands several times before being taken over by two of William Clark’s grandchildren who now operate the Copper King Mansion as a Bed and Breakfast.
Although the grandchildren refute any ghostly antics, a tour guide and several guests have reported feeling the presence of a cold entity in the game room, a mischievous presence in the old chapel and ballroom areas, and seeing a light-colored hazy fog-like apparition in the basement and first floor hallway. To learn more about the Copper King Mansion, click here.
Being one of the oldest mining towns, Butte contains a number of buildings that have reported ghostly activity, which include: the Mai Wah Building and Museum, Club Thirteen Bar, Butte Archives, 314 West Park Street, Rockwood Speakeasy, Silver Bow County Courthouse, Mount Moriah Cemetery, Old Butte Historic Adventures Building, World Museum of Mining, and the Hennessy Mansion on Montana Tech’s campus.
Bonus Haunted Trivia…
This historic site in Montana was the longest operating bordello in the United States until it closed in 1982. The ladies of this red light district were known as the “Park Street Girls,” and one of the Madams, Elinor Knott, is believed to haunt the building, roaming the halls carrying her suitcase. Elinor had planned to leave her life as a madam to run away with her married lover, but he never came for her, and she was found dead the next morning. Her actual cause of death was ruled as natural, but foul play is believed to have been apart of her death.
Can you guess the name of the haunted location I’m describing?