Montana is known for its stunning scenery and vast wilderness – but its ghosts don't get nearly enough attention. If you believe the whispers about creepy Montana, the state is crawling with specters, spirits, and strange creatures of all kinds. Ghost stories from Montana prove the West is every bit as spooky as it is wild.
With settings ranging from haunted bars and prisons to massive battlefields, Montana urban legends offer a window into the past. Its haunts have an eerie, out-of-time feel; one visitor to a storied site claimed the presence there momentarily transported them into the past. An old prison still echoes with the sounds of the men once held there. And then there are rumors about a lake monster. They're enough to keep you out of the water entirely.
From freaky ghost girls to historical figures visiting unsuspecting visitors, there are a lot of supposed supernatural happenings in the state of Montana.
The old Montana Territorial Prison was built in 1871. It served as a territorial prison until Montana gained statehood in 1889, and housed prisoners until 1979. Today it is on the registry of national historic places. Visitors flock to see this long-standing building – and to verify claims of its terrifying haunted reputation, which stems from the horrible conditions prisoners and staff faced in the prison's early days.
After exceeding capacity in only a month, the prison became an overcrowded and violent hell where prisoners starved, killed each other, and committed suicide regularly. The prison suffered from under funding and dirty conditions on and off for over a century. Prisoners even gained control of the prison for over a day in a massive prison riot in the 1950s.
Voices, footsteps, and all sorts of eerie sounds have been heard by visitors to the prison. The ghosts there known to touch and push people, and many have felt a large, malevolent presence rush past them. Some have also had feelings of dread and the sense that they were about to be attacked.
The Chico Hot Springs Hotel is reportedly haunted by the ghost of Percie Matheson, the original owner of the hotel. Matheson lived there until her death in 1940, spending her golden years in room 346. The most famous story about an encounter with Matheson involved hotel security guard Larry Bohne, who saw what he assumed to be a lost guest wandering the hotel's halls in 1990. The woman vanished, and the scent of jasmine led Bohne to room 346. Bohne found the room empty and still – except for Matheson's old rocking chair, which moved as if someone were sitting in it.
Matheson's ghost is known for crashing through the kitchen, hiding things from staff, and making occasional appearances to the night staff. In 1986 a security guard even claimed to have snapped a picture of her apparition.
Little Bighorn Battlefield has a bloody history. Here, in 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his men clashed with Lakota and Cheyenne warriors fighting to preserve their ways of life. Next to the historic battlefield stands the Custer National Cemetery, where over 5,000 veterans and their family members are interred. It's no wonder visitors and employees have reported all sorts of ghostly encounters at Little Bighorn.
The Crow people reportedly called the local superintendent "ghost herder" because he lowered the flag at dusk, an act they believed awakened the battlefield's many spirits. Custer's spirit has been known to visit people, while spectral Native Americans on horseback have been seen riding throughout the battlefield. Visitors have claimed to feel cold spots and hear voices and sounds of battle. One person even said they were transported back in time to witness the battle unfold.
It's rumored that the ghost of a little girl dressed in white haunts the grounds of Bear Canyon. According to legend, the presence lures female hikers and campers away from campgrounds, and into the woods. Why she does this or what she wants from the women remains unknown.