Garnet, Montana -- ghost town

I'm in the mood for a ghost story. Okay, I'm always in the mood for a ghost story. This is one I wrote years ago and while not scary, the town always sticks with me. While I do research for THE GIRLS' GHOST HUNTING GUIDE, I'm having a grand time wandering through my own notes of the past twenty years.

What scares you?


One of my early experiences with the paranormal came from visiting a ghost town in the northwestern USA while on vacation. Now, you’d expect a ghost town to come with the prerequisite residual hauntings or at least a spooky outhouse. This town of Garnet, Montana, had its share of rundown buildings as it nestled in a wee valley in the mountains. A gold mining town, it once held the riches of the mountain in its palm and miners flocked to pluck it from between the fingers of the hillside. It grew fat and rich for a time but when the gold ran out, so did the miners, leaving behind a hotel, a general store, small houses and large pockets dug into the nearby hills (plus the aforementioned spooky outhouses).

My family wandered through what was left of the town, along with other curious tourists, trying to get a sense of what it was like in its heyday. Imagining dirty, desperate men coming from inside a mountain wasn’t difficult, what remained of their cabins told the story better than any signage the BLM had provided. Ruined furniture, rusted pans left scattered about filthy cabins and the feeling of failure permeated the broken walls of the houses, why wouldn’t there be a haunting? It seemed as if that was all there ever was here.

I entered the hotel slowly. Once there was grandeur of sorts, now it looked like a woman ruined by too many men and not enough self-respect. Plaster flaked from the walls and heavy tables stood in the middle of the first floor dining room, looking strangely proud of weathering time and being able to show off their wounds left by drunken gunshots and the flying glass of old arguments. I followed my family upstairs to see the rooms. Plexiglas partitioned them off so you could peer inside but not enter. In some of the rooms, the windows were left bare, sunshine squeaked in through the dirty glass and fell onto beds salvaged from the hotel and covered with old quilts. In others, the windows were covered, dusty light shone through the boards that swallowed the glass. These rooms held what seemed to be 100-year-old garbage. It covered the floors and rose up the walls, it smelled like decay and made you want to turn away. I, naturally, couldn’t.

As I got closer, my heart started to beat louder in my ears and my nose started to twitch. I felt lightheaded and wanted to run. I poked my head into the room and at once felt something rushing towards me. I am not particularly psychic, just enough to know when to get the heck out of a place! If I could describe it, I’d say it was pain, screaming and confusion coming at me all at once. I backed away quickly and my investigational gene kicked in. I checked out the other rooms to see if I experienced any similar occurrences and casually asked my husband if he had seen anything out of the ordinary. This man is as intuitive as a brick. “Nothing that a Dustbuster couldn’t help…” he replied.

I knew what I had felt was unusual; I tested it again before we left the building. Again, my heart raced and my nose tingled but this time there was no attack of emotion towards me. I could feel that it sat huddled in the corner, amidst the rubbish and filth, and watched as I moved out of sight and down the stairs, escaping into the light.


  1. Fabulous story. I know you felt something. I've experienced this same thing before.

  2. Apparently Garnet, MT is 1 hour and 56 minutes (thanks mapquest!) from where we live now. Putting it on my list of places to visit this summer.

    Great story!

  3. Spooooooooooooky. We visited a ghost town on a cross country trip when I was little, and it very well could have been that same place. Even more spooky.

    Everything scares me. :)

  4. Jessica, my brother told me last night he's out there gold panning! Reminds me of when we were teenagers in Oregon - except that time our summers-worth vial of gold floated down the river after he sat on the dredge. Let's hope he keeps standing this time.

  5. *Goosebumps!* My parents took me to a ghost town in Eastern California. (Before they installed the paved roads and made it a bit tourist place) It was fascinating to read all the headstones in the cemetery. Many lives were cut short due to hard work and diseases. The children were especially difficult to read.

  6. My first job as a teenager was working as a "living history interpreter" for the Southern Oregon Historical Society. On my lunch hour I'd head up to the cemetery on the hill because it was quiet and cooler than the valley below.

    I was fascinated by the headstones and the variety in ages. Since Jacksonville was a gold-mining town, it was mostly men who had met untimely ends due to exposure, illness or epidemic during the Gold Rush of the late 1800s but the family plots were filled with children that had died in infancy or plain old bad luck in the rough and tumble mining town.