True Hauntings

Ghosts: True Hauntings In Montana

By David Francis Curran

 

Copyright©1986 D. F. Curran.  All Rights Reserved.


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 Brautigan, Richard, A Pilgrimage, August 1982

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Above The Kelly Saloon in Garnet Montana

Garnet, Montana is a lonely place 6,000 feet up in the Garnet range. It was once an important gold mining center. In the early 1900's the town boomed. It's four hotel's were full, there were stores and barber shops, a post office and a school. Now it sits empty--an historical landmark watched over by the Bureau of Land Management--and visited by tourists every year--a true western ghost town.

The Bureau of Land Management first decided to have someone stay year-round in the winter of '72-'73. The problem was that someone was burning down the old buildings in the town. The man they chose to stay there was Mike Gordon.

Winter in the Garnet area is usually severe. At one time in the old mining town, they were so snowed in men had to travel nine miles through the mining tunnels to get supplies.

Mike found that winter conditions hadn't changed much. The Bureau of Land Management had given him a snowmobile to use. But the snow was so thin and fine the snowmobile just couldn't get up the steep road known as the "China Grade." When he traveled around he used snowshoes or ski's and a toboggan to get his supplies.

The snow was piled up as high as the roof behind the cabin Mike was staying in. Mike would often have to cut stairs in the snow to get to the higher portion of the hill behind his cabin.

It was January or February. Mike was looking forward to the end of his snowbound isolation. His days were a constant Jack London-style fight-for-life--in that the main activity was the need to constantly feed the wood stove. He was writing a letter between feedings of the crackling iron idol when he thought he heard faint music playing somewhere in the town. At first he thought he was just imagining it. But, the more he listened, the more it sounded like honkytonk music. After listening for sometime he decided to go out and investigate.

He walked outside and down the main street of Garnet. A few doors down was the old Kelly Saloon. It was a two story building which housed a saloon downstairs and the family living quarters upstairs. The bottom floor--the floor where the bar had been--was boarded up. It was from inside this saloon that music, still faint but clear, came.

It was cold. Wind blew bits of snow off the drifts. There were no tracks on the main street leading to the Kelly Saloon.

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Mike felt he had to investigate. He went up the hill around to the back of the Kelly Saloon. Here he knew he could get in. A plank ran from the hill to a door on the second floor. Again there were no tracks in the snow, but the sound of honkytonk music persisted.

He stepped out onto the plank and it creaked under his weight. The sun was shining in the sky, but Mike felt the loneliness and desolation of the ghost town. He decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to go in after all.

He went back to his cabin. After awhile though, his curiosity got the better of him. He went back to the Kelly Saloon. The music was still playing. He walked across the plank and threw open the door. He was in the living. On either side of him were two bedrooms. He threw open the doors, but all he found were mouse-nested mattresses. Straight down the corridor was the stairway down to the bar. The music was still faintly playing. It was coming from downstairs.

He walked down the hall and looked down the stairs. The music stopped. The bar room was empty and completely still.

And Mike has since wondered if he had imagined the whole thing.

This was the second ghostly experience Mike had had in this area of Montana. Before working for the Bureau of Land Management he had lived in a general store in what had once been the town of Bearmouth, not far from Garnet. Behind the store was an old hotel, now gone.

Mike was working in his garden between the store and the hotel one August day, when suddenly he saw a figure run out of the hotel. What bothered Mike about it was that there should have been no one there. The man was dressed in black, an old-fashioned black and he seemed to be running.

Mike watched the man. The man ran directly toward the hillside and disappeared into it. Mike later learned that the man's description fit one Jacob Barns* who had been an owner of the property.

-end-

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Brautigan, Richard, A Pilgrimage, August 1982

American Ginseng Growing

How-to Grow Ginseng Books

Learn Reloading

Learn Muzzleloading

hole in one

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