Montana Ghost Stories
Montana doesn’t just have ghost towns, this state is filled with great ghost stories. The history of Montana reads like a Zane Grey western with gunfights, robbery, and murder and with that comes some intriguing stories of the supernatural. We found some of our favorite stories from across the state to share with you!
Bannack Ghost Town
Bannack, Montana boomed when gold was discovered along Grasshopper Creek. Along with the boom came Henry Plummer who became sheriff of Bannack and leader of a gang called “The Innocents.” Plummer’s gang is suspected in over a hundred murders and countless robberies. Plummer erected the gallows of Bannack during his short tenure as sheriff only to be hanged from them himself after being captured by a group of vigilantes. The gallows still stand in Bannack State Park. You can start a short hike from the old jail to the gallows and continue up the hill to the original cemetery--both the gallows and cemetery are said to be inhabited by spirits. As plummer was dragged to his death he tried to bargain with his captors telling them he would take them to his buried gold in exchange for his freedom; his gold cache has never been found.
While in Banack, check out Hotel Meade, said to be inhabited by Dorothy Dunn who drowned in a nearby dredge pond at the age of 16. A girl in a long blue dress is sometimes seen in the window of the hotel and children have reportedly tried to speak to the girl in the blue dress.
Before MacDonald’s Pass was a paved route along the continental divide, it was a toll road with an Inn and Tavern operated by a french couple, Constant and Madam Guyot. Constant Guyot was known as an abusive drunk who left the toll collecting and upkeep of the tavern and inn to his wife. The inn became known as The Frenchwoman’s. Madam Guyot began saving money to try and get back to France but was violently murdered. The newspaper called it “the most cold-blooded and heartless murder ever perpetrated in the territory.” Soon after Madam Guyot’s death, it’s said her spirit haunted the inn. Nothing remains of the tavern or inn today, but her ghost still haunts the area.
Joseph “Frenchy” Duret
The now abandoned town of Independence was once home to roughly 500 residents tucked away in the Absaroka mountains. One such resident was Joseph “Frenchy” Duret, a notorious poacher in the area. Perhaps getting his just desserts, Frenchy was killed by a grizzly bear that escaped from a bear trap. Buried near his cabin, Duret’s ghost haunts the area. A forest ranger saw a man in a wool checkered shirt, grey pants, knee high boots, and cap pushing a cart. The ranger called out to the man who continued walking and then vanished. Another set of hikers exploring the ruins of Independence saw a man wearing old-fashioned mining gear. When the hikers say the man saw them he scurried up a steep slope and disappeared. Further down the trail, they saw the man once more and, again, scaled a slope faster than anyone could have before vanishing.
Virginia Slade and Virginia City
Jack and Virginia Slade came to Virginia City, Montana in 1863. Jack was known to have rescued a young woman whose husband was killed before tracking down and killing those responsible. On the other side of Jack’s personality was drunken belligerence and trouble-making. After a particularly raucous night, the Virginia City Vigilance had enough and, after a rushed trial, decided Jack Slade needed to be hanged. Virginia, hearing the news, came roaring through town on horseback. Upon hearing “Mrs. Slade is coming!” the box under Jack’s feet was kicked away. The silence was broken by Virginia’s too late arrival to defend her husband. Today, from time to time, residents say they catch glimpses of Virginia’s ghost riding towards town with a black skirt billowing, dust appearing, and hearing screams assumed to be Virginia realizing she’s too late to save her husband.
Written by: Stephen McNeal