Central Montana Ghost Tours Oct 14, 2016 7:18:39 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Oct 14, 2016 7:18:39 GMT -5
Central Montana Ghost Tours
The doors to Montana’s most paranormal places are opening this Halloween season to give visitors a glimpse into the haunted history of the state. Central Montana is home to three major Halloween attractions. Visitors can ride the haunted trolley through Great Falls, walk through the haunted house in the Old Montana Prison or venture to the Bannack ghost town and meet some of the state’s oldest spirits.
Ghosts in Great Falls. The details of Valeria Gibson’s death are questionable, to say the least. Was the wife of Great Falls founder Paris Gibson pushed down the stairs of her home by her son Theodore in a psychotic fit of rage? Did she fling herself out the second-story window of a Park Avenue suite? What really happened in the Gibson House (above) at 400 4th Ave., N., remains a mystery. Her cause of death is listed as suicide, but some believe the truth is a combination of both stories.
Theodore was diagnosed with syphilis, a condition that, if untreated, can lead to insanity. It is believed he pushed his mother down the stairs of her home, breaking her neck, and then smuggled her body through an underground tunnel to the Park Hotel and threw her out the window to stage a suicide. A bricked-over archway in the house suggests this could be true.
Paris Gibson died at the age of 90 in the front room upstairs. Theodore and his brother Philip both died of syphilis in the Warm Springs Hospital in Deer Lodge. It is said that Valeria and her family now haunt their old residence. In 2010, Amy Allen, a psychic from the Travel Channel’s show The Dead Files, visited the house to investigate the supposed hauntings. Allen said she sensed a female spirit in an abusive relationship with a male spirit. She believed the spirits to be Valeria and Theodore.
Every Halloween, the Downtown Chicks and the Great Falls Downtown Association host haunted trolley tours of Great Falls to give people a chance to learn about the sordid history of seven of the city’s supposedly haunted places. The Gibson House is one of the tour’s most notorious stops. “The dates and events are based on factual data,” said Kellie Pierce, director of operations for the downtown association. “The stories are fictionalized a little bit.”
Guests ride on the trolley to the stops where ghostly characters emerge from the shadows and recount their stories. Guests have the opportunity to get off the trolley at the Lobby Bar to use the restroom and peruse old photos inside the bar.
The haunted trolley tour sold out two days after tickets went on sale, but the Downtown Association has a waiting list. Those who call to have their names placed on the list will be the people contacted next year for tickets.
Ghosts in the Old Prison. There is a lonely little girl wandering about the Old Montana Prison (above) who likes to follow tour groups and pester women visiting the museum complex. She won’t tell anyone her name – she hasn’t said a word since she died almost a hundred years ago. “We’ve started waiting to tell people her story on our ghost tours,” said Melanie Sanchez, Old Montana Prison curator. “Women will tell us they keep feeling pulling on their thighs and near their knees. We wait to hear them say that, and then we tell them the story.”
Sanchez says the museum has hired psychics to come out and speak with several ghosts said to be haunting the prison complex. One psychic told Sanchez there was a little girl and little boy who died in an automobile accident in the 1920s. The girl is said to have “attached” herself to an old car featured in the Montana Auto Museum section of the complex instead of passing on to the other side. “She likes to play tricks,” she claims. “We were able to photograph her near the prison showers. She was wearing a white dress and carrying a bucket.” The psychic also said the little boy from the accident prefers to spend his time in the ice cream shop.
According to Sanchez, the only ghost she’s personally seen is the “Shadow Man” in the archive room, where he is known to move files around and slam doors. “We called the psychics and they said he’s up there,” she relates. “He can be a menace, but they said he just wants people to know he’s there.”
In the spirit of Halloween, the Old Montana Prison will be hosting a haunted house that will allow visitors to venture into the depths of the cell house, basement and administrative building and experience the haunts for themselves. Sanchez says the attraction will be set up like a traditional haunted house and feature characters from the prison’s sordid past.
The Old Montana Prison Haunted House at 1106 Main Street, Deer Lodge, will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight on the nights of October 21-22 and October 27-31. Cost is $10 per person. No children under 12. For reservations, call (406) 846-3111.
Things That Go Bump in Bannack. After outlaw Henry Plummer was hanged in Bannack, Montana’s first territorial capital, his corpse was dismembered by community members. His skull was believed to have been taken to the old saloon in town so that his comrades could have another drink with him. The skull supposedly was kept in the saloon until the building burned down more than a hundred years ago. Plummer’s arm was removed by the local doctor. The doctor thought he had unknowingly treated Plummer when he showed up on his doorstep with a bullet lodged in his arm. Unable to remove the bullet, he bandaged the man’s arm. Following Plummer’s death, the doctor decided to see if the man who appeared at his door had been and wanted to check the arm for a bullet. However, the night the doctor set out for Plummer’s grave was particularly cold. After cutting off the arm, he started the teeth-chattering journey home. On his way, he came to a house where he could see a roaring fire inside. He buried the arm in a snowdrift, knocked on the door and went inside to warm by the fire and have a drink. As he was about to leave and someone opened the door, there stood a dog with Plummer’s arm in its mouth. To this day, Plummer’s apparition is seen around the old ghost town where he died and his body dismembered.
Visitors will have the opportunity to hear the story of Plummer and several other lingering spirits during the Bannack Ghost Walks through the state park. Actors dressed in historical garb act out scenes from the town’s bloody past. “We start with actual events that took place out there,” says Pete Johnson, Bannack volunteer. “We try to be as accurate as possible.”
Visitors can also experience the tragedy of “the girl in blue,” one of the park’s best-known ghost stories, Johnson adds. Young Dorothy Dunn was wading in the water when she slipped and drowned. Apparently, Dorothy doesn’t know she’s dead. She can be seen in various locations in the Meade Hotel (above) looking for her friend to take her home. Children are more likely than adults to see the little girl in the blue dress wandering about the hotel. “We’ve got a lot of ghosts,” Johnson insists.
The Bannack State Park Ghost Walk will take place at 4200 Bannack Road in Dillon at 7 and 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. The walk is not recommended for children under 6. For reservations, call (406) 834-3413.
Source: Sarah Dettmer, The Great Falls Tribune, October 13, 2016.