The ghost stories of Southeast Montana are a window into the past, brimming with history and intrigue. Whether you are a believer or want to get into the spooky spirit of Halloween, these haunting tales are sure to leave you wanting to learn more fascinating history of Southeast Montana.
1. Kempton Hotel, Terry
The Kempton Hotel is the oldest continuously operated hotel in Montana, built by homesteaders and opened in 1902. It is full of character and charm with intriguing artwork, with books, saddles and antique furniture adorning the interior. Owners Linda and Russ Schwartz share stories of unexplainable activities on the grounds, some passed down to them by Russ’s grandmother who worked at the hotel a century ago.
Just after the hotel opened, two children sick with typhoid came to visit a doctor who lived at the Kempton Hotel. Shortly upon their arrival they passed away and since then, people have reported sightings of children looking out the windows from the top floor and the sounds of children running through the hallways have been heard.
During the Spanish influenza in 1918, the hotel housed the hospital’s overflow of sick patients. During this outbreak, a nurse who worked and cared for patients here was too, claimed by the deadly virus. Guests since have reported sightings of a woman in white who watches over the Kempton, often perched over bedsides and smiling, before disappearing back into the walls.
2. Western Heritage Center, Billings
The Parmly Billings Memorial Library building was constructed in 1901 by railroad mogul Frederick Billings. After his son, Parmly Billings, unexpectedly died, the building was memorialized and donated to become Billings’ first public library. In the 1960s, the community outgrew it and moved. The building sat abandoned for several years before housing the Western Heritage Center in 1971. Several employees and visitors note there are a few spirits who also consider the building home.
The first signs of paranormal activity in the building happened in the 1950s when the building still housed the library. According to a librarian who worked there, there was always a disconcerting atmosphere present and she never felt comfortable fetching old newspapers that were stored in the attic because of the creaking and whirling sounds it made.
The building is believed to be haunted by a ghost named Priscilla. A long-time employee once found child-sized footprints in the walkways of the attic that are thought to be Priscilla’s. She also is known to play on the steps of the tower.
One early morning, before the museum opened for the day, staff reported seeing an elderly man sitting in an armchair near the basement fireplace. Soon after, two interns also spotted the same ghost without knowledge of the first sighting of him. The spirit is known to enjoy the paintings, especially those of James Kenneth Ralston which are displayed in the basement.
Today you can visit the Western Heritage Center, which tells the stories of the people in the Yellowstone River Valley and Northern Plains. With permanent and traveling exhibits, oral histories, lectures and walking tours, the 1901 former Parmly Billings Memorial Library Building remains a regional treasure.
3. O’Fallon Historical Museum, Baker
The O’Fallon Historical Museum has not always been just a museum. This historic building, built in 1916, served as the Fallon County jail and sheriff’s quarters. According to locals and museum employees, it’s most assuredly haunted.
In July of 1947, Sheriff Andolshek’s fiancé requested they delay their wedding, so they had time to become better aquatinted. Heartbroken and inconsolable, Andolshek left a note addressed to his sister before shooting himself in the heart with a sawed-off shotgun, downstairs in his living quarters at the county jail. One visitor reported smelling gun smoke in the very area where the sheriff once took his own life without the knowledge of its sad history. Other reports of paranormal activity include kitchen doors slamming spontaneously, sounds of inappropriate talk and an overall sense of eeriness that lingers in the air.
Museum staff will gladly share their personal experiences with the “skeletons” in this former jail. If the ghost stories here don’t give you the goosebumps, the exhibit room displaying dozens of antique dolls might do the trick.
4. Moss Mansion, Billings
The Moss Mansion, now a museum, was home to the prominent Moss family who moved to Billings during at the turn-of-the-century. Six members of the Moss family have died in the house, most notably Preston Boyd (PB) and his youngest child Virginia, who died of diphtheria at the age of six in 1908. While friendly and benevolent, the spirit of Virginia Moss has gained the most notable attention to staff and visitors who report paranormal activity in the mansion, particularly surrounding the banister and staircase leading to the upper story of the home.
There have been numerous instances of a blue orb on the staircase landing hovering on the second-floor landing, the same floor where young Virginia died. Perhaps the strangest incident at the mansion happened over the summer of 2019 when two people were posing for a photo on the staircase and the smartphone camera recognized a face at the height of a small child in the frame. It seems that the friendly spirit of Virginia Moss wanted to be in the photo, too.
Today you can tour the mansion and marvel at the original draperies, furniture, fixtures, Persian carpets and artifacts displayed in the red sandstone structure that—along with the Moss family—greatly influenced the culture of Billings.
5. 2223 Montana Ave., Billings
Back in 1945, tragedy struck Billings when an airplane transporting World War II soldiers crashed in what was an empty field, now Veterans Park. The local morgue struggled to provide service for the number of people killed in this accident, so a grocery store offered its refrigerated warehouse to temporarily preserve bodies for the morgue.
The building at 2223 Montana Avenue has since been home to different businesses including a Spaghetti Depot, antique mall and more recently has several offices suites and store fronts. Employees and locals have reported seeing the ghost of a man in a World War II uniform walking in and around the building. If you visit the building today, we can’t promise you’ll have a paranormal experience, but you can enjoy a locally-crafted drink at Asylum Distillery which has its own uniquely haunting, but amusing atmosphere.