10.31.2011

Ghost town tales: Garnet, Montana




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.

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