Top 3 Most Haunted Spots in the Gallatin Valley

Kathleen Johns  |   Saturday Oct. 2nd, 2010

It is estimated that over one-third of the American population believes in Ghosts. And of that one-third, over fifty percent of them have educations above 12th grade.

Every culture has a version of ghosts and ghosts can be seen in even the most ancient of literature. What is our fascination with ghosts and where can you find a ghost or haunted place locally in the Gallatin Valley?

The Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, MT
The Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, MT was built in 1910 by John Q. Adams. It seems Mr. Adams still “runs” the hotel as guests, including myself, have sensed him lurking in guest rooms and hallways. Mr. Adams ghostly presence is what is referred to as an “active” or “intelligent” haunting, meaning his spirit knows and can sense and interact with the present.  He certainly did this with me, as I saw him walking ahead of me on the stairway and was awoken by him in my guest room.

An icy presence is also felt along with the ghostly apparition of a maid that many have seen vanish into a third floor wall. Where there is a wall now there used to be a linen closet, the apparition of the maid is seen to come out of the wall (or closet) again and again, over and over. The maid is what is referred to as a “residual” haunting. The maid is not aware of present time. Under the right conditions residual ghosts appear over and over again, whether there are humans there to witness their presence or not.

The Three Forks Police have actually been called to the Sacajawea Hotel to investigate a complaint about one of the more boisterous ghosts in residence.

The Gallatin Gateway Inn, Gallatin Gateway, MT
At least three specters haunt this former Railway Inn built in 1927. One is said to be that of a young housekeeper who met her fate at the hands of her boyfriend in one of the upstairs guest rooms. The legend of this young woman reveals that she came to the Inn on the train from the Midwest in 1928 to work as a maid for the summer and that she never returned home. Guests of the Inn have reported gazing into the mirror in an upstairs guest room and seeing her ghostly reflection in place of their own face, as well as an odor of wet leaves filling the room. The status of this spirit is Active/Intelligent Haunting.

Another spirit haunts the Gateway who seems to be a fun loving prankster. I affectionately refer to him as Mephisto. He turns lights on and off, moves objects like utensils and hides them and he even plays the piano. The status of this spirit is also Active/Intelligent Haunting.

The most chilling ghost at the Gallatin Gateway Inn is the Bridegroom Ghost. There is a long, curved staircase winding down to the Great Room. Brides traditionally descend the staircase to their wedding ceremony below. Many an unsteady bride has reported the creepy yet comfortable sensation of a firm, invisible hand around their waist to keep them from falling during their descent. The status of this spirit is also Active/Intelligent Haunting.

Recently an employee of the Gallatin Gateway Inn shared with me that the sightings and eerie happenings continue to spook employees after hours.

Montana State University Theatre-Bozeman
Sadly for ghost hunters my favorite “Most Haunted” location has been torn down and replaced, the old MSU Theatre in the Strand Union Building.

The SUB Theatre was home to many ghouls over the years including Virginia the dancing girl. Legend has it that Virginia was dressed and waiting to go to a formal dance and her suitor never showed. She took her life in despair. Many have seen, heard and felt Virginia’s ball gown skirt, accompanied by the strong scent of lavender, brush by as she twirled endlessly across the theatre stage. The status of this spirit is a Residual Haunting.

The Cage Lady was also an interesting spook. The costume cage below the stage had a spirit residing in it notorious for stealing crucial costumes and props before a scene, only to have them reappear later in plain view. This phenomena was so common that it was almost expected to happen during performances at the theatre. The status of this spirit is that of an Active/Intelligent Haunting.

Some tell tale signs that you have encountered paranormal activity are easy to pinpoint. Many other senses/perceptions other than extrasensory perception (ESP) are activated when in the presence of the paranormal. Unexplainable or out of place smells such as flowers, perfumes, sulphur, smoke and baked goods are associated with paranormal activity. Light headedness, out of body feelings, and the hair on the back of the neck standing up may occur when in the presence of the paranormal. Gusts of cold air, hearing your name whispered, or a tap on the shoulder are also very common. Objects such as picture frames, silverware and other small objects being moved or hidden may also be a sign of ghostly activity. Entities are thought to intercept electro magnetic fields, taking energy from electrical appliances in order to manifest, which may involve the turning on and off of certain electrical units.

Not all of these activities are necessarily paranormal. Often they can be set straight with logical explanations. If you have experienced the paranormal you are certainly not alone. If you have questions about something that may have happened to you there are local experts that may be able to answer your questions.

About the Author(s)

Kathleen Johns

Kathleen Johns is the owner/founder of Mantra located in Bozeman, MT. Kathleen holds a degree in English Literature from MSU/Bozeman and is an avid high altitude gardener. You can connect with Kathleen through her website at

View more of Kathleen Johns's work »