Haunted Journeys

Old Montana State Prison

Old Montana State Prison

1104 Main Street
Deer Lodge, Montana
59722 USA

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Deer Lodge, Montana is home to one of the most haunted places in the state, Old Montana State Prison. Come explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.

The History

In response to rampant lawlessness and the vigilante-style form of justice present in the newly formed Montana Territory, in 1867 the US Congress allotted $40,000 to Montana for the express purpose of constructing a territorial prison. The Old Montana State Prison was completed in 1871. Montana achieved statehood in 1889.

It only took a single month before the prison was overcrowded. Throughout the prison's history, the institution was plagued with constant overcrowding, insufficient funds, and antiquated facilities. Although the completion of the cell block meant a roof over a prisoner's head, the amenities of the facility were sparse. The cells measured a small 6 × 8 ft, were constructed of soft brick, and had no plumbing or artificial lights. The building had no heating or ventilation. This was troubling since Montana is known to have very hard winters. To alleviate the chilled discomfort, the administration used wood stoves to heat the building and oil lamps to light it. The smoke combined with the stench of bucketed human waste and unwashed bodies made conditions pretty intolerable.

The prison hired a physician to keep the inmates somewhat healthy but provided no pharmaceuticals. Any drugs required to administer to the inmates had to be purchased using his own salary. Between May and November 1873, the overworked doctor reported 67 illnesses in a population of 21 inmates or about three maladies per prisoner during a span of six months.

On April 16th, 1959, Jerry Myles and Lee Smart led twelve inmates in a riot that turned deadly. The Deputy Warden, Ted Rothe, was shot through the heart with a confiscated gun by a 19 year old convicted murderer named Lee Smart. A guard, William Cox, was slashed from armpit to elbow with a knife wielded by an inmate. They took eighteen prison employees and five stool pigeon inmates as hostages in three cells on the second tier of the old cell house. They soaked rags with a flammable liquid and threatened to burn them alive. When the standoff ended 36 hours later, in the predawn hours of April 18, rescuers found the riot leaders Myles and Smart dead at the top of the northwest tower from an apparent murder-suicide.

Due to declining degenerative problems, the old prison was closed in 1979, when a new facility was built to replace the old prison.

The Hauntings

This dark history that is accentuated with the violence of the prison riots predetermines intensive supernatural activity, and it is not all good. In fact, this is not for the light-hearted ghost hunting enthusiast.

Yes indeed, visitors to the old prison have reported terrifying paranormal activity. The experiences have been no sorter than physical attacks. Some have had the horrific sensation of being choked by some unseen hands. Others have emerged with scratches covering their bodies. In the former site of the women's prison, people have been pushed down corridors.

It's claimed that the ghost of convicted murderer Paul Eitner, known as "Turkey Pete," still haunts Cell No. 1. Eitner spent 49 years incarcerated at the prison before dying in 1967 of natural causes in 1.

You will find it all here! Other phenomena reported include strange sounds and disembodied voices. There are shadows seen and full-bodied apparitions. Many people being touched. One a ghost hunting team actually captured a video showing (what seems to be) an entity taking a shower.

Be aware if you are empathic. There is always an overwhelming feeling of dread and anxiety. This property will try to own your emotions!

The prison offers ghost tours that take you through the halls of the prison. You will have a chance to visit a number of its spine-tingling locations, such as the solitary confinement quarter known as “The Hole,”. You will also experience the maximum security cells where visitors are warned not to explore alone, and the site of the 1959 riot. This experience is not for the faint of heart.

This property was featured on the paranormal television shows Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab. Historical/Haunted information contributed by Ghost Hunts USA.


More Reads...

More Haunted Montana: Haunted Places You Can Visit - IF YOU DARE! Paperback – October 1, 2010 by Karen Stevens  (Author)     Haunted Montana: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Treasure State (Haunted Series) Paperback – July 1, 2020 by Ednor Therriault  (Author)     Haunted Montana: A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Haunted Places You Can Visit - IF YOU DARE! Paperback – October 1, 2007 by Karen Stevens  (Author)



  • As Seen on Para TV
Understand This:

This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation, or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect, and caution should be a top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this.

We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on this listing, but offer it as a first step in finding your next haunted travel destination. Please do confirm with the property before making any plans to visit. If you visit, tour, or investigate this property (or any of our properties), we are not responsible or held liable for any outcomes, lack of evidence, or injuries associated with your travels. This is only for entertainment purposes, and information provided is only as found in public domains (or as offered by the associated contributor (as a claimed property).

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Date added: Jun/24/2019 | Last time updated: May/28/2020

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