Montana historical sites

Montana Antique Mall

The Montana Antique Mall located in downtown Missoula is the largest antique mall in Montana. They feature four floors and over 15,000 square feet of interesting and sometimes odd old stuff in what was once the Montana Hotel.

The Montana Hotel was built in 1890 and is claimed to be the oldest building in downtown Missoula. Located across from the original train depot, it serviced travelers coming east and west on the Northern Pacific railway. It also housed working men who gathered in the hotel dining room for supper at the end of their day and then could retire to the saloon for evening libations.

Today its home to sixty antique dealers and a variety of furniture, clothing, jewelry, collectibles, glassware, pottery and a little bit of everything else. There is even a library with books reflecting regional and historical interest.

Plan on an afternoon with the past and maybe taking some of it home. The Montana Antique Mall is located at 331 West Railroad Street in Missoula, Montana.  Plenty of parking is available.  The antique mall is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sunday from noon to 4:00 pm.  For more information, call 406-721-5366.

Want more retail therapy?  The downtown area also has delightful specialty shops, boutiques, and galleries offering clothing, jewelry, and other gifts for loved ones. Southgate Mall is the largest mall in Western Montana and with more than one hundred specialty and name brand stores, there is something for everyone. North Reserve Street also offers some popular box stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Old Navy.

There are so many wonderful things to see and do while you stay in Missoula, Montana:

You are welcome to stay at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast during your visit to Big Sky Montana.  We are conveniently close to plenty of fun things to do, but we also provide our guests with peaceful and scenic views of mountains and the Bitterroot River.

Each morning guests enjoy our delicious gourmet breakfasts.  We enjoy seeing returning guests as well as meeting new guests that also become friends.

Written by Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging

HISTORY & MYSTERY- Ghost Tours & Other Autumn Activities in the Missoula Area:

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HAPPY HAUNTED HALLOWEEN!  Autumn has arrived, which means Howl-O-Ween is just around the corner!  Missoula and outlying areas host a multitude of marvelously, mysterious activities- so climb aboard!  From ghost towns to ghost walks to pumpkin patches and pumpkin parties, you’re sure to find lots of frostbiting fun wherever you look. 

My favorite local event takes place in the Missoula City Cemetery.  You’ll find more information about it under SPECIAL AUTUMN EVENTS Stories and Stones!area around missoula (15)

If your interests mostly lie in touring “haunted” historic places and reading about their ghostly stories, then scroll down to the section entitled WALKING AMONG GHOSTS for some great day trip ideas.  If you only have time for one October adventure, then read about Ghostly Garnet– it’s a good place to have at the top of your “bucket” list!




Pumpkin PatchChildren of the (Indian) Corn



Day Trips In and Around Missoula–  October is a great time to enjoy some fall fun, so why not take your own journey back in time?  All you need is a car or a book to take a personal “haunted tour” of the area!  Below are a few spooky suggestions:  You can catch a brief glimpse of these ghoulish places by reading the article: Haunted Places in Missoula, MT.  The article mentions other ghost-worthy towns nearby and each town mentioned is fewer than 100 miles from Missoula!


*Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast:IV. Lewis & Clark Lodege 10

If you prefer to sit in cozy quarters and read your way through Montana’s many mysteries, then grab a ghost book from our library.  We have a large selection of interesting books related to Montana history, culture, ecology and of course tales of Montana’s hauntings.  Treat yourself to some of our spiced apple cider, purchased locally from one of the many area farms.  It’s a great way to enjoy a good read! breakfast3V. Small Water Fall 28




*Missoula Through the Mist:  

-There are many mysteries that lurk just behind Missoula’s many doors.  From mansions, haunted houses & cemeteries to The U of M campus.  I promise, there are more than enough unusual stories to peek one’s sense of curiosity.  In fact, sections of both the upper and lower Rattlesnake neighborhoods are chalk full of tales…  So let the ghost hunting begin!Nature at the inn (117)

-During daylight hours, you can enjoy U of M’s beautiful campus.  If you dare, you can even stroll through some of its creepy indoor corridors.  Quite a few U of M buildings enjoy a claim to unique paranormal fame.  If you visit by night, you might be able to peer through a few windows, but based on the following stories you will be glad you are NOT looking from the inside out!

-A suicidal coed is said to have killed herself in Brantly Hall.  Some say she still roams the halls with her German Shepherd.

-In Main Hall, custodians say they have witnessed a lot of spooky phenomenon, including the image of a dark haired lady in the mirror of the women’s restroom.  One janitor said every time he played a tape of The Rolling Stones, the recorder would abruptly turn off, yet other music seemed to agree just fine with the invisible entity.  For me, it’s comforting to know that if spooks do indeed stick around, they still have the ability to tune in (or out) so to speak! Bitterroot valley pics 10-21-05 025

-Jannette Rankin Hall, named after Montana’s first woman senator, supposedly hosts ghostly “phantom” classes that can be overheard from time to time.  It has also been said that objects have been forcefully thrown through the air during indoor renovation projects.

-One of the spookiest tales of all comes from the old Fine Arts Theater building, where a construction worker supposedly died on the job.  During several performances of Macbeth (known as an unlucky play to begin with), horrible screams were heard coming from the back of the theater.  On dress rehearsal night, the entire set collapsed and on opening night, the fog machine broke so actors literally kept falling off the stage.  (Taken from an interview with Mar Vollmer Morrow, a student from 1973 to 1977)- *Big Sky Ghosts by Debra D. Munn.  See also- *More Haunted Montana by Karen Stevens and *Ghost Stories of the Rocky Mountains by Barbara Smith.

cathy's visit 8-04 076Close to the University District, at 319 South Fifth Street West, stands a Victorian home once nicknamed “The House of Screams.”  Some time ago, it gained notoriety as a frightening house filled with paranormal activity.  It was featured in The Missoulian Newspaper and gained national publicity as well.  The current owners of the now beautifully renovated home claim there have been no unusual occurrences whatsoever.  *Big Sky Ghosts Vol. II. by Debra D. Munn.

-Stories of hauntings and history at Fort Missoula/WWII Internment Camp are very interesting!  From a Bicycle Corp ghost to objects that go missing, there are many mysterious events that certain staff members have mentioned.  Personally, I find the history lessons at Fort Missoula far more interesting than the ghost stories, but it’s still fun to read about these first hand phantom accounts in Haunted Montana by Karen Stevens pp. 205-209. IMG_2706IMG_2746IMG_2687

 IMG_2030100_0671-Prescott School sits in the lower Rattlesnake Neighborhood at the base of Mount Jumbo.  In the late 1880’s, this area was claimed by Missoula’s Chinese population as a site for their graves.  Since then, the graves have been built on top of, so who knows what still lies beneath?  At one time, there was a cemetery in the upper Rattlesnake as well.  Documents point to its use as a burial for County Hospital/Poor House and County Pest House individuals.  Today, Rattlesnake school sits above this cemetery.  Even though most of the bodies were eventually moved to the Missoula City Cemetery, there are still rumors that the school is haunted.  You can read more about this topic in pamphlets provided to the public during Missoula’s Stories and Stones event!

*Danger in Deer Lodge: IMG_3572 small crop

-For its size, Deer Lodge has to be one of the most haunted little towns in the West!  Numerous paranormal events at both The Old Prison and Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site continue to be discussed as well as actively investigated! IMG_0853

-The Old Prison is known for having many angry spirits, some of which have supposedly used their energy to provoke staff and even to personally harm researchers.  Tortured Souls Investigations is a paranormal research group based out of Missoula that has done extensive investigations at The Old Prison.  An old college friend of mine attended one of the research sessions and says he will never go back because of the things the group witnessed inside those prison walls!  More information on this subject can be found in Ghostly Tales from America’s Jails, edited by Joan Upton Hall- pp. 191-198. IMG_3577 small crop

-On the other end of the spectrum (or spooktrum I should say) is Grant-Kohrs Ranch which is said to be haunted by several harmless ghosts who actually carry on with chores and watch over the house.  On occasion, long dead cowboys apparently walk the wooden floors, open grain bins and hold casual conversations.  In the ranch home itself, the scent of lavender often wafts through the house and Augusta Kohrs watches over her beloved piano.  Augusta was a very refined lady who loved classical music.  Anyone who attempts to play more modern music on her parlor piano receives an almost instantaneous sensation of ice cold hands.  What a practical way to get any pianist to stop playing, well done Mrs. Kohrs!

*Ghostly Garnet: !Garnet 8-04 (1)

To reach Garnet, a person has to climb about 3,000 feet in elevation.  There are two roads you can take, my favorite being the narrow, winding China Grade near Bearmouth.  I suppose I like to be reminded of the way the road earned its name.  Legend says that a Chinese miner stashed his gold under a tree in a five pound baking pan never to re-claim it.  Better still, I like to experience the steepness of the road itself.  Traveling a road like that in a stage coach would have been far more terrifying than any ghost story a person could dig up and yes, there have been a few close calls in earlier days.  In 1899, a stage carrying two ladies and a doctor slid more than 20 feet before coming to a stop.  The breaks on a horse-drawn coach are not always reliable as you can imagine.  In another instance, a body on its way to Deer Lodge for burial was lost out of its coffin.  The journey took place at night, therefore no one noticed the empty coffin until it was too late; some accounts say the body was never recovered! !Garnet 8-04 (1s)

-Now if the road itself isn’t creepy enough for you, then I’m sure you will enjoy hearing about a few of Garnet’s well documented ghosts stories.  Of course, many people have never personally witnessed anything out of the ordinary at Garnet.  On the other hand, several reputable caretakers, a hand full of guests and at least one dog seem to have had some pretty extraordinary experiences.  IMG_4748 small cropOn several occasions, people have heard footsteps coming from the top floor of the old Well’s Hotel.  Uproarious laughter, old time piano music and clinking glasses have come from Kelly’s SaloonIMG_4695

Some people have even seen figures walking in the town, only to disappear into nothingness.  Remember, Garnet is in a very remote location.  Many of these happenings have taken place during winter months when snow shoes, snowmobiles and cross-country skis are the only means of transportation.  You have to admit that piano music coming from a saloon that no longer has a piano in it is a pretty interesting mystery. !Garnet 8-04 (6)

-In its hay day, Garnet did pretty well.  It was one of the last great placer discoveries in Montana and one of the richest, considering its size.  In one of the gulches, a gold nugget weighing 32 ounces was once found!  Garnet is actually named for the dark red, semi-precious stones found in the area, however silver and gold were the real sought after riches.  One of the explanations for Garnet’s said hauntings is actually related to the area’s geological wealth.  Kerry Moon was Garnet’s caretaker during the mid 1970’s.  One of his theories is that the quartz and other minerals, combined with long, metal shafts create a radio receiver type affect.  No matter what it is, both the history and the mystery behind Garnet make it one of the most fascinating ghost towns in Montana.

Directions area around missoula (2)If you wish to have an interesting round trip, take I-90 east to the Bearmouth exit.  Continue driving east for another five and a half miles- just follow the signs.  On your return trip, take the road that comes out onto the Blackfoot Valley.  You cannot access Garnet by vehicle from January 1st-May 1st.  If you are interested in Garnet’s Winter Cabin Rental Program call The Missoula branch of the BLM at 406-329-3914.

Bibliography:  Big Sky Ghosts Vol. II. by Debra D. Munn.  True Hauntings in Montana by D.F. Curran.  Ghosts of the Old West by Earl Murray.  Pamphlets from Garnet Preservation Society & the BLM.   Garnet Montana’s Last Gold Camp pg 17 by Helen Hammond.  Roadside History of Montana pg. 202 by Don Spritzer.  Ghost Towns of Montana pg. 7  by Donald C. Miller- lost body account quoted from Shallow Diggin’s by Jean Davis.  See additional recommendations from our library- end of this blog.

*Haunted Hamilton: Bitteroot pictures 6-23-04 017

-Is Hamilton really haunted?  Come see for yourself while taking a ghost tour at the Old Courthouse Museum!  Don’t forget to stop at the the Daly Mansion which lies between Corvallis and Hamilton. bitteroot pictures 6-23-04 067IMG_3814

On your journey, you may wish to stop at one of the many local orchards to purchase some crisp Macintosh apples and mouth watering cider of your own!

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-Along the way, you might also enjoy taking in a few of the local haunts- especially in Stevensville (Fort Owen, St. Mary’s Mission, Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge and more.)  A stop in Corvallis at the Brooks Victorian Christmas shop is fun as well.  Directions: Take Highway 93 South from Missoula/Lolo to Florence and then get on the Eastside Highway!

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The trees along the Bitterroot River turn to gold in October, making this particular drive a truly spectacular one!  Make sure you at least take the Eastside Highway from Corvallis to Hamilton so you can stop and enjoy The Daly Mansion.  This summer home, of Copper King Marcus Daly, has lovely grounds to explore, including a cowboy bunk house and ice house.  Daly’s race horses were kept just south of the mansion in a building that is now privately owned.  The beautiful stable, known as Tammany Castle, once had heated stalls that were lined with velvet! Bitteroot pictures 6-23-04 025

-If you tour the inside of the home, expect the unexpected!  Staff, renovators, summer tourists and school children have witnessed some pretty unusual things.  It is said that the ghost of Mrs. Daly still watches over the  beautiful 25 bedroom mansion.  The scent of roses and the image of Mrs. Daly herself have been documented.  Despite her benevolence, Mrs. Daly has not taken kindly to the re-positioning of some of her art work.  When the painting “Musicale” was moved by workers, the next morning it was found lying on the ground unharmed.  This happened on several occasions, therefore the painting was returned to its original place and has supposedly never fallen since.  *Haunted Montana by Karen Stevens.

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If you wish to learn more about the “science” of paranormal activity, there are several Montana based paranormal research groups  including Tortured Souls which is based out of Missoula.  Going on a real ghost hunt isn’t for everyone, it takes a unique kind of courage whether you are a skeptic or a believer!  If you have any doubt, I say…  stick to books and only visit “dark” places during daylight hours!

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-There are many Montana towns that boast of boogie men, banshies and all things that GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT!  Are you are interested in learning more about some of Montana’s mysterious moments?  If so, then dig into the following list of books.  Here at Blue Mountain B&B, we have all of these reading selections in our guest library for you to enjoy.  If you wish to add to your personal collection, some of these titles can be found in our Blue Mountain Wood Ducks and More Country Store.   The Missoula Book Exchange, Fact and Fiction and The University of Montana Book Store are all excellent places to purchase these titles as well!

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Ghost Tales:

History Books:

  • Garnet Montana’s Last Gold Camp by Helen Hammond
  • Ghost Towns of Montana by Donald C. Miller
  • Roadside History of Montana by Don Spritzer
  • Montana Ghost Towns by Barbara Fifer
  • Montana Ghost Towns and Gold Camps by William W. Whitfield
  • Montana History Weekends by Dave Conklin
  • Many additional selections at the B&B- just ask!

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Montana History Conference 2011

Conflict and war have been part of human society since its inception. The 38th Annual Montana History Conference will explore the the role of conflict and warfare the weekend of September 22 – 24, 2011, in Missoula, Montana. This event commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the United States entry into WWII. Save the date now, and plan to spend the weekend at our peaceful Missoula Bed and Breakfast as you delve into the history of war.

Relax at our Bed and Breakfast after the conference.

Given that warfare is too large a topic to be examined in one weekend, the Montana History Conference will focus on the following aspects:

  • The role of warfare in traditional Native American cultures
  • Contributions to our nation’s wars by citizens of Montana
  • The impact national wars had on life in Montana
  • Montanans’ efforts to resist armed conflict

Conference highlights include:

  • Workshops about – and visits to – Fort Missoula, which was used as an internment camp for Italian detainees and Japanese residents during World War II
  • Educators Workshops
  • Native Words, Native Warriors – how Native American languages helped the country’s war efforts.
  • Rethinking Warfare in Traditional American Indian Societies.
  • Fighting Prejudice at Home.

Dr. Richard Etulain will present the Keynote address on Montana, Lincoln, and the Civil War. Learn what was happening in the American West during the Civil War. Dr. Etulain is considered the premiere American scholar on Abraham Lincoln and the American West.

The Montana History Conference is sure to be exciting and informative. It will also be tiring. Participants who lodge at our Missoula Bed and Breakfast will be able to escape from the buzz at the end of the day.

Additional information may be found at Montana Historical Society.
Teachers participating in the Montana History Conference may obtain up to 22 OPI Teacher Renewal Units.

Missoula’s Wilma Theatre


Missoula's Wilma Theatre.

Take a look at Missoula’s Wilma Theatre the next time you’re staying at our Missoula Bed and Breakfast. The Wilma was built in 1921 by William Simons (and named after his wife Edna Wilma) to house his Wild West Show, and it’s a spectacular example of 1920’s architecture. Today it is stands magnificently in the heart of downtown Missoula, a beacon after dark with its hundreds of flashing lights.

Not many Wild West shows are performed at the Wilma Theatre these days, but it is still one of the places to go in Missoula for entertainment and special events. It is home to the largest indoor screen in Montana  – a great spot to see films. And many performers love to play the Wilma because of the theatre’s history and beauty.

Upcoming special events include performances by Sara Bareilles on July 15, Gillian Welch on July 17. and Steel Pulse on July 19, 2011. When there are no special events on the calendar, many guests of our Montana Bed and Breakfast enjoy films at the Wilma. Two films are showing this week: Woody Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris, and Buck, a stirring portrait of a real horse-whisperer.

If nothing else, we hope you’ll stroll past the Wilma on a warm summer evening.

To see what’s happening at the Wilma Theatre, please visit its website.

The Daly Mansion

The Daly Mansion is located in Hamilton, Montana, less than an hour from our Missoula Bed and Breakfast. It makes a great day trip for our guests, particularly at this time of year, when the gardens are in full bloom.

Marcus Daly was an industrialist who lived from 1843 to 1900. His great wealth came from mining copper in the Montana Territory and the copper smelter he created in Anaconda, a town he built to support the smelter. His wife Margaret lived as a widow in the Bitterroot Valley for more than 40 years (spring through fall), and much of what is today found in the Daly Mansion was acquired by her.

The Daly Mansion, in Hamilton MT.

Tours of the Mansion and Margaret Daly Memorial Arboretum and Botanic Gardens  take place daily through early October. The setting is truly spectacular.

You’ll have plenty of energy to fuel your day trip to the Daly Mansion after breakfast at our Missoula Bed and Breakfast. Still, you may want to pick up picnic supplies and enjoy to enjoy lunch on the road. We’ll supply the picnic basket.

More information is available at the Daly Mansion.

Philipsburg’s Opera House Theatre

About 75 minutes southeast from our Missoula MT Bed and Breakfast is the quaint town of Philipsburg. Historic buildings line the streets of the town’s small downtown area, filled with interesting gem shops, heavenly candy stores, and tasty restaurants. Philipsburg makes a terrific day trip for guests of our Bed and Breakfast Missoula, especially during the long days of summer.

Check out Philipsburg's Opera House Theatre this summer.

A unique attraction in Philipsburg is the Opera House Theatre. Recognized as the oldest continually operating theatre in the state of Montana, it has been entertaining the public since 1891. For that reason alone it’s worth a visit.

See the following productions during the 2011 season at the Philipsburg Opera House:

  • Leaving Iowa: a riotous comedy about family vacations.
  • Security Breeches: an adult-themed farce about espionage and underwear.
  • Vauderville Variety Show: a fun mix of music and comedy.

Don’t just travel to Philipsburg for the theatre. While there, pan for gems. It isn’t necessary to drive the winding road to Sapphire Mountain, for buckets of gem-filled earth are brought to several locations in town. Good eyes and patience will undoubtedly be rewarded with a few sapphires or other gems. Professionals will evaluate your treasure, which you may either keep as is or have heat treated and faceted.

Additional information and tickets for the Opera House Theatre are available at Opera House Theatre.

Reservations for our Montana Bed and Breakfast are available at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.

Montana Ghost Town

Autumn seems a fitting time to visit a ghost town – after all, Halloween is said to be when the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead is thinnest.

Bannack Ghost Town, the school / lodge.

With that cheery thought in mind, may we recommend a trip to two outstanding Montana Ghost Towns: Bannack Ghost Town and Garnet Ghost Town. Bannack is a bit of a drive from our Missoula Montana bed and breakfast (about 3 hours) but it’s worth it. Garnet is much closer, just an hour east of here. Both drives are lovely, particularly in the fall.

The St. Ignatius Mission

The historic St Ignatius Mission sits in front of the Mission Mountains on the Flathead Indian Reservation, about an hour northwest of our Missoula bed and breakfast. The church that stands in St. Ignatius today was built by the missionaries and Flathead people out of local clay and lumber (after previous church buildings were destroyed by fire) in 1891. The walls and ceilings of the church feature more than 50 original fresco paintings by Brother Joseph Carignano, S.J. Continue reading

Experience Fabulous Philipsburg

Philipsburg Montana is about 80 miles from our Missoula Montana bed and breakfast, and it makes a great day trip. It takes just over an hour to drive there, but boy, is the drive worth it. For starters, Philipsburg is located in Flint Valley, one of the most picturesque valleys we’ve seen; it is beautiful no matter the weather, and simply stunning when the sun is shining. Even if you never stop at Philipsburg, traveling the Pintler Scenic Loop (Montana Highway 1) is worth the trip.

Montana sapphires, in Philipsburg.

Yet the historic mining town of Philipsburg is worth a stop. At this time of year, popular activities including mining for sapphires. Okay, you can’t actually don a helmet an enter the mines, but you can purchase a bucket of earth from the mine, wash it, and sort through it until you are satisfied you’ve found all the sapphires. You are sure to find some, which the friendly staff will weigh. They’ll tell you if your specimens are perfect or flawed, and you’ll have the option of taking them home as they are or sending them away for heat treatment, which will intensify the color. It’s fun, and it is fun to feel yourself caught up in the certitude that you can find gems where no one else can, with just a little more time. This can be done in Philipsburg itself, or a bit farther down the road at Gem Mountain (warning – the route is gorgeous).

The little town of Philipsburg keeps busy during the summer. In July and August you’re likely to stumble across everything from car shows to string quartets, the Rocky Mountain Accordion Festival or Shakespeare in the Park. If nothing else, there are always several ghost towns to explore. Check out the Philipsburg community calender at

Summer is a great time at our Missoula bed and breakfast as well. The gardens are in bloom, the trails on our land call to guests invitingly, and the breakfast will provide plenty of energy for the day. Stay with us while you explore the area, from Lolo Pass to Flint Valley and Philipsburg. Hope to see you soon.

Big Hole National Battlefield

The Big Hole National Battlefield commemorates the events of August 9, 1877. That day, American soldiers opened fire on a camp of sleeping Nez Pierce. A day later, almost 90 Nez Pierce were dead.

Learn about this event, and visit the National Park that now stands there. It makes a good day trip from our Missoula bed and breakfast.

From the Big Hole National Park Battlefield Brochure