Spooky Billings

The Moss Mansion:

Over the last few decades, several people have claimed to hear voices, laughing, and footsteps around the nearly 117-year-old home when no one else was around.  There have also been stories of mysterious floating orbs, unexplained shadows, and ghostly outlines of people in addition to a few claims of objects being moved around.  Six family members died in the home (finished in 1903), including owner P.B. Moss and his wife, Mattie, as well as both her parents.  Two of P.B. & Mattie’s children also died in the home: Virginia and Melville.  Virginia Moss was the youngest and only child to actually be born in the home.  She died suddenly at the age of 5 in the house after contracting diphtheria, and it is her ghost that seems to be seen and heard most often.  When Melville died at the mansion in 1984, she had a nurse staying with her around the clock.  She was too sick to make it up the stairs to her bedroom, so she had a bed set up in the alcove by the main staircase and the nurse had a bed in an adjoining hallway.  One night before Melville passed away, the nurse reported hearing a noise and got up to check on Melville.  She claims to have seen the ghost of a little girl (presumed to be Virginia) standing at the bedside of her sister.

The Yellowstone Art Museum:

The Yellowstone Art Museum actually had its beginnings as the original Yellowstone County Jail.  It was built in 1884 (before Montana even became a state), and was used until 1961.  Several original parts of the jail remain, including the original sign that used to be the face of the jail; now can be seen inside behind the front desk of the museum.  Also several original cells exist in the basement, along with drawings and writings supposedly done by prisoners over the years.  There have been rumors of spirits/ghosts that remain around the basement from the now-museum’s time as a jail.  Additionally, the one and only person to ever receive capital punishment in Yellowstone County was executed inside the jail itself:  John Cuellae was hanged on April 12, 1918 for murder.

The Yellowstone County Courthouse Jail:

After the closing of the original Yellowstone County Jail on 27th Street, but before the completion of the currently-used facility on King Avenue East in 1987, the 8th floor of the County Courthouse was used as the county detention center. While no inmate ever received capital punishment at this location, many inmates died while in custody; mostly from drug use or suicide according to reports. Currently, the 8th floor of the Courthouse is mainly used as storage, but some employees have reported strange feelings, noises, and occurrences while in that area of the building. This has lead to several rumors of that floor, and even the rest of the building being haunted.

2223 Montana Avenue & The Ghost Soldier:

In the early morning hours of December 8, 1945 a C-47 transport plane on its way to Seattle crashed in Billings during a blizzard in an open field east of 13th Street and south of Rimrock Road, just south of where the airport at the time was located on top of the Rims. Seventeen soldiers (who were on their way home from the war) and two pilots died in the crash, which was reportedly more bodies than the local morgue and funeral homes could store at the time. Therefore, at least one of the bodies was supposedly stored in the refrigerator/freezer of a local grocery store downtown at (you guessed it) 2223 Montana Avenue. While this location hasn’t been a grocery store for some time, it has almost continually been occupied and ever since there have been regular sightings of a ghost in WWII uniform walking around this area, especially inside the building.

The Alberta Bair Theater:

The Alberta Bair Theater was originally opened in 1931 by the 20th Century Fox Corporation and named the Fox Theater.  It was built on land owned by wealthy sheep rancher Charles M. Bair and was first the location of his homestead and where Alberta was born.  After 40 years of use, the theater was in bad disrepair and closed in 1978.  After some time of uncertainty regarding its future, several people joined together in support of raising the money needed to completely renovate it and have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Alberta Bair donated a significant amount of money toward the project and for that reason, as well as her family’s history and ties to the location, the theater became named after her when it reopened.  Shortly after her death in 1993, strange stories about a female ghost who walks around the theater and is seen watching performances started circulating.  Many people have also reported seeing Alberta dining down the street with her sister at their favorite table in the Northern Hotel.  In addition to the female entity, there are rumors of a male ghost who is loud and often angry.  The most common story is that he was either a worker who died during the construction of the Fox Theater and was buried in the cement foundation or that he was someone who was killed around the time of construction (as it was Prohibition era, a lot of stories tend to connect strange happenings with gangs) and his body was hidden in the foundation so it wouldn’t be found.

Sacrifice Cliff:

Also known as “The Place Where the White Horse Went Down,” a historical marker in Boothill Cemetery tells the story as follows:

‘In 1837-38 a smallpox epidemic spread from the American Fur Trading Company steamboat St. Peter which had docked at Fort Union.  The terrible disease for which the Indians had no immunity eventually affected all Montana tribes.  A story is told among the Crow of two young warriors returning from a war expedition who found their village stricken.  One discovered his sweetheart among the dying, and both warriors, grieving over loss of friends and family, were despondent and frustrated because nothing could alter the course of events.  The young warriors dressed in their finest clothing and mounted a snow-white horse.  Riding double and singing their death songs, they drove the blindfolded horse over a cliff and landed in what is now the eastern end of the Yellowstone County Exhibition grounds.  Six teenage boys and six teenage girls who were not afflicted with the disease witnessed the drama; they buried the dead warriors and left the camp.  Great loss of life among the tribe followed in the wake of the epidemic.  Although time has reduced the height of the cliff, the location is remembered even today as The Place Where the White Horse Went Down.’

The cliff is thought to have been a place of meditation used by young men in the Crow tribe coming of age and that the two warriors who rode their horse off the cliff were young men, or even teenage boys, who hoped their sacrifice would save the people of their tribe from the sickness.

Airport Road Ghost Jogger:

There is a legend that people driving down Airport Road at night will see a spectral runner, or ghost jogger, in their headlights running along the side of Airport Road.  While many skeptics explain this is an illusion caused by steam rising off the pavement, many also believe it to be the spirit of a man hit by a truck while on a run.


Juliano’s is a restaurant downtown that used to be a private residence.  Legends have been told for years about a spirit named Murray who is especially attached to a bedroom closet on the second floor of the building.  It is said that if someone opens that closet door, strange and paranormal things start to happen all around.  Contractors doing renovations reported seeing him regularly watching them work and also said that the closet door in the upstairs bedroom was often found open, even though no workers were around that area.  Murray is said to be dressed in 1920’s clothing and has even been spotted watching out the windows by people passing by outside.

The Dude Rancher Lodge:

The Dude Rancher was one of the first hotels in Billings, built by Annabel and Percival Goan in 1950.  After Percival died, Annabel ran the hotel on her own for many years until she was unable to and moved into a nursing home.  Tales of the hauntings began right after her death and she is believed to be the spirit people are encountering.  The paranormal activity such as lights and televisions turning on and off randomly; knocking on doors from empty rooms; and the sounds of footsteps, running, voices, and even laughing have been reported by guests and staff alike.  Most of the activity has happened in rooms 223, 224, and especially 226 (which is the room Annabel’s grandson lived in when he took over the hotel after her death and where she is believed to be staying in to this day).

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