Montana Gives Away A Whole Town For Free, Leaves Out One Detail


Nobody Wants To Go Back

Garnet, Montana, population – zero. The government has been desperately trying to get people to move into the ghost town but the people are less than willing to go anywhere near it.

But the people who aren’t willing to go back seem to have their own justification. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this small town and people need to be aware of the facts.

Ghost Town

Instagram – scoutoverland

A lot of people might like the idea of moving from living in a busy city to a quiet town in the middle of the woods. They could immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the crisp air.

Going from a life of car horns and crime in a concrete jungle to a more organic setting. There they could live in peace and quiet among the animals and trees. But there are certain things that nature can’t provide.


NBC Montana

The first thing that people would be reminded about is the fact that there wouldn’t be fast food places around every corner or even movie theaters, arcades, and other things like that.

The internet if there even was any would be slower than in the city. And let’s not even mention the economy. What jobs would even be offered in a town like that? The government seems to know about that fact and has given people an incentive to be there.



People who move to the town will be treated to accommodation free of charge and even an allowance for basic meals. So people moving into the town will be looked after.

So the government is paying people to move into the small town of Garnet, but what’s the catch? Well, there’s one thing that the government asks in return.

“Helping Out”

Abandoned Spaces

Any resident of Garnet is obligated to help work at the souvenir shop or even be a tour guide for tourists. 

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? But the town is shrouded in a dark history that has people reluctant to move in even if they would literally be paid to be there.

Garnet’s History

But where did this town get its name from? The ruby-colored stones commonly found in the area. Although they aren’t “precious stones”, they’re still valuable. The mountainous areas on the outskirts of Garnet were appealing because they were rich with gold-brearing quartz deposits.

In the 1800s, people from all around came to collect their piece of the pie. It’s hard to believe that a century ago, the town had a population of over 1,000 people. But what happened to them?

In the 1800s, people from around the country flocked there for their piece of the pie. A century ago, the town used to have a population of more than 1,000 people. So what happened to them all?

20 Years Later

Western Mining History

During the time that Garnet still had enough mineral wealth to offer people a reason to stay, it was quite a bustling town. But the people that lived there were more interested in plundering its underbelly than building sustainable structures above ground.

Because of this, many of the original buildings were not structurally sound. Just 20 years after its prime, mining areas tapped out and inhabitants left as fast as they arrived.

World War II


But in the year 1934, the price of gold had doubled. For a short period of time, it led to a resurgence of families moving back to the town. But just after this followed one of the most tumultuous periods in world history.

When World War II took over, people started leaving again. But what was truly strange was that one of the townsfolk stayed.

Marion Dahl

Daily Mail

Her name was Marion Dahl and she was the widowed owner of the saloon. During her life, she was a witness to the old town’s prosperity and to its countryside lavishness.

But she had also witnessed its demise. Marion had countless stories to share with every passerby or visitor who set foot in Garnet.

She Passed Away


Once she had passed away, the town was left completely deserted. What took a toll on the town’s economy was the limitation on dynamite mining during WWII. Garnet became a ghost town.

But over the years, the US government has tried desperately to repopulate it. Thanks to the town’s beautiful natural sights and its well-preserved antique houses, it is a town worth keeping on the map. But nobody seems interested in going there.

Why Is That?

University of Montana

And there is one reason for this. There are a bunch of legends from the hey-dey of the gold mining going around the surrounding towns. Some of them are deemed as mere inventions.

But some other ones are usually told and listened to with an uneasy, dreary air, like it’s a serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And one among them in particular is the one that keeps people from moving to Garnet.



Many people believe that Garnet is a ghost town in the most literal sense of the expression. They believe that the souls of the people who used to live in the town, particularly those who died in the mines, are still wandering around its houses.

This might come across as just gossip to anyone who hears about it for the first time. But almost everyone who visits the town comes back with some strange, disturbing experiences.

Noises At Night

Blaine County Journal News

Locals and visitors have claimed to hear eerie noises at night: voices coming from the old saloon, laughter, and even cries… just like there was still a party going on at the saloon.

Others say they have seen ghostly figures of people wearing period clothes wandering about at night. Even Bureau of Land Management historian Allan Mathews has had a disturbing experience in Garnet.

He Was A Skeptic

Montana Memory Project

Allan wasn’t usually one to believe old tell-tale ghost stories. When the incident happened, his presence in Garnet was just a matter of scientific, factual research.

But something happened to him that made him think twice about the truthfulness of those old stories. He wouldn’t ever be the same after having an eerie experience in Montana’s ghost town.

He Saw Something

Road Unraveled

One evening, as the sun was setting, he saw what seemed to be the figure of an old lady staring at him through one of the windows of the old hotel. The longer he kept looking back at her, the longer the figure would stay there.

He even entered the hotel and looked around to see if there was someone there. But naturally, it was empty. Allan was creeped out by this experience.

Not An Isolated Incident

Helena Independent Record

According to Montana resident and writer for its historical society, Ellen Baumler, there have been many reports of spooky incidents over the years.

With so many people recounting the same eerie tales, it’s enough to make even the biggest skeptic wonder if there maybe is some truth to these ghostly stories. Here’s some of the more famous stories that pop up.

Piano Music


Many a modern day lodger in Garnet have reported hearing the sound of piano music playing. The music is reputed to carry a slow and mournful tune that wafts through the empty buildings.

The mere thought of such an occurrence is enough to send a tingle through anyone’s spine. As if this isn’t enough, the stories of the strange piano music contain an even more disturbing detail.

Time Plays A Part

Flickr – Scalp_s Dementia

During the day, the town is usually as quiet as a deserted town could be expected to be and is usually just a lonely place.

However, a common thread among the ghost stories is that the strange disturbances mostly seem to occur when darkness falls. In fact, people who have reported hearing the piano music all agree on one thing—it usually only starts playing around midnight.

Even The Season Matters

The Spokesman-Review

It should be stated that most of these stories have never been conclusively proven. This doesn’t make them any less unnerving to hear. Just as night time seems to bring out the worst in this spooky town, it appears that even the time of year has a role to play in its mystique.

Historically, most of the reported incidents seem to be less frequent during summer months. During winter, on the hand, the stories usually take a more ominous turn.

The Dead Of Winter

Wikimedia Commons

While the odd piano music is usually reported in isolation during other times of the year, as the winter months creep in, the stories grow creepier. During the dead of winter, most stories of the piano music are accompanied by tales of unearthly sounds and ghastly visions.

The old saloon appears to be most haunted during these months. The kind of things that visitors report seeing during these months are almost too terrifying to contemplate.

It Comes Alive

Traceless in Tiveden

The haunted saloon, as far as the stories go, becomes most active in winter. During these months, visitors have reported seeing ghostly visions of people dancing and figures leaving footprints and strange gouge marks in the snow.

Worse still are the reports of human-shaped figures reflecting in and out of the shadows and the sound of laughter that is reported to drift around with the wind.

Some People Can’t Get Enough

406 Families

While these kinds of stories are enough to ward off most people thinking of spending time in Garnet, there are some people who love them enough to keep coming back.

In fact, there have reportedly been a few loyal volunteers who come back ever year for decades now. It seems that despite all the reasons not to visit Garnet, the town’s intrigue among visitors has never completely disappeared.

The Hotel

Between the saloon and the tales of winter wanderings, Garnet’s darker side has always proven to be as intriguing to some, as it is frightening to others.

The haunted saloon aside, just as recounted by Allan Matthews, the town’s old hotel is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a woman. All sigtings of her relay that she is usually to be found at one of its windows, gazing out at the town below.

Truth Is Relative

Smithsonian Magazine

Stories of ghostly apparitions and haunted dwellings are nothing new. While government websites and official information about Garnet make no mention of it being haunted, stories continue to flourish.

While most people believe that these tale are all just a bunch of nonsense, many people still swear by them. Garnet is by no means an exception in this regard and there are endless other conspiracies of the like out there. Here’s two few of the most famous ones.

The Denver Airport Conspiracy

Colorado Public Radio

Conspiracy theorists and paranormal buffs continue to harp on this one. For decades now, it is widely believed among such folk that this famous airport is either haunted, has ties to the illuminati, links to demonology, or all of the above.

The truth around these rumors is certainly debateable, however, like it is with Garnet, the stories never seem to go away.

Skinwalker Ranch

Prometheus Entertainment

This famous (or rather infamous) ranch has been the subject of much speculation too. Reputed to be a hotbed of alien activity and other paranormal occurrences, the ranch enjoys an almost cult-like following among extraterrestial chasers.

Located in Southeast Utah, it was named after the famous navajo legends. According to the legends, the term “skin-walker” refers to a vengeful witch that has the ability to possess and take over the bodies of animals.

No Exception

National Park Service

When placed in the company of legends like these, the tales surrounding Garnet fit right in. Since the government actively tries to get volunteers to live there, the stories do the town far more harm than good.

The evidence for this is clear. While the government reports thousands of applications to live in the town, once people hear about its history and legends, many of these applications end up being revoked each year.

The Future Of Garnet

Bureau of Land Management

We may never truly know how much of the tales are true. Either way, the town of Garnet remains one of the most mysterious historical towns around.

Given its rich history and the fact that it was once a thriving center for business and residency, it’s actually sad that the town struggles to regain its former glory. Whether it ever experiences a second revival, only time will tell.


Atlas Obscura

The government keeps trying to sell the virtues and perks of living in this town; they talk about the beautiful nature, fascinating wildlife, and benefits for whoever settles in Garnet.

But not one word has been said about the rumors surrounding this enigmatic town. And it will probably remain like that for some time.

Would You Go To Garnet?


So in the meantime, it seems like not many people can gather enough courage to dare set their feet in Montana’s ghost town.

What do you think about this story? Do you think these types of tales are all gibberish or do some of them have some truth to them? Would you dare spend a night in Garnet?