This week’s post could easily be part of The Barroom Chronicles,
but I’ve decided to use it as the first post in a new series I’ll be featuring. Like the title suggests, it’s about ghosts, more accurately, it’s about the disproportionate number of ghosts in our humble Montana town.
The subject is prickly for me, even though I have had my fair share of trippy experiences, both in Montana and in my hometown in Pennsylvania, I’ve always been super skeptical of their existence. As much as I would like to believe in them, I’ve always hesitated in admitting believe, but too many occurrences have me coming around to admitting my believe in the creepy critters.
What’s weird for me is that I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve witnessed many things that go bump in the night, and in the afternoon too!
Today at work, the subject of ghosts came up again. Not because of a recent sighting in the bar (more on that later in this post) but because two more ghost hunters showed up in town. They didn’t stop in the bar, but I wish they had, I have a few good ghost stories to share.
The owners of Ghost Rails Inn, the neighboring bed and breakfast also stopped by today and mentioned that this weekend some guests reported another sighting in their room. One of the owners mentioned that Alberton could be the most haunted town in America. Sounds like a lofty claim, but on further review, it may have merit. Considering our town has barely 500 souls, pun intended – that would be the living, breathing type – it at least could be considered for the most ghosts per capita.
Here are the reported sightings in our fair burg:
Ghost Rails Inn is aptly named, as of this writing, the owners have distinguished three different ghosts, they have seen two. A guest has reported a third, and another guest has reported something even more bizarre – their stories will be shared in later posts.
The Grocery Store – I don’t know anything about this ghost, but I’ve heard the store is haunted. I will talk with the owner and will report his story.
The Railroad Car House – This is a duplex that is made of old boxcars. I’m foggy on the details. Paranormal societies have investigated this house and the Ghost Rails Inn.
The Trailer Court at the edge of town. It’s reported to be haunted by a lady who committed suicide. I don’t know the details.
And last but not least, the home of The Barroom Chronicles and the host to at least one ghost – good ole Sportys…
My first encounter happened in May of 2006, I had just bought the bar and was closing up shop. This encounter was more feeling, that creepy, undeniable sensation that someone is watching. Lets just say the feeling wasn’t subtle, it was in stereo. It felt as if the old timers were floating near the ceiling checking out the new guy.
Three weeks later, something happened to my dog. It was after hours and I had her with me, I fancied making her a bar dog. As fate would have it, my pager went off (at the time I was a firefighter) and I responded to an emergency call. When I returned she was a quivering ball of jelly and she had an accident on the floor. She was four at the time, so she wasn’t a puppy and was housebroken. Although she hasn’t had an accident since, she can’t stand being in the bar. As soon as she enters she whines and whines. I’ve given up taking her. I can hear the skeptics: “Big deal, she was freaked because she felt abandoned in a strange place.” Absolutely possible – maybe even probable. If it wasn’t for what I’m about to share, I would believe that theory.
May 2007 The palm tree… A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look and tell me what you see. This photo was taken the first night the palm tree was in operation. The person taking the picture was smoking a cigarette. The image was not Photoshopped. Tell me what you see. Notice the 20 in the upper right hand corner. I believe that is related to the aforementioned bizarre sighting by a Ghost Rail Inn guest. (I’ll spiel my theory on that in a later post.)
A random Thursday night after closing: This was my first audio (dare I say haunting) experience. I had just got the last patron out when I heard a keno machine print a ticket and then footsteps crossed the casino into the Men’s room. The bathroom door slammed shut.
No big deal, I thought. Somehow, someone played through last call. I waited ten minutes and went back to check on the player. I figured he passed out in the bathroom. Of course nobody was there. He couldn’t have slipped out any doors, they were all locked.
I’ve since had that experience again. Earlier this year, another bartender reported hearing the same thing – twice.
A Saturday morning before opening: I was taking the garbage out and stopped to open the side door. As I propped the door open, out of the corner of my eye I saw legs walk past me, through the door and into the bar. I immediately turned around and said: “Excuse me, can I help you?” There was nobody there. To this day, I get a chill and goosebumps every time I relate the story.
I’ve never felt scared of our ghost, quite to the contrary, I believe he’s a trickster, there’s always things misplaced and switched around. I have named him: Kermit, in honor of a patron who passed six months after I purchased the bar. The real Kermit was a trickster, so the M.O. fits. I’m not saying it is, but hey, it’s all good.
But the Coup De Grace happened a little over two weeks ago. A new bartender was working a Friday night shift. She had closed the bar, gotten everybody out when she heard a keno machine print. She looked back into the casino in time to see the apparition of a bearded man sitting before said keno machine staring at her. She claims it lasted a few seconds before it faded away.
A couple of days later, she came into the bar and asked: “Why didn’t you tell me about the ghost?”
I just smiled and enjoyed the goosebumps.