The US government has been trying to convince people to move to the abandoned town of Garnet, Montana, for years. Yet nobody seems to want to step into it.
And maybe it is for a good reason. When you have read a little more about this town, you can get to your own conclusions. Who knows? Maybe you will find it a nice, bucolic place. But don’t say you weren’t warned.
How would you feel about moving to an old abandoned town in the middle of nature? There would probably be some good perks to it: think of the beautiful sights and the fresh air.
Think about being far away from the noise and bustle of the city, about living a calm, contemplative life among the wildlife. Sounds good, alright. But there might also be some downsides to it.
Some of the first that probably come to mind are a slow internet connection, a lack of entertainment offer, and most importantly: a less lively economy.
How is one even supposed to make a living in an abandoned town? Well, the US government provides a solution to that problem for whoever is willing to move to this town.
The government grants free room and board, as well as a stipend for meals to whoever moves into Garnet. So if you decide to start a new life in the town, you will not want for nothing.
That’s right: Uncle Sam is literally paying people to live in this abandoned town. But there is one condition.
Whoever moves to Garnet and gets the benefits from the government must sometimes work at the local souvenir shop or give guided tours for visitors.
Pretty easy, right? Sounds like a good deal. However, there is more to this town than what meets the eye. There is a reason why nobody seems interested in moving to Garnet.
The town’s name was inspired by the ruby-colored stones found in the area. While these weren’t “precious stones”, they were still valuable. The mountainous areas on the outskirts of Garnet offered more appeal as they were rich with gold-brearing quartz deposits.
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?
While Garnet still had enough mineral wealth to offer prospectors a reason to stay, it was actually once a bustling town. However, its inhabitants were more interested in plundering its underbelly than building sustainable structures above ground.
As a result, many of the original buildings weren’t very structurally sound. A mere 20 years after its prime, with its mining areas virtually tapped out, the inhabitants began leaving as fast as they arrived.
Around 1934, the price of gold was doubled. For a brief time, this led to a resurgence of families moving back there. This period was swiftly followed by one of the most tumultuous periods in world history.
As the calamities of World War II took over, people began leaving again. Strangely enough, one of the townsfolk actually stayed.
It was a woman named Marion Dahl. She was the widowed owner of what used to be the saloon. She had been a witness to the old town’s prosperity, to its countryside lavishness.
And she had also been a witness to its demise. Marion was like a living relic, and she had a lot of stories to tell to every passerby or visitor who set their feet in the town.
And when she died, Garnet was left wholly deserted. The limitations on dynamite mining during WWII really took a toll on the town’s economy, and it became an absolute ghost town.
However, the government has been trying to repopulate it. Its closeness to beautiful natural sights and its unusually well preserved antique houses make it a town worth keeping on the map somehow. But nobody seems too eager to go there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?