BILLINGS — The history behind the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge is a grim one. Not only is the place foreboding in appearance, but it also once housed some of the worst criminals in the state. Some came to tragic ends within its walls, and some may still be incarcerated there, at least in spirit.
It is because of this that Ghost Hunts USA, a company that sponsors paranormal investigation for both believers and non-believers, is set to do a series of overnights at the prison this spring and summer starting on Friday, April 16.
Tyler Evans, one of the founding members of Ghost Hunts USA, says that the Old Montana Prison is one of his company’s favorite places to visit.
“It's a fun, great place. It is one of my most favorite places to go. It's spooky during the day, but when the lights go out... that's it,” he said.
The event runs from 8:30 p.m. until about 5 a.m., and you are essentially locked inside the prison walls. Of course, you can ask to be let out if you are feeling a bit scared, but no such accommodations were given to the prisoners housed there until the late 1970s.
Participants are given ghost hunting equipment, such as EMF readers, and shown how to use them. The living are also given instructions on how to interact with the dead. Once folks are feeling comfortable, they are let loose in the detainment center.
“By 1 a.m., that’s when free time normally starts,” says Evans. “The guests have an understanding of what they have to do, questions to ask, and how they should approach the spirit world. Then they go off and do it and get their own evidence. If they want us to go with them, we'll go with them, but (if) they want to be left alone, they are left alone.”
A big question is, if there really are ghosts or spirits at the prison, why are they hanging around after death?
Evans has a theory.
“Some of them find Old Montana as their home. Some of these prisoners have been there from a very young age and this was their home. And that's where they feel safe.”
Other spirits, he says, had a terrible time there and they are trapped, afraid to cross over.
So, if ghosts do exists, another big question: are you guaranteed to see one at one of these events?
“No, not at all," says Evans. “It absolutely depends on the guests, it depends on the energy that they bring, and do the dead want to talk to us tonight. And we say that at the start, ‘hey, we want you to go home with evidence.’ Evidence that we gather for you and evidence that you capture, but if you don't, it doesn't mean that it's not haunted, it just means that tonight's not the night.”
So whether you’re a believer in ghosts or just want something fun and creepy to do on a weekend night, Evans simply asks people to come with an open mind and come ready to have some fun.
“Just be positive, be fun, laugh a lot, bring warm clothes. That’s pretty much it.”
Tickets start at $149.00 and there are many dates to choose from. To book, log onto: