State’s Urban Legends: Montana

We’re in Big Sky country today as we examine the urban legends that call Montana home. I drove through about half of Montana once – a fire had detoured me off Interstate 80 and up to Interstate 94 by way of Idaho. Pretty country. Had I known about these urban legends before I drove through, I might have taken my chances with the fire.

Flathead Lake Monster

So you’d love to check out the Loch Ness Monster legend but a trip to Scotland isn’t in the cards? No problem.

Montana's Nessie?

An alleged photo of the Flathead Lake Monster

Just hop in your car and head for Flathead Lake in Montana. Yep, they’ve got their own version of Nessie floating around in there. And, as you can see from this grainy photo, its a dead ringer for the Scottish original.

Both legendary creatures popped up in folklore at roughly the same time and the Montana edition was spotted as recently as 2016. So, you get to see Nessie – U.S. Edition, save a lot of money on airfare and avoid a colonoscopy by a TSA agent before your flight.


The Hitchhiker of Black Horse Lake

We’ve all seen the beer commercial with couple driving at night on a deserted road and encounter a hitchhiker. He’s carrying an ax and the wife wants  no part of stopping to give him a ride. But he’s also carrying a six-pack of beer and that’s just fine with hubby.

The next shot finds the couple, with the beer-and-ax carrying hitcher in the back seat, driving along and encounter another hitcher. This one has a case of beer, the hubby points out.

“Yeah,” says the first hitcher from the back seat with a look of disbelief. “And a chainsaw!”

Its a funny commercial. But the hitchhiker you’ll encounter on Highway 87 near Great Falls won’t have you laughing. Legend has it that you’ll be driving along when suddenly the body of a Native American man clad in blue jeans will suddenly slam into your windshield and bounce off of your car.

You’ll stop to render aid…only to find no sign of the body. Anywhere. Nor will you see any damage to your car’s hood or windshield. According to legends this unfortunate hitchhiker is trapped in an endless cycle of repeating the moment of his long-ago death.

Sacrifice Cliff

Another Native American legend can be seen day or night every day of the year. From nearly any vantage point in Billings you can see some or all of Sacrifice Cliff. Geologically it is a stunning cliff that looms over the nearby city.

Montana’s Sacrifice Cliff near Billings.

According to lore, a pair of Crow tribesmen returned to their village nearby only to find everyone there had died of smallpox. In their grief, the two blindfolded their horses and rode them over the cliff and to their deaths so they could rejoin their tribe.

No reports of ghosts seem to have been recorded. But if you find yourself in the area and you spot two figures on horseback on the cliff above, you might be the first to witness an age-old tragedy come to its conclusion.

Chico Hot Springs Hotel

The Hotel, located in Pray, is rumored to have one permanent guest – The Lady in White – and she scares staff and guests with equal gusto.

Her favorite room seems to be 349, seeing as how she has led more than one ghost hunter into this particular room. But whenever her pursuer steps into the room all they find is an empty chair, gently rocking back and forth. Well, most of the time anyway.

Seems she occasionally likes to move that rocking chair out of room 349 and into other rooms throughout the hotel. The one constant? Once the chair has been located, it is always discovered facing a window.

About the author

Richard Paolinelli

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