Placer Ghost

Helena’s storied Placer Hotel adds to the mystique of the Capital City’s unique and historic Last Chance Gulch. The 172-room Placer opened in 1913 and at that time it was the largest hotel between St. Paul and Portland. Named for the placer gold recovered during the excavation of its basement, over the decades thousands enjoyed the Placer’s hospitality and left their stories within its walls. What tales those walls could tell!  

One such tale comes from an acquaintance who was in high school in the 1960s. She and her mother loved to make occasional overnight shopping trips from their rural community to the Capital City. They always stayed at the Placer in the same corner room and enjoyed breakfast together in the hotel restaurant before heading home. It was a very special bonding time for mother and daughter.

On one of these trips, the pair settled into their usual room after a long day of shopping. It was well past midnight when the daughter awakened. Pale moonlight filtered through the drapes, casting dim shadows on the walls. As her eyes adjusted, she saw a man in the rocking chair under the window. He was quietly rocking back and forth. She thought she was dreaming but she could see this man so clearly. His glasses reflected the moonlight and his bald head glistened as he rocked. She stared at him for a while and then turned over and went back to sleep.

The next morning as they sat at their favorite table and ordered breakfast, the memory of that weird dream just wouldn’t go away. Finally, the daughter said to her mom, “I had the weirdest dream last night and I just can’t seem to shake it off. It was so real. I dreamed that I woke up and there was this man in our room. He was sitting in that rocking chair under the window, rocking back and forth.  It was so clear I can describe him perfectly. He had glasses, and he was bald….”    

Her mother put up her hand to silence her and finished her daughter’s sentence, “…and he wore a blue plaid shirt. I know. I saw him too.”    

Ellen Baumler    

For more haunted stories and Helena history, visit Ellen’s Montana Moments blog.