Do you believe in ghosts? I do. I saw one once, well actually there were two and a ghost horse. Lol Ok, before you start to think this ginger girl has a screw loose. I have a story to tell you.
About ten years ago I traveled to Montana. My boyfriend, Patrick, and I decided to go there and elope. Being a huge history buff, I made sure that a stop at Little Big Horn battlefield and memorial site was on the schedule. It was a warm July afternoon when we made our visit. The actually battlefield covers a large area but the visitor center, Custer’s last stand, and cemetery are located in one spot.
When we got there we spent some time looking at artifacts, memorials, and then decided to walk down to a ravine that is part of the tour. Warning signs to stay on the trail or risk rattlesnake bites caught my attention right away. I was sure to not stray. As we walked the quarter mile trail down to the ravine, I began to not feel right. The more I walked, the worst I felt. My heart was pounding. I was short of breath. It was if I was climbing the hill instead of traveling down it.
As we reached our final destination, I was extremely cold and shaky. The small ravine at the bottom of the hill had storyboards that told the events of what happened there but I had no interest. I was agitated, nervous, and wanted to be anywhere but there. Not wanting to cause I fuss I tried to tough it out while Patrick read the information that was posted. I am lucky that Patrick likes to visited historical places almost as much as I do but unfortunately he spends way too much time reading and studying things. To try and hurry him along by any means only leads to extending that time. I have learned to grin and bear it.
As time went on my anxiousness continued and I needed to escape, from what I didn’t quite know. I told Patrick I was going back up the hill. I turned and was met head on by a solder running from an Indian atop a horse. I basically jumped out of their way to avoid being trampled. It happened in the flash of an instant but I saw the three figures as clear as day. The soldier was a young man in blue and a little shorter than I. If you have ever seen old uniforms in museums, you will immediately notice how much smaller people use to be and this guy maybe came up to my nose. The horse was a brown and white paint with a dark, thick mane. The warrior on his back had long, black flowing hair and was holding a club or tomahawk.
Was I seeing things? I was obviously suffering from heatstroke or something and returned to my boyfriend’s side. We left the area and began our trek back up the hill. It took us twice as long as I had to stop several times to sit and rest. Strangely enough, the closer I go to the top of the hill, the better I felt. It was the complete and exact opposite of our trip down. As we reached the visitor center I felt like a new person. I rested on a bench outside the center as Patrick went to get me some water.
As I sat there, I still couldn’t wrap my head around what I had saw and felt. A park guide was giving a talk on a nearby patio so I listened to the lecture he was giving about a famous warrior name Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux Medicine man. Black Elk, at the age of twelve was involved in the battle of Little Big Horn and later survived the battle of Wounded Knee. He led a very interesting life including becoming a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wide West Show and traveled to England to see Queen Victoria. Black Elk missed the boat home to the US and ended up traveling throughout Europe. When I finished drinking my water, I did some shopping (shopping to me is buying books) and I left with an arm load of guides and history books, including Black Elk Speaks.
As we drove off, I told Patrick about what I had experienced in the ravine and laughed it off as heat exhaustion. I remember saying it didn’t even make sense as the ghosts were going the wrong way and the brave on the horse had unbraided hair. Any western I ever seen had Indians in braids riding horses covered in war paint. He corrected me and said that according to the information boards posted the soldiers were chased into the ravine and killed. I still shrugged it off and reminded myself to drink plenty of water the next time I went exploring in the Montana sunshine.
A few months later I was reading my book about Black Elk and I read a passage that made my blood run cold. The passage was about this famous battle. It was from a warrior talking about the battle of Little Big Horn. In the passage he explained that the battle happened so fast that they didn’t have time to paint their ponies or braid their hair. I may have been hallucinating but my vision was historically correct! Did I really see ghosts on the battlefield? I was starting to believe that I did.
Montana has a lot of ghost towns and ghosts. I have been working on a contemporary romance in which a publisher plays match maker by pairing two writers together for a book in the hopes that they will find true romance. Both of them have lost the loves of their lives and have yet to put the pieces of their lives together. They decide to write a story involving the history of the area and take a tour of the historic Dumas Brothel in Butte.
The Dumas was one of the country’s longest running brothels and is haunted. Patrick and I also visited there on our trip. It is a fascinating building as it is one of the few brothel type architectural buildings left. It has two floors and a basement where the cribs are located. The higher the floor you were on the higher your status, believe me you did not what to work in the cribs.
On the first and second floor each prostitute had her own room but what made this place so different is that the windows are on the inside. The customer would walk along the halls, look in the window and see which girl he was interested in. The place is very spooky!! Numerous times tourists have seen images of ghosts appear in their pictures. There is one ghost in particular that still haunts the second floor. A woman that worked there had fallen in love with a customer, a married businessman that promised to leave his wife and take her away. On the night they were supposed to leave, she sat waiting. She was all dressed to leave and her bags were packed. He never showed. The next morning the other women of the house found her dead in her room from suicide. The characters in my story encounter a different ghost while there but she also came to the same tragic end.
Patrick and I didn’t see any ghosts while we were there but even today my husband and I still remember the bad vibe the place had. It was eerie, creepy, dark, and haunting. While reading the guest book there, I noticed others had had the same impression. Words such as sad, lonely, and spooky could be found in the book.
When a person thinks of places that are haunted it is rarely a new building. They almost always surround a place with a past. Hospitals, old hotels, historic homes, and battlefields seem to be the most popular. Are these places filled with so much energy and emotion that we cannot help but absorb them? Have you ever smelled the perfume of someone that wasn’t in the room? Felt a cold touch on your skin? Are the footsteps or voices heard at night real or your imagination? And are some people able to sense these things while others don’t?
It has been ten years now since I was at Little Big Horn but to this day I can still feel the fear of the soldier running for his life. I can hear the pounding of the horse’s hoofs on the hard dirt. I can still see the determined look on the brave’s face to kill his enemy. If I was feeling faint that day why do I remember it in such detail and why was it historically correct when I knew nothing of the story before I got there?
Halloween is just around the corner and it always brings up the subject of ghosts. Are they real or just in our imaginations? After reading my story and close encounter with the ghostly kind, what are your thoughts? Did I have heat stroke in the hot Montana sun or have a ghostly vision? Have you ever sensed a ghost or been in a scary sensation?
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