School Ghouls: The Haunted Events of the University of Montana | Local News


At 128 years old, it’s no surprise that the University of Montana campus is home to many ghosts and spooky stories.

Older historic buildings have had many identities over the years, serving as dormitories, then university spaces and later offices. Tens of thousands of students, staff and faculty have passed through the campus.

Some never seem to have left.

The most prominent figures of university tradition roam the halls of the Brantly and Main Halls and lurk in the corners of the campus belly – the stepped steam tunnels that connect each building underground.

Two longtime UM employees, Cary Shimek and now retired Jed Liston, were particularly interested in the tale of these supernatural circumstances and even took part in haunted campus tours.

Although Liston and Shimek claim to be skeptical, they have both been through things they cannot explain.

Brantly Room

Built as a girls’ dormitory in 1922, Brantly Hall now functions as an administrative office building for employees working for the Alumni Association and the Communications Department.

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“I think people will say that Jeanette Rankin (Hall) and Main Hall are super haunted, but I think we have the best stories here,” said Shimek, who has an office in Brantly, on tour Wednesday.

“This one appears to be the most haunted and most cited as the most haunted on campus,” added Liston, whose office was also in the building.

One of the most common ghosts in Brantly is said to be a college student who committed suicide in 1929, but Shimek and Liston could not find any trace of the tragic event.

Shimek was helping organize the family weekend on campus in the fall, and almost 10 years ago he led the Haunted UM tours. The tours were extremely popular, but ended abruptly after “something happened” in the basement of what would become the last tour in history.

Down the steep stairs is a long, dark hallway that’s only lit by the red glow of exit signs or a single light bulb triggered by motion sensors. This is where the tours would reach their peak.

The hallway would be filled with smoke from a smoke machine and an actor disguised as Brantly’s ghost would run towards the groups of tourists shouting “get out” before disappearing into one of the basement rooms.

On this particular tour, the smoke set off the fire alarm and Shimek had to escort the families outside as the firefighters made their way to campus.

“I’m trying to entertain these parents and all of a sudden one of those windows goes ‘pshhh’ and shatters outward,” Shimek said, mimicking the sound of a broken glass.

“To this day I’m skeptical, I have to believe he was an overzealous theater student, but at the same time we had alarms and so much smoke in the air, maybe there was a some stress on the building, ”he continued. “I don’t know, but it just freaks you out.”

Shimek wondered if Brantly Hall’s ghost might have smashed the window out of frustration at being portrayed on the tour.

Liston also has a story about the ghost of Brantly Hall.

When Liston’s office moved from Brantly’s third floor to the first, he first encountered the building concierge, who asked him if he wanted the light to turn on or off. Liston responded by turning off the light and joked that he didn’t want to attract ghosts from the basement.

“And he said, ‘oh you don’t have to worry about that, your new office is down the most haunted hallway here,” “Liston said.

The janitor told Liston that the ghost always enters the building through the hallway where her office is, and that she announces his presence by knocking on an old radiator.

At first, the stroke will start slowly.

But then it speeds up …


“And then it’s quiet – that’s when she told you she was here,” Liston said.

Although the famous ghost of Brantly Hall has made the hair on the back of people’s necks stand on end, those who work in the building claim that it is not a malicious spirit. In fact, she seems to be moving things around like she’s playing a joke.

One night, a janitor was finishing his evening shift on his own, vacuuming a corner room in Brantly, when he realized he had forgotten to lock some interior doors. He turned off the vacuum cleaner and left the room. By the time he returned, the void was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, the vacuum ignited in a nearby office.

The door was locked, so he tried to knock several times without success. Eventually, he unlocked the door and found it walking with no one inside the office.

“Sometimes she moves stuff around the Great Hall. She’ll take a trinket or something and move it and I’ll just know it’s somewhere else, ”Liston said.

But this ghost isn’t the only one that haunts Brantly Hall. There is also a ghost German Shepherd wandering the halls.

But the dog is anything but horrible. In fact, he’s been known to run towards people and wag his tail, but suddenly disappears when they bend down to pet him.

Main hall

The main lobby is also a paranormal hotspot on campus, but most of the action takes place in the basement.

Many characters have been spotted there, including a man wearing a red flannel shirt, a woman in Victorian attire, and another woman wearing frilly lace. The German Shepherd was also reportedly seen.

The man in the red flannel is most often seen walking through the locked basement vault, through the hallway to enter the men’s restroom, and then disappearing after entering a stall.

One evening, a building janitor was cleaning the men’s bathroom when a woman in Victorian attire entered. He turned and informed her that this was not the women’s room until she disappeared into a supply closet.

Another janitor met another woman in frilly lace, who was walking with her down the hall. She could only see it in her peripheral vision.

The janitor told Liston that the unknown figure was driving her so mad that she started shouting in the hallway: “You are not walking with me tonight!” Despite his efforts to repel the spirit, he still accompanied her almost every night she worked.


The university’s campus consists of seemingly independent buildings, but the reality is that they are all connected underground via a sprawling tunnel system that transfers heat from the steam to every corner of the campus.

Tunnels have been a university tradition for years and some students in the past have managed to access them. Since the university has tightened security to prevent students from wandering around in the basement, it is largely only maintenance workers who roam the bowels of the campus.

“What we’ve always heard from the maintenance staff is that they would walk around here and see the guy in the red flannel shirt walking around the corner,” Liston said.

When the workers turned the corner to see where he could hide, he disappeared without a trace.

The German Shepherd is also a common sighting in the tunnels.

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