Haunted Montana: Montana Territorial Prison (Deer Lodge, Montana)

First housing prisoners in 1871, the Montana Territorial Prison served as Montana’s correctional facility for more than a century before the current state prison was constructed outside of Deer Lodge in 1979. The old prison was known for its overcrowding and insufficient facilities. Early prison conditions made inmate life difficult, with poor food and not heating or cooling.

Several convicts and staff were killed at the prison during its use. Perhaps the most notorious episode in the prison’s lifespan was its 1959 riot, which led to the Montana National Guard being dispatched after Deputy Warden Ted Rothe was slain and several guards and inmates were taken hostage. The riot ended after an anti-tank bazooka and Thompson submachine gun were fired at Cellblock 1 (shown above), allowing National Guardsmen to rush the prison. In the chaos, riot ringleader Jerry Myles killed his accomplice, Lee Smart, before committing suicide.

Buildings at the prison remain scarred by the bazooka blasts and gunfire of the riot. But some say that the prison, which is now a museum, still houses some of its inmates. It’s claimed that the ghost of convicted murderer Paul Eitner, known as “Turkey Pete,” still haunts Cell No. 1. Eitner spent 49 years incarcerated at the prison before dying of natural causes in 1967. Other phenomena reported include strange sounds and people being touched.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s