The Butte-Silver Bow Archives is a treasure trove of artifacts from these famous mining towns. Even the building itself is a relic—originally the Quartz Street Fire Station built in 1900, it was the fire chief’s headquarters until the 1970s.
The two-story brick building with its four garage bays housed 22 men and the fire chief. Since 1981, the building has been home to the Archives—a living testament to the region’s history. There are many documents; personal artifacts including jewelry, mining tools, and clothing; family heirlooms donated to the Archives; and many old photographs, newspapers, and other documents. But according to many local legends and even some of the staff who work at the Archives, this building holds many relics of the ghostly kind as well.
Shain Wolstein has worked at the Archives since 2001, but didn’t know anything about the ghosts there until his second day of work. “I was down in our basement,” Wolstein said, “and we’ve got these old fire bells that are physically disconnected, but they tend to just go off at random times. Finally, I came upstairs and asked about them and my boss just said, ‘Don’t worry about it—it’s fine.’
Sure enough, she finally told me that they go off all of the time and it’s our cue to get out of the basement, that they [the ghosts] just don’t want us there at that particular time.” Wolstein may have started the job a bit of skeptic, but he’s a believer now. He says he experiences something unexplained almost every day. Some supernatural events were as simple as seeing a darting shadow out of the corner of his eye, but others were a bit more significant, such as doors opening and closing on their own, hearing disconnected telephones ringing, phantom footsteps, and murmuring voices. But one strange event repeated itself every single day.
Wolstein said, “Every morning I’d come in, and on my desk I’d have this picture of one of our ex-mayors. It was hanging on the wall, and my desk was probably about four or five feet away from it. Well, this picture would be on my desk every morning for about a year. Finally, one time I was here late at night because we were doing a film project, and I actually saw the picture fly off the wall about five feet away, and land on my desk.” Up to this point, Wolstein had experienced a lot of strange phenomena, but he had never seen any of the spirits present in the old fire house. That changed on Halloween of 2002.
He said, “I decided to come in the building late—it was probably 11:30 p.m.—and right away I could hear Rocky Mountains 165 what sounded like people running up our stairs. I was with one other person and I had a digital camera, so I was taking a lot of pictures and I didn’t turn the light on. So that kind of freaked me out. I went back outside for a second, and as I came back in, there was the fire chief who had died here in 1915 after falling from the back of the truck and suffering a brain hemorrhage that killed him.”
The chief isn’t the only ghost spotted inside. People have also seen old miners who may still be drawn to their old tools or heirlooms, a woman in period dress, and a man in the reading room who vanishes when you take a second look. Certainly all of the items in the Archives hold a lot of memories for the region and for the people who owned them long ago.
Written By —Jeff Belanger Founder, Ghostvillage.com
BUTTE-SILVER BOW ARCHIVES
17 WEST QUARTZ STREET
BUTTE, MONTANA 59701
TEL: 1 (406) 782-3280
WEBSITE: www.co.silverbow.mt.us/ archives.htm
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