Lobby photo courtesy of the Pollard Hotel
Pollard Hotel, Red Lodge, Montana
The Pollard Hotel was built in 1893, the first brick building in the bustling coal-mining town of Red Lodge. Known at first as the Spofford Hotel, its guests included frontierman Liver Eatin' Johnson as well as Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane. The elegantly-refurbished Pollard now draws tourists from all over the world who brave the Beartooth Highway on the way to Yellowstone National Park. In winter, skiers come to enjoy some of Montana's best powder snow at nearby Red Lodge Mountain.
"George," one of the Pollard's ghosts, may have been a guest who never checked out. He is described as an older pot-bellied man in 1920's "plus-four" trousers who has been seen on the main stairs and in the bar, pouring himself a cup of coffee. He looks solid and seems quite at home, but vanishes when he realizes he's been seen. George likes to tinker with electrical devices and is credited with setting off all the smoke alarms at once and causing all the telephones to ring at the same time.
The fragrance of a fine French perfume has been noticed on the second floor and is attributed to the spirit of a lady in Victorian dress who is sometimes accompanied by a small boy. Her identity is unknown. In 2004, several guests were quietly talking in the atrium when they saw what they described as a "shimmer in the air." It passed them by, leaving a strong scent of shaving lotion in its wake.
In July 2011 I stayed in Room 210, where George's presence has often been felt by housekeeping staff. My key card wouldn't work, so after a frustrating couple of minutes I decided to go back down to the desk for a new card. As soon as I turned away, however, the door unlocked itself. When I entered, the room felt occupied, as if someone was standing in a corner, hoping not to be noticed. No one was there.
After supper, I returned to the room, which now smelled like talcum powder. The smell was so strong that I began to cough. About ten seconds later, it dissipated. Perhaps I interrupted George in the middle of a haircut! George must have been a gentleman though because nothing further happened that night.
Read more about George and his ghostly friends in "The Guest Who Never Checked Out," in
Haunted Montana, available at fine book stores, at amazon.com and at riverbendpublishing.com