The Judith River Ranger Station has a homey ambiance where the past is everywhere. Some lucky guests have experienced this firsthand.
In the summer of 2009, a crew of six archaeologists, students, and volunteers excavated a portion of the long-abandoned mining camp of nearby Yogotown. The Judith Ranger Station served as headquarters for the crew. My husband Mark and daughter Katie were project volunteers. They, along with director Chris Merritt of the University of Montana, took the upstairs bedrooms while the rest of the crew camped nearby. The weather on the first night was hot and very still.
Mark awakened to the sounds of breakfast cooking in the kitchen downstairs. He could hear banter between the kitchen and the dining room, someone chopping something on the cutting board, and bacon or sausage sizzling. Mark thought it must be about 6 AM, and almost time to get up. Then he fell asleep again. He awakened sometime later to utter silence. It was still pitch dark, and so he knew it was not time to get up. Suddenly it struck him that with all that activity downstairs, there were no cooking smells. He began to worry that maybe some animal had gotten into the house. So he got the flashlight and looked at the time. It was 3:30. He tried to get Katie to go with him to check, but she wouldn’t get up. He went downstairs and found nothing amiss, so he returned to bed and both he and Katie went back to sleep.
Katie awakened a while later. The night had been hot and stuffy, but a cloud of cold air seemed to surround her. She lay there shivering in the deep quiet. Then she heard a very loud rhythmic creaking, like someone was coming up the stairs. The next morning, Mark asked if anyone had been up in the night. Everyone said they had slept soundly. Then as they all milled around waiting for breakfast, someone sat down in the living room rocking chair. It creaked loudly, and Katie suddenly realized that she had not heard footsteps on the stairs, but rather the rocking chair’s distinctive creak.