The Old Prison Museum Complex

The Old Prison Museum Complex is located in Deer Lodge, Montana. We hope to get a chance to interact with you, answer questions and post current events that are happening here at the Old Prison Museum Complex. Feel free to post comments or ask questions!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wondering why we haven't updated our blog in a while?
Well we have, it's just that we now have a NEW BLOG!!
You can find our new blog at
Click on the link and come on over and see what we've been up to recently.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Things Are Hot At The Old Prison Museum Complex

The summer heat is affecting everyone and we are no exception. Even in Montana things tend to get a bit hot and many of us are dreaming of the cold, snowy winter ahead. Ahhh...sweet relief!

All of our museums are buzzing with activity and I personally love to hear two things from our visitor's. I absolutely glow with pride when visitor's exit the Montana Auto Museum and approach our front desk and say "wow, that is such an impressive car collection. I've never seen anything like it. I never knew"! And my usual response is "Thank you, we do have an impressive collection and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. In fact USA Today listed The Montana Auto Museum as one of the Top 10 Must See car museums in the U.S. Please tell all of your friends and family about us and tell them to visit"! And the next thing I loooove hearing is "Is your prison haunted, it was so scary out there!" Of course I never pass up the chance to delve into a bit of history with our visitor's, telling them that 28,000 plus inmates passed through these walls and many things happened in prison, so wouldn't it make sense that something was still out there?" That statement usually brings about another round of discussion about the history of our beautiful prison, the inmates who served time here and the many men and women who worked behind these walls. It is absolutely great to share a bit of history with our visitor's, while leaving a question in their minds..."is the prison really haunted?".

A special "Thank You" goes out to the Washington Paranormal Groups who recently did a weekend investigation at the Old Prison Museum Complex. WSPIR, A.P.A.R.T., S.P.I.R.I.T. and the West Coast Ghost Hunters traveled many miles and hours, at their own expense to investigate the prison. I am breathlessly awaiting their results, but the tidbits that have been shared with me so far have been verrrry interesting! EVP's, video's and pictures have captured something out of the normal, so I'll share this information with everyone as soon as I have all the findings.

In the meantime, stay cool, drink plenty of fluids and be sure to put The Old Prison Museum Complex on your vacation agenda! We are the Museum Capital of Montana!

Business Manager

Saturday, April 08, 2006

If The Walls Could Talk

If the walls could talk, what would they tell us? As I was walking down the east corridor of the cell house last Friday night, I asked myself that question. It was about 2:00 a.m., the building was in complete darkness, except for some distant street lights, and the silence was deafening. The paranormal investigator's were quietly going about their work, snapping photo's and video-taping in "the hole". About midway down the corridor, I stopped and gazed to the top of the cellhouse. Looking at each tier, I could almost see the inmate's inside their cell's, arms hanging out, talking with each other or to themselves. I could hear distant shout's of voice's, perhaps projecting feelings of anger, agony or fear. I glanced over at the catwalk high above me and pictured a correctional officer, walking along ever so confident and whistling to himself. Did they feel no fear at those heights? Did they ever look down and feel that sudden rush of adrenaline when they realized where they were? As questions raced through my mind, I was awestruck with the building surrounding me. I wasn't standing in the middle of a mall or grocery store, I was standing in the middle of history.

As I continued my walk down the east corridor of the 1912 Cellhouse, I glanced over at the walls and realized all the answers lie within. If only the walls could talk, we would get a never-ending history lesson.

West Coast Ghost Hunters Complete Investigations

The crew from the West Coast Ghost Hunter's spent two nights investigating our prison. Perhaps when someone thinks of ghosthunter's they flash back to the famous movie "Ghost Buster's" starring Bill Murray. Well, this group of individual's did not arrive wearing proton packs and funky suits, but they came very well prepared. They had studied the history of our prison and many key individuals and they were certainly well-versed on what had happened within our walls. And for that we are most appreciative. Spending two nights investigating the many area's of our prison, they gathered pictures, video's and tape recordings of literally every inch of our prison. At last count, they took over 3000 digital pictures within the walls, so all of this information is still being looked at. We will share the findings with you as soon as everything has been reviewed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Paranormal Investigations Planned

We are excited about the upcoming paranormal investigations that are planned here at the Old Montana Prison. Last year, TSI, a group from Missoula, Montana came in and did 2 seperate investigations. You can read about those results here

On March 30th, April 1st and 2nd, the West Coast Ghost Hunters will arrive to conduct another investigation. Spanning over the course of several nights, this group will study different area's of the prison for any sign of paranormal activity. Through the use of camera's, recorders, alarms, sensors and video equipment they will seek to capture evidence that something still exists in our prison.

On April 14th and 15th, TSI will return for another investigation. On an interesting note, this time frame earmarks the 47th anniversary of the 1959 riot, where the take-over finally ended by a bazooka blast to the cellhouse and a murder-suicide by the ring leaders. Do you think the anniversary of a bloody riot will stir up any paranormal activity in our prison walls? Time will tell...

The results of these investigations will be posted here so check back often to view the results.

Is Our Prison Haunted?

Many times throughout the year we are asked this question. While we can't give a definite answer, we can say this. Our prison was in operation from 1871 until 1979. The Old Montana Prison saw ten's of thousands of inmate's for every crime imaginable. Many bad things happen in prison, from planned executions to murder, riots, assaults of all types and general mayhem. These walls have seen it all and if they could talk we would be told of a saga of shocking and epic proportions.

Every emotion known to mankind has penetrated every inch of this prison. Is it unreasonable to think that perhaps something is left over here? When the inmates left this prison, for whatever reason, they left behind a part of themselves, so perhaps a part of that still lives on inside the walls of the Old Montana Prison.

It's something to think about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Busy Times At The Old Prison Museum Complex

The staff at the Old Prison Museum Complex have been busy preparing for the upcoming season. The Montana Auto Museum is the scene of a lot of activity. We are preparing for the arrival of several beautiful cars, which will make any car buff drool with excitement. We recently received a lip smacking black cherry 1970 Chevelle Super Sport! This car has been newly restored and is absolutely breath-taking. We will also be displaying a Corvette Concept Car in the window of our museum which will be an awesome sight to behold.

A lot of work goes into the Montana Auto Museum. Cars must be moved and re-arranged to make room for more and it's not an easy task. Imagine having to move a row of 10 cars in a tight space to make room for one more! Each move of the car is carefully planned out and when it comes time to move the cars, all of the players come together like a well choreographed ballet. Everyone knows their part and their moves and the cars are treated like newborn babies. It really is a sight to behold and we hope everyone appreciates the beauty of these cars as we do.

Be sure to plan on stopping by the Montana Auto Museum if you are anywhere near Deer Lodge, Montana. The Montana Auto Museum was listed by USA Today as one of the top 10 car museums in the US! We are proud of that distinction and everyone works hard to make the museum top-notch.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Powell County Museum And Arts Foundation Receives Grant

The Deer Lodge Women's Club recently presented the Powell County Museum And Arts Foundation with a $500.00 grant. The money will be used towards the development and presentation of the "Women Behind Bar's" display. Approximately 200 women were incarcerated at the Old Montana Prison and our plans are to develop a photo and historical display recounting this history.

Receiving the grant on behalf of the Powell County Museum And Arts Foundation is John O'Donnell, Museum Director. The staff, Board Of Directors and supporters of the Powell County Museum And Arts Foundation sincerely appreciate and thank the Deer Lodge Women's Club for their generosity!


The staff at the Old Prison Museum Complex welcomes you! The Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation operates The Old Prison Museum Complex. Our museums include the Old Prison Museum, our historial 1871 territorial prison, Montana Auto Museum, Yesterday's Playthings, a doll and toy museum, Frontier Montana, a cowboy collectible and saloon museum, and the Powell County Museum, a local history museum. Please feel free to visit our website at Powell County Museum And Arts Foundation and enjoy a bit of Montana's history!

Feel free to post any comments or ask questions of our museums or the local area. Have you visited us before? Then let us know about your experience! Do you plan to visit and need more information? Then let us know what we can do to help.

We also plan on posting the current events here at the Old Prison Museum Complex. This includes what we are doing on a day to day basis, big projects planned for the future, events that are planned in our area and much more!

Thanks for checking us out!

Old Prison Museum Complex