We’ve stayed at the Murray in Livingston, Montana, many times.
Its Art Deco sign and sparkly marquis are the jewelry that this 1904 structure wears in hopes that modern travelers on the their way to Yellowstone National Park will be drawn to its sparkles.
On the other side of Park Street, to the left of the Cafe sign, is a rather earthy bar, which attracts locals and tourists alike, who are in varying states of inebriation.
The music pounds into the late evenings but is overcome by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains that rumble by about 75-yards from the Murray at 1-2 hour intervals all day and all night. The hotel even provides ear plugs.
Our room this trip was on the 4th floor by the H, so we had a corner view of the railroad tracks, the grain elevator up the street, and the Masonic Hall across the way. When I woke up to the sound of the train’s horn blowing as if it were trying to shoo people off the tracks, I saw the red neon of the H and thought to myself, ” How charming.”
If you cannot walk up four flights of stairs several times a day, you might want to stay in a generic hotel by the interstate because the elevator, circa 1904, has to be operated by one of the people who man the desk.
The floors creak, the shower is hot but not really, the furnishings are worn but the experience is the best.
I went down to the bar after a long day of hiking around with my husband to secure some ice teas. A glassy-eyed woman with her Bloody Mary seemed amused that I was ordering such baby drinks and sidled over to me on a bar stool.
” How do you like your room?,” she asked.
” I like it,” I replied, watching the bartender squeeze a lemon into our teas.
” You do know this hotel is haunted, right?” she slurred.
” I do know that but disappointingly, I have never seen a ghost here.”
On my way up four flights of stairs with ice teas in my hands, I ruminated on the concept of ghosts.
That night, as my sweetie slept like a dead one and I like a live-wire, I wondered if Sam Peckinpah might appear. After all, he spent 4-6 years living in the Murray.
Finally, I fell asleep, oblivious to the trains, the bar below, or the pounding music.
And then, around 6:00 am, I heard a ghost, sputtering and grinding.
I sat up like a conductor whose track is blocked by a car.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“Just me, Mr. Coffee,” the pot mumbled.