The Murray Hotel and other thoughts


Photo by RM Sabraw All Rights Reserved 2019

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.


About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Life, My photography, Places and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Murray Hotel and other thoughts

  1. 4brig says:

    I love your travelog tales. I also like the old hotels that have history to them.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Brig. This hotel is a keeper. It’s a bit crusty, if you know what I mean, but we always stay there when in this part of Montana. I understand from Wiki that the Sam Peckinpah suite has a view of the mountains, so it must be down the hall from the corner room we had and AWAY from the train tracks.

  2. Lue Perrine says:

    Ohhh how scary! Bloody Sam’s ghost 👻 is roaming around there!!!! 😳
    I would any day take Mr. Coffee’s ghost over! 🤣
    Looks like an absolutely fun place to stay for sure! Hotel Murray! 😄😀
    Keep having fun guys!
    Wonderful, amusing & captivating writing Cheri! I actually turned my T.V. off for the enjoyment of reading your blog! 👍

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Lue, I’m taking a note from you and John, who continue to explore and have fun together. When you visit this area of Montana, by Yellowstone, you can stay at the Murray. Maybe you will see a ghost.

  3. shoreacres says:

    This is my kind of hotel. I laughed at the ear plugs. When I stayed in the old BNSF bunkhouse in Kansas for several night, there were fast freights that went by several times a day: perhaps twice an hour. I was about a hundred feet from the tracks (I never can estimate distance) and I never heard them at night. Not once. It made me so mad that I’d often stay up late just to wait for one to come by.

    You’ve brought back memories of the hotel I stayed at in Elko, Nevada, too. that would have been roughly 1990. There was a restaurant nearby, and it was filled with boots and hats when I walked in. We got on ok, though. I wish I’d been a little more confident in those days. There were a lot of interesting conversations I didn’t have — and a few that I did.

    • Cheri says:

      I know what you mean about being more confident. I have no problem listening to the stories of strangers. My husband, having listened to lots of tall tales and miserable yarns, isn’t as keen. Thus, just when I have made headway into the whys and wheres, he signals the outs.

  4. henatayeb says:

    You write so beautifully. Thanks for sharing your observations, if I ever find myself in Livingston, Montana I know where to go.

  5. wkkortas says:

    Great storytelling is a rare art. Bravo to you, as always, dearest Cheri.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s