Introduction: The Tour Bus

Updated: Jan 15

Come along as the tour bus for Haunted Missoula Tours pulls up to its most haunted location, the Eddy Street Massacre House.

Missoula, MT, August 2005

“May I have your attention everybody? Alrighty then, we have arrived at our first and most important haunted destination- the Eddy Street Massacre House! I know I had a chance to talk with a few of you back at the depot, but for those of you I haven’t met yet, let me just say: Welcome to Missoula, Montana! And also thank you for making Haunted Missoula Tours a part of your travel plans. We’re pleased you could be with us here on this beautiful day to enjoy the best haunted tour in the whole Pacific Northwest!

“So, a little bit about me: my name is Ben Watson, and I might very well know more about the Eddy Street Massacre House than anyone else living. You see not only was I born here in Missoula, but this house was actually in our family for years and years, decades even. You see, my grandparents came to Montana in the thirties, bought this house, fixed it up, and lived in it for like forty years. My mom and all her brothers and sisters were born and raised here too, so I have been overhearing stories about this house since I was a kid.

“This place has always fascinated me in a really intense way and so, not surprisingly, it was strictly off-limits. The more I wanted to know about the house, the less my parents would tell me. So all the while while I was growing up, it just drove me nuts, so I decided that when I was old enough, I would find out the truth about this place for myself. Unfortunately, it was around that time that my family sold it, so I knew it would be difficult to ever get access to the property, especially after everything that happened a few years later.

“And guess who it was that my family so brilliantly decided to sell the house to? That’s right, Alexander Anderson, the man you probably know as the Green Beret Barber. It wasn’t that long after when he lost his mind and killed all those college kids. I was a teenager when that all happened, and I remember it vividly. Actually, the house I grew up in is only a block from here, so I probably saw a lot more of the aftermath than almost anybody.

“And just to give you a bit of an idea, this whole place was draped in yellow tape for like weeks, and there was a crazy amount of people just coming and going - I mean, there were police, reporters, investigators, rubber-neckers - I mean, it was nuts, and then it was all anyone talked about for like ever. Anyway, as soon as I turned 21, I applied for this job, and now I’m glad to say that I’ve been a tour guide with the company for two years.

“Anyway, when I’m not busy working on the bus, I’m generally busy going to grad school here at UM for English Literature, so you can safely say that I stay pretty darn busy most of the time. My dream is to one day get my doctorate and teach here just like both my parents do. UM is definitely a tradition in our family. And there’s no place I’d rather be.

“Alrighty then, enough about me. I know everyone’s eager to get off the bus and explore the house, but first we need to get to a few ground rules for when we’re on property here in a few minutes. First off, I need to check that the Release of Liability forms that I handed out at the depot are all signed, or else I can’t allow you to go off the bus and into the house. Okay, so just go ahead and take a moment to sign those if you haven’t and pass them up front.

“Alright, we’ll take a moment to get all of those handed in...Hmmm. Okay, it looks like everything is good, so let’s talk about what goes on once we’re inside. Right now, tour members are still able to explore and photograph any part of the main or upper levels, including the high turret bedroom, which used to be the master bedroom, but no one is allowed in the basement, shed, garage, or any of the outbuildings, not for any reason. So, basically, if it’s not in the main part of the house, it’s off-limits, and please just don’t go there. That’s the easy rule of thumb. And the basement door has a big sign, and is bolted shut, so you really can’t miss it. I will say that no one has ever ended up down there by accident, so don’t be the first.

“Anyway, for safety. we also use the buddy system, so first we will gather on the porch and then I will assign everyone to a group of four, and you must stay in your group. Very important! Okay, any questions about any of that so far? Alrighty, good. Now let’s talk about safety. Normally, the ghosts don’t interact much, so if you see something paranormal, please don’t try to provoke it to get a good picture. It’s just a bad idea.

“I mean, I’ve seen people trying to mess with the ghosts and I’m here to tell ya, it really is dangerous behavior. People have walked out of this house with bruises and scratches and sometimes even bite marks. One guy was almost pushed down the stairs. The ghosts and the other paranormal entities can definitely be unpredictable and sometimes even dangerous, so don’t take dumb chances.

“Anyhow, moving on, everyone also always wants to know about possession. This is a tough topic because no one really knows how it works. What I can say is that so far, we have not received any reports of possession from people who’ve been on the tour, so it’s probably not something you need to worry about. But if you do feel afraid for any reason, just raise your arms and I’ll come and escort you back to the bus. Just don’t scream, panic, or make a scene. The ghosts are drawn to noise and confusion. Okay, so those are some rules for the walking tour. Any questions so far? No? Not yet? Alright, but don’t be shy if you think of something, I’m here to help.

“Okay, I can see everyone is getting antsy. I know you’re all anxious to see a ghost, but before we start the walking tour, I’m gonna tell you about one of the many ghosts who haunts this property. This story is about the most frequently spotted ghost, and probably the most famous ghost in all of the Eddy Street Massacre House: the ghost in the high turret window. This ghost, as you may have heard, always appears in the same room, and has been clearly seen both during the day and night. If you do see him in the master bedroom, he might even follow you around until you leave the room, which is something I promise you’ll never forget! Definitely worth the $125 you paid to be here today, am I right?

“Anyway, back to my story, I mean there’s really just no way to know what ghost is who, but most people think that this particular ghost is the ghost of Dr. Oscar J. Craig. Dr. Craig was not only the first owner of this property, but he was also the first President of the University of Montana. He died in the high turret bedroom of natural causes, but before he died, and the house became the sad ruin you see before you today, it was once a very beautiful home. Hard to believe, I know, but some of that is also attributable to the age of the property.

“You see, construction on 228 Eddy Street began over a hundred years ago, way back in 1898. In fact, it was the first real luxury home of its kind to be built in this section of town. Back then, this area was just fields and trees, and of course, the river. If you listen closely, we are close enough to hear the Clark Fork River running. Now, if you’re a movie fan, like I am, you might be interested to know that it is the same section of river where they filmed a lot of the scenes for “A River Runs Through It.” We won’t be heading down there today, but while you’re visiting here in town, it’s definitely worth checking out!

“Anyway, back in 1898, the University of Montana, which is just a few blocks from here, was just a single building, five teachers, and a name that was more of an idea. Anyway, that is how Dr. Oscar J. Craig found it. Dr. Craig was a brilliant and driven man, and he was also very rich and powerful. While we know a lot about his work on campus; honestly, with regards to his personal life, we don’t know much at all. What we do know is that he was born in 1846 in Jefferson County, Indiana; and that, as a young man, he served as a private in the Civil War, where he did see some action. After the war, he returned home and, a few years later, he began a teaching career at Purdue University.

“After many years of teaching, it seems that Professor Craig was ready for a new challenge. At some point, he was offered the opportunity to come to Montana, and he jumped at the chance. That’s about all we know, for sure. Well, that’s not true, we also know that Professor Craig did not come from money, so chances are that he did not travel very much before joining the military. In contrast, the woman he married, Narcissa, came from a very wealthy family back in New Orleans. The couple never had any children. But they always had a dog, a schnauzer, who was always named Eddy. Not a coincidence, just so you know. Fun fact - that is why this street is called Eddy Street!

“But, anyway, as I said, the only clues we have about his life, and who he was as a person, remain tied to this house. From what we know, construction of this home began as a passion project, but ended up becoming a dangerous obsession. Eight workers died under strange circumstances while building him the first incarnation of his luxury dream home, but Dr. Craig would not be deterred from building the grandest and most beautiful house the Missoula Valley had ever seen, no matter what it cost.

“From the beginning, construction was riddled with problems, so much so that it had to be begun not once, but twice! And it also wasn’t long before rumors began to circulate around town that the site was haunted. From personal accounts and newspaper articles written at the time, eyewitnesses claimed that as soon as a new wall went up, the scratching would start. There were also claims that the scratching would follow certain workers, but not others. Other people who worked on the site reported being chased by dark shadows through empty corridors; and all of that is pretty chilling stuff, for sure.

“Anyhow, as you can imagine, this caused all kinds of problems with construction. Workers quit without notice and refused to return. It seems that a lot of people just couldn’t take the stress of working with ghosts in the walls. And I mean, you really can’t blame the quitters; but still even with the haunting, enough workers stayed on to keep the project moving forward. Times were hard back then, especially in winter, and I guess a good paycheck was hard to come by.

“Anyway, even after all that, once the house was finally, really completed Dr. Craig and his wife did not live in it for very long at all. Soon after moving in, Professor Craig began to complain of ill health. And, within a year, he retired from his position at the University of Montana. At the time, he had been President of UM for 13 years. But, within two years of retiring, and living in the house full-time, he was dead. His wife, Narcissa Craig, subsequently fled the house, saying she wanted nothing more to do with the property, or the town. Famously, she left Missoula right after her husband’s death. She pretty much went straight from the funeral to the train station.

“And, while her departure was quick, even more surprising was the fact that she left everything behind. All she took was a single suitcase, and she never came back; not for anything, even though a lot of valuable stuff was left in the house. 228 Eddy Street then sat abandoned for many years before the city finally took it over. And by then, the house had been vandalized so many times that there was practically nothing left. I gotta say, and as you can plainly see, it’s a really sad fate for such a beautiful house. And, not just beautiful, but a house that took ten years to build.

“Yep, you heard that right - ten years! I mean, even in 1900, people got houses built faster than that; especially when you’re talking about people like the Craigs, who could afford to just throw money at the project, no matter how many problems came up. But, even still, all that money couldn’t stop the whole works from burning to the ground in June of 1903. The fire happened just as the Craigs were getting ready to move in the first time. While the cause of the fire was never officially determined, it did claim the lives of two people, and the house itself was a total loss. It also took with it most of Narcissa’s prized antiques collection.

“Now, if you know anything at all about antiques, then you probably know that Narcissa Craig’s collection of antiques was famous. I mean, from what I understand, it pretty much included every expensive antique in the Western Hemisphere. So, it really is very ironic that this fabulous collection would be the most likely cause of the fire, right?

“Well, let me quickly tell you about these bizarre circumstances. You see, one of the people who died in the fire was a photographer who had been hired to photograph Narcissa’s collection while the house was just still newly finished. At the same time, a roofer was also finishing some work, and I guess it was assumed that the roofer’s work wouldn’t interfere with the photographer but, with this house, you really can’t take anything for granted.

“Anyway, the best theory out there is that there was an accident with the photographer’s flash powder. Now, in case any of you don’t know what flash powder is, it is what people used to light the flash in old-fashioned cameras. And, if you’ve ever seen one of those things in action, then you know that lighting flash powder is basically like lighting a torch. So, it’s kind of dangerous, but that’s how people used to do things. And generally speaking, a few stray sparks won’t burn down a giant house because, let’s be honest, if that were the case, there wouldn’t be any of us here.

“Anyhow, who knows if maybe it was all that fresh timber and maybe that’s like more flammable than old wood or just what happened; but, by all accounts, once the fire started, it consumed the whole house within minutes. One eyewitness said that it wasn’t just a fire, it was an inferno, like a complete explosion or something. So, long story short, the poor roofer never stood a chance. He fell to his death, and was completely consumed by the flames, which reached over fifty feet high. The photographer I’m sure probably died immediately too; but in any case, all that was ever found of him was one of the legs of his tripod.

“Yet, despite this awful tragedy, Professor Craig still persevered. He even began to take matters into his own hands. I mean, literally. On evenings and weekends, the President of the University, and the richest man in town, could be seen hammering away at these very walls in front of you. If the haunting or the ghost stories bothered him, he didn’t show it. And he certainly didn’t talk about it. Even so, the construction site continued to be riddled with every kind of problem, and several other lives were lost before the house was finally complete.

“Alrighty then, moving on, if you’re curious to know more about the original building site or the strange stories surrounding the deaths of the workers, I want to encourage you to pick up a copy of ‘The Ghosts of Eddy Street’ at the depot. It is a collection of photos and ghost stories that the owner has published about the house, and it is available for purchase for the low price of $29.99, so be sure to pick up a copy when we get back. I highly recommend it, and it really is the best souvenir from the tour that you can buy. Also, speaking of special offers, hold onto your ticket stubs because Break Espresso on Main offers a 10% discount to our tour members, and they are actually located just two blocks from the depot.

“Okay, enough about all that, I know that you are all eager to experience this terrifying property for yourselves. So, let’s go and see some ghosts! What do ya say? Okay? Alrighty! Grab your cameras and water bottles because it is time to experience the true heart of Haunted Missoula: the Eddy Street Massacre House! Now, everyone off the bus, and let’s all gather on the front porch so we can get organized into our groups. Also, please everyone remember to take all your valuables and personal belongings with you. Haunted Missoula Tours cannot be held responsible for any lost or missing items...”