Exploring the Unknown

Ismay, MT

Background and History:

Ismay is a long forgotten town in what is today the least populated area of the US.

In the early 1900’s, The US Government and Corporate Railroad companies thought it was in their best interest these lands become settled.  They played on the desires of people in the eastern United States and Europe who dreamed of becoming landowners.  In 1909, the Enlarged Homestead Act was passed, giving 320 acres to those who agreed to farm it.  People flocked.  Lured by advertisements and brochures circulated by the railroads with misleading photos and language, they came from England, Russia, Scandanavia, Germany, Poland, as well as everywhere in the US east of the Mississippi, all in the hopes of living The American Dream.  The advertisements showed photos of lush farmettes and talked about eastern Montana’s “tropical” weather.  As the people moved in, many towns began to arise.  Ismay was one of those towns.

It didn’t take them long to realize they had all been duped. Eastern Montana was a desert. The land could not support the hopeful settlers who had uprooted their lives and moved in to make a living off of it. There was no lush farmland; no tropical weather.  Betrayed and exploited, they left.  Less then 2 decades after the settlement of this area of the United States, it was again barren and abandoned.

Today, driving in Ismay is akin to driving back in time.  Many of the settler’s homes and buildings they put up remain, some having to be held up by cables to avoid tipping over.   It also seems, some of it’s old residents remain as well….

Investigators Present:

Scott and Vicky

Equipment Used:

2 Sony Digital Audio Recorders, Sony Handycam, Nikon Single Lens Reflex (SLR) digital camera, and a Canon SLR digital camera.


Investigators, Scott and Vicky explored the ghost town of Ismay, MT on June 8th, 2011 at aproximately 5:00pm.  Digital recordings were taken from inside of an abandoned house that had been stripped of its interior by years of weathering.  Crumbling ceilings, missing floorboards, and a Robin’s nest constructed in a kitchen wall joist describes the setting.  Video footage was taken while exploring the outsides of other buildings, such as the town’s original post office, a farmer stockgrower state bank, a caving in building that may have possibly served as a school or saloon, and a shack-like shelter with an engraved sign that read, “Ryan Clothing Millinary and Maternity, Mother of Patty Ryan.”  Digital photos were captured of the town and can be viewed in the Photo Gallery on our Home Page.

Evidence Captured:

Note – Headphones are recommended when listening to EVP sound samples.  Spirits do not speak at the same frequency we do.

“Something behind you.”:  Caught in broken down house pictured above.  Scott is asking why Ismay became a ghost town.  Scott asks, “Was it because the railroad left?”  After birds are heard in the backround, a clear male voice is heard.

“Lucky you.”:  Scott, speaking of Ismay’s heyday, states, “Maybe it could become popular again.”  A deep voice responds sarcastically, “Lucky you.”  After that, two loud whispers scream “Bad! Bad, man!”

“When I was a stirrup boy…”:  Scott is taking pictures.  Scott asks if they had ever had their pictures taken, knowing obviously cameras were not too common in 1909.  Scott is heard “If you have, it was probably quite a while ago, huh?”  A whisper responds.  What sounds to be an old man, with possibly an English accent, says what sounds like, “Had to a few times.  When I was a stirrup boy…when I was eight or nine years old.”  In England, young sons who grew up in well-to-do countryside families were often referred to as “stirrup boys.”  Again, a high percentage of the people in Ismay were emigrants from Europe.

“Mary, smile.”:  Scott is taking pictures.  His camera’s shutter can be heard clicking.  Soon after, a whisper says, “Mary, Smile.”  (Note – Scotts footsteps can be heard in clip and are easily discernable.)

“Mary Tebeau.”:  A rarity for EVPs!  An actual response to a request for a name.  Scott is heard asking for a name.  A whisper replies softly at first, “Mary.”  It then continues, louder, and sounds like “Mary Tebeau.”  Research has confirmed there was indeed a Mary Tebeau who died in Montana in 1929, when Ismay was already on it’s way to becoming a ghost town.  We have been unable to confirm she ever lived in Ismay, however.  Research continues on this matter.




Building which appears to be a former saloon or possibly a general store.   Research shows in later years it was used as a gathering hall for the Knights of Columbus.







Abandoned home of the mother of Paddy Ryan, World Champion Cowboy of 1924.



Photo of Paddy Ryan.  Dated July 11, 1930.

(c) University of Alberta




Audio evidence captured at the site does lead us to believe, at the very least, that further investigation is warranted in Isamy.  EVPs, although lesser in number and in quality then other sites, do seemingly demonstrate a level of intelligence,  such as aswering questions, offering up names confirmed by research, and some even seemingly having English accents.  The MPI Network looks forward to returning to Ismay for continuing investigations, and research remains ongoing regarding information derived from evidence gathered at this site.


One response

  1. Lillie Mueller

    My grandfather was one of the homesteaders that got duped into Ismay. He was killed by a run away horse in 1918 when his foot got caught in the stirrup. He has laid in an unmarked grave in Ismay all these many years. I don’t know where they are getting these pictures of existing buildings because all that remained about twenty years ago when I was there was part of the school that my mother had gone to and the church where my grandfathers funeral had been held.

    June 24, 2016 at 3:58 pm

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