Does telling creepy tales around the campfire sound like a perfect night out? Is scaring yourself silly your idea of a good time? Well, the Midwest is home to some pretty spooky ghost stories, but wait until you read about this terrifying monster.
Late at night, O.V. White was asleep in his room over the hardware store. He was startled awake by a strange sound, like a wood file rubbing against another. Grabbing his gun, he darted to the window. He threw it open and peered out into the rainy darkness. As his eyes adjusted, he saw a dark figure. It was perched on the cross arm of the telephone pole, about 15 feet away. But it didn’t have the light that the others had talked about. He aimed carefully and fired. Instead of killing it, he only seemed to wake the monster. It turned on its light and studied him. A strange, awful odor overtook him, and he felt like he was being held in some sort of trance.
Sidney Gregg was asleep in his store. He awoke after hearing a gunshot that came from across the street. He rushed to the door and stared at the creature descending from the telephone pole. Using its large beak in the same way a caged bird climbs around, it made its way down the pole. When it got to the ground, it flapped its featherless wings. It was at least 8 feet tall, and the light on its head was as bright as an electric bulb. The creature flapped its wings again and hopped up and down.
As it did at the same time every night, the mail train passed through town. The sudden noise seemed to surprise the monster, and it flew away, in the direction of the coal mine.
There is, of course, more to this story. Are you brave enough to find out about this monster and the other chilling creatures that have been seen in the Heartland?
In their book Monsters of the Midwest, paranormal investigators Jessica Freeburg and Natalie Fowler share reportedly true accounts of the strangest, most bizarre sightings of Big Foot, werewolves, and other monsters. Their collection of stories is sure to keep you up at night. Try to remember: That noise you hear… it’s probably just the wind.
About the authors: Jessica Freeburg is the founder of Ghost Stories Ink (a group of authors and illustrators who go on ghost hunts for creative inspiration) and has performed paranormal investigations at a variety of reportedly haunted locations. She has written YA fiction, middle grade narrative nonfiction, and short stories for children and adults. Jessica lives in Lakeville, MN. Natalie Fowler does freelance editorial work and writes her own stories. She is a staff editor for Fate Magazine and is a paranormal investigator for Ghost Stories Ink. Natalie lives in Saint Paul, MN.
This tale is an excerpt from the Van Meter Mystery.
Just across the Inner Harbor is Fort McHenry, the object of the battle immortalized in Francis Scott Key’s The Star-Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem. A symbol of freedom when it prevented British invasion during the War of 1812, the fort came to represent oppression to many pro-South Marylanders when the Federal government occupied it and used it to help maintain its grip over the local area during the Civil War.
With such history and passions associated with Fort McHenry, it should not be too surprising that it has also long had a reputation for being one of the most haunted sites in a very haunted city. Over the years, all sorts of paranormal activities have been reported at Fort McHenry, including sightings of spectral figures on its earthen ramparts, disembodied voices, footsteps in empty areas, spots of unnatural cold, and furniture that levitates and otherwise moves around. Some investigators have even postulated that the fort’s shape—that of a five-pointed star—has some occult significance and might play a role in the preponderance of supernatural events that have occurred here.
A number of specific ghost stories have also been associated with the site and recounted in numerous articles, television shows, and Internet postings. One of these involves the ghost of U.S. Army Lieutenant Levi Clagett, who, along with some of his men, was killed when a bomb burst not in the air but in their gun emplacement. Numerous people have seen both a spectral figure and a man dressed in a uniform appropriate to the period, walking along the top of the star point sometimes known as “Clagett’s Bastion” at times when no costumed people were present in the fort.
Another named ghost associated with the site is that of Private John Drew, a soldier who was reportedly confined in one of the fort’s cells after he was caught sleeping while on guard duty and who, in shame, killed himself. His specter has been seen both in his cell and on the ramparts where he walked his last post, forever trying to correct the mistake that ended his military career and his life.
Some of the most dramatic paranormal events at the fort involve attacks on people by what has been variously described as a woman, a white figure, and an invisible entity that has reportedly done such things as push some people down stairs and knock others unconscious. Some believe this spirit is that of the wife of a noncommissioned officer assigned to the fort whose children died during an epidemic in the 1820s.
One ghosthunting group that recently visited the site is the Maryland Tri-State Paranormal. Founder Ana Bruder told me that while they were there, her friend Laura suddenly said, “I feel like I am being watched.” Ana, who is sensitive to the presence of spirits, turned and saw the ghost of a uniformed soldier staring at her friend, just one of several spirits she detected while at the site.
Managers of Fort McHenry Decline to Comment on Supernatural Phenomena Reported by Visitors
Numerous other ghost stories and episodes of paranormal activity have also been associated with the site. Many of the accounts of ghostly activity at Fort McHenry were originally reported by park rangers assigned to the site, and that remained the case up until a couple of decades ago. Today, however, in what they say is an effort to keep the site from being regarded as a “haunted fort” and to instead emphasize the non-supernatural history of the National Monument and Historic Shrine, the managers of Fort McHenry decline to directly comment on phenomena that are still regularly reported by visitors.
Potential ghosthunters should also expect to have anything they ask to do at the site be curtailed by red tape. A favored tactic at Fort McHenry is to require application of a “special use permit” for anything its managers don’t really want people to do—the major exception to this being, it would seem, historic reenactment, for which the site has become a virtual playground. The important thing to remember is that the site is public property and that very little of what is involved in most investigations should actually require any sort of permission anyway.
For more haunted stories from the Old Line State, check out Ghosthunting Maryland by Michael J. Varhola and Michael H. Varhola.
By Balou46 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Natalie Litofsky (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Junglerot56 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFt M
Ghosthunting Colorado—The Latest Book in the Popular America’s Haunted Road Trip Series—Soon in a Store Near You!
We are celebrating the release of Ghosthunting Colorado by Kailyn Lamb with aGIVEAWAY,but, first, here’s more about this new ghostly book. Welcome to colorful Colorado, home of ghostly hotels, city parks, and, of course, some of the best mountain viewing around.
Author Kailyn Lamb looks at locations throughout the state and dives headfirst into the history behind the ghosts and what has made them stay.
The eyes of paranormal enthusiasts have long been on the Centennial State due to the fame that Stephen King’s The Shining brought to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The Stanley, however, is not the only haunted hotel in Colorado. Multiple inns and hotels (some of them brothels) in Denver alone have histories as sites of deaths that make their victims decide to stay in their beloved rooms forever.
Ghosthunting Colorado is the latest book in the popular America’s Haunted Road Trip Series. The guide covers 30 haunted locations in Colorado. Each site includes a combination of history, haunted lore and phenomena, and practical visitation information.
About the author: Kailyn Lamb holds a degree in journalism from Mississippi State University. She has always had a fascination with otherworldly things; she devours horror movies, Stephen King novels, and ghost stories as often as she can. Kailyn lives in Denver, CO.
About the series: America’s Haunted Road Trip is a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles 30 haunted places that are open to the public. The author visits each place, from inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, interviewing people who live and work there. Also included are travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of many more places that the reader can visit.
Five Spiritual Apparitions Reported at the Benson Hotel in Portland
While most purportedly haunted locations in the Portland area are home to a single ghost or type of haunting, the Benson Hotel reportedly houses five spiritual apparitions, each similar in description and related activity.
People have reported numerous ghosts in the Benson Hotel, and many guests check in hoping to meet one of them face-to-face. Paranormal experiences have occurred throughout, with ghosts seen wearing anything from formal attire to lumberjack clothing. An employee was setting the tables for a banquet when the ghost of Benson entered the room and then just as quickly exited into the wine storage area, vanishing before her eyes. Shaken, she nervously finished her job as quickly as possible, glancing over her shoulder to make sure she was still alone in the room.
Other employees claim to have seen the ghost of Benson in one of the meeting areas, standing quietly and attentively in the back of the room as an important meeting commenced.
Is the Ghost of Jimi Hendrix Experience Drummer John Ronald “Mitch” Mitchell Haunting the Benson Hotel?
Another popular ghost at the Benson Hotel is that of a young boy, around the age of 3 or 4, who witnesses describe as thin and with short, light brown hair. Some local psychics have said that it is the ghost of Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer John Ronald “Mitch” Mitchell, who died at the Benson Hotel in 2008. Mitchell was a famous child actor in England before embarking on a career in rock and roll, and the psychics believe he remains at the Benson as the child version of himself. While anything may be possible in the afterlife, this does beg the question as to why this young boy has been seen at the hotel for decades whereas Mitchell died in 2008.
One guest who was in Portland on business checked into a room on the seventh floor of the Benson Hotel. She was in bed and growing weary of the movie on television, so she turned off the set and checked her cell phone one last time for any messages from her family before turning in. Then, when she rolled over, she came face-to-face with a little boy who stood at the side of her bed. She estimated the child to be about 3 years old, and as a mother with a son the same age, her instinct was to reach out to him. She touched his arm, and for a moment it felt solid and warm. She recalled thinking that the little boy could not possibly be a ghost because he was not cold, and from all that she had seen on television, ghosts were cold. As she thought about this and watched the little boy, he unexpectedly jumped at her face, assuming a scary expression. Startled, but not really frightened, she covered her head for a moment, thinking the boy might be simply playing a game with her. When she peeked out from the covers, the boy was still there. Again she touched him, and again he quickly made a scary face. This time the guest carefully positioned the blanket in front of her face so she would not have to see the boy again and, after a few minutes, assumed he was gone. Then she felt movement on the blankets at the bottom of the bed. Spooked by what she had just experienced, she did not look to see what the movement was.
When she checked out of the hotel the next morning, the woman asked the desk clerk if anyone else had ever described anything like she had experienced the night before. She was not surprised to hear that others had seen the little boy, although the desk clerk told her that most of those sightings had occurred on the 12th floor.
Some Benson Hotel Ghosts are Friendly and Helpful
Although they have a sense of humor, some of the Benson Hotel ghosts are friendly and helpful. Another guest, one with a disability, was having difficulty getting into bed one night when a porter appeared in front of her and gently assisted her into bed. When she turned to thank him for his kindness, however, he vanished before her eyes. No one has been able to describe well what the porter looks like, perhaps because he helps and vanishes so quickly, but he is known to assist guests in rooms when they need a helping hand.
The Lady in White is another helpful ghost. When she is not checking on guests, she wanders the floors and admires the decor. The Lady in Blue is the ghost of a middle-aged woman who has been seen wearing a turquoise dress and bright red rings. She is a different form of apparition than the others, however, and people have reported seeing her only as a reflection in a lobby mirror looking back at them.
If you are looking for a beautiful and mysterious place to spend a night or two in the Portland area, check into the Benson Hotel, which has everything and more that you would expect from a fine luxury hotel. The rooms are not inexpensive, but they are not grossly overpriced either. Spend some time in the gym, enjoy dinner at the London Grill, and relax in your room with a few friendly ghosts.
Donna Stewart’s book Ghosthunting Oregoncovers more than 30 haunted places throughout the Beaver State, all of them open to the public.
Kailyn Lamb, author of Ghosthunting Colorado, visited to see for herself. Here is an excerpt from her story about the hauntings going on at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Colorado is home to a section of the majestic Rocky Mountains and, as a result, some of the best hiking and skiing in the country. Just a half hour west of Denver, in Morrison, lies Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, a personal favorite on my list of places to visit in the state. With its amphitheater built into the surrounding rocks, the venue is best known for concerts; the Beatles, U2, and the Grateful Dead are just a few of the hundreds that have graced the stage. Although the amphitheater did not open in its current form until July 1941, people have been using the area for concerts since the early 1900s.
It seems that the natural beauty of Red Rocks calls to more than just fitness junkies and music lovers. There is, in fact, a spirit in the surrounding area that does not seem to mind the hustle and bustle of the popular venue. Aptly named the Hatchet Lady of Red Rocks, she is only one of the ghosts that haunt Red Rocks Park, the 640-acre area that includes the amphitheater and hiking trails, but her story seems to make her one of the more popular ones. This is probably because her apparition is that of a headless woman who may have been murdered in the area and who appears to couples getting a little too frisky in the shadows of the rocks. Another theory is that she is the ghost of a woman who homesteaded in the area that became Red Rocks. Known as “Old Mrs. Johnson,” she would allegedly pull a coat over her head and swing a hatchet to scare away her daughters’ suitors. One of the trails at Red Rocks leads to an old graveyard where people think the woman may be buried. People have been known to stay in the graveyard at night to try to hear or see her. Other theories involve a homeless woman living in the area in the 1950s or a woman living in a cave, which has been fenced off to prevent people from exploring the area. This version of the story says the woman kills children that come too close to the cave and hides their bodies and severed limbs in the surrounding area. Supposedly, the ghost of the Hatchet Lady was upset when Hoyt began planning and building the area for the stage, and some say she may have interfered with construction as well.
The attire of a second Red Rocks ghost marks him as the specter of an old miner, and many people claim to have seen his apparition, which is clear enough that those who have can provide great detail about his appearance. He supposedly stands 5 feet 5 inches tall, has a long white beard, wears a brown hat, holds a bottle in his hand, and is mostly seen in the restricted areas of the stage. Outside of his appearance and seemingly unpleasant demeanor, not much is known about this ghost or why he haunts the area. His story does seem to lack the color of a blood-soaked headless woman wielding a bloody hatchet.
There have also been sightings of Indian spirits dressed in traditional ceremonial attire, and some of these sightings report the ghosts doing ceremonial dances.
One building in the park that has seen a lot of ghostly activity is the Trading Post, originally called the Indian Trading Post when it opened in 1931. The first caretaker actually lived in the basement, but it was later converted into a storage area. Inside, Indian wares that were provided by the Denver Art Museum were sold. The current building still functions as a gift shop, with a small coffee café inside as well. The Denver Channel did a two-part story on the building in 2009 after several employees revealed their belief that the building was haunted.
Red Rocks Amphiteatre happens to be one of my all-time favorite places in the world. While I cannot admit to personally experiencing any ghostly activity there, I can say that there certainly is a magic about the place, and many people talk about the spiritual feeling that is almost tangible at the site.
My recommendation is this: No matter how you feel about ghosts, this should always be a stop when visiting Colorado. You do not even need the excuse of a concert to go there, although I highly recommend doing that too.
About the author: Kailyn Lamb looks at locations throughout the state and dives head first into the history behind the ghosts and what makes them stay.
Join her in investigating the history of some of Colorado’s most haunted locations, and you might find more than gold in those hills. Pre-order your copy NOW.
Since my childhood, I have seen and felt ghosts and restless spirits. Through my many experiences with the supernatural and paranormal realms, I have interacted with powerful beings of light, faced encounters with beings from the dark side, and seen ghosts from every walk of life. I run into ghosts in many places, and they all have a story to tell.
I share my experiences in my books, and I also teach through my school, The Academy of Mystical Arts and Spiritual Sciences, where I show people how to become more intuitive, how to connect with the other side, how to sense negative energy in a home or building, and, more importantly, how to discern whether the energy can be removed and cleansed or whether it is best left alone.
Over the past decade, I’ve seen a rise in paranormal activity, which is connected to the veil between the earth plane and the spiritual realms lifting at this time. I believe that a conscious evolution is occurring on the mind, body, and spirit level; as this evolution continues, and with this energetic shift, I believe that many people will connect with their intuitive abilities and be able to communicate with the spirit world, including with ghosts, which have remained on the earth plane.
In my books, I share what I see and sense when entering a haunted building. My journey in North Carolina begins in the coastal wetlands of East Carolina where I explore haunted lighthouses, battleships, forts, and the shipwrecked beaches where Blackbeard and his pirates still roam. Next, I tour the Piedmont area of the state to visit the most actively haunted capitol in the U.S. and interact with the ghost of a former North Carolina governor. Wrapping up this journey
I head out west into the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the ghost known as the Pink Lady and her friends await your presence at the historic Grove Park Inn, where many presidents, celebrities, and ghosts have stayed over the decades. Don’t even get me started with everything I experienced in New Orleans—that’s why it took me an entire book to share some of the most captivating and haunting stories in the city!
I’ve learned a lot over the years of interacting with the spirit world, and not every encounter has been smooth. I once lived in a haunted house where the ghosts weren’t friendly or ready to move on into the light. I learned about what the spirit world can do first-hand, and it was a very powerful lesson.
Here’s what happened…
In my early 20s, I was looking to rent a house and came across a listing that sounded perfect. I met the owner, who led me to the back of the property where the house was located. It was a charming little cottage with a spiral staircase leading to the bedrooms on the second floor, exposed brick walls, and hardwood floors. I fell in love—quickly–and like other times when I’ve fallen in love, I stopped thinking and became blind to everything else around me.
For a brief moment, I thought I felt something supernatural inside the house. But in my excitement, I quickly dismissed it. The owner said he had other people who were scheduled to look at the house later that day. Worried that someone else would grab this gem of a house, I signed a contract and the deal was done.
As I unpacked, I chatted on the phone, inviting friends to come over to see my new place. The days passed by peacefully, until I woke up one night with the feeling that someone was inside. Terrified, I walked from room to room with a baseball bat in hand, ready to club anyone I saw. I found nothing undisturbed and chalked it up to being in a new house, which always has strange sounds until you get used to it.
On Friday evening, my friends arrived to celebrate my new home. We were downstairs enjoying a glass of wine when the noise began. We heard music from what sounded like an old scratchy record begin to play and the sound of heavy boots and someone in high heels clicking as they danced on the hardwood floor in my upstairs bedroom. My friends and I looked at each other in shock as we listened to the unmistakable sounds coming from upstairs. Gathering our courage, we crept up the stairs to see who was up in my room, but when we entered the bedroom and turned on the light, no one was there.
We searched several times, thinking someone was playing a joke on us. Once we would calm down and go back downstairs, the music would start again. This became a regular occurrence every Friday night and was apparent that this was a ghost haunting the home. At first, it was almost endearing—two sweethearts, locked in an embrace from the past, dancing together. I thought the ghosts were a time loop, like a tape that played over and over. Soon after, my theory was proven wrong, as the energy in the house began to change.
I discovered that while I was welcome here, men were not, and there was a definite “other-worldly presence” in the house that was growing more and more active. My boyfriend and I began to quarrel. I got blamed for things I hadn’t done. He’d accuse me of moving his things or hiding them. One day, he yelled and said that I had pushed him while he was in the shower washing his hair. I was downstairs at the time in the kitchen cooking, and when he realized there was no way I could have pushed him, he couldn’t live with the rationalization that something else might be in the house that he had no control over, so we broke up. I also began to notice that even when male friends came over to visit, they quickly grew agitated and angry after only being in the house for a short visit.
Chatting with the neighbors, I learned that no one had lived in the house for years before me. It had been empty for so long that the spirit who was living here had grown weak and dormant. Once I moved in and had people over, it began to pull energy from everyone who entered it; while it was fine with me living there, it would not tolerate another man in the home.
Having seen what the spirit world can do, I knew not to stay and hope that things would change. I could now clearly feel the energy of this spirit, and it was not interested in crossing over to the other side or finding peace. I called the owner and said, “I want to break my lease and move.” When he asked why, I told him about the angry spirit. I didn’t expect him to believe me, but to my surprise, he let me out of the lease.
He explained that shortly after moving into the home, he and his wife began to fight. Before six months had passed, they were engaged in a bitter divorce. They had learned that a main house had stood in the front of the property and had mysteriously burned down. The cottage where I was now living was the original servant’s quarters located in the back section of the property.
The present owner had never understood why he was so angry when he and his wife lived there and why they had fought so much in the home. He later rented the house out to his niece; six months later, she and her husband also divorced. The house had stood empty until I moved in; within six months, the relationship I had been in had dissolved too.
My ability to explain the presence in the house allowed him to finally understand what was going on. We parted ways with him wondering if he would ever rent the place out again. I don’t know if he did rent the cottage out again, but I heard through the grapevine that the house caught fire several years later and that the damage was so severe that the house was torn down.
For my part, I learned a valuable lesson: Always check the energy in a house before you live in it, no matter how much you love the décor and style. That’s probably good advice for most things in life.
About the author: Kala Ambrose is “Your Travel Guide to the Other Side.” An award-winning author, spiritual teacher, motivational speaker, host of the “Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show” and practical intuitive coach and guide, Kala’s teachings are described as empowering and inspiring. Author of five books, including The Awakened Psychic, she has taught thousands how to connect with their soul paths and create lives and careers that are balanced and in tune with their life purposes and goals. Study online with Kala through her school, The Academy of Mystical Arts & Spiritual Sciences and visit her website. Explore Your Spirit with Kala http://www.ExploreYourSpirit.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/KalaAmbrose Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kala.ambrose
Molly Brown House Museum—A Story Not Soaked in Gore
A story by Kailyn Lamb, the author of the next book in the America’s Haunted Roadtrip Series Ghosthunting Colorado
Not all haunted spaces have their stories soaked in gore, violence, and death. The Molly Brown House Museum, which is possibly haunted by its namesake, provides a good example of this.
Margaret “Molly” Brown did many notable things in her life—the most famous of which was surviving the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912. Arguably one of Colorado’s most beloved celebrities, she left her mark on the Mile High City in many ways. Better known for her unofficial nickname, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” she inspired both a musical and later a film starting Debbie Reynolds in the ’60s. According to one of the Molly Brown House Museum’s tour guides, Catherine Trumpis, the fiery and passionate woman never went by Molly in her lifetime, just Margaret or Maggie. Impressions she left on the world go beyond her sense of spirit, her activism, and the tragedy of the Titanic. Her house, now a historic landmark and museum, may hold her ghost as well.
She was born Margaret Tobin in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1867. She would later wed James Joseph “J.J.” Brown in 1886. Margaret was 19 when they were married, and J.J. was 32. They had two children while living in Leadville, Lawrence and Catherine. They purchased the house for $30,000, the equivalent today of about $833,300.
Once the Browns had settled into their new home in Capitol Hill, Margaret started throwing parties to take part in the higher society that Denver offered. Allegedly, J.J. did not approve of these parties and would spend all his time during them in his study smoking cigars.
Although no one has been allowed to smoke in any area of the house for several years, guests of the museum’s daily tours have noticed the odor of cigars, specifically on the second floor where J.J.’s study was. It should also be noted that while J.J. and Margaret’s mother, Johanna Collins Tobin, enjoyed smoking, Margaret herself did not, saying it smoked up the house and that she did not like the smell. In 1910, she converted J.J.’s smoking parlor where he entertained guests into a library.
A big reason Margaret was able to convert J.J.’s parlor was because the couple had separated in 1909. The couple never formally divorced due to their religion, but they never reconciled either. After Margaret separated from J.J., she began to travel the world. Aside from her house on Pennsylvania Street in Denver, she had homes in Lakewood, Colorado, and Newport, Rhode Island, and an apartment in New York City. She was in Cairo, Egypt, with her daughter during one of her many trips abroad when she received a telegram from her son, Larry, saying her first grandchild was very ill. She decided to head back to the United States on the first vessel on which she could obtain passage: the Titanic.
Most know the background of the sinking of the Titanic, and some even know Margaret’s role aboard it, as a result of James Cameron’s 1997 film, in which actress Kathy Bates played this chapter’s heroine. When Margaret discovered the chaos above deck while the ship was sinking on April 14, 1912, she immediately took control. She began ushering people onto lifeboats and, according to Trumpis, did not get on one herself until forced by some of the ship’s crewmen.
Some accounts say that as people in the lifeboats watched the Titanic crack and finally sink, several passengers jumped from the sinking ship into the frozen waters below. Where accounts differ is whether or not Margaret had the men rowing her lifeboat go to help those people. While there is no record of whether Margaret was able to save any people in the water, many attribute the “unsinkable” part of her nickname to her brave attempt. Once the ship had sunk and the survivors were picked up by RMS Carpathia, Margaret was put in charge of the survivors’ committee on the trip back to New York. She was picked for several reasons: People were able to relate to her spiritually as a Catholic in their time of grief, and she was fluent in English, German, Russian, and French. Upon her return to New York, reporters asked why she did not sink with the Titanic, and Margaret is reported to have answered, “Hell, I’m unsinkable.” The rest, as they say, is history.
In the Absence of Violence, the Molly Brown House Museum has Acquired the Ghost of a Fiery, Strong Woman
Margaret’s amazing story continues from there. She volunteered as a nurse with the Red Cross in 1917 during World War I, which earned her a French Legion of Honor medal. One of the other notable things that she did in her life was to help create a juvenile court system in Colorado. She also ran for a seat in the senate three times, all before women had the right to vote, and she was one of the first women to do so, with a campaign that promoted domestic rights for women and children. She also acted on the stage in London and Paris.
During tours of the Molly Brown House Museum, guests can walk through almost the entire home, with the exception of the third floor, where she used to throw parties. Several of the hauntings, though, actually occur on the second floor of the house, including the aforementioned cigar smoke smell from J.J.’s study. Another common episode involves a rocking chair that sits in what used to be Margaret’s room, which several people claim to have seen rocking back and forth of its own accord. Daily tours take place approximately every 30 minutes during the museum’s operating hours. The museum also hosts special exhibits pertaining to Margaret’s history, as well as special Halloween tours—called Victorian Horrors—and other holiday events. Guests of tours have also claimed to see apparitions that looked exactly like portraits of Margaret that are found throughout the house. One guest even claims that the ghost of Margaret kindly, albeit silently, pointed her in the direction of the bathroom.
There have been independent psychics who have visited the museum who claim that Mrs. Brown’s mother, Johanna Tobin, roams the second floor, that J.J. smokes cigars in the back hallway, and that a maid is dusting the library shelves.
In the absence of violence, the Molly Brown House Museum has acquired the ghost of a fiery, strong woman—and maybe the occasional sign of disapproval from her husband. But her presence does beg the question of what makes her stay. Maybe she feels as if her work of fighting for the rights of others is not yet over. More than likely, of course, we will never know.
About the author: Kailyn Lamb looks at locations throughout the state and dives head first into the history behind the ghosts and what makes them stay.
Join her in investigating the history of some of Colorado’s most haunted locations, and you might find more than gold in those hills.
Pre-order your copy NOW.
If music can, indeed, calm the hearts of wild animals, might it not also calm the restless spirits of those who have died and wander the earth as ghosts? John Kachuba, author of Ghosthunting Ohio cannot think of any better place to find the answer to that question than at Cincinnati Music Hall.
Built in 1878, the redbrick Victorian Gothic structure rises majestically on the corner of 14th and Elm streets. Central Parkway runs parallel to the rear of the building now, but when Music Hall first opened its doors, that thoroughfare was actually the Miami Canal. Designed by a local architectural firm, the edifice is eccentric, with its garrets, turrets, gables, insets, nooks, broken surfaces and planes, and ornate rose window. Some witty Cincinnatians have dubbed the style “Sauerbraten Byzantine.”
The building is located upon the site where the tin-roofed wooden Sangerhalle once stood, a hall built by a German immigrant singing society, the Saengerbund, for its May Festivals. But there is also a more somber atmosphere associated with other former occupants of the site. The present Music Hall rests upon the foundations of the 1844 Orphan Asylum. Before that, it was the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum with its Pest House, a section for the indigent with contagious diseases. A potter’s field also occupied the site, the final resting place for suicides and strangers, the indigent and homeless of Cincinnati, as well as those who died in the Pest House. These unfortunates were buried without the benefit of coffins; they were simply bundled up and dropped into the earth. Over the years, there have been many renovations to Music Hall and human bones have often been unearthed during construction.
The famous Cincinnati journalist Lafcadio Hearn wrote about one such discovery in the October 22, 1876, edition of the Cincinnati Commercial:
“This rich yellow soil, fat with the human flesh and bone and brain it has devoured, is being disemboweled by a hundred spades and forced to exhibit its ghastly secrets to the sun…you will behold small Golgothas—mingled with piles of skulls, loose vertebrae, fibulas, tibias and the great curving bones of the thigh…All are yellow, like the cannibal clay which denuded them of their fleshly masks…Bone after bone…is turned over with a scientific application of kicks…dirty fingers are poked into empty eyesockets…ribs crack in pitiful remonstrance to reckless feet; and tobacco juice is carelessly squirted among the decaying skulls…by night there come medical students to steal the poor skulls.”
Hearn reported that the dead began to make themselves known to the living just shortly after these macabre discoveries were made. Shadowy figures roamed the halls at night, and ghostly dancers were seen in the ballroom on the second floor. One exhibitor at a business fair in Music Hall saw a young, pale woman in old-fashioned clothing standing by his booth. As he approached her, he felt a sudden rush of cold air as the figure became transparent then disappeared. Hearn wrote: “The tall woman had been sepulchered under the yellow clay below the planking upon which he stood; and the worms had formed the wedding-rings of Death about her fingers half a century before.”
Half a dozen skeletons were unearthed by workers in 1927, placed in a cement crypt and reburied, only to be discovered again during a renovation in 1969. The bones were placed inside another concrete box and reburied—and uncovered in 1988 for the third time when the shaft for the concert hall’s freight elevator was deepened. It seems the dead at Music Hall simply cannot rest in peace. Pieces, yes, but peace? No.
When my wife, Mary, and I lived in the Cincinnati area, we attended several performances of various kinds at Music Hall, but that was before we had ever heard the ghost stories, and we had never been behind the scenes. We were lucky enough, however, on a recent Valentine’s Day, to have a tour of Music Hall led by Marie Gallagher, a volunteer there for 25 years. It was a public tour, and we were joined by approximately two dozen people who were interested in seeing the grand old building. We gathered in the Main Foyer, with its checkerboard marble floor and graceful columns.
Marie knew every nook and cranny of Music Hall and regaled us with tales and anecdotes about some of the famous people who had performed there—John Philip Sousa, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Jascha Heifitz, Maria Callas, Andres Segovia, Luciano Pavarotti, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan; the list is endless.
The heart and soul of Music Hall is the 3,630-seat Springer Auditorium. Marie led us up into the gallery where we could look down at the burgundy colored seats and the stage. Even though larger than most concert halls, the acoustics in Springer Auditorium are said to be the best in the country, if not the world. Ed Vignale, Jr., Music Hall’s facilities engineer, told me in a later conversation that a person standing in the gallery of the empty auditorium could hear someone speaking from behind the stage as though he or she were only 20 feet away from the listener. Could it be that such perfect acoustics are the explanation for some of the ghostly sounds heard at Music Hall?
“I hear them when I’m on duty alone at night,” says Kitty Love, who has been part of the private police force at Music Hall for 21 years. “Footsteps, doors slamming, and music playing, and I know I was the only one in the building.”
Kitty has heard the footsteps and slamming doors in the stage area of Springer Auditorium and in other parts of the building’s south side, the side that was built over the cemetery.
As our tour group stood in the gallery of the auditorium, gazing out at the magnificent 1,500-pound crystal chandelier suspended from the dome ceiling and its Arthur Thompson oil painting, “Allegory of the Arts,” I thought of what Kitty had said and took a few pictures with my digital camera. (Later, when I download the images to my computer, I will find three beautiful but unexplainable orbs floating in the otherwise clear air above the gallery.)
Marie continued to lead us on the tour—the enormous backstage area with its vertiginous catwalks barely distinguishable in the darkness high above us, the massive workshop where stage sets and props are built, the costume room with its many rows of outfits of every description hung around and above us like an enormous dry cleaner, the dressing rooms that resembled high school locker rooms, and the more luxuriously appointed dressing rooms of the stars.
When the tour concluded back in the Main Foyer, Marie took us aside privately and brought us back into an office area. In this section was a freight elevator, the very elevator beneath which a small casket of bones from the old cemetery was uncovered.
“I haven’t seen or heard anything unusual in Music Hall and I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Marie, “but this is where a security guard said he heard strange music. He was so impressed by what he heard, he wrote it all down.”
She handed me a file folder containing a photocopy of security guard John G. Engst’s handwritten account of what he experienced on February 22, 1987. In it he tells how he was escorting three caterers from a party held in Music Hall’s Corbett Tower down to the first floor in the elevator. It was about 12:30 a.m. As they descended, the three women asked him if he heard music. He said he did not, but they asked him again when they reached the first floor and this time he said he had heard it. The women told John they had heard the same music when they went up to Corbett Tower a few hours earlier but didn’t think much of it then.
After the women loaded their truck and drove away, John went back to the elevator. The music, sounding something like a music box, continued to play a tune that John thought he recognized as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” John stopped the elevator at different levels to see if the music would still be audible. It was. He wrote, “It was as beautiful as ever, but I’m getting more bewildered.”
John checked all the areas outside the elevator at the various levels but could not find any source for the music. He was so frightened and awed by his experiences that he wrote, “For nearly two weeks I could not approach the elevator shaft on the first floor late at night without my whole body tingling.”
In the final analysis, however, the experience was an affirming, life-altering one for John Engst. He wrote: “The experience is now all positive and will be forever, I now believe. I pray more intensely, don’t fear death and am glad to have had this profound experience.”
Kitty Love has heard similar ghostly music at Music Hall but in different locations from the freight elevator. “You hear music playing somewhere late at night when you know no one is there, but when you get there, you find it coming from some other place. You go to that place and then you hear it coming from yet another place.”
Ed Vignale said a musical greeting card had been found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, but that didn’t convince Engst that there was a rational explanation for the music he heard. Maybe John is right. Those greeting cards don’t usually last very long nor do they play continuously. Once opened they play only a few seconds before they must be closed and reopened to play again. Could a card have been heard continuously for several hours? And what about the ethereal music Kitty heard in other parts of Music Hall? Are there ghosts roaming Music Hall?
Even though Ed Vignale said that he has never seen nor heard spirits in the 34 years he has worked at Music Hall, he admits that some people have told him of seeing men and women dressed in late-19th-century clothing walking through the halls of the building. Other people have said that sometimes an extra unknown “cast member” may appear in an operatic production or that unusual looking figures may appear among the audience.
“There is definitely something strange going on here,” Ed said. “In all the time I’ve worked here, I’ve only seen two mice and one rat in the building, very unusual for a building of this size and age.” Ed went on to say that during a 1967 production at Music Hall called wild Animal Cargo, two baby snakes, a python and boa constrictor, somehow disappeared and were never found. The show left town without them and Music Hall was left with a unique system of rodent extermination.
How long do those snakes live anyway? One can only hope that, if they are still alive, those creatures have long ago been tamed by the musical charms of Cincinnati Music Hall’s resident spirits.
In the late 1800s, Edward Leedskalnin left his Latvian home and came to North America. The love of his life, 16-year-old Hermine Lusis, had jilted him on the eve of their wedding because she had decided that, at 26, he was too old for her and too weird. Brokenhearted and dejected, he turned his back on Latvia to build a new life across the Atlantic.
After several years of wandering across Canada and the United States, he contracted tuberculosis and came to Florida for his health, buying a small acreage in Florida City, a few miles south of Homestead. There, in 1923, he began building Rock Gate Park, using massive blocks of coral to fashion huge tables, chairs, couches, fountains, and pillars. Coral weighs 125 pounds per cubic foot and is difficult to work with. Leedskalnin was 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds, and yet he was able to extract coral from the ground, carve it into a myriad of shapes—like a 3-ton table in the shape of Florida—and move the objects around the grounds of the park. He worked at night, in secrecy, with no help, using the most fundamental of tools.
Coral Castle is built using 235 tons of coral
In 1937, with development threatening the peace and quiet of Rock Gate Park, he moved his creations north to a 10-acre plot of ground near Homestead. Neighbors saw him transporting his sculptures on a heavy trailer pulled by a borrowed tractor, but no one ever saw how he loaded them. In this new location, Edward built what he called the Coral Castle, a two-story tower house using 235 tons of coral. The gate to his sanctuary was made of 9 tons of coral and was so perfectly balanced that it could be opened with one finger.
As he had earlier, he worked at night, in secrecy, and no one ever saw how he managed to extract the gigantic blocks of coral from the ground, carve them, and lift them into position. Some believed he had supernatural help. Some thought he used witchcraft. The fact is that, even though he had only a fourth-grade education, he studied physics, astronomy, and geology throughout his life and was an outstanding engineer.
He died in 1951 from cancer, but some believe that Edward stayed on at his beloved Coral Castle. Several psychics claim to have conversed with him; many feel the powerful energy that exudes from the place. One visitor took pictures, which, when developed, showed figures that were not there when he snapped the photos. Whether or not Coral Castle is haunted may still be open to question, but its construction will forever be shrouded in mystery.
Ready to visit Coral Castle? Check out the website for information.
You may think that Florida is all about Mickey Mouse; however, in his book Ghosthunting Florida, author Dave Lapham proves that the state is fertile ground for entities even more fantastic than a talking mouse. The book is a spine-tingling trip through Florida’s small towns and lively cities, its historic sites and fun spots, all of them haunted.
Picture by Christina Rutz [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Times Square draws people in this life and the afterlife
The most famous spot in New York City has to be Times Square. It’s appeared in countless movies, such as Big, I Am Legend, and Jerry McGuire. Certainly everyone recognizes it as the place to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. In fact, Web cams make it possible to view this legendary location from anywhere in the world all year long.
Times Square draws people from all over the globe, in this life and the afterlife. Case in point: Two Royal Air Force pilots who appeared mysteriously on the corner of 45th Street in Times Square during World War II. They asked Harvard graduate Oswald Reinsen, who was standing next to them on the corner, whether they were in Times Square. He confirmed their location, then began to cross the street. They followed him. Noticing the pilots’ uniforms and their English accents, Reinsen struck up a conversation with them. They told him how determined they were to visit Times Square. Reinsen noticed they kept a close eye on the time, checking their watches habitually every 10 minutes or so. After walking several blocks, Reinsen reached his destination, the Harvard Club. He invited the RAF men to join him, and they gladly accepted.
They enjoyed dinner and “spirited” conversation; all the while, the two RAF men kept checking the time on their watches. Just before midnight, they explained that it had been close to 24 hours since their planes had been shot down over Berlin. As they rose from their seats, they thanked Reinsen for the meal and proceeded toward the exit. Reinsen watched, dumbfounded, as they got lost in the crowd and vanished from view.
The story of a crisis apparition on Times Square
That story may be the most extensive and intense example ever of a crisis apparition. A typical crisis apparition occurs immediately after death. The newly deceased person, without the trappings of his corporeal being, “makes the rounds” by showing up to loved ones as a final farewell. Here’s how a crisis apparition works: You answer the doorbell, and there’s your Uncle Ted. You’re excited to see him and invite him in. Knowing how sick he’s been with cancer, you can’t believe how great he looks and that he is out and about. You make him comfortable on the couch and dash off to the kitchen to make him a cup of tea. All the while you’re chatting at 1,000 words a minute and not realizing Uncle Ted isn’t responding. You come back to the living room with his cup of tea, and he is gone. As you call out for him, the telephone rings. You answer the phone, and your Aunt Betty says that Uncle Ted just died.
Most crisis apparitions appear as solid as you and I. Some may speak, but that’s rare. As an example of how solid they can appear, I know of a woman who bumped into the crisis apparition of her father.
She worked in New York City, and her demanding job had her rushing from one meeting to the next. While she was racing to pick up a sandwich and head to the next meeting, she was checking messages on her cell phone. Someone bumped into her, and when she looked up from her phone long enough to give the person a nasty look, she saw her father. He waved to her and vanished in the crowd. She wondered why her father was in New York City, but she continued to rush to her meeting, figuring she’d see him back at her office later. She had enough time to inhale her sandwich, shut off her cell phone, and sit down for the start of the meeting.
After the meeting, she checked her messages and heard a heartbreaking one from her mother that said, “Daddy had a heart attack. He’s dead. I need you to come home right away.” Once home, she learned that her father had died around the time she bumped into him on the street. He had come to New York to wave a final good-bye.
In her book Ghosthunting New York City, L’Aura Hladik visits more than 30 legendary haunted places, all of which are open to the public—so you can test your own ghosthunting skills, if you dare.