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Closer to home, this week’s spooky tales come from a city about an hour from Joplin. It was fun to spend a day photographing haunted locations and to take an evening ghost tour of a castle.
The castle proved so interesting that I’ll do a separate post to adequately highlight all the spooky happenings there. Check out all five of the locations I visited for Ghost Stories from Springfield MO.
Currently the third largest city in Missouri, the Springfield area originally was home to Native American tribes that included Kickapoo, Osage and Lenape. The first European settlers arrived in 1829, from Tennessee.
John Polk Campbell later donated land from his property for Springfield’s public square and he platted the town site. Springfield incorporated in 1878, with the nickname of “Queen City of the Ozarks”.
The city held strategic importance during the Civil War, with Springfield’s divided loyalty between the North and the South. On August 10, 1861, Union and Confederate troops fought for control of the city in the Battle of Wilson Creek. Considered a Confederate victory, the battle saw the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed during the war.
Today, with a population of more than 170,000, Springfield is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the state. Their historic downtown is enjoying a resurgence and the city’s lively culture includes theaters, art, music, dance and opera.
With her turbulent history that includes the forced relocation of Native peoples, Civil War battles and racial violence, there are plenty of locations within Springfield that classify as haunted.
Bride Ghost of Phelps Grove Park Bridge
This 31 acre park, established in 1931, is situated in a beautiful older neighborhood in Springfield. Once part of the Phelps homestead, the original 1,050 acres belonged to the founding “father” and “mother” of Springfield, John and Mary Phelps. John, a Missouri congressman and the 23rd Governor of Missouri, and his wife Mary aided and educated orphans during and after the Civil War.
At the entrance to the park, visitors cross over an old fieldstone bridge that arches over a drainage canal. Legend has it that on their wedding night, a couple crossed the bridge in their carriage. The horse bolted, causing the carriage to flip over the railing of the bridge. The carriage landed upside down, killing the newlyweds.
People claim to see a woman near or under the bridge, dressed in a flowing white wedding gown. She appears forlorn. And some report that her face is missing. The park and bridge are popular sites for paranormal investigations and abnormal energy readings.
Drury University Ghosts
Drury University opened its doors to 39 students in 1873. Over the years, the campus expanded as did the student body. Today the 40 acre campus includes many academic buildings…and more than a few ghosts.
Drury University occupies land that once served as Native American burial grounds. Later the Civil War raged around it. And Smith Hall, a women’s dormitory, is built on the site of a row of Victorian homes. A little girl, caught in a fire that caused her demise, lived in one of those homes. Her ghost lingers. Dressed in pink, the ghostly girl wanders the hallways, looking for her teddy bear.
Other students in the same hall report locked doors and dresser drawers opening and objects out of place in their rooms.
In Clara Thompson Hall, students report pianos that play by themselves and doors that slam closed. And in Wilhoit Theatre flickering lights move about the building when no one is inside.
Restless Spirits at Landers Theatre
This pretty terra cotta building, built in 1909, has been in continuous use since its completion. It began life as a playhouse and later became one of the first “talkie” motion picture theaters. After major renovations in the 1980s, Landers Theatre today hosts plays, musicals, ballets, symphonies and other artistic performances.
It is also home to restless spirits.
One of the most frequently seen ghosts is a janitor who died in the theatre during a fire in 1920. The janitor hangs out in the balcony, claim the actors who see him from the stage. Others report experiencing another ghost, a baby who accidentally fell from the upper balcony. They hear the fall repeatedly, on a loop. Or hear the baby crying, followed by comforting sounds from the baby’s ghost mother.
Above the stage, a vaudeville stagehand hanged himself from the rigging. His ghost haunts the catwalks.
Another ghost peeks from a fourth floor window, watching passersby walking along Walnut Street. This spirit, a man with long blond hair and wearing Elizabethan clothing, is never spotted from inside the theatre…only by people outside the building.
Permanent Guest at Walnut Street Inn
This pretty bed and breakfast at 900 E Walnut Street, built in the mid 1890s, has a permanent otherworldly guest. She claims the Rosen Room as hers. A man staying in the room looked up from where he reclined on the bed to see a woman sitting at a table against the wall.
“Excuse me,” he said. “This is my room!” The woman replied that it was her room…and disappeared.
Others report seeing the woman sitting on the edge of their beds. And people often feel a cold draft on the backs of their necks.
Activity appeared to increase in the inn after a 1998 renovation. If you dare, you can make a reservation HERE. Would I? Yes! In fact, I hope to stay there soon.
I only recently learned that Springfield has a castle! Image my excitement to discover that it offers year around ghost tours.
Pythian Castle, constructed in 1913, originally housed older members of the Knights of Pythias and their widows and orphans. Later the military purchased the castle and used it as a prisoner of war camp during WWII and a place to rehabilitate burned and injured US troops. It is now privately owned and available for special events and history and ghost tours.
At least 100 deaths occurred within the castle. Causes of death range from diseases such as tuberculosis to accidents to suicide. Many spirits haunt Pythian Castle.
Ghosts include children who speak to and play pranks on visitors, Mr. Boots who lurks in a tunnel in the basement, the spirits of soldiers and shadow people. Several paranormal investigators have captured audio and video evidence of the hauntings at the castle, including the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures crew.
Tours last 90 minutes and include a very interesting and informative video. If you live in the area or pass through Springfield, stop for a tour. Info HERE.
Does your city offer ghost tours?
I learned a lot of Springfield history while checking out these haunted locations in the city. In fact, that’s one of my favorite reasons for participating in a ghost tour or creating my own version of one…learning the oft times hidden history of a place.
It’s fun to explore historical cities, such as Washington DC, and learn about their local ghosts and legends. However, small towns and perhaps YOUR hometown have their own spooky tales as well.
You can read Joplin’s ghost stories. And I’d love to learn about your city’s ghost tales as well. Share a spooky story in the comments below.
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