If history proves anything, we like to feel that little bit of angst that comes with the word haunted. These 10 most haunted places in Missouri get, and deserve, a lot of attention. Did we really see or hear that? Is someone there? Or is it a figment of our overactive imagination?
We may never know, but plenty of stories on both sides of the debate keep us interested and wondering. Let’s look at the most haunted places in Missouri, a region rich in haunted history and paranormal encounters.
The Missouri State Penitentiary
The Missouri State Penitentiary is the oldest continuously operating prison west of the Mississippi River. It was decommissioned in 2004 after 168 years of operation. The penitentiary’s troublesome past earns it the nickname “The Bloodiest 46 acres in America.”
In 1954, the worst of three riots claimed the lives of four inmates and caused injury to 29 prison guards. The gas chamber used to execute 40 men and women prisoners is still there. A spirit affectionately named Fast Jack wanders the prison in a lab coat carrying a clipboard.
Visitors also encounter a female spirit in vintage clothing, several shadow people, and phantom cigarette smoke. It’s common to hear phantom footsteps, the sound of cell doors slamming, and disembodied voices. Still others have been bitten, clawed, and scratched.
History tours, ghost tours, hunts, and even overnight paranormal investigation opportunities are available. Missouri State Penitentiary, 115 Lafayette St, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
The Lemp Mansion
Beer baron William Lemp’s mansion sits atop a network of underground caves near Downtown St. Louis. Multiple suicides have occurred within the Lemp family, which some believe stems from a family curse. William Lemp and two of his sons committed suicide in different rooms at different times.
Visitors and overnight guests say that the spirits of all three remain in the mansion. Lemp’s wife, Julia, passed away in her bedroom. There are disturbing tales of an illegitimate son born with Down’s Syndrome who lived his entire life in the mansion’s attic. Strange sounds and disembodied voices wake overnight guests. Drawers open and close themselves, and objects in the house move randomly. Phantom horses are heard trotting along an outside road leading to an old carriage house.
Scheduled ghost tours and hunts are available. The mansion has a private event space, a restaurant, a bar, and a popular B&B. However, many B&B guests pack and leave before finishing their overnight stay. Visit the Lemp Mansion at 3322 DeMenil Place, St. Louis, MO 63118.
The Beattie Mansion
Armstrong and Eliza Beattie built their mansion in 1954. Beattie was the city’s first banker and five-term mayor. He died in 1878 from cholera. Eliza died two years later. The mansion’s history includes being a homeless shelter, an elderly care facility, and a group home.
In 2004, a couple bought the property, intending to renovate it into a B&B. Renovation crews routinely quit after experiencing disembodied voices, shadow figures, and full-body apparitions while trying to work.
Paranormal investigators have noticed a male ghost (Armstrong?) in the basement. He likes to surprise visitors, laughing as he makes his presence known. Eliza’s spirit roams the second-floor hallways. In addition, the spirit of a happy child laughs and plays throughout the mansion. Additional shadow figures and adult apparitions roam around the kitchen as if they are the kitchen help. Visit the Beattie Mansion at 1120 Main St, St. Joseph, MO 64501
The Jesse James Farm and Museum
Jesse and Frank James were born and raised on this farm by their mother, Zelda, and stepfather. Union troops savagely beat their stepfather here. More violence occurred when Pinkerton guards threw exploding flares into the family farmhouse. Those explosions cost Zelda an arm and killed Jesse’s half-brother.
Visitors to this location report hearing phantom horses and gunshots. Employees discuss an angry presence in the museum and hear disembodied voices, muffled cries, and whispers around the house and the farm.
Passersby report erratic light movement in the house and buildings after hours. The unexplained neighing of horses, hushed whispering of human voices, and footsteps rustling through the woods are common occurrences. Many believe that the spirits of Civil War soldiers or Pinkerton agents are here, gathering as they did years ago. The James Farm & Museum is open daily at 2126 Jesse James Farm Road, Kearney, MO, 64060.
The Elms Hotel & Spa
The Elms sits on 16 acres at 416 Regent Street in Excelsior Springs, MO. Al Capone and other gangsters frequented the hotel in the 1920s. Today, spirits in period dress frequent the popular European lap pool in the basement, sipping their speakeasy-served drinks.
In the pool, you may feel a child-like tug at your ankles or notice a well-dressed figure observing the scene at a dark corner table, sitting just as he was when his life ended. Reports of female spirits dressed in white and uniformed servers mulling about the hotel are common.
Visitors experience swinging chandeliers and rattling door and lobby handles that sometimes open and close independently. Personal items are moved for no reason. High-pitched laughter and screaming women are attention-getting. Two separate fires struck the hotel and spa, and a spirit involved in one of those fires remains on the property. The hotel offers nightly paranormal tours.
The Pythian Castle
In 1913, the Knights of Pythias secret society built this 40,000-square-foot structure at 1451 E. Pythian St, Springfield, MO, to care for retired members and their families. It found later use as an orphanage, and during World War II, the U.S. took ownership, using it to house German and Italian POWS.
Now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, owner Tamara Finocchiaro offers visitors a chance to experience haunted history, ghost tours, and investigations. Documented experiences include floating orbs, disembodied voices, unexplained whistles, and random scents and aromas.
Guests report walking into a room containing multiple spirits. The smell of phantom cigarette smoke permeates the area. Visitors feel phantom touches and things brushing against them like they are in a crowded room. See and feel for yourself while visiting an architecturally historical building in the process.
The name is self-explanatory, but this section of the Rock Hollow Trail in Wildwood, Missouri, is home to shadow people. It is a 2.3-mile stretch of abandoned railroad tracks and one of the largest American Indian mound sites.
Early settlers used the passage when crossing the country, and the Union Army used it during the Civil War. Ghostly apparitions watch over Zombie Road from the trees, only stepping out for those who dare to wander the secluded and desolate path.
The Vaile Mansion
Colonel Harvey Vaile is a former U.S. postal contractor who was twice accused and later acquitted of defrauding the U.S. government in a contract/kickback scheme. During his second trial, amid his tremendous legal problems, his wife Sophia took her own life. Vaile lived out his life in the mansion as a hermit.
The 31-room mansion got a new life as a sanitarium known for its questionable procedures, adding to its troubled history. Afterward, numerous claims of ghost sightings and paranormal activities take over the mansion.
Visitors see a woman dressed in white, likely Sophia, effortlessly moving about the mansion. She peers out of her room through the second-floor window where she died. Other encounters include a young male patient roaming the third floor, numerous disembodied voices, and shadowy figures throughout the hotel. Visit the Vaile Mansion, if you dare, at 1500 N. Liberty Street, Independence, Missouri, 64050.
Black Carriage of Overton
An elderly Overton couple murdered their houseguest, stole his gold, disposed of the body in the Missouri River, and became known for their extravagant show of wealth. The wife was later diagnosed with a mysterious illness and confessed her crime to her closest friends.
Shortly after her death, her husband remarried. While making their way home from the wedding in a black carriage, a crowd of well-wishers inadvertently blocked the road. When the groom got out, his new bride slipped away unnoticed.
The groom walked with the crowd towards his house, the carriage following. He opened the carriage door expecting to see his bride but instead saw his dead first wife, dressed all in black, demanding he join her. Inexplicably, he did. The carriage left, but occasional sightings still occur. In 2012, the black carriage was momentarily spotted near railroad tracks, disappearing with the passing of a train moments later.
Thespian Hall is the oldest operating theater west of the Alleghenies. It is on the National Register of Historic Places at 522 Main Street, Boonville, Missouri 65233. This legendary haunted theater’s history includes use as a theater, library, movie theater, skating rink, stable, church, and Civil War hospital.
You may see the same female figure that an opera singer’s son caught on camera while taking pictures of his mom on stage. The elderly female apparition is gray-haired and wears a white blouse and dark skirt.
One family recognized her as their grandmother and one of the area’s biggest opera fans. She has been noticed sitting in the back of the theater during rehearsals and occasionally spotted amongst the crowd at performances. Eyewitnesses say a wig on a stand moved and turned as if to look at itself in the mirror. Phantom ragtime music plays at inexplicable times.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Techa Tungateja/iStock via Getty Images
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