Maybe, Atchison should call Ghostbusters? Atchison is considered the most haunted city in Kansas. Cable networks have done specials highlighting some of the homes in the city.
The Missouri River city has a population of about 11,000 and is just inside the Kansas border. It was home to 52 millionaires during its heyday. That meant a lot of fancy houses. Fancy houses from the old days usually mean lots of ghost stories.
Thus, Lisa and I found ourselves on a Haunted Atchison tour. We took the daytime tour, so Lisa wouldn’t make me sleep with the lights on…again (“Ring,” “The Grudge,” Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” – wait that one was me).
The Haunted Atchison tour is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. It starts and ends at the depot, which is also home to the visitors center.
Visitors are psyched up for the tour with some skeletons on display. The artwork is done by local artists and is definitely worth checking out.
We checked out quite a few houses on the tour. Some, I could see ghosts and spirits setting up shop. A few others made me scratch my head on why a ghost would want to bother such lovely families (I assume).
First, we drove across a railroad bridge, where we learned the story of Bert Craft. Craft was a train engineer, whose engine and postal cars crashed off a burning bridge. His heroic actions saved lives as the passenger cars stayed on the tracks and were not threatened by the fire.
Later, other engineers reported seeing a phantom train approach them on the tracks as they approached the replaced bridge.
He is buried in Mount Vernon Cemetery. His gravestone has a train engine carved into it with the words “He died at his station.” Yes, we searched the cemetery for it. But, that’s another story for another post.
One of the eerie houses we saw was the “Gargoyle Home.” Some say the gargoyles atop the house are Griffins. But, I disagree after getting a closer look. They looked like gargoyles to me. I could swear they even stuck their tongues out at us.
The gargoyles allegedly ward off evil spirits, but Travel Channel aired a special that said ghost hunters detected the presence of spirits in the house. Are the ghosts nice? Bad? I have no intention of ever finding out.
Moving along, we drove past the infamous Sallie House. Sallie was a little girl, who died during surgery to remove her appendix. She awoke during the surgery and in shock and pain wrestled with the doctor, who tried to subdue her. As she died, she allegedly looked the doctor in the eye with fear and hatred. Her ghost is said to still roam the former doctor’s house. Her spirit has supposedly been picked up during visits by television paranormal investigators. A Travel Channel show is set to air in January on a visit to the city and may feature Sallie.
Students at small Benedictine College have reported ghostly experiences, in dorm rooms and shower rooms. A knife mysteriously fell from the ceiling in a girls’ shower room. A male student was blocked out of his room by furniture that mysteriously moved with no one in the room. A shower kept running in a dorm suite. The door was locked from one side. As the dorm residents forced their way in from a second door, the shower stopped running as soon as the door opened.
The McInteer Villa may be home to ghosts. People have reported seeing lights flickering on the second floor of the turret. There is no electricity in that part of the house. Passersby report seeing a figure moving about in the same spot despite no one being at home. Residents have reported hearing footsteps, knowing there is no one else in the house.
Spirits are not tied to just houses in Atchison.
The local Theatre Atchison is a converted church. People have reported seeing and hearing ghosts inside the building. There have also been reports of ghostly orbs showing up in photographs inside and outside the building.
The visitors center supposedly has its own spirit haunting the grounds. “Hangman Bill,” who liked to hang from train cars as they rode through the town, died after a prank went wrong. He is said to haunt the visitors center.
If you choose to get something to eat or grab an ice cream at the local Snow Ball ice cream joint, be leery of a possible ghost sighting.
The city is allegedly ground zero to dozens of haunted buildings. The tour company rotates places because it helps keep the stories fresh and shares the ghostly experiences. All I know is that I’m not sure I want to take an evening stroll in Atchison. You never know “who” you might meet.
But, if you want to experience some fun ghost stories, head to Atchison next Halloween season. Day or night, the haunted tour will pique your interest and maybe raise a hair or two on the back of your neck.