The haunting season is here and with that comes a variety of ways you can get that chill up your spine in the Ozarks.
John Sellers, Executive Director of Springfield’s History Museum on the Square, hosts Haunted Bus Tours of downtown Springfield every year before Halloween. The tour includes stories about haunted buildings, "who the ghost might be" and much more.
“Springfield really does have some interesting haunts to it,” said Sellers. But when pressed for details, he’s not giving much up. “I’m not telling,” he adds, when asked what all the tour includes. “You’ll have to come take the tour.” Sold — details on that in a bit.
But first, here are some local legends of Springfield haunts that may or may not be real, and that may or may not scare the pants off you.
Haunted Urban Legends
Landers Theatre in Springfield, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Springfield-Greene County Library District.
Landers Theater is arguably Springfield’s most haunted building. Now home to Springfield’s Little Theatre, the building is said to have been haunted since the 1920s when it served as a vaudeville house. The story goes that a despondent stagehand hanged himself from some of the high rigging above the stage. His ghost reportedly occasionally walks about the catwalks of the historic theatre. Pay close attention the next time you're enjoying a production. There may be an additional cast member.
Phelps Grove Park Ghost Bride
Springfield natives have long talked about the ghost bride at Phelps Grove Park. As the legend goes, the bride and her husband were driving through the park and killed in a crash. She now frequently appears in the evening beside the center of three bridges that lead to the park. Is it lighting and shadows or is it the long-lost bride? Pay a visit to Phelps Grove Park and decide for yourself. Just the thought was enough to scare this former Springfield teen and a carload of friends.
Walnut Street Inn
This three-story Victorian bed and breakfast was built in the mid-1880s and guests have been documented as having felt a "ghostly presence" over the years. After a 1998 renovation, a guest reported seeing an apparition of a woman sitting at a table against the wall. He spoke to her before she disappeared. But, it’s been said she still watches over the house today. Book a room and find out for yourself.
Ok, this one really gets me. I’ve known about the “Joplin” or “Hornet” Spooklight that appears on the border between southwestern Missouri and northeast Oklahoma for decades. I remember piling in the old red station wagon with my parents and younger sister and parking on a dark country road to get a glimpse of this phenomenon. And it was as scary as it sounds. A single light would appear at a distance in the middle of the road. Then it would bounce around, sometimes splitting into smaller lights and even shining on the hood of the car. It’s unexplained to this day and will definitely send a chill up your spine. Don't go alone.
Haunted Bus Tours in Springfield, Missouri.
Travel back in time to learn about some of downtown Springfield’s most “haunting” people and their stories. The one-hour tour is narrated by John Sellars, Executive Director of the History Museum on the Square. Oct. 19-21.
Pythian Castle in Springfield, Missouri.
Hear ghostly tales while touring the historic Pythian Castle. Tour lasts 1.5 hours and includes a brief history. Photos allowed. Recommended for ages eight and up. Reservations required. Nighttime: Tuesdays, Fridays and some Saturdays.
Historic C-Street is apparently loaded with paranormal activity so this year, the folks at Cafe Cusco want to bring you on paranormal journey in this first-ever, dinner theater series: The Haunts of C-Street. The night includes a leisurely guided tour down Historic C-Street where you will learn about its haunting tales, history and more. Reservations required. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through October 31.
Hotel of Terror and Dungeons of Doom have been providing the frights in Springfield for decades and the scares just keep getting better. That chainsaw will get you every time. Nightly in October.
Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park’s Haunted Trail of Horrors at Harvest Fest
Haunted Trail at Harvest Fest in Springfield, Missouri.
Do you dare enter the woods after dark? Walk our one-third mile paved path on the Haunted Trail for a frighteningly awesome experience. Price includes hayride and bonfire time. Open Friday and Saturday nights. Children under 7 not allowed.
Campbell's Haunted Corn Maze.
Chills and thrills in a corn maze after dark just outside of Springfield! Hayride included. Friday and Saturday nights in October.
Thriller on C-Street in Springfield, Missouri.
You might get a scare at this annual Springfield event where dozens of performers dress the part and perform Michael Jackson’s famous Thriller live on C-Street. Oct. 28.
Source: Missouri Ghosts, Second Edition
Haunted Highway: The Spirits of Route 66