You can explore some of the most haunted places in Missouri that anyone interested in the paranormal will find exciting. Steeped in history, with tales of murder, suicide, family curses, demons, and other terrifying paranormal activity.
The Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs
The Elms Hotel & Spa is also said to be one of the most haunted places in Missouri. The hotel sits on 16 acres of gardens, swimming pool, spa, and indoor pool. Besides the natural spring waters of the spa, it was a favorite hangout for 1920s gangsters, gamblers, and anyone who wanted to get a drink. Al Capone was a frequent guest at the hotel and speakeasy.
It seems that many of these guests loved the hotel so much that they became resident ghosts. Just as they did in life, these spirits enjoy lounging by the basement European lap pool. Guests report seeing apparitions here dressed in 1920s bathing suits, sipping their drinks. A rather dapper gangster sits in the corner watching all the activity. It's said he was shot while sitting there and must have decided to stick around. There's a playful child spirit that likes to grab swimmers' ankles.
If you venture into one of the ballrooms, you may witness the chandeliers swinging. Guests and staff have seen wispy women dressed in white flitting about the rooms. Others have seen servers in their spiffy uniforms.
Some of other paranormal activities reported include:
- Luggage and personal items moved
- Woman screaming
- High-pitched laughter
- Imitation of electronic sounds
- Lobby doors opening and closing
- Door handles rattling or moving
Lemp Mansion, St. Louis
The Lemp Mansion was built over a network of underground caves that beer baron, William Lemp, used to store the beer baron's family's brewery. In fact, William Lemp used the network to walk to his brewery each morning. Dubbed one of the most haunted places in the United States, the Lemp Mansion (circa 1868) holds the energy of tragedy, with several suicides and so many unexpected family deaths that the Lemp family believed itself cursed.
If you want to check out the Mansion for yourself, it's easy. Besides hosting weddings and private events, the mansion features a restaurant, bar, and B&B, so you have multiple opportunities to evaluate its level of creepiness on your own. In fact, the number of reported ghostly encounters are staggering. Without any explanation, B&B guests have packed up and left in the middle of the night! You might decide to indulge in a little ghost hunting by signing up for the mansion's official ghost hunt and take the mansion ghost tour. Among some of the resident ghosts you may bump into are several members of the Lemp family.
For example, the ghosts of William Lemp and two of his sons are still there. All three committed suicide at different times in different rooms of the mansion. His wife, Julia, died of cancer in her bedroom. It's been rumored that an illegitimate son who suffered from Down's Syndrome was kept in the attic his entire life.
Employees report a phantom ghost sits at a table while music of a phantom piano player fills the rooms. Guests are startled awake by strange sounds, disembodied voices, drawers opening and closing on their own, and objects moved from their original places. Outside the mansion, along the road that leads to the carriage house, witnesses have heard phantom horses trotting past them.
Jesse James Farm and Museum, Kearney
The James Farm and Museum is open to the public. It was the scene of much heartache and violence and is considered a haunted haven for many unknown spirits. Jesse and Frank James were raised on the homestead by their mother, Zerelda, and stepfather. Jesse's stepfather was savagely beaten by Union troops, searching for Frank and other bushwhackers in the area. Another tragedy happened when Pinkerton guards threw exploding flares into the farm house. Jesse's mother lost an arm, and his half-brother was killed on the farm during the Pinkerton bombing.
It's no wonder that the home and farm are haunted. Many visitors have reported hearing the eerie sound of phantom horses' hooves pounding the ground and ghostly gunshots. Workers at the museum often sense a very strong, angry presence that is unnerving. Disembodied voices shouting, muffled cries, and spooky whisperings are also commonplace in the house and throughout the farm.
One thing that really creeps people out are the strange lights that move inside the house and other buildings at night when the museum is closed. There are phantom sounds that come from the woods. Witnesses report hearing horses' neighing, low voices in hushed tones, and the rustling of footfall in the forest bed. Perhaps the ghosts of Civil War soldiers gathering in the woods, or the ghosts of Pinkerton agents gathering before attacking the farmhouse. Whatever the types of ghosts wandering about the farm, they seem to be resident spirits that don't plan on leaving any time soon.
Jefferson Barracks Park and National Cemetery, St. Louis
The Jefferson Barracks Park and the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery was an active military site from 1826 until it was decommissioned in 1946. However, the military does maintain a presence on the post. With a national cemetery next door, ghosts are almost expected. Troy Taylor's book Haunted St. Louis notes several hauntings on the two sites.
Visitors to the park report odd happenings and paranormal activities. One of the most haunted buildings on the premises is the Post Headquarters. A local soldier reported seeing a light inside the building. He walked to the building to investigate, thinking someone had broken in, and peered through the window. He was terrified when he saw not an intruder, but a 19th-century military officer writing by candlelight. As he stood frozen in his spot outside the window, the ghost stood up and vanished!
Civil War soldiers are often seen by security guards. One guard was challenged by a sentry ghost. Guards have deserted their posts, having been frightened by ghostly visitors.
Several apparitions and other paranormal activities are reported by visitors to the cemetery. A child ghost is often seen wandering among the headstones in the cemetery. The cemetery closes at sunset, but according to some visitors, this is the best time to see two other ghosts, a Confederate soldier and a Buffalo soldier.
Governor's Mansion, Jefferson City
Ever since 1872, the Governor's Mansion has been home to Missouri governors. The gracious building is surrounded by lovely gardens. The first Missouri governor to reside in the mansion was Thomas Crittenden along with his family. Tragically, his daughter, Carrie, was nine years old when she contracted diphtheria and died in the mansion. Understandably, the Governor never recovered from her loss.
Just a century later, a contractor working on a restoration project at the mansion finished up his work in the attic, ready to call it a day, when he saw the housekeeper and stopped to chat with her. He commented about the pretty little blonde girl around 10 years old who had been playing upstairs while he worked. The housekeeper's eyes widened and her mouth fell open. She told the contractor that there was no one else in the house other than the two of them and that the governor and his wife didn't have any children. She told him about Carrie and when the man realized he'd been keeping company with a ghost all day, he panicked, fled the house, and refused to return to finish the project.
If you take a tour of the mansion, you just might bump into Carrie playing in the attic. Less tame paranormal encounters reported at the mansion include objects moving on their own, disembodied voices, creepy almost demonic laughter, and phantom footsteps climbing the stairs or walking down the hallways.
Thespian Hall, Boonville
Thespian Hall is the oldest operating theater west of the Alleghenies and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1857, the brick building has served as a theater, dance room, library, movie theater, skating rink, stable, Civil War hospital, and church. The other claim to fame for this theater is its reputation for being haunted.
After an opera singer's performance at the theater when everyone had left, her son ran onto the stage and took several photos of the hall and of course, his mom. They were stunned to see a woman standing in the back of the theater beside one of the columns. She was gray-haired and wore a collared white blouse with a dark skirt. She carried an old style pocketbook, but in the photo, her face was so blurred, it was unrecognizable. When looking at the photos, a family friend identified the woman as their grandmother, who was a big opera fan and had died several years earlier.
It wasn't the first time the elderly woman was spotted in the theater. She often sits in the audience during performances. She especially enjoys watching the performance during rehearsals, having been seen sitting in the back of the theater only to vanish when noticed. Other ghostly occurrences at Thespian Hall include reports of phantom ragtime music. Eyewitnesses have seen a wig stand move on its own and turn so it faced the mirrors. Make sure you arrange for a tour the next time you're in Boonville.
Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City
The Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City is known as The Wall and also as the "bloodiest 46 acres in America." It has one of the most disturbing pasts of any penitentiary. The penitentiary was operated from 1836 to 2004 when it was decommissioned. The state still owns the penitentiary, and the Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau conducts different types of tours.
The bloody history of the penitentiary includes three riots, with the worst one taking place in 1954. Four inmates were killed and 29 injured along with four prison guards injured. The most disturbing aspect of the prison is a gas chamber that was used to execute 40 men and women sentenced to death.
One regularly seen ghost is Fast Jack, believed to have been a trustee who worked in the medical facility. Fast Jack is seen walking about the prison, holding a clipboard and dressed in a white lab coat.
All manner of paranormal activity has been reported, such as:
- People have been bitten and clawed/scratched.
- Witnesses see a female ghost in vintage clothing.
- Visitors report the smell of cigarette smoke.
- The phantom sound of cell doors being slammed shut is an eerie report.
- Visitors hear phantom footsteps and disembodied voices.
- Shadow people are seen throughout the prison.
Union Station, Kansas City
In 1914, the Union Station in Kansas City was built to serve as the hub for over 200 passengers every day. Today it serves as a cultural center offering educational and entertainment venues as well as catching an Amtrack train traveling west.
Some of the various ghost stories about Union Station are what you might imagine - about travelers. These apparitions are seen carrying suitcases and walking along the halls. There is a recurring ghostly encounter of a woman wearing a black dress seen walking down the stairs. Some of the ghosts seen might be those of four law enforcement officers that included two FBI agents massacred outside the station by Pretty Boy Floyd's gang.
During World War II, the station was always packed with travelers and soldiers. It's believed that many of the ghosts seen in the station are from that era. The electric piano is often heard late at night even though it isn't turned on. The night crew reports hearing songs that aren't programmed in the for the piano to play.
Underneath the station, there was a different kind of activity going on, the U.S. Mail. With four tunnels, mail trucks moved in and out of the station delivery mail that was taken across the street to the post office. One man kept everything flowing in the process, Suggs Mailer. His ghost has been seen by those who venture into the tunnels, although he is quite the friendly ghost and still overseeing the tunnels.
Black Carriage, Overton
If you really want to scare yourself, visit the small town of Overton. You just might catch a glimpse of the Black Carriage of Overton coming down the road. The paranormal phenomenon that has its roots in a legendary ghost story. It is such a macabre story that those retelling it often shiver with goosebumps. It all began when an elderly couple murdered their guest for his gold. The greedy couple disposed of the corpse by dumping it in the Missouri River.
Surprising to the local townsfolk, the couple seemed to prosper and expand their wealth over the next few years. Then, one day, the wife was stricken with a mysterious illness. Knowing death waited for her in the shadows, she confessed on her deathbed to her female friends how she and her husband had murdered their guest. Apparently, none of them said anything to the authorities, since not long after her death, her husband married a young woman.
When the newlyweds were riding home in their black carriage, a crowd of well-wishers impeded their ride home, so the old man climbed out of the carriage to chastise the crowd. His bride slipped from the carriage unnoticed and escaped into the house. By the time the carriage reached the house, the old man was still walking with the crowd.
When the driver opened the carriage door to let the bride out, everyone was startled to see the dead first wife dressed in black sitting in the carriage. She summoned the old man to join her, and when he did, the driver took them away.
Ever since that first appearance of the dead wife, there have been many sightings of the carriage in various areas along the river and in town. In 2012, eyewitnesses claim the carriage appeared one night near the railroad tracks off Route 98, moments before a train rattled by. Visitors can access Route 98 from I-70 at Overton, Missouri.
Pythian Castle, Springfield
The 40,000 square foot Pythian Castle was built in 1913 by the fraternal order and secret society known as the Knights of Pythias. The castle has over 50 rooms that include a magnificent ballroom and a few dungeons. The purpose of the castle was to care for retired members and their families. It also served as an orphanage. During World War II the U.S. military owned the property and housed German and Italian POWs (Prisoners of War).
Today, the castle is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is owned by the Finocchiaros. Having their own encounters with ghosts, the Finocchiaros opened the castle to ghost tours and ghost investigations. The castle ghosts are said to be benevolent and protective of the family that saved the castle from demolition when they purchased it.
Some of the paranormal activity includes disembodied voices and whistles. Various scents are often experienced with no obvious source. Guest often walk into invisible unexplained masses. Some report being touched or smelling cigarette smoke.
Vaile Mansion, Independence
If you want to get spooked, take one of the ghost tours at the Vaile Mansion. Built in 1881 by Colonel Harvey Vaile and his wife, Sophia, the 31 room mansion was considered state-of-the-art and highly luxurious during its day. The Colonel was a postal contractor, and soon after the couple moved into the mansion, he was accused of defrauding the U.S. Government in a contract/kickback scheme. He was brought to trial in 1882 and in 1883. Each time he had to stay in Washington, DC, for his day in court and each time he was acquitted.
It was during the second trial that his wife was diagnosed with stomach cancer. On February 14, 1883, while he was still fighting for his life in DC, Sophia committed suicide with a morphine overdose. He spent the rest of his life as a hermit and an outcast. It isn't surprising with the couple's tragic end and the various activities that later went on in the mansion when it was turned into a sanitarium that ghosts and paranormal activities are prevalent in the mansion.
Visitors report a woman in white moving about the mansion. It's assumed to be Sophia's ghost. The apparition is often spotted peering out a window, looking at the visitors below in the yard. She died in her bedroom on the second floor, and this is where she is frequently seen in this part of the mansion.
Other ghost sightings include:
- Young man thought to be a former sanitarium patient is seen on the third floor.
- Disembodied voices are heard often throughout the mansion.
- Shadow figures are seen moving up and down the staircases.
Beattie Mansion, St. Joseph
One of the most haunted places, Beattie Mansion, was built in 1854, by Armstrong and Eliza Beattie. Armstrong was the first banker in the city and a five-term mayor. He died in 1878 from cholera, and his wife died two years later. The mansion was used for many things over the ensuing years, such as shelter for the homeless, home for aged, and a group home. When it was purchased in 2004 to convert it into a B&B, the couple couldn't keep renovation workers. The workers would suddenly quit after encountering shadow figures, hearing disembodied voices, and seeing terrifying full body apparitions.
Paranormal investigators agree that the basement is where the most paranormal activity occurs. A male ghost is seen and emerges in the hallways, usually laughing and surprising visitors. Eliza is seen mostly on the second floor in the hallways. Keeping her company is a young child heard laughing and sometimes shouting in play. Other ghosts include a shadow figure that is child height and various adult apparitions moving about the kitchen.
Belvoir Winery and Inn, Liberty
In 1835, the Order of Odd Fellows (Belvoir Winery and Inn) built a home on a 240-acre tract. The purpose of the fraternity was to provide assistance to members and a place for the orphans, widows, and the elderly. The complex feature many services, such as a hospital, school, nursing home, orphanage, and a cemetery. They use a skeleton in their rituals/ceremonies to symbolize mortality. It's estimated that over 600 people are buried in the adjoining cemetery.
Today, the complex is on the National Register of Historic Places and consists of 36 acres and four main buildings, with several outbuildings. The buildings are only open to ghost investigation conducted by the Winery, although the rest of the complex is open to the public during the winery hours. Of course, you can always book a room in the inn, too.
Some of the ghost activities reported are the sounds of children laughing or giggling when no children are around. Disembodied voices are heard and doors open and close on their own. A little boy dressed in old style clothing was seen by an investigator. Some guests report seeing dancing orbs, and hearing phantom footsteps. Another recurring ghost encounter is a set of ghost twins.
Oliver Anderson House, Lexington
The Oliver Anderson House is part of the State Historic Site of the 3-day Battle of Lexington during the Civil War. The fields surrounding the house were part of the battle. Built in 1853 by Oliver Anderson, the Federal Army took over the house to use as a field hospital. Several small skirmishes were fought inside the house. It was said that the men were slaughtered, and the staircase was covered in blood. Bullet holes are still in the walls of the house.
One family that lived in the house told of hearing a woman singing. Phantom soldiers were often seen moving across the fields surrounding the house. Employees of the state reportedly don't like to stay in the house after dark and who could blame them with so much paranormal happenings? In the state's official biography of the house, the tale of one family's nightly encounter with a female ghost who stood outside a first-floor window at the stroke of midnight and began screaming. In desperation, the family bricked up the window and miraculously the ghost vanished.
Visitors report various paranormal activities, disembodied voices, apparitions staring out a window from the second floor, illuminated orbs moving across the battlefield and around the house. Phantom footfalls that sound like boots walking in the hallway, upstairs, or up and down the staircase. Missouri Ghosts reports their visit to the house turned up an EVP of a man's voice saying, "You will die," two different times during their visit.
The house is open to the public. A visitor center features battle details and the history of the house..