August 15, 2015

A Macabre Bucket List- A Haunted Tour

Places I want to visit before I die, (That doesn't mean others didn't die at these places.)

1. Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel, February 2011.Via Wikipedia.org

Location: Estes Park, Colorado 

The co inventor of the Stanley Steamer, Freelan Oscar Stanley, came to Estes Park in 1903. He was suffering from tuberculosis, and came West due to his doctor's orders. Stanley's health began to improve. His wife, and himself fell in love with the area and decided to invest money into it. The Stanley Hotel was opened in 1909, and catered to the rich and famous, including Titanic survivor Molly Brown, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

The Stanley Hotel has quite the reputation of being haunted. Staff have reported to hear a party going on in the ballroom when it's empty. Guests of the hotel have claimed to see to have seen a man standing over their bed at night before running into a closet or just disappearing. Phantom voices, and a child's laughing have also been heard. With a reputation like this, it's no wonder the hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King's novel "The Shining". Scenes from the TV adaption of the novel were also filmed here. The history of the hotel, and its reputation call to me.

The Stanley Hotel- Official Website
The Stanley Hotel- Wikipedia Website
The Shining (novel)- Wikipedia Website
The Shining (film)- Wikipedia Website

2. Bird Cage Theater

Locattion: Tombstone, Arizona


A theater, brothel, saloon and gambling parlor that opened in 1881 by William Hutchinson. There were 14 cages, that are situated on balconies above the stage. "Soiled Doves" would draw back curtains in the cages or "cribs" and dance and entertain their clients.

The theater was the second home of entertainers, cowboys, and outlaws alike. The smell of liquor, smoke, and sex must of hung heavy in the air. In 1882, the New York Times reported that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast." Hundreds of bullet holes in the walls of the theater lay claim to that statement.

According to legend the longest running poker game is said to have been played there. Played non stop for 24 hours a day, for eight years, five months, and three days. The players included Doc Holliday, Diamond Jim Brandy, George Hearst, and Bat Masterson.

Tombstone, Arizona in the late 1800s was a town where people, drank, gambled, worked, lived, and died. Violence was common, and it was a place for the weak of heart. It was a town, to tough to die. Some say that the people of tomb stone still walk the streets at night and the Birdcage Theater is no different. Employees and visitors of the theater have reported to see ghosts of prostitutes, and cowboys. Some have claimed to have been touched or even pushed by these ghosts. Phantom laughter, yelling, and music have been heard at night.

I wonder if I would be lucky enough to see a soiled dove, still dancing in her cage, or hear the distant sounds of laughter and yelling, chips being thrown, and liquor glasses being filled.  The Birdcage Theater should be on any ghost hunters, or lover of history's list of places to go before they die.

The Bird Cage Theatre- Official Website
Bird Cage Theatre- Wikipedia Website

3. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Location: Midlothian, Illinois

Originally named Everdon Cemetery, a now abandoned cemetery, it saw its first burials as early as the 1830s. The cemetery was a favorite spot in the 20s and 30s for Chicago's organized crime to dump their victims.

Madonna of Bachelor's Grove
Many sighting of paranormal activity have been reported there for quite some time. Including, orbs, a lady in white, a phantom farmhouse is said to appear then vanish, a two headed ghost, a black dog, and the famous image of the "Madonna of Bachelor's Grove"- a photo taken in August of 1991, by the Ghost Research Society which ran in the Chicago Sun Times, showing a transparent woman sitting on a tombstone. Reportedly, no one was there when the photo was taken.

Ghost Research Society- Official Website
Bachelors Grove Cemetery













4. The Myrtles Plantation

Location: Saint Francisville, Louisiana

In 1796 a man named General David Bradford AKA Whiskey Dave obtained a land grant of 650 acres. In 1820, Whiskey Dave's son-in-law, Judge Clarke Woodruff, remodeled the mansion. In 1834 the plantation was owned by Ruffin Gray

Myrtles Plantation via Wikipedia.com
Stirling who turned the mansion into what you see today. Stirling and his wife, Catherine doubled the size of the former house, and changed the name to "The Myrtles". The Stirlings had night children in total but sadly, five of the them died in childhood. The house changed owners several times in the late 1800s until the 1970s when it was purchased by James and Frances Kermeen Myers. The mansion is now home to a bed and breakfast. It is on the National Historic Register and is a perfect example of antebellum splendor, and grandeur.

The plantation has the ominous name of "One of America's Most Haunted Homes". A ghost of the name of William Drew Winter is said to haunted the mansion. William was a lawyer who lived at the plantation from 1865 to 1871. It's said that he was shot outside the mansion and died while trying to climb the stairs in the house. Supposedly, he died on the 17th step. There are reports by employees and visitors of the mansion that they can hear his footsteps.

There is a legend of a slave girl named Chloe. She was supposedly a slave owned by Mark and Sara Woodruff. It's said that her left ear was cut off, due to her eavesdropping on the Woodruff's business dealings. She wore a green turban to hide her missing ear. The legend goes that she baked a birthday cake containing extract of a poison for Sara, and her two daughters. Sara and her daughters died. Chloe was then hung and thrown into the Mississippi River.

1992 photo of Chloe via myrtlesplantation.com .
In 1992 a photo was taken on the plantation by the owner for rating a fire insurance policy. In the photo there is what appears to be a negro girl standing between the General's Store, and the Butler's Pantry. It's said that this is a picture of Chloe.

The spirits of Sara and her children are said to haunt one of the mirrors in the mansion. Traditionally mirrors were covered with cloth or sheets after the death of a person. The legend goes that a mirror was missed when Sara and her children died and their spirits were trapped inside the mirror. There apparitions are sometimes seen in the mirror along with handprints.

The Myrtles Plantation- Official Website

Myrtles Plantation- Wikipedia

Legends of Myrtles Plantation- Wikipedia

5. The Baker Hotel

Location: Mineral Wells, Texas


The Baker Hotel via wikipedia.com
Built by Theodore Brasher Baker in 1926 and completed in 1929. The opulent hotel boosted was 14 stories, had 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, beauty shop, bowling alley, gymnasium, and the first swimming pool built at a hotel in Texas. Many celebrities and stars alike have stayed at the Baker Hotel including, Lyndon B. Johnson, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and it's rumored the famous outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have also stayed at the Baker.
Baker Hotel Postcard
It was permanently closed in 1972 and has suffered the ravages of time, and vandalism. There are said to be  ghosts of people who have committed suicide in the hotel, and even Bonnie and Clyde's spirits are said to haunt the halls. There are now plans however to restore the Baker Hotel by Hunter Chase Private Equity with a budget of $54 million.

Baker Hotel- Wikipedia Website
The Baker Hotel Renovation
The Dallas Morning News- The Baker Hotel- Beautiful Pictures Featuring The Hotel










6. The Winchester Mansion

Location: San Jose, California


Gun magnate William Wirt Winchester was the President of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1880. He married a woman named Sarah Pardee in 1862. They had a baby girl they named Annie. Sadly Annie died five short weeks later of marasmus, a form of malnutrition. Sarah suffered another blow when her husband, William also died in 1881 of tuberculosis.

Grief stricken Sarah consulted a psychic who told her she lost her baby girl because the spirits of all the people killed by the Winchester rifle wanted revenge. The psychic told her to move out West from Connecticut. Sarah moved to San Jose, California and hired architects and construction workers to renovate a farmhouse in 1884. Under Sarah's guidance the construction on the house never stopped until Sarah's death on September 5, 1922. Dubbed "The House That Fear Built." Sarah believed that as long as construction continued the ghosts would be appeased.

Winchester Mystery House Near San Jose Before the Earthquake
Sarah wanted to confuse the malicious spirits and keep herself safe. So the mansion, has stairways that lead to walls, doors that open to nowhere, and windows overlooking other rooms. The superstitious Sarah favored the number 13. It makes its appearance throughout the mansion. The sink drains have 13 holes. There are spider web patterned stain glass windows which have 13 panes of glass. Chandeliers have 13 candles. There are 160 rooms, which include 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 2 basements, and three elevators. [1] "Most of the stained glass windows were created by the Tiffany Company." The money Sarah received from the proceeds on the sales of the Winchester Rifle allowed Sarah to continue to build the mansion. There was an earthquake in 1906 which reduced the number of stories of the mansion from seven to four.

Sarah Winchester
When Sarah died in 1922, oddly there was no mention of the mansion in her will. So it was sold at auction for $135,000 to John and Mayme Brown. The mansion is now open to the public and is owned by Winchester Investments, LLC. A private company who represent the descendants of John and Mayme Brown. On Friday the 13th the bell in the tower is rung 13 times at 1 O'Clock PM (1300 Hours) to honor Sarah.

Ghost stories abound with this mansion. Workers, and guests claim to hear strange noises, to seeing spirits of construction workers who have accidentally died in the mansion, servants of Mrs. Winchester, to that of Sarah herself.

Whether you think Sarah was extremely superstitious, or just plain crazy. It's amazing what grief and fear can build. This mysterious house is definitely worth checking out for yourself.

Winchester Mystery House- Official Website
Winchester Mystery House- Wikipedia Website

7. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Location: Weston, West Virginia





Opened in 1864 it was a state run to house the insane. It was designed to hold 250 people but became overcrowded with over 2,400 patients. The acceptable treatment of mental ill patients back then would be considered downright torture today. For example, a common treatment was insulin shock therapy. Large doses of insulin were injected into the patient to put them in a coma, to "reset" their brain. Many patients died due to this course of "treatment". This treatment, along with lobotomies, and bloodletting, this place of care, was more like a place of horror. 

The hospital was closed in 1994 due to reports of mistreatment and abuse of the patients. A man name Joe Jordan bought the hospital in 2007 and opened it for tours. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1990. 

Disembodied voices, strange noises, and apparitions are said to abound within Trans-Allegheny's halls. It's seems to me that a life of neglect and abuse behind closed doors is a recipe for a tortured spirit. I hope these souls have found some peace in death, but it seems according to people who have been to Trans-Allegheny, they have not.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum- Official Website
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum- Wikipedia Website


8. Gettysburg Battlefield 

Location: Gettysburg, PA 

via: My Scenic Byway: Gettysburg Battlefield

This green field now quiet and serene turned red with the blood of Union, and Confederate soldiers as they roared into battle in the beginning of July 1863.

"General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863. On July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, at the crossroads town of Gettysburg."(1.)

"It's estimated that between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties were suffered by each side when the battle was over."(2.)
The home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg (1863) by Timothy O'Sullivan

"....But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...."(3.) Lincoln spoke his now famous words of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 when a national cemetery was dedicated to the fallen soldiers.

Photographers such as Mathew Brady, Timothy O'Sullivan, and Alexander Gardner helped to bring a realization of the terrible cost of war with his photos of dead. The bodies laying lifeless on the ground were someone's brother, father, or husband.
The "Slaughter pen" at foot of Round Top, after the Battle by Alexander Gardner

With all the blood that was spilled on Gettysburg, there are numerous reports of phantom soldiers walking the hallowed ground. Maybe the battle never ended for them but continues to play out into eternity.

1. "Battle of Gettysburg." History Channel. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2015. .

2. "Battle of Gettysburg." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Gettysburg&oldid=676136796>.

3. Wikipedia contributors. "Gettysburg Address." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.

Gettysburg- National Military Park Website
The Atlantic, The Battle of Gettysburg- Photos
The American Civil War, Then and Now- Amazing Photos
The Battle of Gettysburg- The History Channel
Alexander Gardner (photographer)- Wikipedia Website
Timothy H. O'Sullivan (photographer)- Wikipedia Website