I must admit I was a little disappointed; the steam engine that I remembered had been replaced with a new engine, possibly a diesel. I had wanted my son to experience the steam engine, but he was excited about just getting a train ride so that is what we did. The conductor called “ALL ABOARD” and during the excursion we were treated to a lesson about train history and how everything has worked. At one point everyone was unloaded from the train while the crew worked to bring the engine to the rear to bring us back to the station. All the children were invited to sit a coin on the tracks so the engine could run over them. That would become the most prized possession of the trip for Kim and Connor.
After the train ride we found a hotel to spend the night in Eureka Springs. After some lunch and some down time we found a brochure for the Crescent Hotel that offered haunted hotel tours. Kim begged us to go, so we did. A little pricey at $18 per ticket per adult, kids under twelve are $7.
The hotel was constructed in 1886 and started as a lush resort for the wealthy and famous. During the early 1900s it was a school for girls. But the really sad and at times brutal history of the place occurred after Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into his Cancer Hospital where he claimed to be able to cure the various forms of cancer. He performed cruel experiments on patients and defrauded many people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even when a “patient” died, he would continue to bill the family and not tell them about the death of their loved one. The bodies of the dead were stored in a cooler in the basement of the building, which is still there today, along with the table that was used for Mr. Baker’s inhuman surgeries.
Other ghosts that are spoken of are the Lady in the Garden, Michael, and Theodora, to name a few. The guide is knowledgeable about the history of the hotel and provided in depth background on every facet of the hotels past, and if you can manage to stay in one of the rooms that is noted for ghostly activity, you are almost guaranteed to experience something unexplained.
It was late after leaving the Crescent Hotel so we returned to ours where I downloaded all the pictures of the day onto my laptop and got the kids ready for bed. The next morning as I was taking bags down to the Jeep, I noticed the view we had through part of the Ozark Mountains. The fog had filled the bowl between the hills adding to the beauty of the place. I would love to plan another trip to Eureka Springs and spend a few more days exploring the city, and enjoying the history of a truly unique area.
Leaving Pea Ridge we followed Highway 62 until we came across a large body of water, Beaver Lake, which is also home to the Beaver Dam, which I found a little humorous. It provided a great place to stretch out legs and be out of the car for a few minutes. Some of the views from the hills above the dam are spectacular. Then it was back onto 62 and into Eureka Springs for the train ride.
Last year we decided we wanted to do something a little different than we usually do. We planned a three day, two night run through northern Arkansas. We drove down on a Thursday evening and arrived at out hotel in Bentonville at about 8:30pm. The room we had reserved was not the room we got but we were tired from the four hour drive down so we just decided to grin and bear it and get some sleep. The following morning my wife said she found hair in the tub and after seeing the room in the sunlight we realized what a mess we had slept in.
Despite the hotel problems the next day started pretty decent. On our way to Pea Ridge National Military Park
we came across the Roger’s Municipal-Carter Field Airport where we found another UH-1 Huey helicopter display. Following Highway 62 brought us right to the entrance of the Military Park.
In 1862 a two day battle was fought by 26,000 soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies. The fate of Missouri (my home state) would be determined by the outcome of this battle. One notable fact about this battle is that it was one of the few times that the Union army was outnumbered by the Confederate army. The Union army commander was General Samuel Curtis who commanded the Army of the Southwest.
General Earl Van Dorn commanded the Confederate forces. Perhaps part of the downfall of the Confederate army was that the force was split during a maneuver and was forced to fight two different actions and neither group was able to support the other. Union scouts ensured that the Union army matched the movement. The final blow to the Confederates was that they lacked sufficient artillery support and were running out of ammunition. The Union army took the victory which kept the state of Missouri firmly under Union control.
The museum thoroughly details troop movements, artillery locations, and just about every detail of the battle. Displays included cannon balls and guns that were found on the site. Driving through the park is an experience; you can almost still smell the smoke of the guns as they were discharged against the coming formations of soldiers. The cannons sit there, quietly marking artillery positions, but you can still sense that they are still manned by their crews. It was not until we came to the cliff that overlooked the entire battlefield that we saw the just how massive and difficult the battle must have been. A map at the lookout location shows where all the units moved and were located. At this point the gravity of what those soldiers endured starts to become clear.
The park rangers are very friendly and answer any questions you might have. Notably this is one of few battlefields to be maintained to be as it was at the time of the battle.
The park is open: May 1 – October 31
6:00am – 9:00pm November 1 – April 30
6:00am – 6:00pm
Visit their website
for more information on the history of the battle.
At the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site the guns have long been silent, but the remnants of those violent memories will likely echo for generations. There is one hundred acres of gardens and orchards to walk through and explore. Look carefully and you can still see the trenches where soldiers fought and died so many years ago. Also on the site is the Anderson House which was at the center of a very violent three day battle in 1861. Look closely and you can still find the damage caused from musket balls that ripped into the brick of the structure. Also on the property are the graves of unknown Union soldier that lost their lives during the bloody battle.
Summer hours (March 1 – October 31)
Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday – 10:00am – 6:00pm
Winter hours (November 1 – February 28)
Wednesday – Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Tours of the Anderson House are only available by appointment during winter months.
Visitor center & Battlefield Site – Free
Anderson House Guided Tours
Adults (13 and older) - $4.00
Children (6-12) - $2.50
5 and under – Free
Family Rate - $15.00
Close enough to Lexington to be included in a day trip is Fort Osage. A thing to note about the fort is that it was built using the plans from the original fort. Famous explorers Lewis and Clark noticed the spot as great position for a fort.
The fort appears as the original did in 1812 when its purpose was to maintain a stable relationship with the Native American tribes.
The fort was closed in 1827 due to the beginning construction of Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Occasionally visitors are treated to living history displays as actors portray how life may have been during the time period. It is truly a great place to take the entire family.
After everyone was in and no one was really paying attention, we slipped upstairs to begin getting in character for the argument. We slammed the door open yelling as menacingly as we could muster, trying not to laugh. Obscenities were flying and we continue through the house, down to the foot of the steps where everyone knew I kept a decorative knife. As I reached the bottom of the steps I reached over and grabbed the knife, spinning around and planting the knife right in the middle of my friend’s chest in plain view of everyone who had been listening to the argument.
Gasps were heard as the red, oozing crimson liquid slowly began to saturate his shirt, running down the front. I have to admit, the stunned look on his face and his reaction were worthy of an Oscar. He held onto the pole as he spun and fell to the floor where he gasped his final breath before appearing to go limp.
There was some crying, but most just sat wide-eyed and silent. For a long, silent minute he lay there, we could not contain the laughter any longer. When he stood up, there was still wide-eyes and silence meeting our laughter.
Once the shock wore off, there were several others laughing with us and one that was a little upset, of course she had lead a very protective life and really had no experience with violence. We felt a little bad about that, but overall it was an awesome prank.
Use the comments to share a prank that you pulled or that was pulled on you.
One Halloween we had a houseful of friends and none of them suspected that anything out of the normal would occur. A friend and I had made a vest from a sheet of paneling and attached blood packs, made from some Jello mix. He donned the homemade vest while I would be handling the knife since blades are kind of my thing.
Ax Murder House for several years. It is widely believed to still be haunted by the ghosts of the eight people that were killed there and on occasion a figure that is believed to be the murderer makes its presence known. Now I will get my chance to visit the site of the heinous murders that to this day remain unsolved.
A Little History of the Murders
Sometime after midnight on July 10, 1912, six members of the Moore family and two young girls that were spending the night with the Moores were brutally murdered by an unknown person with an ax. The attack was brutal and the crime scene had been contaminated by a lot of people going through the house to see the bodies of the victims. There were a few suspects and one man was charged of the crime, though he was later acquitted. Some people thought it was the work of a serial killer since there were similar murders around the region at the time. Another belief is that there was more than one murderer in the house. There may never be a closure to this case given that so many years have gone by now. It was a tragedy that rocked the town of Villisca and even today the residents are still hotly divided on whom was truly responsible, however the story of the Moore family murders do not end there.
The house is now quite famous as a haunted tourist attraction for those that want to explore the supernatural side of the story, but there is also a lot of history about the crime, the town, and people involved to immerse oneself in. I personally am interested in the history of the case and the other stuff is secondary. But I think this is a good stop on the road to Halloween at the end of this month.
The tour starts at the museum where you can browse through many historical exhibits including tools and vintage vehicles, such as a Model T. Visitors will then follow the guide to the Villisca cemetery where you will see the resting places of all eight victims. It is a somber experience as the guide explains how each one came to the end of their life.
I have wanted to go to Villisca, Iowa and visit what is called the
Over the years many tales of experiences with unseen forces and disembodied noises have been on several television shows and written about in several blogs and websites. Names whispered from the dark, toys that move of their own volition, and confessions from unknown presences are just a few of the things people claim to experience in the Villisca Ax Murder House.
The history of the house was enough to bring me to Villisca but the chance of seeing something unexplainable added to the lure. While we were there, there were a lot of people in and around the house making it a bit difficult to get through the house at times. I can only say that I saw one thing that was not normal and experienced a slight dizzy spell when looking into the attic where the murderer was believed to have hid. While downstairs, the guide rolled a rubber ball across the floor that did seem to defy gravity and then proceeded to roll in a circle for several minutes without anyone in the room touching it.
Upstairs there was a closet that we all took turns going in and shutting the door. I did not feel anything and no one else commented about having any feelings or sensations. One lady did claim that her camera was vibrating even though her camera did not have that function. I did get the chance to go through the almost too small doorway to the attic and sat there for several minutes. Oddly that was the calmest place for me in the house.
Is the place truly haunted? I believe it is possible, going by the destruction of life in the house and the ball. I personally did not experience anything that would convince me 100%, but I must admit that with the number of people, especially the younger ones that were running around, it would be hard to hear faint sounds and to feel any distinct temperature changes. Would I recommend it? Definitely! Even if you are not interested in the haunted part, then the history of the crime and those involved are well worth the visit. The guides are very knowledgeable about the details of the crimes and all those in that were a part of it and are willing to answer any question related to the crime or the various paranormal investigations that have been performed there. I do hope to return there sometime when there may not be so many people. I may even front the $400 to get an overnight stay, even though they are booked several months in advance.
From there you drive to the actual house where the murders took place. On the outside it is an unassuming house and if you did not know the history and stories you would never know the horrors that took place there, nor would you know about the story that is still unfolding inside those walls.
Tours of the house are available from 1pm – 4pm daily.
12 years and older are $10/person
65 and over $5/person
According to the website
the museum will be closed for good in March 2012.
The Olson Linn Museum is located at 323 E. 4th St.
I remember one Halloween when I was about 16 or 17 years old, my friend, his girlfriend and her little sister, another friend, and myself were sitting in a dark room telling ghost stories and having a pretty good time when a jar crashed to the floor sending shards of glass everywhere. My friend insisted the jar had not been anywhere close to the edge but nonetheless, it did fall and shatter. I was not as easily convinced as the others since there were cats in the house and one could have easily knocked the jar over. When it came to my friend’s girlfriend’s turn to spin a yarn she told of a woman that had been murdered on the very spot we were sitting and her body thrown in a well that the room was built over. It was a conveniently creepy story that played on the already edgy atmosphere. We decided to take a break and we all left the room to take bathroom breaks and get drinks yada yada. When my friend and I walked back into the room, the string that hung from the solitary light in the center of the room was swinging from ceiling to ceiling and did so for several minutes without slowing down. The only time it stopped was when the girls walked into the room and gasped at what they saw. Needless to say the ghost stories stopped for the night and after everything was done I left to go home.
On another night, I do not remember if it was around Halloween or not, my friend Rodney and I were out driving around. It was about 1am when we came to an old abandoned plantation style house somewhere around Lexington, MO. We decided to check it out. The back half had long collapsed and was merely a pile of rubble sitting there decaying as time goes by. Rodney went around the back and I lost sight of him as I was taking pictures of the inside through a broken window. The coat I was wearing was a nylon flight jacket like pilots used to wear and as I pulled my arm out of the window, an edge of the glass rubbed on the sleeve making the loudest ripping noise you could hear. Here came Rodney hauling ass from the other side yelling, “We gotta get out of here! Did you hear that?!” I never saw him move that fast before. After talking him out of the car, we worked our way to the front of the house where the front door was wired shut, but was open enough to stick my hand and camera in there. “Don’t do that man, something will bite your hand off” was the comment that came from over my shoulder. By then the sun was starting to come up so we decided to leave. Never did see a ghost or anything, but it sure was a fun night.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing these stories building up for Halloween and if anyone else has a story about a Halloween experience let me know and we will post it. I love this time of year!
Halloween will soon be upon us. The celebration is much tamer than it was even when I was a kid roaming the streets exploring the many ways to get in trouble. Of course there was all the free candy you could carry and avoiding the older groups that would steal your sweet bounty of sugar. That was before everyone was on the health kick. The stories and history of Halloween is what made it so fun for me, especially the ghost stories and finding supposedly real haunted places.