Monday, May 11, 2009

Haunted Places

Not too long ago I visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas and was immersed in yesteryear. Puting aside the long, hot bus ride up the mountain, this charming town captured my attention, even to this day.
Most people are fascinated by spirits, or hauntings, something related to the supernatural. Whenever I travel I am usually always interested in haunted places as well. Eureka Springs, Ark., has their share of unusual events as any other, especially considering they have more than 2,000 pre-1900's structures. (Can you say haunts?)
One famous place is the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. While on tour here myself, I felt and saw something unusual upstairs and in the basement. (Not for the faint at heart.)
The Crescent Hotel & Spa is the premier resort in Eureka Springs, and is recognized as one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Crescent is of Victorian period with modern-day amenities, including a full-service spa, and 15 acres of formal gardens and nature trails. 
Tours are scheduled by appointment and often times, your guide will be in period costume. As I recall most of the tour was all conducted inside the hotel. Be prepared to stand or sit on steps, occasionally, if guests are present you will need to move. I believe the tour lasted more than an hour. An interesting history of the property will enlighten and surprise you.
Irish construction workers referred to the hotel as "The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks". the newly completed railroad brought in thousands of tourists. There was even a stables with more than 100 horses, so everyone could ride.
At one time the palatial hotel was an all-girls school and later became a cancer hospital, before closing in 1940. It re-opened after World War II and in 1967 a fire destroyed most of the fourth floor including the center penthouse. 
As for the spirits...
It is rumored that during the construction of the hotel one of the Irish stone masons fell to his death in what is now room 218. And not surprisingly, this room proves to be the most 'spiritually active" room in the hotel. Guests are reported to have seen "hands coming out of mirrors", cries of a falling man in the ceiling, the door opening and then slamming shut. Naturally, many guests request this room. (During our tour, it was occupied so we didn't get a peek or feel anything unusual.) Guests have reported seeing playful spirits dressed in Victorian garb and employees have seen packages and furniture in the dining room move from one place to another. Others have witnessed Victorian era apparitions and have seen them or heard them speak. 
In a hallway upstairs, I thought I saw an apparition of a boy and a girl playing near a window.
The more eery feeling I felt, was in the basement where the morgue was, when the hotel was a cancer hospital during the 1930's. "Dr." Norman Baker, claiming to be a licensed physician, examined cancer patients while charging their families exorbitant fees. The stylish doctors apparition has been reported around the hotel too. The autopsy room was in the basement with a walk-in freezer, the braver of us walked in and around. I chose to stay outside the freezer as just being in the presence of the original autopsy table gave me the creeps, even as I think about it more than a year later.
A cancer patient is also reported as being seen in room 419, and has been known to talk to guests. 
Many more stories and apparitions can be seen or heard at the Crescent Hotel & Spa.

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