My husband and I really enjoy visiting Arkansas. The people are so nice, the scenery is gorgeous, and the cost is reasonable. The summer of 2003 we took a trip down to Eureka Springs. At the hotel, I picked up several of those brochures that list activities for tourists to participate in. The one for the Ghost Tour at the Crescent Hotel really caught my eye.
I have no idea why. I’m totally not in to chasing ghosts. I believe I have seen a couple spirits in my life, but they were people who I knew. I had never until that day and never since had any desire to check out the paranormal. I don’t even go to haunted houses at Halloween time. But I figured I’ve been washed in the blood so nothing bad could happen to me. I later saw the hotel on the Travel Channel on one of their 10 Most Haunted Places episodes.
Here’s a picture of the hotel from an observation tower. It’s that huge building in the background.
Apparently at some point (right after the Civil War if I’m not mistaken), the hotel operated as a hospital. People who were sick would come down to drink and bathe in the springs. Looking back on the Ghost Tour, yeah, it was hokey. (Really, they could have turned on the light.) But I will give them credit, they did a good job with it! I was creeped out.
Now, keep in mind, I did not yet have a digital camera. I also knew enough about paranormal activity to know that even if you couldn’t see a ghost, that didn’t mean it wouldn’t show up when the film was developed. We’ve all seen it. To that end, I took fifty hundred pictures of various red velvet chairs throughout the hotel. Chairs like this one:
I was sure and certain that at least one of those pictures would be developed and we’d see a person sitting in it. I was particularly hopeful about this chair because of the story behind it. Apparently, there used to be an electric organ in this corner. Please note that there are no electrical outlets in the corner. The organ would play by itself and disturb the guests so management removed it and put this chair in its place. I fully expected to see a pissed off organ-less organist in this chair when the picture was developed.
At this point in the tour, several people with digital cameras had gotten photos of “orbs”, which they were quite earnestly showing to the tour guide. I was green with envy. Green. But I couldn’t act that way in front of my husband who was rolling his eyes the whole time so I said, “Oh their flash probably just reflected on the chandelier.” I didn’t mention that they weren’t using flashes!
After the upstairs tour where we looked at several closed doors (because there were guests – crazy people – checked into the rooms), we made our way down to the basement. Now the basement is where the crazy doctor used to keep body parts in jars. I was leaning against a table with a drain in it listening intently. Being as I’m not in the medical profession, I really didn’t think anything about the fact that there was a drain in the table. Until the tour guide said it was an autopsy/embalming table. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to look cool while you are running across the room screaming.
On the way out, we passed by yet another room with a closed door that we weren’t allowed to go into. However, there had been much documented ghostly activity in the room and we were welcome to hold our cameras up to the little access window over the door and try to snap a picture. Once again, I fully expected to see a couple Victorian ladies having tea when my film was developed. Instead I got this:
Cabinets and a sink. Super-exciting.
Even though it was kind of hokey, I had a good time. And it was fun waiting for the film to come back and imagining all the ghostly apparitions I would see sitting in the various red velvet chairs. When the pictures all came back “clean”, I had a strange mix of relief and disappointment.
Edit: I linked this post to the American Homemaker’s Scary Carnival. It’s not really scarey, but it’s ghosty. I hope that’s okay, Angie! http://theamericanhomemaker.blogspot.com/
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