Tag Archive for: Eureka Springs

Ghost Hunting – Part 2

Old creepy hotels are well … old. That was my first brilliant observation as my brother and I lugged our stuff from the parking lot up the front steps into the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The entrance doorknob was about six inches lower than a normal doorknob. At 5 foot 7 inches, I had to stoop to open the door. With my hands filled with two bags, my oversized purse, and my laptop, the maneuver was awkward and uncomfortable. Much like the rest of my stay in the Victorian hotel.

Old creepy hotels in the South in July are well … hot. Swelteringly hot. The Crescent Hotel has window air conditioning units in the guest rooms but the rest of the hotel is dependent on ceiling fans and cold spots created by ghosts.

Yep, ghosts.

First let me report that I didn’t see any ghosts. I don’t think I heard any ghosts. And I probably didn’t sense any ghosts. You’ll note that I’m a lot more definite about not seeing any manifestations, orbs, or unusual shadows.

We went on the Ghost Tour on Tuesday night, our second night, at the hotel. Starting at 8:00 P.M. a psychic with an intricate knowledge of the hotel’s history led a group of twenty or more through the hallways and basement of the 1886 Victorian hotel.

Originally a resort hotel, it later became a women’s college and dormitory, then a cancer clinic run by a charlatan, and again a hotel. Aside from a stone mason killed in an accident during construction and a young student who went off a balcony to her death, most of the reported ghost sightings involve patients from the hotel’s infamous cancer hospital days. Dr. Baker, a self proclaimed physician despite no medical training, cruelly butchered, through experimental surgeries and treatments, and generally swindled thousands of cancer victims. Many are buried or cremated on site. Check here for more details about the hotel’s history and ghost sightings.

The tour lasted more than two hours. I had plenty of time to watch for ghosts and to watch the people in the group watching for ghosts. By far the people watching was the most interesting. The demographics of the tour group ranged from 2 to 70-plus years in age, from male to female to uncommitted. All were busy with digital cameras trying to catch a spirit appearance. The two-year-old did a lot of running and screaming down the hallways. I had a feeling that if a ghost had shown up, the toddler would have had company.

My brother took over a hundred photos, one that showed a possible orb (a spirit with only enough energy to appear as a ball of light in photos). Or it might just have been the sun through the skylight.

And one that showed something we couldn’t identify. He took several photos of empty chairs in spots where ghosts were reported to hang out. In the photos as in real life, the chairs appeared empty.

Personally I think the ghosts were absent because of the heat. It felt like a 110 F in the non-air conditioned lobby and hallways. What self-respecting ghost would choose to suffer those temps when they could be out in the gardens or the pool scaring humans?

Okay – so I didn’t see any ghosts on this trip. And I mentioned above that I don’t think I heard any ghosts. The reason I’m not as sure about the audio encounters is that between the organic noises of the old building (banging elevator, creaking floors, unbalanced ceiling fans, sounds from substandard plumbing, noisy window air conditioner units turned to the “freeze please” setting, etc.) and the loud voices of flesh and blood guests who’d spent too much time in the bar, I wouldn’t have been able to hear a ghostly whisper, moan, or groan if my life depended on it.

Okay – the first night I might have heard metal gurneys from the 1930s being pushed back and forth in the hallways. Or more likely, I heard the sounds of living guests pulling their wheeled suitcases over the wooden floors. I had a digital audio recorder with me. And like the investigators on Ghost Hunters, I had planned to sit in my empty room, turn the recorder on, and then ask if any ghosts wanted to talk to me. But … I kept thinking, what if they did? What would I do if I asked a question and got an answer? How would I react? My world view would be changed. My religious beliefs would be challenged. And most importantly, I would have had to pack up and find a Holiday Inn in the middle of the night. I decided it was better to leave the recorder in my purse.

So no visuals. No sounds. What about sensing ghosts?


When I was in the basement (the location of the old operating and autopsy rooms) with the tour group, the keys I had in the pocket of my slacks, moved.

It felt like someone had passed a magnet by my hip and the metal hotel key and metal fob clanked together and moved away from my body. It was a strong enough sensation that I asked the tour guide if there were magnets in the area. He said, “No. Ghosts like to play tricks with keys.” He told me that I’d been “touched.”

I’m not so sure. I’m a born skeptic. But I admit the possibility forced me to sleep with a light on my last night at the hotel.

Will I go back? Probably not. At least not in the summertime. Maybe Halloween?

Even though I didn’t leave with concrete proof of ghosts, I did leave with a good story. For a writer, that’s all that matters.

Evelyn David

Ghost Hunting

What’s your favorite ghost story? Was it a movie? A book? A short story? A tv series? I confess I love ghost stories, especially haunted house stories. I like the creepy ones best.

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House continues to be one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. Steven King’s The Shining comes in a close second. The television series Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker gave me rich fodder for my childhood nightmares. Movies that pulled a scream from me? These are some that I remember the best: Poltergeist, Session 9, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, The Amityville Horror, Burnt Offerings, and White Noise.

White Noise was a movie about ghosts communicating though the static “white noise” of radios and televisions that are tuned to empty stations. The movie introduced me to the concept of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). Apparently if you want to communicate with ghosts, one way is to use a tape recorder. You might not hear the ghosts talking to you, but the tape recorder will. You’ll hear them later when the tape is played back slowly and at an increased volume. I’m using the term “tape recorder” but of course everyone uses a digital recorder. Apparently ghosts don’t have a preference.

Watch Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel and you’ll see the investigators go into a darkened room, turn on their tape recorder, and then try to provoke ghosts to answer questions they pose aloud. Usually they ask something like, “Do you want to talk to us? Do you want us to go away?” Something that only requires a short answer. You don’t want to overtax ghosts.

I enjoy watching the Ghost Hunter episodes although I have doubts that ghosts always cooperate with the show’s production schedule. They set up elaborate cameras and recording devices in an alleged ghost-filled location, spend a couple of hours, and then pack it up. I want to see someone set up camp in a haunted house for about six months with all the cameras and recorders going 24/7. That would be a great reality show.

Okay, so why am I talking ghosts today? Because I’m going to be spending tonight and tomorrow night in a haunted hotel; one of the places where Ghost Hunters filmed an episode during their second season. I’ve got reservations for the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. My brother is going with me (another fan of the Ghost Hunter show). We’re going to take the evening Ghost Tour and learn a little more about the history of the structure built in 1886, then spend two nights watching for ghosts.

Half joking, I told my brother to bring his digital camera so we could get shots of orbs and other physical manifestations if the ghosts show up while we’re there. He agreed, but informed me that they would probably drain the camera’s batteries before we could get a shot.

“Drain the batteries?” I asked. He didn’t seem to be joking.

He gave me a knowing look.

Okay, so maybe I don’t watch the show that closely. Or take it that seriously. Maybe I just have it on while I write, glancing over at the screen when the screaming starts. I actually did watch the entire episode about the Crescent Hotel though. The scariest part wasn’t the sounds or the shadows the investigators managed to catch on their monitoring equipment. It was when an investigator’s laptop computer was moved, through means unknown, from the top of the hotel bed to a position leaning against the exterior door. That really creeped me out.

Nobody, ghost or human, touches my laptop.

Check back later in the week for updates to this blog.

Update: 4:00 P.M. Central – 7/21/08

Arrived at hotel and got checked in. About 100 degrees F. outside. Rooms were on the fourth floor and very hot until I got the window units going. There is wireless internet in the hotel but it’s very, very slow. So far the only odd thing is that I had to put new batteries in my wireless keyboard. But it might have just needed new batteries – it’s been about 2 months since I used it.

Plan to participate in the ghost tour tonight at 8:00 P.M. Central.

So far my first impression is that old buildings are great to tour but maybe not so great to stay overnight in. Nothing special about the room that I’m in – just old.