Ghost Hunting Away from Our Little House

View from 4th Floor Balcony at The 1886 Crescent Hotel

This weekend, we had the opportunity to go to Eureka Springs, about a two-hour drive from Our Little House. Dale and I have been there several times and my parents always vacationed there when I was a kid.

I was on assignment from three different publications to write about haunted hotels. I love these types of assignments. I’m fascinated by history (especially American Victorian Era) and by the paranormal, so these assignments are truly fun for me.

I’m also a chicken, so Dale gets the job of being my protector on all night ghost hunts and is also tasked with taking notes of our surroundings while I shoot the camera.

Until this weekend, I would say the most fascinating assignment we had ever been on was staying the night at Jesse James’ boyhood home in Kearney, Missouri. I was there as a reporter for the Associated Press to write about one of those paranormal investigations. Unfortunately, the only thing we experienced were raccoons in the attic, which led to an unworldly smell.

Reportedly, one of the most haunted (some would argue THE most haunted) hotel is the spectacular 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, where we stayed Saturday night.

This photo shows a bright ball of light above the chair across our hotel room room& another above the television. Others can be seen on my computer.

The hotel, aptly named for being built in 1886 was built as a luxury hotel, but in the 125 years since, also served as a women’s conservatory and college. From 1937-40, it was a cancer “hospital,” ran by Norman Baker, a “doctor” who wasn’t. He claimed he could cure cancer and because he couldn’t, this is where many of the ghost stories originate that are now told on the fascinating ghost tours.

Today, the hotel is a luxury hotel once again, a magnificent castle type place that evokes nostalgia for the Victorian age.

We stayed at The 1905 Basin Park Hotel in downtown Eureka Springs on Friday night, another hotel also purportedly haunted. The ghost tour at that hotel filled us in with much of the history of the town, a good primer for the ghost tour at The Crescent the next night.

Typically, on these types of assignments, Dale and I feel a little overwhelmed with room sizes, as they are usually much bigger (and the suites multi-room) than Our Little House.

The rooms at these hotels were much more cozy, typical of smaller rooms built during the Victorian era (although they both do have suites available) and for our purposes, much better to ghost hunt in as we could see all points in each room.

We were on the top floor, supposedly in the corner of the hotel with the most “activity.” (This is the same hallway where “Dr.” Baker’s suite was located and directly below us was the former sanitarium and on the first floor, the former morgue).

After the ghost tour on Saturday night, we headed for Dr. Baker’s Lounge, a bar/restaurant down the hall from our room and ate on the balcony. The balcony offers awesome views of the Ozark Mountains during the day and a wonderful ambiance at night, especially when there is a lovely full moon.

Many people who believe in spirits think that 3:30-4 a.m. is the “witching hour,” or when spirits are most active, so I told Dale we had to get up and do our ghost hunting, photographing the hotel.

For some reason, our television and electric clock in our room weren’t working, but a dream about my parents and Hershey, one of our dogs that is now gone, startled me awake at 3:22 a.m.

I told Dale to get up and switched on the light next to the bed, the only light I turned on.  I grabbed the camera from the nightstand and decided to shoot a couple of photos of an old chair in the corner of our room.

I was surprised when looking back at the two photos that one appeared to have a bright ball of light, visible on my digital screen and one did not. You might know from Ghost Hunters (who have described The Crescent as the 3rd most haunted building they’ve ever investigated) that some people believe these to be orbs, or the energy created by spirits.

Others believe they are simply dust particles.

When I got the photo on the computer, I could then see several of these balls on the first photo. None appear to be close to the camera. The brightest one appears to be above the chair toward the curtains. Neither Dale or I was on that side of the room, nor were there any light sources on that side. There were no balls on the second photo taken right after the first one from roughly the same spot.

Of approximately 300 different shots I took around the hotel during the tour and between 3:30 – 4 a.m. (I took two of each shot as I did with the bedroom photo to see if anything did appear, if it was replicated in the next shot), about a dozen of them had these balls that were not replicated in the next shot.

One, taken in our hallway in the middle of the night when no one was around to stir up dust, has multiple balls of light. Two more show what appears to Dale and I as faces, one in a mirror, and the other in a pane of glass.

I definitely have my opinions. But I’ll let you decide.

Do you believe in the paranormal? Why or why not? Would you stay in a “haunted” hotel? Any experiences you would like to share?


This photo was taken 2 minutes after the above photo from roughly the same spot.


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30 Responses

  1. Jane Boursaw says:

    Wow, cool! I definitely believe in ghosts but have never experienced any myself. I love all the ghost hunter shows on TV and have even warmed up to scary movies in recent years.

  2. Merr says:

    I also heard a story on This American Life about various haunted rooms and buildings – it was fascinating. I don’t think it was scary for the reporters, either, but very eye opening and a bit unreal!

  3. I think some hotels are just downright creepy–ghosts or no. But I have noticed there have been quite a few ‘ghost tours’ popping up in various towns.

    • kerri says:

      I do believe this particular hotel has benefited quite a bit from its hauntings. I think it is more a fascination with people now. One benefit of the reality shows, I guess. 😉

  4. Since you grew up with ghosts, you clearly have a stronger constitution for this sort of thing than I do! I lived across from cemeteries all my life and that didn’t faze me, but don’t think I’d fare well in an actual haunted house.

  5. Sheryl says:

    I am a believer even though it defies logic. But the other night when my two sons slept over, we all got up in the morning and reported we tossed and turned all night. Then my son told me he almost got out of bed because he heard strange sounds. Hmmm…..

    • Kerri says:

      I don’t know that it defies logic, Sheryl. I think kids are much more sensitive to these things. Do you live in an old home?

  6. Dee says:

    I worked at the Crescent in the 70s, both in the basement and on the roof, and though I was always watchful, I never saw or heard anything unexplainable. Even though I spent a lot of time alone where I was working. But it certainly was a beautiful place to work!

    • Kerri says:

      Have you been there since 1997, Dee? I understand it had extensive renovations then. I can’t imagine it being any more beautiful than it is now. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Kim says:

    I also have an acquaintance here in town who has a ghost in her house… it’s made repairs to the roof for them to keep the house from being damaged in the rain, and apparently “bakes”… her signature smell is like an apple pie that’s dripped onto the oven floor and burnt a bit. She can tell story after story, and they’ve only been in the house for a few years.

    • Kerri says:

      How cool, Kim! My mother always thought the ghost who inhabited our house liked us. That’s why he was whistling all of the time! I would suspect that many of those old houses over there in Harrison would have some activity.

  8. Kim says:

    I love both those hotels! Aaron and I were actually married in Basin Park, and had our reception in the hotel.

    I’ve stayed both places and never had anything unusual happen, but my cousin’s husband was woken up (touched, I think) by a woman who then walked through the wall and vanished. It’s a great story.

    I imagine you’ve seen the Ghost Hunters episode about the Crescent where they were filming in the old morgue? The man in the hat?

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, very cool, Kim. I didn’t know you were married at the Basin Park. They had a wedding there on Saturday. Did you hear the story about the ballroom there? Supposedly, if you go there in the middle of the night, you can actually see people dancing. I tried, but they had the elevators locked to the 6th floor! Hmmm. Yes, they showed us the Ghost Hunters episode on the tour. I got another ball of light right in front of that locker!

  9. Ooooh. Creepy! I’ve not ever run across any spirits, but I do think they’re out there. My uncle tells stories of a time he spent living in an old Victorian – I’m convinced!

  10. Kerri, were you or Dale ever frightened while on both ghost hunts? I love Eureka Springs and the beauty of both hotels. But, ghost I don’t hang around with, we just don’t get along.

  11. Dori Rendon- Lowry says:

    Here is my story….
    In April 2004 we purchased an old Victorian Home that was built in 1880. After we moved in weird things started happening…small things, nothing anyone really would notice…but I had 2 little girls who see everything. My 5 year old at the time was on the computer and witnessed someone walk into our kitchen and stand there, someone who she thought was her sister, but she said she got up and went into her room and her sister was sleeping…she was so matter of fact, it did not phase her…She said it was the little boy who lived here…really omg…lol…Another time both girls saw the boys sitting on my antique couch(he was dressed in overalls and a hat)…this time it did frighten them, they came down stairs screaming..But I think that the scariest thing that happened, besides me hearing all kinds of commotion going on in our attic ( I have even gone as far as calling the police, thinking someone was up stairs…no one)was when my youngest daughter was in Kindergarten, she attended morning classes and for some reason I went back to bed. Someone yelled my name and grabbed my ankle and shook me…I jumped up and said “WHAT” I could still feel the hand on my ankle…holy moly…scared the living daylights out of me…I think that they were warning me to pick up my daughter, because it was exactly the time I needed to leave to get her. I have learned to live with all the strange noises and foot steps…it is an old house after all…it’s bound to have some kind of weird things happen in it…we call them Ida and Charles who were the original owners of our home. They also had a son named ORA, and get this…this is the exact name of my mother who is still with us….WEIRD…

    • Kerri says:

      Those are very eerie stories, Dori! People who believe in the paranormal also think that small children are especially open to the experiences because no one has told them yet that it doesn’t exist. Maybe there is another explanation to all of those “imaginary friends” kids see, huh? I once saw our neighbor’s granddaughter swinging on the swing in the backyard, she was chatting with someone, saying, “push me higher” and went on to have a conversation using words I knew she couldn’t have known at that age. As Kathleen points out, there are many things we do not understand.

  12. Kristie says:

    I have stayed at the Crescent Hotel. It is pretty creepy. Heard lots of noises in the night. I also have a great picture from The Stanley Hotel in Colorado. Will try to post it.

    • Kerri says:

      That would be great, Kristie. I’ve always wanted to stay there as well. I hear they give tours and show you Stephen King’s room where he wrote The Shining. I’ve tried to include them in stories I’ve written, but they don’t want to promote their “ghostly” activity.

  13. Heather L. says:

    I love the stories they tell on ghost tours. I do believe and have stayed in a “haunted” hotel before. But the staff liked to move things around in the guest rooms to make you think it was ghostly activity.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, that’s not good, Heather. If they cannot allow their ghosts to stand on their own, they must not really be haunted! 😉

  14. How creepy Kerri. Did you hear any weird sounds or unexplained noises in the night?

    I grew up in a rambling colonial style house in the Brookside area of Kansas City. We heard lots of weird noises in that house and my mother always believed it was haunted. Old houses do a lot of settling and creaking so it’s hard to say, but as a kid, it would only take one unexplained noise to send me scrambling in search of my mom! It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that the neighborhood I grew up in, during prohibition and the era of gangsters, had many speakeasy’s and gangster hideouts in those big old houses.

    In fact, a man from Kansas City wrote a book about the area and a house just down the street from ours, where gangsters hid out after a bank robbery that went bad. One of the bank robbers had been shot and apparently they hid him up in the attic of the house and tried to take care of him. He died a slow and agonizing death in that attic and according to the writer, the house has long been considered haunted by subsequent residents of the house and neighbors, though I never heard this story as a kid. There is much we do not understand about this world and what lies beyond.

    • Kerri says:

      No sounds or other experiences, Kathleen. And thank goodness, we didn’t awaken to anyone standing over our bed, as others have reported. We were told numerous guests have checked out in the middle of the night. From the age of 15, my parents lived in the obligatory “haunted” house in our town. My mother experienced a lot of odd things there, including water turning itself on, footsteps when no one else was home and all of us, including Dale, heard happy whistling on more than one occasion. Then, one night in the winter of 1979-80, I awoke to Angela, the Australian exchange student who was living with us that year, looking toward the other side of the room. When I sat up and turned in that direction, there was a man standing there who turned to me and smiled. I later recognized him in a history book of our town as C.W. Wilson, the man for whom our house, “Wilson House” was named. Collective dreaming, as Angela claimed? An imprint in time through some electromagnetic field? Who knows, but I know what I saw.

      • Well, as I say, there is much about this world that we don’t understand. I admit I am not much of a believer in the paranormal, but I enjoy hearing stories and accounts of others’ experiences. The story of the man in your bedroom gave me goosebumps!