Like any state, Iowa has its share of ghost stories. They range from tales of tragedy and loss, to truly horrifying accounts of evil, vengeful spirits. So, if you’re in need of a little scare this Halloween season, here are 12 ghosts from Iowa, and their bone-chilling stories…
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The ghost of Stony Hollow Road
The ghost of a heartbroken young woman is believed to haunt this road a few miles north of Burlington. According to legend, a young woman named Lucinda was planning to meet her lover on the bluffs outside of town so that they could elope. The man, however, never showed. Lucinda was so heartbroken that she threw herself off the cliff to her death. Motorists have reported seeing her ghost on Stony Hollow Road for decades. Supposedly, if you go to the top of the bluff and say Lucinda’s name three times, she will appear, and if she drops a rose at your feet, you will die the next day.
2. The ghost of Lover's Leap
Lovers Leap in Columbus Junction is reportedly haunted by a young Indian woman who leaped to her death after she mistakenly thought her lover was dead. She is rumored to be buried at the bottom of the cliff where she jumped, and now visitors report feelings of being watched, cold drafts, and unexplained crying noises.
The story goes that there is the ghost of a former student named Helen who haunts Coe College in Cedar Rapids. After she died of influenza in the epidemic of 1918, her parents donated the grandfather clock that used to be in her room to the school. The rumor goes that at night, her spirit leaves the clock to play piano in the parlor, and stand by students' beds, pulling their covers off them.
4. Uncle Charlie
Supposedly in Urbandale there is this ghost named Uncle Charlie, who you can find running through the woods at night. They say if you take a picture with the flash on, he will show up in background, looking ghostly and gruesome. People have reported seeing his ghostly, flesh-eaten face staring into their windows at night.
5. The Children of Iron Hill
The legend goes that sometime in the 1920's there was a fiery train crash near Charles City that killed many passengers. One car was full of orphan children who became trapped in the train car and perished in the fire. It is said that the ghost children can still be heard crying, and sometimes the smell of burning is detected. Some have seen the ghost of a little girl walking through the woods in a white dress, and one person reported finding a burnt baby doll half buried in the ground by the tracks.
6. The little boy of Plum Creek Pits
At Plum Creek Pits in Algona, there is said to be a mysterious little boy who plays on the waters edge. The local legend says that this boy was playing at the pits one day when he tripped and fell onto a stick, which impaled him. Local fishermen have reported seeing the boy along the river's edge, and when they called out to him, he is said to have disappeared without a trace.
7. The ghost of George
There is a legend about this old house in Clarion. They say to go to this house, walk upstairs and pick up one of the old photos on ground, then take the photo home with you and sleep with it. When you wake up, the photo will be gone. When you go back into the house, the photo will be back on the floor where you found it and there will be a dark figure in the picture. Apparently, this figure's name is George, and he will haunt you after you touch the photograph. They say that if you let him touch you, he will take a part of your soul.
8. The Joker
Located in Monticello, the 150-year-old Edinburgh Manor is rumored to be haunted by "The Joker," a violent ghost known to choke visitors. It has been a mental institution among other things, and at least 80 people are said to have died here, and are buried out in the cemetery, where visitors have reported seeing ghostly figures and feeling strange presences.
9. The ghost of the Sioux City Auditorium
The Sioux City Auditorium/Long Lines Family Center is rumored to be haunted by several different spirits. One of these is the ghost of a young boy who died in the building when it was first being constructed. The story goes that he and his friend were on the roof hunting pigeons, when they were separated. The boy's friend thought he had left, so he went home. Two weeks later the boy was found at the bottom of a roof exhaust shaft, which was a fall of 150-feet. They say that he still haunts the area, and you can hear faint screams and feel cold drafts when you walk by.
10. The ghosts of Merle Hay Mall
Merle Hay Mall and its tower are said to be haunted by the ghosts of several nuns. Apparently, the mall is built over an old monastery/nunnery, where several nuns had become pregnant and had miscarriages, then buried their babies in unmarked graves on the site. The tower is said to be haunted by the ghost of a crying nun, who carries around a dead infant. People have also reported the elevator moving between floors with no one on it, cold drafts, and unexplained noises.
11. The ghost of Dr. Robert Morehouse
Apparently, the Drake University Observatory in Des Moines is haunted by Dr. Robert Morehouse, the first director of the astronomy department. He and his wife's remains are interred in the entryway of the building, and students have reported many strange things happening, including an unknown force correcting calculations on their observation logs.
12. The ghost of Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge in Lake City is home to a ghost, but not a scary one, like the rest of these. The story goes that if you bring an unopened chocolate bar to the bridge at midnight, lay it in the center of the bridge, then leave the bridge, after 5 minutes you will find the unopened candy bar with an intact wrapper, but the chocolate inside will be gone. Now this sounds like a ghost I wouldn't mind running into.
Some of these are enough to give you goosebumps! Good luck sleeping tonight… Do you have any ghost stories to share with us?