Iowa January 21, 2018
The Tiny Town In Iowa With A Terribly Creepy Past
Way, way up in the northwest corner of Iowa, where the borders of the Hawkeye State and South Dakota become blurry and the homes and farms are spaced far apart is the tiny, tiny town of Granite. The town is so small, in fact, that the sign you’ll see as you enter town just says “Welcome to Granite: Population Low.”
Every summer on the third weekend in July, Iowans and South Dakotans flock to Granite for their annual “Granite Threshing Bee”. People enjoy the old-time tractor parade, demonstrations of wheat thrashing, homemade food, and even a kids tractor pull.
Occasionally, an explorer gets the itch to head up to this tiny border town to explore the nearly Gitchie Manitou Preserve. What many of them don’t know is that hiding between the pretty flowers and abandoned buildings, the spirits of the victims of a gruesome murder are begging for their story to be heard.
The Gitchie Manitou Preserve is similar to many other small parks in the state of Iowa - except for the fact that it is haunted.
You can find the preserve in the very northwest corner of the state, at 52141, Adams Ave, Larchwood, IA 51241. Be aware, these are sacred grounds, and the history here is eerie and sad.
The park borders the scenic Big Sioux River, which is a great place to relax for a picnic, and for nature enthusiasts to get their fix of a truly wild river.
The notable Sioux Quartzite outcroppings are over 1.6 billion years old! This smooth, pink bedrock is the oldest exposed rock in the entire state.
Gorgeous flowers, both native and invasive, surround the park's well maintained trails.
You'll find over 40 acres of land to explore. The name "Gitchie Manitou" comes from the Great Spirit, or great creator, in Anishinaabe Indian tradition, Gichi-Manidoo.
Old ruins, including some Native American cave paintings, are one draw of this historic preserve.
It's easy to find the ancient Native American burial mounds on any stroll through this park. It is said that their spirits continue to walk these hallowed grounds.
Many people don't know that the Gitchie Manitou Preserve is haunted by more than the Native American spirits. It was the site of a gruesome murder in 1973.
On November 17, 1973, the peaceful nature of this scenic and historic park was forever disturbed.
On that evening, five young teenagers from Sioux Falls, South Dakota were exploring the pretty park when the unthinkable happened.
Three brothers attacked their entire group. Four of the teenagers were killed, and a fifth was raped, but managed to escape with her life. Those killed were 17 year old Roger Essem, 18 year old Stewart Baade, 14 year old Dana Baade, and 15 year old Michael Hadrath.
The three brothers, Allen, David and James Fryer, were in the park hunting when they happened upon the teenagers, who were singing around a campfire and smoking marijuana. The brothers decided that they would pose as narcotics officers and approach the children.
All three brothers opened fire on the group with shotguns. Two of the boys were killed instantly, while the others ran into the woods seeking shelter. Allen and David Fryer the three remaining children to follow them back to where they had parked their own van. The youngest, 13 year old Sandra, was tied up and contained in the van. James and David Fryer killed the remaining teenagers. The next day, a couple from Sioux Falls found three of the bodies and reported them to police, who quickly found the fourth.
The testimony of the survivor, 13 year old Sandra Cheskey, was the key to bringing the evil brothers to justice.
The Gitchie Manitou Murders struck fear into the hearts of locals, and authorities were seeking the killers that had left the bodies in the park. Somehow, the youngest victim, Sandra Cheskey convinced her captors to bring her home. She contacted police.
On November 29, 1973, Sandra Cheskey was able to identify the farmhouse where the Fryer brothers had taken her, and the brothers were soon arrested by the Sheriff. The terror that had gripped this small town was slowly beginning to fade, but the horrific memories have remained in the minds of locals, and visitors to the Gitchie Manitou Preserve.
A video from Youtube user
EXPLORE&ABSORB takes you on a journey through the ruins at Gitchie Manitou, long after the murders. It still seems like a very eerie, creepy place. Do you agree?
Unfortunately, the Gitchie Manitou murder was not the only event to leave restless spirits seeking their peace in Iowa.
Meet 12 Ghosts From Iowa And Hear Their Bone-Chilling Stories for more on the most haunted places in the state.