Minnesota's Most Haunted Places
Halloween is supposed to be scary -- something that can be forgotten while party-hopping in a sea of Lady Gagas and Mike "The Situation's." In an attempt to get back to the holiday's haunted roots, we took a walk on the dark side of history and found a whole panoply of local lost souls: murdered gangsters, tragic suicides, vengeful maniacs. They haunt houses, museums, graveyards and theaters all over the state, and they don't wait for Halloween to come out.
Here are 10 tales of the most haunted places in Minnesota -- if you dare.
10 East Exchange Street, St. Paul
Most of the unexplained phenomenon that happen at the one hundred-year-old theater are blamed on a stagehand named Ben who died in the '40s. Workers complain they hear Ben's ghost dropping beer bottles, his shadow is seen moving up in the workings, and a cold chill is felt near an entrance to the theater that was long ago blocked off. Though Ben is supposedly harmless, one story says he nearly killed two workers by dropping a huge chunk of plaster on them from the catwalks.
276 South Exchange Street, St. Paul
Joseph Forepaugh made his fortune in wholesale dry goods and built his three-story Victorian mansion for his wife and daughters. Their cozy home life turned upside down after his wife discovered him in flagrante delicto with Molly, one of the maids. Grieving over the end of his love affair, Forepaugh shot himself in 1892. Heartbroken (and possibly pregnant), Molly was found hanging from the chandelier in an upstairs bedroom. Both Forepaugh and Molly's ghosts have been spotted walking through the dining rooms, but Molly is the more mischievous. Servers say she pounds on the inside of walls, explodes glasses and wafts her lavender perfume beneath patrons' noses. Halloween is apparently her favorite time of year, when she becomes especially active to both the delight and fright of well-heeled diners.
|Courtesy of Ramsey County Historical Society|
2097 West Larpenteur Avenue, St. Paul
Willie Gibbs was only nine years old when he faced a raging prairie fire that threatened his family's farmhouse in 1867. Though the house was saved, Willie succumbed to smoke inhalation and died soon afterward. His ghost likes to do what any rambunctious nine-year-old would -- he removes toys from inside locked display cabinets, then leaves them strewn across the floor for whoever opens the museum to clean up. He opens and shuts cabinet doors, and raises a racket rocking back and forth in an upstairs rocking chair. Some even say they've seen the face of a young boy peering out of the farmhouse windows.
500 Sinclair Lewis Avenue, Sauk Centre
Kelley Freese didn't know that the Palmer was famous for its ghostly guests when she took over in 2002. Since then, she's come to believe her business is some kind of transit hub for the dearly departed.
"Psychics say there's hundreds there," she says. "They come and go."
Spirits glide through the pub, books fly from shelves, and furniture and place settings rearrange themselves.
One little boy has been seen repeatedly, sitting on a step in the hallway with his ball. He's most commonly seen by other children, though adult guests sometimes complain they were kept up by a child laughing and playing outside their door. Freese says she's heard this more than once on nights when the rest of hotel was vacant.
701 First Avenue, Minneapolis
One of Minnesota's more grisly spirits is that of a blonde woman in a green jacket who supposedly hanged herself in the fifth stall of this legendary music venue's bathroom. She'll sometimes reveal herself, still hanging, to unlucky patrons. Workers have dubbed a lesser-known spirit "Slippy" who makes a balloon appear and float up and down one of the staircases. The club is also the site of plenty of unexplained equipment malfunctions and destruction, which either means the spirits are restless or they make very good rock star scapegoats.
|Photo: Randy Stern|
1201 Greyhound Boulevard, Hibbing
Workers at the museum say Scenic Cruiser 4501 is home to a spirit who likes to open and close the windows and doors. They've also seen strange shadows on the "Nine Bus." Ghost hunters who've scoped out the museum at night reported the voice of a little girl and shadows slipping in between the darkened vehicles.
215 Wabasha Street South, St. Paul
During Prohibition, the caves hosted delinquent dignitaries such as John Dillinger and Ma Barker at its speakeasy, but not everyone left dancing the Charleston. The caves are said to be haunted by three gangsters who were massacred in a back room and buried under the cement floors. Owner Donna Bremer says her employees and guests have seen figures dressed in suits from the '20s, and strange mists float through the halls. A ghost bartender refills wine glasses and the apparition of a madam named Nina Clifford appears -- and disappears -- in full period costume.
602 North Main Street, Stillwater
Thirteen different wardens from the Stillwater State Prison lived in this house, but Warden Henry Wolfer's tormented family is supposedly behind the strange happenings today. Wolfer's daughter Gertrude had just given birth to a son when she suddenly died of appendicitis. The baby was sent to live with his grandfather in the warden's house until the family moved out in 1914. While the Wolfers moved on, Gertrude did not. Today there are rumors of a ghostly woman wandering the rooms of the house, looking for her son. She is sometimes seen peeking out of the windows and a cradle in an upstairs bedroom rocks inexplicably back and forth.
350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis
John Moshik -- the last man to be hanged in Minnesota -- took three minutes to die at his bungled execution at City Hall in 1898. His crime: murdering a man for a measly $14. The courtroom where he was convicted, the place where he was hanged and the mayor's office are all said to be haunted by an angry Moshik. The dead man rearranges photos at his most harmless, and makes judges and attorneys to fall deathly ill at his worst. He has appeared before workers and other inmates, dressed only in his boxers.
This strange island near Cottage Grove has the highest concentration of Native American burial mounds in the country. Today, it is sparsely populated by a community that does not take too kindly to ghost seekers. Some report being run off the island by a disgruntled resident in a white truck. Despite the locals' objections, there are plenty of weird tales that come back from Grey Cloud. Some say they've seen floating orbs of light, others report a translucent ghost motorcyclist riding down the island's undeveloped roads, and still others see a young mother mourning over her deceased infant child. There is a church camp in the island and many believe it's a religious cult or a cover for the KKK. Rumors abound this place.