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Missouri haunts

October 26, 2009

Leaves are turning, the weather is cooling and it’s almost time for ghosts to be out, well, ghouling.

As Halloween approaches, many fun-loving spirits may take the opportunity to visit one of Missouri’s rumored-to-be-haunted locations in search of an otherworldly adventure. As a state that played a major role in the Civil War, Missouri – which has a long and storied history related to ghostly encounters – is a hotbed of paranormal activity.

Whether you’re interested in visiting old graveyards at night, seeing a “Spook Light,” staying at a haunted inn or touring a site where spirits are said to roam, you’re find it in Missouri.

One of Missouri’s most famous haunted sites is the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis. According to the Lemp Mansion Web site, the property dates to the 1860s. It once was home to one of St. Louis’ most prominent business owners, brewer William J. Lemp, who inherited the Lemp Brewery empire when his father, John Adam Lemp, died. William J. Lemp shot and killed himself at the mansion, apparently mourning the loss of his favorite son, who had died three years earlier.

William J. Lemp Jr. succeeded his father in running the family business. But prohibition closed the plant, William Jr.’s sister, Elsa, committed suicide in 1920 and the brewery’s property was sold at auction. William Jr. then took his own life in the very building his father died. William Lemp III died of a massive heart attack at age 42, and William Jr.’s brother, Charles, who lived in the house after his brother died, also committed suicide at the home.

Today, the property is home to Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn, which hosts a large Halloween party each year. “It’s quite fun and very popular,” Mary Wolff, who manages the properties, said of the annual gathering.

Although her family has owned the Lemp Mansion since 1975, Wolff said she’s never had any personal paranormal experiences there. Still, the mansion is open for tours and people frequently come in search of ghosts or strange encounters.

“But we leave that to the experts,” Wolff said.

For more information about the Halloween Party at Lemp Mansion Restaurant, or for information on paranormal tours, visit, or call 314-664-8024.

Another one of Missouri’s most-famous phenomenon is the “Spook Light,” which appears frequently near the community of Hornet (southwest of Joplin) on the Missouri and Oklahoma border. The history of the Spook Light, which has attracted onlookers for more than a century, is harder to trace.

There are a variety of written accounts about the Spook Light and, thanks to Web sites like YouTube, plenty of videos, too. Some suggest the light is natural and caused by gasses or electrical fields. More ghostly tales center on two young Native American lovers who are searching for one another, a Native American Chief who was beheaded in the area and is using a torch to find his head, and a miner who searched the area, in vain, to find his abducted children.

The area still attracts attention, even though it’s difficult to find. If you need directions, check the Web, as I’m unclear of the best route to take. Please note visitors are reminded not to cross on to private property, as there are homes in the area, and to watch for passing motorists.

Happy haunting!

For more on haunted Missouri sites, visit our News Bureau Web site at

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