Commentary

Hunting Guide to The Haunted

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By Rachel Birdsell
TFW Contributing Writer

The closer it gets to Oct. 31, the more everyone’s thoughts turn to witches, goblins and my personal favorite, ghosts. The veil between the dead and the living is supposed to be at its thinnest on All Hallow’s Eve, which makes it a particularly good night for hunting down a haunt or two.
Here are five lists of five things each that are sure to make your ghost hunt the most fun you can have chasing around dead people, while still being safe.

Five Places in Northwest Arkansas to Hunt for Ghosts

Photo by Rachel Birdsell: (Photoshopped for extra creepiness.) The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs is the most famous haunted landmark in Northwest Arkansas.

1. Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs: Without a doubt, the most popular and allegedly the most haunted location in Northwest Arkansas. The hotel’s most famous ghost is Michael, the stonemason who fell to his death during the hotel’s construction. There’s even a ghost cat, Morris. The Crescent holds a nightly guided ghost tour that takes you to areas of the hotel not normally available to visitors. You can find more information on the tours on the hotel’s website, www.crescent-hotel.com.
2. Tilly Willy Bridge, Fayetteville: In the 1970s, a woman and her children died when their car crashed off the side of the narrow bridge. There are many renditions of the haunting. Some say the mother can be seen on the bridge crying for her child. Another tale states she can be seen in the ubiquitous white dress, twirling around in a nearby field.
3. Inn at Carnall Hall, UA Campus: Throughout the years, employees and guests have reported apparitions and poltergeist activity.
4. Prairie Grove Battlefield, Prairie Grove/Pea Ridge Battlefield, Pea Ridge: Take your pick of any Civil War battlefield in the country and you’ll hear reports of ghostly soldiers firing muskets in the wee hours of the night. Our two local battlefields aren’t exceptions to the rule.
5. Peel Mansion Museum, Bentonville: Reportedly haunted by former owner, Colonel Samuel Peel, who was an officer in the Confederate army. Poltergeist activity and shadowy figures have been spotted.

Five Things to Take With You on a Ghost Hunt

1. Flashlights: There’s a very good chance that you’ll be exploring a location that doesn’t have electricity.
2. Camera: Make sure the battery is fully charged or you have a fresh supply of batteries, depending on what type of camera you have.
3. A friend: Try not to go exploring old buildings by yourself. They can be unsafe and you don’t want to fall through a rotted floor board without there being someone to laugh at you. Your friend might also come to your assistance should you get injured.
4. Extra pair of drawers: You just never know when you’re going to have the stuff scared out of you.
5. A digital recorder: You can use it to dictate your observations and if you’re very polite, you may be able to coax a ghost into singing a little ditty for you.

Five Paranormal Arkansas Websites

1. Arkansas Paranormal Research Association
2. The Arkansas Paranormal and Anomalous Studies Team
3. Arkansas Paranormal Investigations
4. River Valley Paranormal Research & Investigations
5. After Midnight Paranormal Investigations

Five Rules of Ghost Hunting

1. If you want to check out a privately owned location, ask permission from the owners before you go traipsing all over their property. Trespassing may land you in jail, or worse, will get you some buckshot in your backside.
2. Be safe. There are nutcakes who like to scare people on Halloween. If it’s done safely, it’s all good fun and no one loses a vital body part. Unfortunately, nutcakes don’t think about safety very often.
3. Don’t be a twit. Wait until after the ghost hunt to get your drink on, and don’t smoke while you’re at a location. Besides being a nasty habit, smoke can cause misty shapes to show up on your photos. Later, when you’re bragging to your friends about the image you captured of a ghost, you’ll feel like a bonehead when they point out that it was just smoke from your lit Camel.
4. Be prepared for anything. Abandoned buildings may be someone’s temporary home or a local hang out for teens. Walking in on a live person unexpectedly may be scarier than seeing a ghost.
5. Leave the location exactly as you found it. Don’t litter. Don’t take anything you didn’t arrive with unless you’re being a nice person and taking away the trash that someone else left.

I may do a little ghost hunting myself this Halloween. I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I’m not above being scared by one. If you go, have fun, be safe and if you capture a photo of a ghost, send it my way. rabirdsell@gmail.com

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