Whether you believe in things that go bump in the night, ghosts, goblins or all of the above, you can find some excitement permeating the air in Oklahoma this Halloween.
Quite a few destinations in Oklahoma claim to have some unusual goings on, not just during Halloween, but all year long. The first is the Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum in Durant. Built in 1842 as a protective force for the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes, the fort has a rich history and its restored barracks give visitors a good indication of how troops lived in those early days.
One very determined female ghost named Aunt Jane is rumored to haunt the grounds there. It seems Fort Washita was Aunt Jane's home for a time, but one night, thieves murdered her when she refused to reveal where she had hidden her money. Today, you can tour Fort Washita and soak in its wealth of history and significance. The fort hosts a big fur trade rendezvous every year.
One of the most popular “ghostly” tours in Oklahoma takes place at Fort Reno. The lantern-lighted tour of the historic site is offered each March through October. “Unexplained” things are said to occur consistently at the old fort, including slamming doors, cold spots and footsteps. The post was established in 1874 to protect the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Over the years, it served as two remount depots, and it also served as a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. Tour guides tell the stories of the restless spirits who still inhabit the old fort, as well as some unsolved mysteries, urban legends and murderous tales.
A number of theaters are alleged to have ghosts or spirits that simply don't want to give up their seat, so to speak. One is the Constantine Theater in Pawhuska. It is a beautiful landmark on Main Street.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the interior has been restored. But, after the stage lights go out for the evening, and everyone is gone, is there a ghost that lingers for that extra curtain call? Perhaps, it's a frustrated spirit who longed to be a success in vaudeville. The earliest documented ghost story goes back to 1906.
Several paranormal research teams have investigated the Constantine and report there definitely is activity in the building. So, one could either say “the show must go on,” or “the spirit of the theater is alive and well.”
Another soul with a love for the stage can be found at the Poncan Theater in Ponca City. Seat No. 4 seems to be the favorite of this particular ghost, who is reported to be wearing a dress and old-fashioned shoes.
Lastly, in the spirit of entertainment, Cain's Ballroom is rumored to host Bob Wills' ghost, as well as a woman known only as the “lady in red.” Visitors to “the home of Bob Wills,” as well as employees have reported very unusual “events” surrounding this mysterious woman.
For a complete listing of the most haunted places in Oklahoma, and a list of Halloween events, go to www.TravelOk.com.
Dino Lalli is the producer, a reporter and co-host of the weekly TV travel show AAA's Discover Oklahoma.