Arkansas Urban Legends
Arkansas Highway 365
Years ago, a young man was driving down Arkansas 365 south of Little Rock when he saw a young girl on the roadside. He offered to give her a lift and draped his coat over her shoulders because she was cold and soaked from the rain. She gave him directions to her house. When the young man got out of the car and walked around to the other side to help her out of her seat -- no one was there. Confused, the man walked up to the house and knocked on the door. A woman answered and he explained what had occurred. She said, "That young girl is my daughter, who was killed years ago. She hitchhikes back home once a year." The young man then drove to the cemetery to see the young girl's grave. There he found his coat draped over her tombstone.
Arkansas State Capitol
Did you know the Arkansas State Capitol as we know it today was built on the grounds of the former Arkansas State Penitentiary? During the excavation of the foundation around 1899, long-forgotten rotten wood coffins were unearthed, revealing the remains of the state’s past criminals. These days in the basement, disembodied voices have been heard. The 1932 tragedy of Representative Ira Gurley being crushed to death by the Capitol’s south elevator has been tied to the same elevator acting of its own accord. In other parts of the building, visitors and state employees have reported seeing a woman dressed in period clothing floating down the marble staircases. For more information and to book a tour, contact the Arkansas State Capitol at 501-682-5080.
Hornibrook House/ The Empress of Little Rock
Originally built as the most extravagant dwelling in the state by wealthy saloonkeeper James H. Hornibrook, the house currently operates as The Empress of Little Rock, a luxury bed and breakfast. Several paranormal encounters have been witnessed by owner Robert H. Blair, workers and guests. Blair saw a period- dressed gentleman, complete with top hat, floating down the stairs. While restoring the secret poker room in the attic hired painter Timmy Watts found himself locked out, even though no handle or lock was on the door yet. When he returned with a screwdriver to let himself back in, Watts saw that the door was now open and the same image of a man that Blair previously witnessed appeared before him. For more information and for lodging reservations, contact The Empress..
Mount Holly Cemetery
Located at Broadway and 12th Streets in Little Rock, Mount Holly Cemetery is the final resting place for many notable Arkansans. Several reports of paranormal sightings in photographs taken at the property have been made, including apparitions of people dressed in period clothing and bright lights and mists. Some visitors have claimed that statues have been mysteriously relocated to the lawns of nearby houses. The sounds of a flute echo have also been heard, and trinkets and small items have been known to appear and disappear around the graves.
The Old Arsenal
Located in MacArthur Park, the Old Arsenal was one of the many buildings that comprised the state’s munitions storage facility and now houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Many sightings of apparitions have been reported, including a duel between two unexplained shadows, a playful spirit who likes to throw things from the top of the staircase and a solid figure of a man who melted into the air once an employee made contact. The sounds of music, laughter and talking have also been heard from the second floor, although when investigated, no one is present.
Currently the home of the Little Rock Visitors Information Center, the house was originally built by Colonel Ebenezer Walters for his young bride Mary. Mary Walters was never able to see the completed structure, as she died in childbirth just before the house was finished. Grief-stricken, Colonel Walters left the state and the house was owned by several different people – some of whom have reported experiencing the presence of Mary Walters. Visitor Center staff has also experienced eerie occurrences, including a picture coming off the wall and a coffee machine making coffee with no grounds or water present. A team of supernatural experts has even captured a voice recording saying “Mary that’s who I am.” Book a tour.
North Little Rock
Argenta Historic District
The present-day Argenta District in North Little Rock has a tension-filled past. The Argenta Race Riot of 1906 led to the hanging and shooting of innocent restaurant owner Homer Blackman at the Argenta City Hall and fire station. Today, the building houses the North Little Rock History Commission and visitors and employees have reported strange occurrences in the building – including unexplainable noises, footsteps, and the eerie sound of a man rasping and choking. In the same area, at 415 Main Street, many reports of a vision of a woman and man walking arm-in-arm have been made. For more information, contact the North Little Rock History Commission.
A unique geological formation along the banks of the Arkansas River, Natural Steps is a small town with an unsettling history of buildings, structures and people disappearing. Days after a local couple’s wedding atop the Natural Steps, the groom perished from a sudden and mysterious illness. Overwhelmed with grief, the widow disappeared after the funeral – many believe by committing suicide by jumping off the Natural Steps. Residents and visitors alike have since reported seeing a woman in white strolling within the town. During the Civil War, Confederate forces are believed to have sunk their own gunboat containing vast sums of gold, in order to keep Union troops at bay. Three Confederate soldiers died during the explosion, and their graves can be found in the town’s cemetery. Legend has it on moonlit nights, the ghosts of the three soldiers march in a single-file line to the Arkansas River to uncover their hidden treasure.
Known to some as the “Stonehenge of Arkansas,” the mounds and earthen embankments present at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park are remnants of the Plum Bayou culture – not the Mexican Toltec or Aztec tribes as the name suggests. The Plum Bayou people built 18 mounds to serve as a ceremonial, religious, governmental and social complex with at least one serving as a burial mound. Archeological digs at the site have uncovered items that cannot be traced to other Native American cultures, and also have suggested that the Plum Bayou people simply disappeared – with no trace of where they went or why they left. Visitors to the present-day park have claimed to see lights, orbs, and even ghostly apparitions of ancient people. At night, footsteps have been heard around the existing mound site.
1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
The legendary 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is one of the most popular haunted Arkansas destinations. Visitors can stay overnight and take tours revealing the secret underground passages, the property’s old morgue and hear the multitude of hauntings that have been reported throughout the years. The most well-known ghost of the Crescent is Michael, a stonecutter who helped build the hotel and who fell to his death at the location of Room 218. Michael is said to have been a womanizer who often got in trouble for flirting with the ladies. Room 218 is now the Crescent’s most requested room. Another paranormal guest of the hotel is Dr. John Freemont Ellis, former hotel physician. Dressed in top hat and fine clothing, he has been seen on the staircase from the second floor to the lobby and smoke from Ellis’ tobacco pipe is sometimes smelled near the elevator. Look out for a disappearing pool of blood, a resident morgue ghost around the autopsy table and more eerie sightings.
1905 Basin Park Hotel
Sister hotel to the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, the Basin Park Hotel was built in 1905 by William Duncan, after nearly bankrupting all investors involved. The ghost of Duncan, in his traditional brown suit and derby, is believed to still be roaming the property. A vision of a young girl in a long white dress waiting for her groom might be spotted in the property’s Barefoot Ballroom, and the bells of slot machines from the 40s and 50s can be heard in the former illegal gambling parlor. In the hallways, apparitions of a lion ghost and a young woman bent on evicting visitors from “her” room have also been spotted. For more information on lodging opportunities and ghost tours, contact the Basin Park Hotel.
Originally serving as the residence for William Henry Harrison Clayton and his family, the Clayton House has also been home to several paranormal experiences. Director Martha Siler and her employees steer clear of a bedroom on the second floor, where the sounds of boots stomping and doors slamming have been heard. In Clayton’s study, Siler and her daughter have both seen an apparition of a woman with gray hair dressed in brown. A carpenter took some pictures while working on the house and when he got them back, a woman appeared. Paranormal investigators have captured several recordings in the house, including one of a cat meowing and of a man yelling an obscenity. When the public was invited on these investigations, a woman reported her hair being tugged and a man saw a person’s face. For more information, contact The Clayton House.
Built by U.S. Congressman Samuel Peel in 1875, the Peel Mansion is reported to be haunted by Peel himself as well as his daughter, Minnie Belle. Museum staff has heard piano music in the house said to have been played by Minnie. For more information and to book a tour, contact the Peel Mansion.
A tragic story surrounds a mountain southeast of Drake Field airport in Fayetteville. In the 1930s, a man came home to his wife and child after a long night of drinking. His wife had been up all night caring for the sick child, whose incessant crying had made the inebriated father furious. In his anger, he grabbed the baby, stumbled outside and threw the child down their well. His wife grabbed the well’s rope in an attempt to save the baby, but the father cut the rope, leaving the wife and child in the well. The father left town, never to be seen again, but reports have been made that a woman’s screams and a baby’s crying can still be heard in this location.
North Central Arkansas
East Calico Historic District
Cross over the historic Walnut Street Bridge to the East Calico Rock Historic District, a ghost town featuring 23 buildings and other structures from the city’s storied past. A walking tour will take you to 22 detailed signs with historic photos and information about the area, which includes a pool hall and tavern, theater, lumberyard, cotton gin, funeral parlor and more. You can even go inside the old city jail… if you dare.
Years ago, a man by the name of Andrew Springer was held in the Powhatan jail for attacking a local woman. The woman’s family, enraged, broke into the jail and hung him before he could make it to trial. Legend has it that before he died, he vowed he would always haunt the house and paranormal investigators have since witnessed his spirit taking his vengeance out on select visitors. Learn more about the ghost walks hosted by Powhatan Historic State Park.
St. Francis County Museum/Rush-Gates House
Located along Front Street in Forrest City, the present-day St. Francis County Museum was originally built in 1906 by local doctor and historian J. O. Rush. The building served as his residence and housed his medical practice until his death. Paranormal experiences have been reported here, with several employees claiming to have witnessed items disappearing and visitors spotting shadowy figures in the windows. There are also several special events during the year, including overnight lock-ins and paranormal studies.
The Allen House
Built in 1906, the Allen House is located along North Main Street and features gothic-style architecture and wrought-iron fencing. The house was planned by local businessman Joe Lee Allen to be the most impressive house the town had ever seen. Unfortunately in December 1948 the family experienced a grave tragedy – their daughter, Ladell, consumed mercury cyanide-laced punch in the house’s master suite. Out of grief, her mother sealed off the room and it would not be entered by anyone for nearly four decades. During its time as an apartment building in the 1950s, tenants would report eerie occurrences, including hazy figures appearing in photographs, furniture being unexplainably rearranged and several reports of a lady sitting in a turret window. The Allen House is now open for historic guided tours by appointment and opens its doors the last two days of October for special Halloween tours.
Maple Hill Cemetery/Helena Confederate Cemetery
Hidden within Maple Hill Cemetery is a grave of a doctor and his dog. Legend has it that the man was murdered, and his canine friend witnessed the brutal act. Once buried, the dog refused to leave his owner’s grave. The dog died from longing for his master. Some say if you listen very closely, you can hear the dog panting.
Currently serving as a museum and the home of the Ouachita County Historical Society, the McCollum-Chidester House has interesting ties to the Civil War. John Chidester, mailman and stagecoach operator was accused of spying for the Confederacy while Union General Fredrick Steele commandeered the house for five days during the battle at Poison Spring. Bullet holes can still be seen in a wall upstairs where Union soldiers fired at random, seeking Chidester. A voice saying “GET OUT” was reported by a team of investigators visiting this room. In another room, a photo of a mirror revealed a man in a three-piece suit standing behind the photographer, even though no one but the photographer was present.
Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk
Years ago, crime, gambling and prostitution ruled both sides of Texarkana. The Haunted Texarkana Ghost Tours explore this local history, complete with stories of whispering ghosts, dark shadows and bloody murders. These 90-minute walking tours take place outdoors and begin at the Lindsey Railroad Museum.