From northwest Arkansas to right here at Harding, paranormal encounters have been reported in several locations year round. These five locations may be visited to quench curiosity for the adventurous, to feed the adrenaline junky after a long day of classes, or to occupy a free weekend on an uneventful campus.
1. 1886 Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs
Approximately three and a half hours from Searcy stands “America’s most haunted hotel” – the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs – according to the Crescent Hotel itself. During the construction of the hotel in 1885, a stonecutter named Michael supposedly fell to his death from room 218. According to Arkansas.com, Michael was “a good-looking man who often got in trouble for flirting with the ladies” and continues to play tricks on female guests.
The Crescent Hotel provides haunted tours in which tourists can experience underground passages and the basement, which was used as a morgue while the building operated as a hospital from 1937-1940.
2. Haunted Tours, Hot Springs
Downtown Hot Springs has a rich history of illegal gambling and gangster activity. Hot Springs Haunted Tours hire guides to lead a nightly 90-minute walk through the main strip of town and tell the paranormal encounters and history of various locations.
The tour begins with three houses on Court Street, which lay on ancient Native American burial grounds and served as the scene for more than 200 hangings in the early history of Hot Springs. Tourists are warned of the Arlington Hotel hauntings and the screams heard from the Arkansas Rehabilitation center, which originally served as the Army-Navy Hospital during World War I and was later used as a sanitarium for the criminally insane. The tour ends with a visit to the location of the Ledwidge drive-thru funeral home.
3. Old Arsenal Tower Building, Little Rock
According to Arkansas.com, the old arsenal building in MacArthur Park was established shortly after Arkansas joined the Union in 1836. It is now the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The website tells tales of disembodied voices, apparitions and shadows from the building. Tales say a clear apparition walks down the staircase to the ground floor and throws objects at people in the late afternoon or on stormy winter days.
4. The Clayton House, Fort Smith
The Empress Bed and Breakfast was originally built in 1888 by James Hornibrook to be the most elaborate home in Little Rock, according to The Empress website. Two years later, he was found dead at the front gate of the house.
The bed and breakfast has the most stories of paranormal activity on Arkansas.com. Reports include sightings of a military captain, a man dressed in formal attire, a maid folding laundry and a large woman dressed in pink.
5. Lee Building, Harding University
Harding is featured in the book “Haunted Halls of Ivy: Ghosts of Southern Colleges and Universities” by Daniel W. Barefoot for having a student who never left: the Galloway ghost.
Galloway College for Women opened in 1888 and closed in 1933. The campus was acquired by Harding College in 1934 when it relocated from Morrilton, Arkansas. According to the book, a student named Gertrude (Gertie) fell down an elevator shaft in Godden Hall when investigating a sound she heard while returning to her dorm room for the night. The bricks from Godden Hall were used to build the Lee Building. A story from the 1999 Petit Jean yearbook tells the account of a group of boys who spent the night in the Lee building to prove Gertie did not exist, but in return heard unexplainable soft piano music playing and called security to rescue them.
In a 2013 article from The Bison, Jim Johnson, then director of student support services, told of his Gertie encounter. He said while working in the Lee Building, his phone malfunctioned, and he heard piano music and a woman’s voice singing.”All I thought was, ‘Man, that is so pretty,’ but then I remembered that there were no more pianos in the building, and I was alone,” Johnson reported in the article.