It’s October in Oklahoma – a time of changing leaves, brisk winds, pumpkin patches and apple cider. But according to some, it’s also the time for things that go bump in the night. Oklahoma has a rich history of ghostly lore to go with the season, and some spooky reminders of the state’s storied past remain.
Christy Clark, founder and director of Oklahoma Paranormal Research and Investigations, believes paranormal activity in Oklahoma can be attributed in part to its unique geology, and in part to the legacy left by the land runs. “The battles for Indian Territory, the attachment to the land by eastern Americans and foreign immigrants who had high hopes and dreams for a place to call their own, and the geology and variety of the landscapes in Oklahoma fuel paranormal activity, ” she says.
According to the experts at OKPRI, here’s a rundown of some of Oklahoma’s most famous haunts.
Stone Lion Inn, Guthrie
Built in 1907 by F.E. Houghton for his wife and 12 children, this 8,000-square-foot bed and breakfast is a hotspot for paranormal activity, investigators say. Not long after the Houghtons vacated the premises (Mr. Houghton perished on site), the house became a funeral home for many years. Some believe the inn is haunted by a young daughter of Houghton’s, who was diagnosed with whooping cough and met her end through an accidental overdose. Guests claim to hear a child playing and jumping on beds when no children are staying at the inn. Other apparitions include a ghostly gentleman smoking a pipe or cigar and a dark-haired young woman who haunts the second floor of the mansion.
Concho Indian Boarding School, Concho
Located northwest of El Reno, the decrepit Concho Indian Boarding School looms like a specter of the past. Originally built in the late 1880s as part of the American government’s push to force assimilation on American Indian tribes, the latest incarnation of the school was built in 1969 and ceased operations in 1981. Since that time, the building has sat abandoned, filled with eerie reminders of its sad history. Visitors claim to hear disembodied voices echoing in the night and witness young Indian children roaming the halls. There are even rumors of a mysterious “dark force” at play in the school and shadows that haunt sight-seers.
The Ritz Theater, Shawnee
Once a boarding house, then one of Oklahoma’s earliest movie theaters, the Ritz is a building with a rich past. It is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Leo Montgomery, who served as the projectionist at the theater from 1913 until his death of a heart attack in the projection room in 1965. Visitors to the theater (now closed for many years) claim to see strange shadows and lights and to hear disembodied voices. The theater also is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a former boarder named Amelia, who died young of pneumonia while living in the building.