Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ghostly tour this weekend

October 26, 2006

Ghost stories can be scary.

And a haunted house walking tour can be scarier yet.

In fact it might be just the thing for a pre-Halloween thrill.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum's walking tour of Fort Leavenworth's haunted houses will start at 7 p.m. Tickets, $5, must be obtained in advance.

Jeanne Witsken, an organizer of the tour, credits John Reichley for the tour. It's based on a book he wrote, "The Haunted Houses of Fort Leavenworth."

Reichley, 67, is retired from the military and active in the Fort Leavenworth Historical Society.

Asked if he believed in ghosts, Reichley said, "I do now. I didn't. I've never seen one."

He became convinced after hearing firsthand accounts of unusual sightings from people who live and work at Fort Leavenworth.

"The thing that has convinced me is the type of people," Reichley said. "We're not talking paranormal enthusiasts. We are talking full colonels in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps."

About five years ago, the wife of a three-star general told Reichley that, for no apparent reason, books fell out of a bookcase in the middle of the night.

He investigated and learned the house had been built over an old cemetery.

The tour may raise the hair on your arms and send chills up your spine.

But it's not an "in-your-face" frightful experience, Witsken said.

The tour includes 10 stops, some outside of occupied homes, one at an office and another at the old disciplinary barracks, which closed in 2004 when a new one was built.

"An MP will tell eyewitness accounts of what he saw going on then in the old disciplinary barracks," Witsken said. "Screaming in the elevator shaft, a ghostly figure being pushed in a wheelchair by another ghostly figure."

Then there's guard tower No. 8, said to have been abandoned because it was haunted.

And at some of the homes, ghostly re-enactors may make themselves visible to the public.

Witsken advised tour participants to wear comfortable walking shoes, warm clothing and to carry flashlights. The tour will take a little more than an hour, but she said participants could drop out at any time.

And, of course, Reichley will come along, at least long enough to give a 10-minute introduction. That's long enough, he said with a chuckle, to explain "why 10 percent of them won't return to the starting point."

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