Tours feature stories behind famous haunted residents

By Corene Brisendine

For those who like to hear scary tales of haunted houses, ghostly encounters and bone-chilling terrors, Fort Riley is the place to be.

The fort will be host to the 17th annual Ghost Tours from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 28. The tours begin every 15 minutes at the Artillery Parade Field. Each tour will consist of about 1 mile of walking and will last about an hour and a half. The tour is family-, stroller- and handicap-friendly.

“Ghostesses” will lead groups of about 50 people to each of the eight stops along the route. Visitors will hear the spooky tales of past and present residents’ encounters with ethereal apparitions.

The tours are free and open to the public, but people can avoid long waits by purchasing a “fast pass” for $5, which ushers them to the front of the line.

What follows are just a few examples of the stories participants may hear on the tour.

The plant that never needed watering

It has been reported by several past residents of 89A that there is a ghost in the house, Ghostess Kim Wagenblast said.

It has been seen all over the house, but mostly it seems to like taking care of plants on the mantle in the living room. One previous resident put a plant above the fireplace and forgot about it. When Christmas approached, the resident moved the plant to the window sill to make room for the Christmas tree. Right away the plant started to wilt, so the resident had to start watering it and taking care of it.

When Christmas was over and the tree removed, the resident returned the plant to the mantle, and it recovered without the resident ever giving it another drop of water.


The unexplained shadow

Leigh Timmerman, the current resident of 89A, said she has had her own creepy experiences in the house.

One day, she had just finished taking a shower when a shadowy figure walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. She dismissed it as the shadow of a car driving by, but when she looked, there were no cars nearby.

Then she went into her bedroom and into the closet to get dressed. When she stepped out of the closet and into the bedroom, the figure was there. It stood in the corner of the room before sliding through the wall, disappearing.


The door that opened itself

Ghostess Amanda Schmidt, resident of 125A Stone Court, said she is from Los Vegas and always locks her doors at night.

One morning, not long after moving into her house on post, she was home alone while her husband was gone for training. She went downstairs and found her front door standing wide open.

She called the military police to report that someone or something had opened her door in the middle of the night, but no suspects were ever found.

Her back door and basement door continue to open in the middle of the night, but after she yelled at the ghost in her house, he has not left the front door open since.

And there is other evidence of a spirit in the area: Her dogs growl and bark randomly at what appears to be nothing for no reason. And it has been reported that a ghost lives in her neighborhood near the well behind her house and it likes to peek into the windows of the houses near hers.


The lady in the lake

Every morning for a year, a military policeman would stand outside near the shore of the lake on post to smoke a cigarette, Wagenblast said.

Each morning he would see a woman walking out of the lake.

He never told anyone about these encounters until one day a car was found in the lake with the body of a woman trapped inside.

When he saw a photo of the woman, he realized it was the same one he had seen walking up out of the lake.

But ever since the car and body were removed, he hasn’t seen anyone or anything walking up out of the lake.

If you can’t get enough of the scary stuff, people who purchase advance tickets to the Tour of Homes in December, which is a tour of historic homes decorated for Christmas, will be able to go inside one of the houses on the Ghost Tour to hear an additional spooky tale and perhaps have a spectral encounter of their own.

Tour of Homes tickets are $10 and will be available for purchase at the reception table at the start of the Ghost Tours.

Books of tales from past Ghost Tours also will be available for purchase.

The three books can be purchased for $18 plus tax in a bundle, or for $7 individually. Most of the stories participants will hear on the tour are not in the books.

All the proceeds benefit the Historical and Archeological Society of Fort Riley. The society uses the proceeds to support the community, fund community scholarships and future Ghost Tours.

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