“They threw my father off of that bridge when he couldn’t pay his gambling debts.” And so began our evening with the St. Charles Ghost tour. Located along the banks of the Missouri River, Historic St. Charles was the starting point for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Today the old section, with its cobblestone streets and beautifully restored buildings are a hub for tourists and locals. But it wasn’t always this way. Until the 1960’s this town met the description of a classic frontier town. With such a history who is to say whether ghosts of the past would still be roaming the streets?
We paid for our ghost tours, but I enjoyed it and wanted to share.
Spooky Tales. Ghostly Lore. I’ve always been intrigued by the premise of how these stories tie into an area’s history. On a recent vacation to St. Louis I decided to search the internet to see if any nearby ghost tours appealed to me. I discovered the St. Charles Ghost Tour, located in Historic St. Charles, about 18 miles outside of St. Louis. I had read good things about the tour- It’s the top rated ghost tour in the Midwest- and decided to give it a try.
The tour is led by Dr. Michael Henry, a renowned paranormal researcher who has studied the paranormal for over forty years. He had only recently returned from an expedition in the United Kingdom. His tour began with an explanation of the three types of ghostly manifestations; those you can hear; those you can see; and those you can smell. We were instructed to be alert because we never knew what we might encounter.
Because we had a small group- only 6 people- on the Tuesday night I attended, Dr. Henry asked if we were in a hurry to finish the tour. He offered to share greater historical details if we didn’t mind the tour running over its allotted time. The tour began outside the St. Charles Historical Society. We were treated to a short history of the town before beginning our leisurely stroll down Main Street. Two stories stood out to me- the number of (former) Bordellos in one small town and the small reconstructed building of the first Borromeo Catholic Church.
The ground where it sits was formerly a graveyard for paupers. Over the years the ground has eroded. In the past bones have been found sticking out of the ground. Today there is a concentrated effort to bring in more dirt to keep everyone covered. But who knows? Some night you might catch the chilling site of a bone rising above the ground. While on our tour, one of the group asked if one of the spirits who haunted the site might have smoked because he smelled the faint whiff of tobacco. I agreed I could smell something, but it didn’t smell like smoke. My scent turned out to be the smell of the plentiful fragrant Lingonberry trees blooming in the area.
Dr. Henry is an amusing host who goes out of his way to research the history of the area to present the facts. The tour has a heavy historical focus, as Dr. Henry, a self-proclaimed skeptic, only shares phenomena he has personally experienced. He’s debunked several claims, including ghostly glowing orbs which turned out to be a family of rabbits frolicking happily in the fog. The light reflected from their eyes had been appearing in photos as golden orbs.
The tour is available on Fridays and Saturdays year round. Participants must be 14 and older. Tours can be arranged on other days for groups of five or more.
Ghost Tour Tips:
*Free Parking is available in the lot behind the Historical Society after 6 PM.
*The tour is handicapped accessible, although some of the pavement is rough.
*Wear comfortable shoes.
Have you ever taken a ghost tour? Where was it? What was your favorite story?