ROUTE 66 — Few travelers know the other side of Route 66, the Mother Road of America. The haunted side of Route 66. Eight states, all with their own colorful tales of love, murder and mayhem, have ghosts who, for whatever reason, have chosen to stay behind.
Santa Monica, the last city on Route 66, is home to the Georgian Hotel. Whoever is haunting this historic hotel must have been a cook or restaurant critic in a previous life. Ghostly activity occurs in the hotel’s restaurant, the Speakeasy, more frequently than in any other part of the Georgian. Glasses rattle, footsteps are heard and a man’s voice greets the help with, “Good morning.” As long as they don’t interfere with the cooking, the ghost is welcomed to stay.
Cigars and Stripes, located on old Route 66 in Berwyn, Ill., have more than stogies. Ghosts to be exact.
“We’ve heard loud parties downstairs, but when we investigate, no one is ever there,” owner Ronnie Lottz said.
He also acknowledged that black shadows seem to hang around. The owner and employees aren’t the only ones witnessing unexplainable occurrences. A customer was startled when she saw the top of a martini shaker flip upside down and rolled across the bar. A self-monitored, infrared ghost cam, which runs from 2 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., was installed by Lottz so his customers can catch ghost sightings themselves.
St. Louis’s claim to fame might be the Gateway Arch while Joplin’s might be the Prosperity School Bed and Breakfast, only minutes away from the historic Route 66. The 1907 old school house was transformed into a lovely bed and breakfast but some students are not aware of that. Ghostly children can be heard running on the stairs as well as youthful giggles. Miss Rose Saxton’s room has an unknown presence who loves to rap on the door. There is never anyone on the other side of the door or in the hall.
Baxter Springs, Kan. with its population of under 5,000, even claims to have its own ghosts. Fort Blair dates back to the Civil War. Unfortunately, some soldiers must not realize the war has ended. Residents have seen men dressed in military uniforms and some have heard the crackling of muskets as if a battle was happening right down the street.
Two miles from the Route 66 town of Clinton, Okla. is the Arapaho Cemetery. Unlike many older cemeteries, this one is very peaceful and so far, no appearance of a lady dressed in white has been sighted. But, Arapaho Cemetery is not without some bizarre paranormal activity. Reports of mournful sobs can sometimes be heard near the center of the graveyard. George Smith is said to still cry out for his daughter, Robina. His 19-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident in 1936 and her father was convinced she had not accepted the Lord at the time and therefore, wasn’t saved. According to Troy Taylor’s website, the distressed father has been heard to yell out, “Oh no! Oh my God! Robina has not been saved.”
The Nat in Amarillo, Texas has a hodgepodge of ghosts including a violent spirit. Built in 1922, The Nat has housed an indoor swimming pool, a ball room and an antique store. Gambling was done on the second floor where quite a bit of paranormal activity now takes place. A female apparition, always in a white dress with a red stain on the bodice, has been seen in this area. Ghostly children, perhaps those who used to roller skate on the wooden ballroom floor, have also been spotted. An evil spirit lurks in a room toward the back of the building. It was here that an employee was viciously raped years ago. Employees stay away from that room if at all possible
Located on Route 66 in Albuquerque, NM is the KiMo Theater, where Bobby, a little boy poltergeist, was killed in 1951 when a boiler exploded. It wasn’t long after his death that lights would fall, props would disappear and actors would trip for no reason. Thinking Bobby was behind the antics because he was bored, the cast decided to leave some toys for him in the basement to keep him out of trouble. They put little trinkets, small toy cars and even a donut for the little troublemaker. It worked! No more shenanigans! The tradition still continues and if the donut is still left, you can sometimes see tiny bite marks.
Cruising on Route 66 into Flagstaff, Ariz., you will want to stop by the Museum Club. You enter this 1931 roadhouse through an inverted forked trunk of a native ponderosa tree. The owners and employees aren’t a bit shy admitting that, aka, the “Zoo” has quite a bit of haunted history. Previous owners, Don and Thelma Scott, both died violently. Thelma was killed after she tumbled down their stairs and Don committed suicide in front of the downstairs fireplace. Empty chairs rock back and forth, mysterious footsteps from upstairs are heard and a roaring fire in the fireplace will mysteriously be lit. Thelma has been known to cozy up to the bar area, looking so human-like that she has been mistaken for a customer.
Get your kicks on Route 66 and watch a performance while sitting next to a ghost at the Rialto Theater in Joliet, Ill., share a bed with the spirit of Eve at the Red Garter Bed and Bakery in Williams, Ariz., and dine with the dead at Patrick’s Roadhouse on Pacific Coast Highway.
Ellen Robson is the author of “Haunted Highway-The Spirits of Route 66” and “Haunted Arizona-The Ghosts of the Grand Canyon State.” She can be reached at www.spirits66.com.