Saturday, May 30, 2009

Atchison Kansas: A Case For a Haunted Town

I’ve started doing my research on the most haunted places, using a 50-place sample in the U.S. I’ve started to compare the actual proof of hauntings (to give the place a haunted scale) and then the composition of the earth, the building materials, the presence of running streams/rivers/oceans, and train tracks. In doing so, I’ve come across some common factors that seem to point to the possibility that Atchison, Kansas is a perfect example of a place that HAS to be haunted.

Atchison has many reported hauntings and, in fact, has adopted the moniker “Most Haunted City in Kansas.” (Admittedly, I’d say in the U.S. if it had a more traumatic history.) Those familiar with all things ghostly have heard of the Heartland Haunting and Sally the little girl who supposedly tormented a family in their home in Atchison and scratched up the husband quite a bit. There is the Gargoyle Home built by a man who supposedly had a pact with the devil. He put many gargoyles on the home and a future owner fell to his death on the stairway trying to remove them. Jackson Park supposedly has a ghostly woman wandering its greenbelt, supposedly hung herself after the prom. There are so many other stories of the hauntings that I’d suggest you check this site if you’re interested in learning more.

I began my study with the land upon with Atchison sites. This is limestone and shale; two types of earth that seem to be most associated with haunting sites. What’s so special about limestone and shale? Well, I only profess to be a fair researcher but not a geological expert. (By the way, I’d love to find a geologist who wants to talk haunted sites). In a nutshell, shale is sedimentary rock, a combination of clay, mineral, and mud. More basically spoken, in shale you will find minerals and breakdown from life; plants and animals in the sediment of a floodplain. Limestone also is a sedimentary rock with a high mineral content. Why is this significant? That’s where my knowledge of geology admittedly ends. Until I can interview some geologists, I can make only assumptions that shale is crumbly and unstable and perhaps with its biological makeup is simply easier for earth’s energies to penetrate, but that is only supposition. For now, I can only report that I find the most well-documented haunted places are atop of sedimentary rock.

Another factor that’s common in hauntings that I’ve observed since I was a kid, but my good friend and head of the MVD Ghostchasers, Debe Branning, also voiced this correlation she had made as well; train tracks. It’s not certain just what a series of train tracks can do for a haunting. As I’ve said before, it’s hard to tell if it’s the chicken or the egg. Were more older places built near railroad tracks for travel and so the older homes just happen to be near train tracks, or do train tracks work as a kind of energy pathway for this natural type of phenomenon? Well, in the case of Atchison, Kansas, the whole place is completely scarred by train tracks running back and forth in close cluster. It’s like a beacon for whatever might travel these pathways. Perhaps it’s the iron content? There’s just no way to tell whether train tracks are simply near older more haunted sites and greater concentrations of human population or if they do have an effect on hauntings. It will take finding train tracks that were laid away from human habitation that would be helpful in finding out of perhaps homes built near train tracks after their being laid down actually have more hauntings. For now, I can take note that it seems to be something in common with most haunted places.

Water, especially running water, seems to energize these events even more. The Missouri River runs right through Atchison. Here’s a map to show the intricate makeup of this town which, if it weren’t reported haunted, it should be. Running underground streams, as well, seem to be contributing factors. What does water do for hauntings? Still another unknown factor. My guess in all of this is that it’s earth science-related, but until I gain some superior knowledge in geology and geophysics…well, I can only look for correlations and let others come up with the explanations.

The town of Atchison, Kansas should be haunted, is reported to be haunted, and has all the elements; train tracks, a river, a history as a stopping point for westward settlers, and a ground that’s made up of the sedimentary rock, shale. If you were to add into that factors such as a home being made of stone, I’d say you’d have an even better chance of haunting in that building.

My research is still early on comparing most haunted places in the US, but when I’m done, I hope to correlate foreign country’s haunted sites as well (information permitting). I’d like to come up with a theory about all of this, but it will take some time to think about and formulate my take on the phenomenon. I do see definite correlations that are hard to ignore, but how it works together is puzzling. I believe it might come down to something as hard to pinpoint as feng shui. Good land, bad land…

I’ll keep you posted as I learn more. p.s. If anyone is interested in helping me do research, let me know. I can give you a list of haunted places and you can find out what evidence is listed in regards to them.


  1. Great post, can't wait to read the rest of your research!

  2. Mike and I totally appreciate all the hard work you are putting in on your research. I find it so fascinating on all the factors causing a place to be haunted. It's more than just geological location and violent history giving places paranormal activity, but I was not aware of this. I caught the show on 'The Sally House'. OMG, I got chills watching the scratches appear on the husband's chest. Looking forward to seeing more of the research you come up with.

    1. Apparently, you didn't really read this. First of all, I am not a dude and second of all this was referring to the factors in a town that purports many different hauntings, not just one case, and if the elements are present to support the town's claims.

  3. Thanks, ya'all! My logical mind tends to want to find out more than just why a place is haunted, i.e. Uncle Ned died there. I want to know what factors might make it more possible for a haunting to occur or a residual haunting. Our house at Aspen Grove seemed to act like a giant recorder. I remember one time long after my sister moved out and I was the only kid at home, hearing her pounding on the walls and crying out like she always did when her and mom argued. It was really creepy. I rushed to her old bedroom and there was no one there. No one home at the time. I know it wasn't just a recall for me, it was vibrating the things on my bedroom wall!

  4. I live only about an hour or so from Atchison and I can confirm that while it is a very quaint, lovely town, if you are at all psychically sensitive, you will be affected by the town. I've only been there a few times, but it is a little creepy. I was interested in your limestone theory since my neighborhood is built on top of an old quarry. About 2 years ago, we had to replace our sewer line and dug up HUGE chunks (some as big as 4 feet long and 3 wide!) I'm planning on making them into a stone path leading to the backyard but now I'm wondering if that would make our VERY active backyard even more active....

  5. Moxie;
    Great question about whether to do pathways with the stone. Personally, I'd do it, but mostly because if these items have the properties to amplify haunting events, they can also equally record good events. Planting life around them, having good times there, and loving family, should actually make your garden an equally powerful holder of good energy. Hope that helps.

  6. I so agree with Marbella and Mike and Julie-great research and article-a whole town that is haunted -very cool!! i think your thoughts about railroad tracks could possibly have some validity-as always we may never know for sure-but i have heard many reports of hauntings near them-when i used to listen to coastotocoast am radio show they would always talk about this town at a railroad crossing where some kids where killed when hit by a train on a school bus -supposedly if you park your car on tracks -and i wouldnt recommend this to anyone;-) and put talcum powder on the trunk of your car -tiny hands will push your car out of harms way and you will have proof by the handprints on the talcum powder -i do not know where this place is or how much truth to it there could be-sounds so much like an urban legend to me -sorry i do not rememeber place-i stopped listening to the show ages ago-if i can find it i will come back here and mention it-best to you as always and thanks again for great article!!

  7. Thought to mention-I put UFO for poll-but if all I could do was see one and gain absolutely no info -I would much rather see a ghost-especially of a loved one -altho if this means they havent passed on to where they are supposed to be of course answer is no to that part-all the best as always!!

  8. Devin;
    You're a hoot! Yeah, I like your explanation for which one you'd choose. I've seen a ghost and a UFO, don't believe in Nessie, so I chose Bigfoot. That would really scare the crap out of me--more than a full-body apparition cause if I see him and he sees me, I'd feel real intimidated by his size. I'd rather see him from a distance--with a great camera--and a lot of witnesses. Hee hee. I've heard of that train tracks place too. The research is really coming along. Gonna put another post on about what I'm learning. It's very intriguing. I just need some good geological minds to knock ideas around. Perhaps we can postulate from the formula just what the chance is a place will be truly haunted--like that formula for the possibility of life on other planets...

  9. I live in Atchison and two houses I have lived in here were haunted. I can help you a little bit. First of all, it's mainly "Old Atchison" which has the most supernatural activity. A map of Old Atchison from the library and the Registrar of Deeds office shows that there was a very large cemetery on the north side "old Atchison." They tore down the graves, perhaps leaving the bodies, and put lovely brick-lined streets, houses, and roads over the corpses. That would make me a disgruntled ghost, too. Second is the possibility of demonic activity. Sallie's house is, in my opinion, demon possessed because it smells of sulphur, and the entity harmed Tony Pickman, whose wife works at the local pharmacy. We're a close-knit community and don't really want strangers coming in probing our home.