The Historical and Archaeological Society of Fort Riley will host their 22nd annual Ghost Tour on Saturday and Sunday. Located between Junction City and Manhattan, the site originally known as “Camp Center,” became Fort Riley on June 27, 1853.
Since its founding, Fort Riley has had numerous cholera and influenza outbreaks. Over the years, employees and visitors of the fort have reported numerous sightings of ghosts and instances of paranormal activity.
“Hundreds of buildings on Fort Riley have spirits,” said HASFR ghostess Tricia Verschage. “1855 was our first cholera epidemic. It came through and killed about 29 people.”
Verschage believes the week around Halloween is the best time to host the tour.
“The [ghosts] on Fort Riley are pretty active all the time; however, there’s a belief that the veil between the living and the dead is thinner right around All Hallows’ Eve,” Verschage said. “We have interaction during the tour. They love to show off.”
While many may be skeptical, HASFR makes it clear that they do not tell these stories to make an extra profit for Fort Riley as the Ghost Tour is free. Verschage instead does the tours for the sake of the spirits themselves.
“We’re telling the stories of those who can’t tell them anymore,” Verschage said. “Not everyone has had the ability to move on, and so we help them tell their stories even if it’s by explaining the bumps in the night and the weird, flashing noises.”
The tours are from 4 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 27 and from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 28. The second tour day is family friendly, strollers allowed, and will feature the Custer House, where the most famous paranormal incident at Fort Riley takes place.
At night, a child’s teddy bear toy in the living room of the house will be set on the fireplace mantle, and the room is locked up. In the morning, it has apparently been on the other side of the room on a rocking horse, which is rocking on its own.
Another story told is that the ghost of Confederate Gen. Lewis Armistead has been seen standing over the grave of his wife, Cornelia, in mourning. Gen. Armistead was killed in the battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
Verschage said that many come to the Ghost Tour skeptical, and leave believing. For those who can’t make this tour, private tours are available. To purchase a fast past or read a collection of ghost stories from Fort Riley, go to https://squareup.com/store/HASFR/.