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Fort Riley Kansas was established in 1853 making it one of the most historic spots in Kansas. Over the years, it has developed a long and haunted history.
In fact, there are so many places that are purported to be haunted on Ft. Riley that it is not only one of the most haunted places in Kansas it is also likely the most haunted place in the United States.
Every October, the Fort Riley Historical & Archaeological Society ushers visitors around Historic Main Post for their annual Fort Riley Ghost Tour, introducing them to a selection of some of the fort’s best haunted tales. It is one of the best haunted Kansas events in the state and easily one of the best Kansas Ghost tours.
What to expect on the Fort Riley Ghost Tour
In 2022 the Historical Society presented its 26th annual Ft. Riley ghost tour. My family and I never tire of hearing the stories in the historical atmosphere that you’ll find on Historic Old Post.
guided walking tour
The tour takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours and you can expect to walk approximately 1-2 miles on the tour.
There are no Zombies or Killer Clowns because this is no haunted house of horror. Instead, you’ll experience historical accounts of “real ghosts” that live in “real haunted houses” in Kansas.
(These are occupied homes and government places of business so be aware that on the “haunted house tours” buildings are viewed from the outside.)
On the guided walking tour you’ll stop at various spots of particular haunted interest where listeners are treated to real life tales of the fort’s resident ghosts.
Expect to hear hair raising accounts of those who have lived and worked on Historic Old Post through the years.
It will bring a chill to your bones and leave you wishing for more of these oh so “real” tales of hauntings here on the Kansas prairie. So come along and let them introduce you to some real Kansas ghosts!
It never gets old
There are enough haunted places on Ft. Riley that organizers are able to rotate the buildings on the tour, keeping things fresh from year-to-year.
Expect to hear some of your favorites from previous years but with new residents, come fresh new hauntings for your listening pleasure.
It’s the perfect time of the year to get “chills”
Autumn is a ridiculously atmospheric time for telling ghost stories in the Sunflower State. There is a briskness in the air, it starts to get dark earlier, the leaves begin to change color and they sprinkle walkways as they fall.
I love to walk among these beautiful historic buildings, fallen leaves crunching under foot.
Dress for the Weather
Weather in Kansas this time of year is unpredictable. I have seen every type of weather imaginable on these tours so bring warm weather clothes. A warm autumn day can turn chilly after the sun goes down.
October is for ghosts and goblins, crackling fires and spooky tales!
The Fort Riley ghost tour perfectly corresponds with the month of Halloween. The Halloween decorations add another fun layer to the spooky atmosphere on Main Post. Can you imagine a better place to hunt up a ghost or two?
Location, tour times, and Cost of Admission
Location of the Fort Riley Ghost Tour: meetings points change from year to year. See the Historical Society website for current year information.
Dates: currently the Historical Society is running tours 1 day only in October. Tour dates are normally announced in September.
Times: Tour time run late afternoon through late evening. You will need to purchase a timed ticket through the Historical Society website.
Cost: The price per person in 2022 was $8 per person, booked online at their website.
Tours sold out in 2022 so put a note on your calendar to book early! Bring cash if you want to purchase treats like hot chocolate, apple cider, baked treats, candy. (They MAY take cards but I haven’t used one there so can’t be sure.)
(information is subject to change. Please confirm on the official HASFR website)
History and ghosts all rolled into one
You’re in for a treat because not only is this a ghost tour, it is a bit of a history tour as well.
Ft. Riley, home of the Big Red One, First Infantry Division, was established in 1853. A cholera outbreak in 1855, and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, claimed many lives, and inspired many of the ghost stories.
This area of Kansas had a strong Native American presence and found itself in the middle of the old west hay day with the town of Abilene just down the road.
Life in Kansas could be harsh during the early days of settlement and Ft. Riley Kansas has amassed more than 150 years of ghosts.
There seems to be no end to the phantoms and they seem to be ever intent on making their presence known, quite often to the vexation of residents and staff of Fort Riley.
The ghosts just keep coming
Military families move a lot. They get assigned to a duty station, and then a few short years later are on to the next duty station. What I find intriguing is that each new family has their own story to tell!
Imagine showing up to your new home, or work assignment, just to be greeted by lights/televisions/faucets repeatedly being turned off/on, things being knocked repeatedly from walls, doors opening on their own, voices, sounds, sights and varied things that go bump in the night!
Historic buildings of Historic Main Post
I enjoy strolling among the historic buildings on Main Post as much as I do hearing the ghost stories. Most of the buildings in this area were constructed between the years of 1885 and 1915, beautiful in the light of day, bathed in a warm glow after dark.
I enjoy the after dark atmosphere the best:
Military Police: investigations without explanations
Is Fort Riley really haunted??? The best way I can answer that questions is this:
Many years ago, my dad was a military policeman stationed at Ft. Riley. When questioned about his time working on Ft. Riley he admitted that strange calls from Historic Main post, as well as other areas of the fort, frequently came into the police station.
They would investigate these calls, but when they couldn’t come up with an explanation for the strange goings on, they filed the report in the “ghost file.”
That’s right, they had an actual “ghost file” down at the police station! I questioned a friend who was also in the same police company on Ft. Riley, though years apart, and he essentially told the same story.
Need more “official” accounts? Buy the books (discussed later in the article.) The books are full of accounts from Military Police who either reported seeing something themselves or responded to calls that just could not be explained away.
Are you convinced yet???
Fort Riley has such a haunted reputation that Old School Paranormal did some investigating of their own in this video: Fort Riley Reveal
The Custer House and Old Trooper Monument
If the Custer House, located at 24A & 24B Sheridan Avenue, is on occasion included on the walking tour.
It is one of the oldest buildings on post (1855.) The Custer House Museum is one of the haunted places on Fort Riley that actually welcomes visitors. Want to tour the Custer House Museum? check their hours of operation and come before your ghost tour!
Listen carefully and you may hear the sounds of boots being put on, and a teddy bear that seems to move around the museum. Could it be the General himself, back to take command of his post?
(Custer’s actual home burned but this building that houses the museum is similar to the original.)
Check out this video from the historical society titled “the Custer House: a Haunted History” for some great video footage of the inside of the Custer House.
Don’t miss the “Old Trooper Monument” directly across from the Custer House.
“Old Trooper Monument” Ft. Riley Kansas, a tribute to the United States Cavalry. “Chief” the army’s last living operational cavalry mount (1932-1968) is buried in this spot. Buried saddled and bridled in an upright position, Chief remains a good soldier, eternally at attention.
Sometimes late at night you can hear mounted ghosts from the past galloping across Calvary Parade Field, adjacent to the monument. Sometimes you can see their ghostly forms, horse and rider, gliding across the field bathed in the darkness of night.
Important information about getting on Fort Riley
WARNING: You CAN NOT GET ON POST WITHOUT A PASS OR A SPONSOR.
Fort Riley is located near Junction City off of Interstate-70, an easy Kansas road trip from Topeka (1 hour 10 minutes) or Kansas City and Wichita (just over 2 hours.)
Visitors should enter Ft. Riley at the following location:
Henry Gate. (Exit 301, U.S. Interstate Highway 70.)
If you are not in possession of a DOD (Department of Defense) ID Card, you will need to apply in advance for a visitor pass. You can now apply for a pass online (during hours that the visitor center is open) at the following location: https://pass.aie.army.mil/riley/
BRING A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID! Each person wishing to enter post needs to bring an ID. Per a recent conversation with the Visitor Center (October 2022), anyone under the age of 18 does not need to show a valid photo ID unless they are driving.
Visitors who have not received an electronic pass:
If you have not obtained a pass online you will need to check in at the Visitor Control Center.
The Visitor Control center is located at the Henry Gate, Exit 301, I-70. After clearing a background check, they will issue you a pass. Be aware of closing times because the Visitor Center closes early on Saturday and Sunday.
Important Note: Policy regarding visitor access to Ft. Riley is subject to change so always confirm with the Visitor Center.
Haunted Ft. Riley Books:
The Historical Society has published a series of Ft. Riley Ghost Books about the real Kansas hauntings on Ft. Riley. Books can be purchased at the tour or on their website. In between the pages you’ll find account after account of witnesses who reported seeing strange happenings, felt cold spots, or experienced some form of paranormal activity.
Here are a few of my favorite stories from between the pages, along with a map to help you locate them.
Ghosts of Fort Riley: The Legends Live On
During a late night investigation of the Main Post Theater (Building 206) by military police, the K-9 units were called in. Although highly trained to obey commands, these law enforcement dogs refused to enter the building. (The dogs always know!) It was later discovered that a Master Sergeant hung himself to death in the theater. Could it have been the ghost of this tragic figure that had the K-9s refusing to enter the building at night? (#27 on the map)
Quarters 8B Forsyth Avenue has a ghost that haunts the nursery room there. This haunting is complete with footsteps that trudge up and down the stairs and a rocker glider that sets into motion and abruptly stops when no one is near. (#21 on the map)
Quarters 99, Schofield Circle has a ghost that likes to open the basement door to the laundry room, but only when your hands are full of laundry! The current resident always made sure to thank him for his assistance. (#22 on the map)
97A, Schofield Circle has a spirit who it turns out refused to miss the 1:00 o’clock broadcast of his favorite soap opera, “As The World Turns.” At precisely 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon the television would suddenly turn on. If by chance it was already on but set to the wrong channel…well it would simply change the channel! (#7 on the map)
St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Ogden Kansas has lit candles that appear out of thin air in the dead of the night, and then vanish into thin air when police investigate. And mind the statue in the cemetery who’s been known to change direction from time to time! (#23 on the map)
Ghosts of Ft. Riley: Past and Present
97A on Schofield Circle is also known as the home of the Window Ghost. A past resident relates her experience with a window in the house, that although closed and locked the night before could be found fully opened each morning. Interestingly, the residents themselves found that the window was quite difficult to open, so much so that they were only able to open it about 6 inches. (#7 on the map)
Building 500 (currently Post Headquarters) was used as a hospital from 1890 to 1950. Late night visitors claim to hear the sounds of old hospital gurneys being pushed through the halls and the sound of screams coming from the old maternity ward. (#8 on the map)
The tragic figure of a young woman engaged to be married but sadly taken by cholera in 1855 can be seen walking near the trolley station. She roams the field adjacent to the station in the dark crinoline wedding dress that her intended buried her in. (#14 on the map)
In the post cemetery visitors have seen the ghost of an officer who died in 1863 mourning at the grave of his beloved wife who died of cholera in 1855. (#12 on the map)
Ghosts of Fort Riley: Echoes of History
A soldier living at Quarters 436 Carpenter Road brought dinner in off of the outdoor grill and called to his wife letting her know it was ready. The reply from upstairs was “okay.” As he sat waiting for her to descend the stairs she instead returned to the house from a neighbors leaving him to wonder who had answered him. (#24 on the map)
16A Forsyth Avenue has a ghost that likes to take a shower between 2:30 and 3:00 am every night. (#25 on the map)
97A Schofield Circle makes it’s appearance again in this book. I’m getting the idea that it may be the most haunted house on post! (#7 on the map)
This book has more tales to tell of The Custer House teddy bear. (#1 on the map)
One building that always seems to make an appearance on the ghost tour is the Main Post Fire Station (Building 430 Godfrey Avenue.) You can read all about the haunted happenings that go on there in this book. (#26 on the map)
Ghost Hunting: tips for ghost hunters!
Missed the ghost tour? No need to wait until next year. Armed with a few of the ghost stories and a map you can do a little ghost hunt of your own! Happy ghost hunting!
Note: Buildings can only be views from the outside unless you have an official guide with you. Contact the Historical Society for information on scheduling a private tour.
(looking for a downloadable/printable version of the map? You’ll find it here haunted-sites-map-ft-riley-pdf )
Other things to see and do on Ft. Riley
The Apple Day Festival, held yearly in September on Artillery Parade Field, is the largest annual festival on Ft. Riley. The big attraction are the apple pies baked with Libby Custer’s (wife of General George Custer) recipe!
Get there early because I hear tell that the pie sells out, or you can pre-order pies at the HASFR website. Apple Days often include a mounted color guard demonstration, helicopters and tanks, vendors, food and beverages, and activities for the kids.
It’s your chance to go inside! Held yearly in early December, the Tour of Homes takes you inside the historic homes on Ft. Riley that have been all decked out in festive holiday decor!
Tour Ft. Riley year round
Volunteers provide the following tours: Walking Tours of Historic Main Post, Driving Tour of Historic Main Post, Camp Funston, and Post Cemetery
See the Historical Society website for more information on year-round tours.
Fort Riley Museums
(follow the links for more information)
What about Fort Leavenworth?
Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth are the only two Kansas Forts established before the Civil war that are still in operation.
Fort Leavenworth, 130 miles to the east, predates Fort Riley by almost 30 years and they have haunted Kansas tales of their own! In fact, they have a Haunted History of Fort Leavenworth publication which can be found at their Frontier Army website.
Final thoughts on Haunted Fort Riley
If you are in search of the best Kansas Ghost Tours it is my opinion that you will find them right here on Fort Riley Kansas. Experience some of the best Kansas ghost stories in one of the most haunted places in Kansas.
Looking for more things to do in Kansas in October?
It’s Scream time at the Haunted Cannery, El Dorado Kansas or check out my Halloween Travel Bucket list for spooky destinations around the world!
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