Hunting ghosts! Ft. Riley Historical Society's annual ghost tour.
Updated: Apr 21
Ft. Riley Kansas has a long and haunted history. Every October, the Historical Society ushers visitors around Historic Main Post for their annual Ghost Tour. The tour stops at various spots of particular haunted interest, where listeners are treated to hair raising tales of the fort's resident ghosts.
Each year, as summer approaches its end, I jump online and get the date for the yearly ghost tour. We never tire of it. This year (2020) will be their 24th annual ghost tour. They shake things up, from time to time, rarely is the tour exactly the same from year to year. Some years, a certain building will be included on the tour, other years it may not be. The story-tellers change from year to year, but the stories persist through the years. With each new resident, comes a fresh new haunting for your listening pleasure.
I just love Halloween time. There is a briskness in the air, it starts to get dark earlier, perfect for spooky storytelling. I love to walk amongst these beautiful historic buildings, fallen leaves crunching under foot.
Ft. Riley, home of the Big Red One, First Infantry Division, was established in 1852. A cholera outbreak in 1855, and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, claimed many lives, and inspired many of the ghost stories. This place has amassed more than 150 years of ghosts. They are many, they are bold, and they make it clear, they aren't going anywhere!.... Imagine showing up to your new home, or the building you are assigned to work in, just to be greeted by lights/televisions 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!
You may not know, but military families move around a lot. They get assigned to a duty station, and then they are on to the next duty station a few years later. What I find intriguing, after attending these events over these many years, is that each new family has their own story to tell! As you make the rounds, from place to place, many of the story tellers are actually current residents. They share the haunted history of their house, and many times follow that up with their own experiences.
Usually, it is still light when we start off on our tour. Here are some of the historic buildings on main post.
It starts to get darker as we go. We try to attend a later tour, because we like the after dark atmosphere the best.
Seriously, can you say ATMOSPHERE? Can you imagine a better place to find a ghost or two?
You'll see some fun halloween decorations too.
It was cold this year! Several of the story tellers had a cozy fire.
Don't miss the "Old Trooper Monument"
Many years ago, my dad was a military policeman stationed at Ft. Riley. A few years back, I was telling him all about the ghost tour. He said that when he worked on Ft. Riley, they got strange calls from main post all the time. They would investigate, 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." Therefore, I am left to conclude that THIS PLACE REALLY IS HAUNTED!
Need to know:
GETTING ON FT. RILEY: If you are not in possession of a DOD ID Card, 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. Each person wishing to enter post needs to bring an ID. BRING A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID! or you won't get on. See Ft. Riley's website for complete and up to date visitor information regarding rules and regulations about obtaining access to post.
WARNING: You CAN NOT GET ON POST WITHOUT A PASS OR A SPONSOR. Make careful note of when the Visitor Control Center closes, or else you may not get on post. This year we arrived at 5:50, expecting to have plenty of time to get checked in, and be on time to our 6:20 tour. The Visitor Control Center closed at 4:00. Luckily, we found a sponsor to get us on post.
Do you need money? Normally, tours are free and require no reservation. This year was different because of the pandemic, so check the Historical Society website for information. They are usually selling hot chocolate, apple cider, and a few baked treats, so bring cash for those. They also sell a series of Ghosts of Ft. Riley books. I think I have them all!
Looking for more things to do in the area in October?