A Haunted Journey Down the Mother Road
The Ghostly Residents of Main Street USA
By Kristina Kulyabina
Haunted Route 66 by Richard Southall is a detailed and easy-to-read guide to America’s legendary Mother Road: Route 66. The book’s chapters are conveniently separated by the states covering the 2,500 miles of road stretching from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California.
Southall’s journey unravels the history of Route 66 alongside bone-chilling paranormal activity most commonly experienced on the road. He captures over one hundred ghostly hot spots filled with intriguing facts and various spirits. Route 66 also highlights some of America’s most prominent historical events such as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago and The Eastland Ship Disaster.
Haunted Route 66 was written by Southall in efforts to preserve the past and unite readers interested in ghost stories, paranormal activity, and overall American history. Some of the stories in the book are urban legends while others are true ghostly experiences. However, a reader does not necessarily have to be a ghost hunter in order to fully enjoy the book as Southall fills his pages with some of the most interesting historic locations such as the Pythian Castle in Missouri and the Belvidere Mansion in Oklahoma. After reading this guide, anyone’s next trip down the old Main Street will never be the same again.
Excerpt from Chapter Two: Missouri
St.Charles, Missouri/Kampsville, Illinois
The Goldenrod Showboat has had quite an adventure since it was constructed in 1909. It was built in a time when the glamour of the showboat’s mobile entertainment was starting to wane. Although times and people’s taste in entertainment were changing, the 200-foot Goldenrod was on of the final showboats ever to be constructed at a cost of nearly $75,000 –equivalent to about $1.6 million today.
Although this was a hefty sum, the Goldenrod Showboat was still successful. During its ten years of performing high-quality shows for audiences of all kinds, it was known to have a wide variety of vaudeville, musical, and other forms of entertainment.
Famous acts such as Bob Hope and Red Skelton were known to perform onstage on several occasions while the Goldenrod was still providing shows on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It had been estimated that the showboat could hold as many as 1,400 guests at one time, and on most nights, the shows were performed in front of sold-out audiences.
The Goldenrod’s success wasfairly short-lived and it was docked by the early 1920s. Soon after, the Goldenrod was nearly forgotten. A fire in 1962 almost destroyed the entire boat, but it was able to be salvaged.The Goldenrod was purchased and renovated in 1989 and placed on the shores of the Missouri River in St.Charles, Missouri, where it again provided entertainment for people from all across the United States.From 1990 to 2002, the Goldenrod drew crowds from across the country for several years until it was donated to the Lewis and Clark Landing in 2002.
Unfortunately, if someone drove to St. Charles today to find the showboat, they would be very disappointed. After it was donated in 2002, it was eventually relocated nearly seventy-five miles to the north in Kampsville, Illinois, where it is currently docked on the Illinois River. Although this is the case, I decided to include the showboat in St. Charles because the town has become such an integral part of the showboat’s history.
The ghost associated with the Goldenrod Showboat is a young, attractive woman who is always seen wearing a red dress. According to most accounts, when Goldenrod was still traveling on the rivers as a showboat, one of the workers and his daughter lived on the boat. Being around the shows performed on the Goldenrod day after day, the daughter became enamored y what she saw and decided to become a performer on a showboat one day, although her father warned her that the days of the showboat industry were numbered.
While docked in St.Louis one night, the daughter once again approached her father about her desire to enter show business. He again disagreed with that career decision, and the two began to argue loudly. She left the showboat in a rage. Her father did not follow her, thinking that she just needed some time to calm down and come to her senses. However, it was the last time he would see his daughter, Rose, alive.
The next morning, the father was approached by the captain of Goldenrod. He told the father that his daughter had been brutally attacked by unknown assailants and was found floating face down in the river. Until the day he died, less than a year later, the father never got over the untimely death of his daughter.
Shortly after the father’s death, guests, staff, and performers started to notice hints of Rose’s presence on the Goldenrod. Usually, she makes herself known by closing doors and moving items. However, Rose’s apparition has been seen several times over the years. She is often seen shortly before a show and is always wearing the same long dress that se was wearing the night she died.
People who encountered her long after Rose and her father died were unaware of the story associated with her death. As the story continued to be told and more people had their own experience with the ghosts of Goldenrod, the name Rose was all but forgotten. Because staff on the Goldenrod did not know Rose’s true identity, her ghost was given the nickname of “Veronica.”
Kristina Kulyabina is an editorial assistant at GoNOMAD.com. She also blogs for Let's Go, a student travel guide. She is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Western Mass. Kristina attended UMass Amherst for a B.A. in journalism and an international relations certificate.
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