December 3, 2007

Paranormal Kansas: The Cretaceous Ghosts

by Jeremiah Tolbert

Sixty-five million years ago, Kansas was at the bottom of a vast sea known as the Western Interior Seaway, which stretched north to south across the entire northern continent. It was a shallow sea, at most little more than two thousand feet deep. But this sea was filled with dangerous beasts--from the massive sharks, to the long-necked pleisosaurs, to the most deadly of sea predators: the mosasaurs. It is the mosasaurs whose spirits do not rest peacefully, and can be seen in the right conditions.

Start your search in the wheat fields out West, where the fence posts are cut from limestone. Near Hays is always a good bet. Camp out under a full moon, and you can sometimes see their sinuous forms cutting through the air as if they were back in the calm and placid waters of that long-gone ocean. Their jaws stretch and snap at apparitions of cuttlefish. Even in death, they are pure killing instinct.

Should one spot you with its dinner-plate-sized eyes, you will run. Your own instincts will take over, and you will run from this creature that is like a crocodile from hell, thirty feet long and faster than sharks, faster than any predator that ever killed in the water.

You will be too slow. Perhaps you will stumble and fall to the ground. In any case, the mosasaur's ghost will snap its jaws around you. All you will feel is a cold mist, a shiver. And then the spirit will be gone. You might doubt that anything has happened at all. But you'll remember the experience for the rest of your life. And you might want to make plans. Be sure that when you die, you are as far away from Kansas as you can get.

October 16, 2007

Paranormal Kansas: Garden of Eden

by Jeremiah Tolbert

In 1905, a retired Civil War veteran named Samuel Dinsmoor began to build a sculpture garden out of concrete in Lucas, Kansas. Incorporating both religious and political motifs, his labors continued until his death in 1933, at which point his body was prepared and placed inside of a glass-sided coffin within a limestone mausoleum on the garden grounds. Today, thousands of tourists visit the gardens each year, ending their trip with a viewing of it's creator's corpse, which even 74 years after death, remains remarkably well preserved. It was this preservation that first drew my suspicions.

Few locals visit the garden, and even fewer tourists return more than once to view the monochrome spectacle. This accounts for why few have noticed that construction within the sculpture garden continues. New pieces representing Lot and his wife have appeared in the northwest corner within the last year, fashioned in Dinsmoor's characteristically crude style. The non-profit group responsible for the upkeep of the site claims they are the product of local pranksters, but if that were so, would they not remove them? They have thus far refused to answer any further questions on the matter, and I suspect they have blocked my email address, as so many do when my lines of query draw close to the truth!

Twice, I snuck within Dinsmoor's crypt to take samples only to find his body missing. And I have heard the rumble of a cement mixer outside, somewhere among the statues, but always the sound vanishes if I approach.

The third and final time I attempted to sneak within the garden, I climbed over a fence at the perimeter. Arriving within, I felt a fear that I could not explain. I glanced up and saw the silhouette of a thin figure standing among the statues built atop a concrete tree, a figure that had not been there in the day. It was as motionless as the sculptures, but I could feel it watching me. I departed with haste, and I have never returned, not even in the day. When I pass the gardens occasionally on business, the statues seem to gaze out at me in hostility. I leave the gardens' mystery for some other researcher to uncover.

October 10, 2007

Paranormal Sites of Kansas: The Big Well & Meteorite

by Jeremiah Tolbert

It is no coincidence that the world's largest hand-dug well and one of the world's largest pallasite meteorites are both found in Greensburg, Kansas. And it is no coincidence that a recent tornado flattened the prairie town and everything within it.

The official stories of these two artifacts do not intertwine. But a town of the size of Greensburg, Kansas had no need for a 109 foot deep, 32 foot wide well. The hole's use as a well is an old cover-up, as is the story of a Hutchison man locating the meteorite in the 1900s with a primitive metal detector.

Local stories tell that the simple farmers and ranchers of Greensburg found themselves compelled to dig the well for no reason that any could speak of in the spring of 1887. They dug for days on end, in shifts, each man and woman confused as the other. Only the children were spared from the compulsion. After 90 feet, they discovered the stone, which weighed over 1,000 pounds. My source, the great-grandaughter of one of the well's architects, claims, that as soon as the townspeople touched the stone, it floated into the air like a balloon, and the diggers were able to gently guide it up the shaft and into the light of the moon. Once it arrived at the surface, its weight and mass returned just as the compulsion to dig disappeared.

The meteorite remained undisturbed, and the real story of its discovery mostly forgotten, until 2006, when the largest tornado to strike Kansas in 30 years touched down within Greensburg, destroying thousands of homes. The town is only just beginning to rebuild. And while you can still see a meteorite on display at the Big Well, it is not the meteorite from before. Local officials have replaced it with a fake made from plaster; after the twister, the original meteorite was never found.