Haunted Locations and Scary Legends Around Sioux Falls
Halloween night is steeped in scary traditions. Trick-or-Treating, frightening costumes, local actors in "haunted" houses, and the pitch-black darkness of area corn mazes.
However, if we set out to find the real haunted areas what would we find? Over the course of the last 30 years, I have lived in Sioux Falls, a few locations still gain attention as being really haunted. And yes, a handful of thrill-seeking people will show up on our favorite eerie night for what could be a viral video moment or experience a misty phantom first-hand.
Let's take a little tour of the more famous hauntings around Sioux Falls. Turn on the lights and cue the Cowardly Lion: "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks..."
Some locals will tell you something very unusual is taking place in the Washington Pavilion elevators. The story begins in 1997 when the future arts center was undergoing renovations and a man fell to his death in the elevator shaft.
Some have said that his ghost will ride with you in the elevator and disappear before reaching your floor.
Gitchi Manitou State Preserve, Iowa
Located just over the South Dakota border, Gitchi Manitou, along the Big Sioux river hosts a variety of spooky legends. According to the Lyon County paper in 1973, four Sioux Falls teenagers were camping and having a party when they were murdered. The murderers were caught and are serving life in maximum security in Fort Madison.
Another reason for the supposed hauntings could stem from the 1800s when American Indians used the area for ceremonial traditions. At one time it was believed that over 10,000 American Indians occupied the site.
Almost 40 years later, some people still have an overwhelming feeling of being watched while in the area. Others have described mists forming over the water on clear nights, and yet others have heard branches breaking and "low growling sounds" when no animals were spotted.
This stretch of road just outside of Brandon, SD. has earned the name Spook Road after several people have reported mysterious encounters. There is a theory that you cross 5 bridges on the way in but only 4 on the same way out. Have you seen the ghostly apparition of a man alongside the road at night? Or perhaps a man hanging in a tree? Is it mere folklore or is there something to this stretch of 264th street?
The highest obelisk overlooking Sioux Falls just east of the State Penitentiary is said to be haunted by Judge Amidon and his son who were killed in 1862 by a Native American scouting party at the site.
Strange feelings of being watched and occasional orbs floating near the top of the monument are reported.
The Sioux Falls Community Playhouse
The Community Playhouse is said to be haunted by a ghost named Larry whose past is still a mystery. Some say he was a construction worker who died during the building process. Others claim Larry was a stagehand who died in an accident behind the curtain. Yet, another legend would contend that he hanged himself from the rafters.
However Larry's fate was met, his ghost is said to be roaming in the Playhouse. Although his ghost is a rare sighting, those who have seen him swear he's trying to tell them something. Witnesses also claim that the playful side of Larry will turn on sinks and flush toilets. People have also reported "ghostly footsteps" when the place is closed for the night.
The Orpheum Theater and Actors Studio
A ghost who haunts the Actors Studio belongs to a man who was dancing with a woman whose husband had gone to war. The soldier returned, and in a fit of rage, killed the man. The victim's ghost now roams the studio whistling "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". On the bright side, it is said to be good luck when the ghost shows up on the opening night of a performance.
The Old Courthouse Museum
Can you hear sweeping in the courtroom late at night? Legend says you can. One witness saw the large curtains ruffle as if being cleaned. Another said they saw a girl with 1900's clothing ascend the staircase as if levitating.
Located at 500 N. Main in Sioux Falls, the church has had a few particular moments according to witnesses in 1992. The Cathedral hosted a 'lock-in' youth event overnight when all power was lost in their part of the church. The group also claimed to hear pounding on closed doors in the night only to discover nothing when opened.
Although Deadwood still boasts the most haunted town in South Dakota, it turns out we have a few good scares of our own. These legends have been around for years and I guess every town has them. Stories and lore created by a fire while camping to be handed down from generation to generation.
We would love to hear your story if you've experienced a paranormal moment. Happy hauntings!
Information and credits:
More South Dakota Hauntings:
- South Dakota’s Most Haunted Campground
- South Dakota's Most Haunted Final Resting Place is Near Mount Rushmore
The Ultimate Sioux Falls Visitor's Guide: A to Z:
The Ultimate Sioux Falls Visitor's Guide: A to Z
The 100 Best Places to Live in the Midwest:
The 100 Best Places to Live in the Midwest