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Lincoln, Nebraska

Buildings with a long history often can account for a tragedy or two that has taken place within their walls. Of course, this does not always cause a place to become haunted but what about two horrible deaths... and the fact that the building was constructed on a sacred Native American site?

Visitors who ride the elevator to the dome observation deck of the state capitol building in Lincoln are in for an unusual experience. Oh, I don't mean just the spectacular view that the deck offers of the city below, I am talking about something else. If you ever get the chance to visit this dome, stop and listen very closely.... there is a good chance that you will hear the sound of a man sobbing and weeping as though his heart is broken. You can look around, but you won't see anyone who is crying nearby... what you are hearing is a phenomena that has gone unexplained for many years.
It is the ghost of the observation deck.

But this is not the only ghost, or at least the only type of energy to linger here. We cannot forget the sounds of screams that have been heard inside of the building itself.

But who are these ghosts? There are actually two different candidates, both of whom died horrible deaths in the building. But what could have caused the building to store up the energy of this spirit the way that it has? Beneath the bottom floor of the capitol is what some call the "true" basement. A cavernous space where you can still see what is left of the first building that rested on this location. Before the white man ever came here, the Native Americans worshipped and absorbed the energy of the small hill where the capitol building now stands. They believed that it was a sacred place and one that was filled with spirits.....
Do some of these spirit still linger here today also?

Perhaps the most horrible tragedy to take place here is connected with the capitol dome itself... the outside of the dome. Every year at the Christmas season, the dome used to be strung with holiday lights. You have to ask yourself though... who would be crazy enough to climb up there and string lights?
To reach the dome, a staircase winds around the inner walls of the observation level's rotunda. If you stand in the rotunda and look at the glass windows, you will see the reflection of the staircase, squeezed between the glass and the outside windows. It was built this way so that it would be invisible from the outside and hard to see from the inside. The stairs lead up to a small door that leads outside... to a 17 story drop to the ground below.
To attach the lights, a workman was rigged to a harness and then sent out onto the edge of the dome. It was not a job than many people volunteered to do, that's why for many years, the job was given to an inmate volunteer from the state penitentiary. In exchange for this dangerous job, they received the thanks of the state and recognition toward their parole.
In 1968, one of these prisoners was stringing the lights on the dome, hanging out into the air by a thin harness, when he panicked, had a heart attack and died. They say that his scream echoed and reverberated through the air as the life left his body.

The theory behind the strange sounds inside of the building is linked to yet another tragedy. There is a seldom used, spiral staircase that climbs the entire height of the building and reaches the observation level in the southeast corner of the floor. A large wire gate has been used to seal off this staircase from the public. The staircase has no central support and is only attached to the wall. Because of this, the center of the stairwell offers and open drop to the dozen floors below.
For years, the building was plagued by children who dropped coins down the staircase, denting the steps and the handrail. But they weren't the reason for the gate....
In the late 1950's, a man leaned too far over the edge in order to peer down the dizzying spiral. He lost his balance, slipped and plunged to his death. It may be his last anguished scream that can still be heard inside of the building today.

The state capitol building is located in Lincoln, Nebraska and can be found between 14th and 16th streets and between K and G streets.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor, All Rights Reserved

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