Ghosts of the Prairie

Decorah, Iowa

At Luther College, in Decorah, the ghostly footsteps of a woman can be heard in the corridors of Larsen Hall. The third floor of the building is haunted by "Gertrude", the resident ghost.

This mischievous spirit has been blamed for false fire alarms, strange sounds and missing items, especially clothing. Legends say that occasionally Gertrude will make off with items of young lady's attire and leave her own old fashioned garments in their place.

"I was living on the third floor a number of years ago",  a former resident of the house wrote to me, "and I had just the thing that you wrote about happen to me. I had left some items of lingerie on my bed and had went to a friend's room to talk to her for a few minutes. When I came back, I found a whale-bone corset lying on the bed. It looked brand new... but I wouldn't guess they have made those things in years. There was no one around who could have played a trick like this on me either.  Eventually, my lingerie turned up in my dresser... but I still have that corset."

Gertrude is said to have been a Decorah high school graduate who longed to attend the college before women were allowed. She was killed in 1918 when her bicycle was struck by an automobile, forever ending her dreams of attending the university.

Decorah is in the northeast comer of the state, not far from the Minnesota border.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
. All Rights Reserved.

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