Ghosts of the Prairie


Maryville, Missouri

Students living in a dorm called Roberta Hall on this campus report that the place has been haunted by a former resident for many years. There is even a long standing tradition here of making a burn mark on the doors to their rooms with a hot iron.... this is thought to discourage nocturnal visits from the ghost.

The ghost dates back to April of 1951, when a gas tank east of the building exploded. Flames could be seen from the explosion more than seventy miles away and the force of it sent the tank crashing into the side of the dormitory. One student, a girl named Roberta Steel, was critically injured in the explosion and while she struggled to recover for many months, she finally died in November of 1952.

Apparently, her struggle to hang onto life has left an impact on the building because many believe her ghost still walks here and the dorm has been considered haunted since her death. Doors and windows were said to lock, unlock and open by themselves, lights mysteriously go out at night if the spirit of Roberta thinks that are left on too loud. She is even said to go as far as to turn down radios and televisions that she thinks are turned up too loud.

It has also been reported by many students that they have heard the sound of Roberta playing a piano in an abandoned basement room. The sound of music has often been heard echoing in the dark rooms and no one has ever been seen playing the piano.

The tradition of burning marks on the doors of the rooms started after a night when Roberta's ghost materialized in one of the rooms and tried to get into bed with a frightened student. The girl pushed away the seemingly solid phantom and Roberta started dancing in circles in the center of the room until she abruptly vanished.

Maryville, Missouri is located in northwestern Missouri, about twenty miles north of St. Joseph. The university is located on the northeast side of the city.


Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.