Ghosts of the Prairie

Indianola, Iowa

Perhaps one of the most frightening places that I have ever heard about on a haunted college campus is the Old Chapel at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. This building is said to be haunted by a number of students who have allegedly died there. For many years, this building was both loved and feared by staff and students at the college. It had served as a chapel and as library and conservatory as well. Strange things were reported to occur here.... from mysterious lights, to sinister apparitions to disembodied footsteps that would pace up and down the staircase. And on one staircase in particular... the scene of a suicide that may have been the first haunting to begin here.

It seems that just before the turn-of-the-century, a young man, the victim of a failed love affair, killed himself here. His face has been seen peering out the windows of the building's belfry ever since.

After that, other deaths would follow. A woman killed herself in the tower of the building in the early 1920's. This tower was later destroyed in a storm and never rebuilt.

Two young women have died horrible deaths when they fell over the railing of the staircase and plunged down three stories to their doom. A young man also reportedly died after losing his footing on the steps, while another woman hanged herself from a massive light fixture on the second floor. According to sources, these later deaths never occurred, although legends still persist.

Because of this, the stories and legends told about the place make fact nearly impossible to separate from fiction...and yet many unanswered questions remain. There have been dozens of reliable witnesses who have encountered the unknown in the building, from face-to-face meetings with apparitions to stories of lights that either refuse to stay on or repeatedly turn out by themselves.

The building was declared unsafe for human habitation in 1980...but who knows how long the inhabitants that were not human cared to linger? Since that time, the hall has been completely remodeled and renovated and is now used as the offices for the college. Still haunted? That remains to be seen!

Indianola is seventeen miles south of Des Moines, lowa and is located in the south central part of the state. Simpson College is on North C Street in the city.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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