Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 13, 2006, Herald Journal

A haunting weekend retreat


Recently I had the excitement of staying at a haunted hotel for a friend’s birthday bash.

The Palmer House of Sauk Centre was built in 1901 after the first hotel burned. It is known to be haunted. It’s even in the book “Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations.”

It’s been told that one young boy supposedly died in one of the rooms around the time of the flu epidemic and he can be heard bouncing his ball at night.

I was surprisingly unafraid. Normally, upon hearing scary ghost stories, my eyes will water with fear. I was one of the brave ones this time as my friend clinged to my arm on our tour of the basement.

A story was told by the owner of a woman who had a dream. In her dream there was a man buried under the stairs of the Palmer House Hotel. Prior to the dream, she hadn’t heard of the place.

She looked up the hotel, drove to Sauk Centre, and told the current owner of her disturbing dream.

They took her down to the basement and the woman guided them to where the body was supposedly buried under a set of stairs. This was a large basement with many rooms, so how she knew the exact spot is quite creepy.

One night the owner and a couple of staff decided to start digging. They found some rib bones which quite possibly could have been from a butchered animal.

They put the bones in a crate and placed it on a nearby shelf for it to be taken to be analyzed later.

When the owner went to retrieve the crate, it had disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.

Later, the owner told the woman about the bones they had found. Her reply was, “You didn’t dig deep enough.” She described how the body was laying in its grave.

Some day, the owner said she will go digging again.

On our tour of the basement, people took pictures with their digital cameras. In almost all of the photos there are orbs floating randomly around.

The party was held in the downstairs restaurant. My two girlfriends went to the restroom together. The scared friend came running out of the bathroom in a panic. Her toilet had flushed by itself. This was not an automatic toilet mind you, just a regular toilet with a handle to flush, and it mysteriously flushed on its own.

The next morning, my friend noticed in the room next to us the toilet flushing on its own. We could hear it running, and then it would flush. Maybe it’s just old plumbing, but I’d like to think it was something more.

I did notice while I was at the Palmer House, I was much more aware of my surroundings. In a place like that, you wait for something to happen.

One of the guests told of the night before, when he woke up in the middle of the night to hear what sounded like a ball bouncing in the room above him. Later he woke again to what sounded like large furniture moving across wooden floors. All the rooms are carpeted.

One of the wait staff informed us at breakfast another haunting story.

A couple workers were closing and cleaning up the bar one night. They heard “ping” and noticed a glass had shattered right on the shelf.

There might be a reasonable explanation for all of these, but it’s fun to think of the alternative.

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