hjohnson@nptelegraph.com

Fake haunted houses spring up all over Lincoln County in October, but are there any real ones? A variety of Internet sites claim there are. Google searches point to Dodge Hill, the old ice house in North Platte and Fort McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell, just to name a few.

But is there any truth to the stories? Some local residents say "yes."

Buffalo Bill's mansion

One of history's most famous characters from the Old West appears to have a hard time saying goodbye to the Scouts Rest Ranch. Both tour guides and visitors claim to have had experiences with Buffalo Bill in his former mansion, located at 2921 Scouts Rest Ranch Road. Aric Riggins is the park superintendent.

He said he's had several paranormal encounters over the years. He said they usually happen in the winter when tourism season is over.

"He'll leave us alone for a couple of months, then pretty soon he's back again," said Riggins.

Riggins has heard footsteps walking up the stairs and through the second story of the house, and if Christmas ornaments are placed on William Cody's dresser, they end up on the floor. Riggins said employees make sure the closet door in Cody's bedroom is shut and latched every night.

"But in the morning, there it is open," he said. "One time, I had the front door closed and locked, and I heard it open, too."

Riggins said mansion tour guides periodically claim to feel something rub up against them, and once, a little girl who was visiting the house was seen shaking hands with thin air. She told her father she was shaking hands with a man she later identified as Buffalo Bill.

Last spring, some of the downstairs displays had to be moved upstairs because of flooding. When Riggins entered the house to start moving things, he noticed Cody's big leather recliner was parked by the front door.

"It was going crazy rocking," he said. "I guess he was just taking in the show. I looked at Lois, one of our tour guides, and asked her how long the rocking had been going on. She said 'all morning.' I was never a believer in that kind of stuff, but I am now."

North Platte Community Playhouse

Perhaps the most popular Internet search result that pops up is for the North Platte Community Playhouse, otherwise known as the Neville Center or the old Fox Theater. Located at 301 East Fifth Street, the playhouse dates back to 1928.

Scott Carlson, playhouse general manager, has been involved with the theater since he was a child and only recently had a creepy experience.

"I did my first show on that stage when I was 10 or 11," said Carlson. "I'd never had any supernatural experiences. In fact, the first time I heard that it might be haunted was when shock illusionist Dan Sperry was here in March."

He said a ticket buyer asked if he'd had any paranormal experiences. She claimed she'd heard stories about the place being haunted.

"After that, I began doing some research and asking around," said Carlson. "Supposedly, the light booth and balcony are the places that are haunted. People claim they've experienced cold spots or seen shadowy figures walking across the balcony."

Carlson thinks he may have had his own encounter with a spirit while running the lights for an April performance.

"I was flipping through the script, and I could have sworn someone walked into the light booth," he said. "I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned around, but didn't see anyone."

He said there's an old tale that a vaudeville actor fell off the balcony and died in the 1930s.

"Aside from that, I can't imagine who would be haunting the theater unless it would be Keith and Mary Neville, the theater's original owners," said Carlson. "It's like any old building. When you're in there at night, you hear the wall walkers and floor creakers, but who really knows for sure if it's haunted?"

The North Platte Telegraph office

Employees at the North Platte Telegraph office, 621 North Chestnut Street, believe a woman haunts the entryway to the ladies' restroom. Julie Murrish, Julie Geiser and Judy Feeney have all had run-ins with a woman they claim stands behind the door as they walk into the restroom. All agree she is small in stature with long, dark hair.

"She's not wearing slacks, so I know she's not from modern times," said Murrish. "But, I wouldn't say she's from as far back as the late 1800s, early 1900s."

Feeney said no specific details stood out to her aside from the hair.

"You just kind of see a silhouette beside you," she said. "It made a believer out of me."

According to Murrish, the woman doesn't give off a negative energy.

"But, there are times when I'm in a hurry, and she catches me off guard," said Murrish. "It gives me the heebie jeebies. There is a dark vibe in the building, though."

She described it as a shadowy figure across the bottom of the stairs on the east side of the newsroom and said sometimes at night she can also hear the click of old typewriters.

"That's why I keep my earphones on," Murrish said. "To block things out."

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