Day 71: Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Miracle of miracles, I got a solid 8 hours sleep last night.  Either it’s all the driving or stress of finding gas yesterday, but I slept hard and it was AMAZING. You truly know you’re an adult when the best thing about your day is sleep. This week is a bonus week for me because I only had a couple things planned, so everything else I find is extra!  It is supposed to be in the 100’s several days this week, so I am going to have to be careful with my car that has no a/c right now.  Sometimes it just FEELS better to stay in my nice, ice cold hotel room and watch tv.

On my Paranormal wish list of things to do across the Nation, many a Prison can be found.  I have always been fascinated by them, and then you add history with the ghosts inside every cell, they’re pretty cool to tour.  My first Prison tour was Joliet in Illinois, and you really didn’t get to go in the cell areas, because the main building was literally falling apart and they are trying to save it.  Waverly Hills was all about a guided ghost tour, so again, you weren’t on your own to really explore (that costs extra and boy will it cost you there to do an overnight alone!). I LOVED that ghost tour, but it would have been cool and terrifying to do alone.

Idaho State Penitentiary

So today I wasn’t sure what to expect, just what I had seen on an episode of “Ghost Adventures.” I knew the place was haunted, so I came prepared to talk to whoever wanted to talk back. They have sort of a compound going on there, the Penitentiary, the Warden’s home, the Women’s Prison Block, the trail to Table Rock, and the Botanical Gardens next door.  They have you park in this huge, gravel parking lot behind the homes and the Table Rock trail, but there was ZERO signage on where to walk to the Prison. I wound up asking a local who was going to his car how the heck to get to the entrance, which he kindly showed me the way. 

Idaho State Penitentiary

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$6 entrance fee, masks required in the Main building, and the tour is self-guided. I LOVE those words, that means “Amy can take her sweet ass time” – which I certainly did. They opened at 10 a.m. and I didn’t walk out until 12:30 p.m.  They have SO many buildings to tour, including Maximum Security, the Cooler, 3 Cell Houses, a Rose Garden, Shirt Factory, and Barber Shop. 

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Let’s start with the Rose Garden.  This is where the gallows started on the property, where the men were put to death by hanging. The Rose Garden was beautiful, I kept thinking what beauty was covering stories of horrible deaths. It felt peaceful, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched. There weren’t many touring today, so 90% of the time I was all alone. Even with the big, bright, ball in the sky shining down on me, the place couldn’t feel darker.

Idaho State Penitentiary

Idaho State Penitentiary
The gallows were in the grassy area…
Idaho State Penitentiary
The Gallows Outside

The Dining Hall from 1898 burned down, and all that is left is the shell of what was. They designed it to have lots of light, and they entered across this huge ravine dug around it.  The pic will show the men were not allowed to talk, and they all had to face one way while eating.

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The Dining Hall
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Dining Hall in 2021

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Inside the Dining Hall

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I couldn’t get over the “dungeons” they had placed in several spots. When the men were unruly, one point of punishment would be to put them in the ground where they would feed them and that’s it. They looked like storm cellars that people used when they didn’t have basements, but it must have been so hot with the sun baking those metal doors. Maybe cooler underground? I don’t know, every time I saw one it creeped me out.

Idaho State Penitentiary

Idaho State Penitentiary

Speaking of cooler, they have a building called “The Cooler” or “Siberia” where you were put when you REALLY screwed up while in Prison.  These cells had nothing to them, and walking into the tiny building felt so heavy on my chest, I didn’t stay in here long. It’s located in a corner, far away from everything else, including it’s own shower area for only these confined prisoners. There cells had NOTHING to them, I pictured a man just sitting in a corner and scraping his fingers on the wall from boredom. Creepy area.

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Next I toured the Barber Shop and Dorm, right next to each other. These were Museums, meaning they had walls of information on inmates, and it was fascinating to read. I probably spent a good 30 minutes alone here, all very interesting.

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3 House, built in 1928, was the first one I toured of the cells. Because I wasn’t able to have such freedom at Joilet like this, I was shocked I could walk in and out of cells, up and down floors, it was so cool!! Every building I left my Ghost app play out, and I will post some of the words I got with this. Basically I took pics, video, then let my app run while I walked around and explored.

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2 House was the oldest house, built in 1911. These were incredibly old, smaller cells.  A scary vibe in this one, wasn’t a fan of being alone in here.

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Idaho State Penitentiary

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4 House, built in 1952, was the largest one. Lots of floors, housed the most, and this is where they had kidnapped several of the guards and the prisoners held them hostage. 

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Idaho State Penitentiary
The Officers would use this hallway to check in on the prisoners through small windows.

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Idaho State Penitentiary
The small window on the inside of the cell that the Officers would peek in on them.

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5 House, built in 1954, was Maximum Security and Death Row.  THIS ONE was crazy to be in!  Exploring while thinking about the most dangerous who inhabited here, but then to go to the second floor and see the 4 cells that held the Death Row inmates was surreal. Right off their cells, a single, ominous door. They all had to stare at it from their cells, knowing the journey though door was the last walk in their lives. And not death by injection, oh no, nothing humane like that. They walked through that door to a hanging noose. They would be executed by hanging, with a trap door underneath. They would stand on the doors, the noose around their neck, the trap door would open, and they would be hung. Then dropped to the room below, and taken out the doors down the stairs, to the outside to a hearse and then the Cemetery.  A window in the viewing room would allow the “watchers” to view this gruesome hanging…and I couldn’t stop staring through it. I couldn’t get over that 10 people were hung in that room, and that someone watched it. I was in this area awhile, I just couldn’t get over it.  I took video in this area, will post it on Facebook- make sure to follow my page.

 

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Idaho State Penitentiary
Where they hung the noose from…
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The trapdoor the body fell through.
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The lever pulled to open the trap door…

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The room beneath the gallows…where the trap door dumped the body.

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Idaho State Penitentiary
The doors the body would be taken out of to the hearse and then Cemetery.

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The last building I toured was the Shirt Factory, basically the laundry area. They really didn’t like them “loafing” – this term is found all over the grounds. Apparently with their schedule, they worked most of the time to help the State’s budget. They even built the Warden’s home, a STONE home.  Cheap labor I guess.  I hit the gift shop, because EVERYONE has a gift shop, and grabbed my sticker and a bottle of water. On the way out, they have the Women’s Ward on the outside of the Main Prison, which I thought was odd. Apparently they HAD to keep them separated this much because of the harassment they would endure. They were so worried about the women that there house is actually surrounded by it’s own separate wall, with the Warden’s home between the two areas.  Because it’s outside the Main prison, you can tour the Women’s area without paying.

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She’s 48?????

I headed out to find lunch, loving that Wendy’s Strawberry Summer Chicken salad so I picked one up and a cold soda and I headed back to the Hotel for some sweet, sweet air conditioning.  I am parked for the rest of the day, the heat really does wipe me out. Hoping to get my car fixed soon, see you all tomorrow!

Driving throgh Oregon

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I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! Spreading the kindness is my goal on this amazing journey, and I thank you for helping me make magic for so many people. So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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South Dakota Completed Itinerary…. Week of July 5th-12th, 2021

Bear Country USA:  Click HERE to see their Website

                                    Click HERE for my blog post on it

Bear Country USA

Reptile Gardens: Click HERE to see their Website

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Reptile Gardens Rapid City SD

Mount Rushmore: Click HERE to see their Website

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Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial: Click HERE to see their Website

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Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park: Click HERE to see their Website

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Custer State Park

Deadwood: Click HERE to see their Website

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Deadwood South Dakota

1880’s Train: Click HERE to see their Website

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1880s Train Keystone SD

Alpine Inn Restaurant: Click HERE to see their Website

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Alpine Inn Hill City SD

Press Start Arcade Bar and Grill: Click HERE to see their Website

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Press Start Bar and Grill

Hot Springs: Click HERE to see their Website

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Hot Springs SD

Pioneer Museum: Click HERE to see their Website

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Pioneer Museum Hot Springs SD

Chapel on the Hill: Click HERE to see their Website

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Chapel on the Hill

Dinosaur Park: Click HERE to see their Website

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Dinosaur Park

1880 Town: Click HERE to see their Website

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1880 Town South Dakota

Mammoth Site: Click HERE to see their Website

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The Mammoth Site

Broken Boot Gold Mine: Click HERE to see their Website

                                               Click HERE for my blog post on DAY TOUR

                                             Click HERE for my blog post on GHOST TOUR

Broken Boot Gold Mine

Wall Drug: Click HERE to see their Website

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Wall Drug

Wind Cave National Park: Click HERE to see their Website

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Wind Cave National Park

The Badlands National Park: Click HERE to see their Website

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Badlands National Park

Deadwood Brothel: Click HERE to see their Website

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Deadwood Brothel

Buffalo Bill Hickock Saloon- Where Wild Bill was shot and killed: Click HERE to see their Website

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Wild Bill Shooting Site

DIGNITY Statue: Click HERE to see their Website

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Sakajawea Lewis and Clark Statue

Keystone: Click HERE to see their Website

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Hill City: Click HERE to see their Website

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Hill City SD

Rapid City: Click HERE to see their Website

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Rapid City SD

Sioux Falls: Click HERE to see their Website

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Falls Park Sioux Falls SD

Legion Lake Lodge: Click HERE to see their Website

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Legion Lake Lodge

Celebrity Hotel in Deadwood: Click HERE to see their Website

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Celebrity Hotel

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Thanks for your kindness in supporting my hard work.

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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The Paranormal Investigation at the Old Jail in St. Augustine, Florida

Why do some like the dark corners, and still love the feel of the light? I ask myself this all the time when ghost hunting, and it’s all because I saw my Grandma the night she passed away. You don’t have to believe me, heck, it’s not your story to tell. But it was a connection I had made that made me question the after-life. So when I can, I try to sign up for Ghost Tours around the Country, hearing a mystery history adds a bit of charge to the tale. Craig signed us both up for the “Old Jail” at St. Augustine in Florida…and I was all in!

If you haven’t been to St. Augustine, it should be at the top of your Florida Favorites list! Located a little over an hour from the Orlando area, is the oldest city in America.  From National Monuments to Haunted Lighthouses…this city has it all.  No, you aren’t going to find thumping night clubs and wild dance floors, but you will find a pub every 10 feet on St. George Street, along with incredible dining and deserts.  I have been fortunate to take part in the Ghost Tour at the Oldest School House in the city, so I was pretty pumped to try another one at a different location.

Researching which Ghost Tour is for you is KEY in having a good time.  There are two VERY different experiences to be had when participating in one. Either you just want a history tour with some spiritual spookiness thrown in, sometimes LIVE actors to set the scene, with usually a ride on a trolley, bus, or a walk through with a guide.  Entertaining, light, and fun.  The other experience is a Paranormal investigation. They take you through a series of tools that they provide, or they let you use and bring your own in, tell you some of the history of the area, and then let you into said place and you grab your tool of choice and you are an official Ghost Hunter!

Our tour was the 8:30 p.m. slot, booked about a month ahead of time. This place is VERY popular, so make sure you book at least a month out.  They have you come about 15 mins early, restrooms available right before you head in, and then we met “Shelby” who was out Guide for the evening.  She was fun, hilarious, and a great storyteller.  Nobody wants to take a ghost tour with a guide who doesn’t believe or isn’t into it, and her and the other one “Bill” CLEARLY love what they do and were incredibly kind and helpful.

After the explanation of the tools, and being told there is a “crawler” entity that has been seen, I was a bit hesitant on this one.  I don’t mess with the demonic stuff, talking to spirits seems interesting, but I don’t need any kind of attachment or something following me home.  Yes, there is a fine line, but there is still a line.  Craig grabbed a K2 Meter and I used a ghost box, and we had 30 minutes only to roam the jail, anywhere we wanted to go.

This place is already incredibly creepy during the day, they have mannequins in the cells in “General Pop” so add the dark, they can scare you when you are clearing a corner.  The Sheriff would have a bedroom here, with an office downstairs.  The room next to his was for his children- what a way to grow up right?  The PARTY OF 10, which is allowed by Covid right now, would be hard to escape to get the “quiet” moments to be able to talk. Half our group wanted to investigate, and the other half were there to party and be loud.  I asked the spirits continually “Doesn’t all that noise bother you?” LOL I did not get a response. BUT… I DID get one in his bedroom. I thought it was a woman’s bedroom, didn’t feel like a mens at all, and asked if anyone wanted to say hello. I got a VERY clear sentence, sounding like an older English woman “Who are you?”  After I changed my pants (jk) I said my name and I talk to them like I would talk to you.

Once I would find quiet spots in Maximum Security, the Women’s part of the jail, and the Watch Tower, they seemed  a bit more chattier.  It was a half hour of trying to record on my phone, hold the ghost box, asking questions, and maneuvering the people who obviously were trying to do the same. 

It was a cool experience, we had the freedom to do it how we pleased, but we wish they had asked the “party crowd” to leave.  If you aren’t really into it, then leave, but don’t ruin it for those who are really interested. After they left, the half of us chatted with Shelby for another 20 minutes about our favorite ghost experiences, other tours we had taken, and so on. She was chocked full of information, so if you can, try to get her for your tour. Below is a great pic of an orb I caught.

Now, was it worth the money? It was $27 each, one of the cheaper ones I have done. Now, you only get 30 minutes to investigate, so that’s about right for what you are paying for. I have been on $50 ones, and higher, so this is a nice one to do with a small group with a small price tag. The Old Schoolhouse was another great ghost tour, but it was over an hour long to investigate.  They have trolley ghost tours which will take you around to the sites, and also there is a ghost tour available at the Lighthouse.  I had thought about the Lighthouse but I thought it would be disorientating to try to investigate on a tiny, spiraling stair case, in the dark, and not worry about the heights of it all. Maybe someday.  I highly encourage you to try one of them out, and make sure too research IF they take you INTO one of the scary sites, or you are just going to be “driving by it.”  Enjoy!!

The Coolest Gravestones I Have Seen Thus Far….

I know, this may be a bit weird or off to some, but to me, gravestones are that last piece of art and expression of someone’s life. Whether it be the stone itself, or what is written upon it, these were some of the coolest, and CREEPIEST, I saw last year! I highly recommend you take a walk some time through a Cemetery and look at all the beauty they hold… there’s a certain peace it brings. Even bring a flower or too, respect should always be paid while enjoying these. Here are my favorites…enjoy!

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Thank you for your support and kindness.

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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“Shining” at the Stanley Hotel…

During my road trip of 2018, I was blessed to be able to spend time with my dear friend, Darby. She has the coolest name right? Anyways, she invited me to stay at her homestead while I toured some of the many wonderful things that Colorado has to offer. At the VERY tippy top of my list was the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Why? Well, if you must know, the Stanley is known for film and tv locations, along with something of a haunted, spooky past. So let’s check in and see what we find!

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Darby and I headed to the Stanley after the most perfect afternoon of shopping and eating in Estes Park, along with hiking in the Colorado Rockies.  As if our day could not get any better, we had a ghost tour scheduled at the Stanley for the evening.  I don’t think it gets any better than being at the hotel where Stephen King himself not only stayed but got inspired to write “The Shining.” (If you haven’t read it, you have homework, or go stream the movie).  Side note, people get this Hotel confused with the one from the Jack Nicholson movie. The “idea” of “The Shining” was BORN at the Stanley…the MOVIE was filmed at “The Timberline Lodge” on Mount Hood in Oregon. BOTH are considered “The Overlook Hotel” in the book.  Hopefully that made sense.

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The Stanley Hotel, with its 140 rooms and 14,000 square feet, allows guest to check in for an evening or for a long term stay. Opened in 1909, it was one of the first in this area of the Country to have electricity, phones, and bathrooms in the rooms. In the shadow of the Rockies, it was a jewel found amongst the snowy wilderness- almost out of place.  Ironically, the hotel was on a decline in the 1970’s until Stephen King paid a visit, and it became one of the hottest hotels for a peek at the “other side.”

Because we were there for a ghost tour, so we didn’t have to pay to get in or for parking. Normally they charge a $10 daily fee for folks to come check out the hotel. So if you can’t take a ghost tour, or can’t afford a stay, you can at least pay the nominal fee and take a look around. They will let you know what is open to the public, and what is only available to the guests. When you pay the $10 at the gate, they give you a Stanley Medallion to keep or use at the Whiskey Bar inside. A win win.

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The haunted rooms, specifically the one Stephen King stayed in, was room 217. There are also spooky tales around rooms 401, 407, and 428. Basically, the 4th floor is a hot spot.  The grand staircase, which is front and center the minute you walk into the hotel, has had many ghost sightings of a woman and child walking the stairs. I will say, the vibe on the stairs is unsettling as there are many portraits of the Stanley family staring at you- very “Haunted Mansion.”

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Take a trip to the basement, as there are lots of photos of the filming of the Shining TV series and props from the movie. This is also where the ghost tours gather before heading out into the damp and dark. I will be writing another post about JUST the ghost tour, so look for that soon!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Mathias Ham House…. Haunted?

Finding lots of hidden gems to explore in the Dubuque area, I came upon this old Mansion sitting up on a hill. Known as the “Matthias-Ham House”, this Victorian home was built in 1856 standing on 2241 Lincoln Avenue. Designed by architect John F. Rague and built for lead miner, Mathias Ham, who also designed the Courthouse in Springfield, IL, another spot I had been this summer!

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The Mathias Ham House is now a Museum which is open during the summer and fall from Thursday-Sunday. And of course, I was there on a Monday, so no go for me. BUT I read online that there are NO pictures or video allowed inside the home, so a heads up if you are looking to document the inside. I would have loved to seen it, especially the ghost stories that surround the property. So much that their official site denounces the paranormal- I’m sure trying to defer people like myself that are interested in the haunted history. But still, there ARE ghosts…. you see Mr. Mathias Ham was not only a Miner, but also had successful businesses in lumber, agriculture, and a shipping fleet. With this large Mansion on a bluff, he was able to view the Mississippi from the cuppola atop his home. Here he could watch what ships were coming in, and warn others of pirates coming into the area. Apparently the Pirates weren’t of the Disney kind and found out that they were arrested because of Mathias Ham, vowing to take their revenge on him.

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As family members passed away, the only one left was his daughter, Sara. Living in the big mansion all by herself, she would begin to hear trespassers on the grounds and asked the neighbors to watch her home. She devised a lamp to be in her third floor window and if it was on, that was the signal to the neighbors that she was in distress. A night came and went as she heard footsteps again in her home, slowing walking the floors up to her at the top. As she heard them creep to her bedroom door, with noone answering her calls of “Who’s there” she turned the lamp on and fired her gun through the door. She had killed the Pirate Captain, dragging his body to the river. So the story goes that the Captain roams the halls of this home in search of the revenge he never got. Also the ghost of Mr. Mathias Ham himself has been known to been seen walking outside and around the grounds. Just walking around by myself in the sunlight, I could feel eyes looking down at me from the upstairs.

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The tour is $7.50 and covers not only the house, but the oldest cabin in Iowa (moved to the property), and a fake mine shaft. I say fake because it didn’t exist there, they made it for educational purposes. I would have been quite stoked if it was a REAL mine shaft! The home also doesn’t have it’s original furnishings, but has been kept up well. I enjoyed touring the grounds on my own, trying to imagine living in this big, beautiful home on a hill, the large tree in the front for shade. It is a great property and definitely a stop next time you’re in Dubuque- enjoy!

Thank you for your support!!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

$1.00

The Dowling House…Galena, IL

I don’t know what it is about old homes that I just fall in love with- the architecture, the history, or the feel they bring. There hasn’t been an old mansion or home that I have toured without feeling eyes on me- friend or foe, who knows, but ALWAYS felt. So as I toured the beautiful town of Galena, I came across the “Dowling House.” An attraction for this sleepy little town, it boasts that it is the oldest home in the area, built in 1826.  To me, anything from the 1800’s seems to have something attached to it that hasn’t left. I saw this as a challenge- tour something historic, old, and maybe catch something (hopefully not Covid).

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There is a small building next to the home, located up the hill off of the Main Street and adjacent from the Restaurant “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Here you can purchase your ticket for a scheduled time to tour the home with a Guide.  My group had maybe 10 people in it, social distancing with masks on, as I tried to stay away from people in the confined space of the small home. There is a steep staircase in it, so it is not wheelchair friendly, as I always try to observe when touring places like these. Even with the small group, I found myself hanging back after every room so I could take the time for pics and videos. Not a fan when a tour rushes you through it so quickly that you had no time to enjoy taking pics because you had to keep up all the time. My guide was great and gave all of us plenty of time to look and explore. He shared a story of a family member who passed and that the family was so devastated that when the man was buried in the Cemetery across town, they made his tombstone so tall that it could be seen from the home on the hill- and you could see it from the upstairs windows. Pretty neat.

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Built all of limestone, John Dowling’s home was the scene of the only trading post in town. Fur trading and selling of goods in the lower part of his home, the second floor hosting his modest living quarters. He would go on to build his company right across from his home, which still stands there today.  My tour guide was informative and patient, and it only cost $10 to take it.  I was allowed to film and take pictures inside with permission as of September 2020 (Yes, ASK! I have been on MANY a tour that do NOT let you take photos inside historic buildings). Many ghost tours in town will make this place a stop to check out, so of course I made sure to walk by it in the evening as well- gave off quite the creep vibe!

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If you’re in town, this is definitely a cool thing to check out. I wouldn’t make a trip JUST for it, but Galena alone is worth the travels. Check it out and enjoy!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!1

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The DeSoto House Hotel

Upon planning my trip to Galena in Illinois, I had come across the DeSoto House Hotel and immediatedly got excited. Why? Well I had heard it was quite haunted because of the rich history that happened in and outside this famous building AND because good old  Abe Lincoln had been here himself!  If you have followed my travels this past year, I have had an ongoing series called “The Love of Lincoln” and it basically traces his steps all over IL. So I was happy to add another piece of the puzzle to that, AND so much more history that I would uncover.

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Let’s start with the DeSoto House Hotel itself, makes sense since that’s the title. Sitting on the corner of Main Street in Galena, it commands your precense in it’s shadow. Opening on April 9th, 1855, it was financed by the “Galena Hotel Company” and named after the founder of the great Mississippi, DeSoto. Upon it’s grand opening, it was billed as the “Largest Hotel in the West” and at first glance, you can see why. Even with two floors now missing, its still quite large and grand. On it’s opening day it had 225 guest rooms, a ladies parlor, gentleman’s room, dining hall and full kitchen. Later was added retail stores, a saloon, offices, and a bowling alley. 

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John C. Parks would go on to furnish the Hotel with ravish furnishings and velvet carpets. With this now in place, this was THE Hotel to be at in the Midwest. Hence why Abraham Lincoln would choose it to speak on the Main Street balcony on July 23rd, 1856 in favor of John Fremont’s bid for Presidency.  Two years later on July 25th, Stephen A. Douglas spoke from the same balcony.  Then on September 13th, 1860, a crowd gathered at the Hotel in support of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency bid- a VERY famous balcony indeed!

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After the Civil War, Ulysses S Grant came back to his hom