This week, CoMo Explained tells you where the most haunted places in Missouri are.
The "classic" Missourian, the "show-me" Missourian, is someone who takes nothing for granted. You wouldn't expect this kind of person to be given to superstitions and stories about spirits and ghosts. But, you would be wrong.
In they very earliest days of the white settlement of Missouri, immigrants were shocked by the strange drawings they saw on the bluffs as they traveled the rivers. The now-faded paintings depicted a terrifying monster that was part bird, part tiger. Some have described it as an "underwater panther." The settlers called it the "Piasa" and feared that somewhere in the skies or waters of Missouri, the animal hunted large animals and humans.
The gothic revival produced a number of haunted buildings in Missouri. An old, stately mansion in Boonsville called Ravenwood is reputedly haunted by the lady of the house, Nadine Leonard. Visitors have reported hearing a mechanical music sound, but the music box in the home has not worked for years. And some have seen lantern lights bobbing over the lawn at night, like they would at the large summer parties Leonard loved to throw before her death.
There are haunted places right in Columbia, as well. When famous ragtime musician John "Blind" Boone died, his heavy, custom built piano was transferred to Douglass Elementary School. The piano stayed on the upper floors of the school for many years, unused. But as late as the 1960s some locals reported hearing the unmistakable sounds of Boone himself, pounding away at the piano, playing his most distinctive and difficult tunes.
In a slightly unusual episode of CoMo Explained, we brought author Mary Barile into the studio to tell some ghost stories from Missouri's heartland. Barile is the author of The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts Ghouls & Monsters of Missouri's Heartland.