In the spirit of the Halloween holiday, I decided to list the most notorious spots on Route 66 where ghosts and other unexplained phenomena occur.
Literally dozens of locations along the Mother Road have seen such weirdness over the decades. I narrowed it down to the top five:
- Spook Light, near Quapaw, Okla.: Also known as the Hornet Spooklight in a rural area near the Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas border, it appears as a distant ball of light at dusk or night. It pops up regularly enough that Waylan’s Ku-Ku restaurant in Miami, Okla., provides maps so you can check it out for yourself. Some think it’s the ghost of a miner and his lantern; others think it’s the ghost of an Indian. “Roads to Quoz” author William Least Heat-Moon and others say the light is caused by headlights from old Route 66 to the west. However, the light has been documented even before the invention of cars.
- The Oatman Hotel, Oatman, Ariz.: The ghost that reputedly haunts this 1902 hotel is of miner William Ray Flour, who drank himself to death behind the hotel in 1930. The spirit of Oatie reputedly opens windows, plays bagpipes, and yanks off bed covers. The hotel also reportedly houses the ghost of a chambermaid in one of the rooms. And hotel staff have heard the long-dead Clark Gable and Carole Lombard whispering and laughing from their honeymoon suite.
- Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Ariz.: The hotel boasts so many ghost stories, it has devoted a section of its website to them. It includes apparitions of a bank robber, prostitutes, a bellboy, a baby, a dancing couple, and “The Meat Man.” The hotel says Room 305 is its “most active” in terms of paranormal activity, including a rocking chair that rocks by itself.
- Tri-County Truck Stop, Villa Ridge, Mo.: The now-closed restaurant has been investigated by Missouri Paranormal Research after reports of strange activity, and a story about that sparked more than 50 comments on Route 66 News — many with their own weird stories about the place. One of the ghosts is “George,” who reputedly has gotten fresh with the restaurant’s female help.
- KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque. The 1927 theater reportedly is haunted by a 6-year-old boy, Bobby, who was killed in a boiler explosion in 1951. Bobby supposedly behaves himself if treats are left on a water pipe for him in the back of the theater. But if the treats are removed, all sorts of technical problems occur during shows or movie screenings.
As I’ve said, this isn’t a comprehensive list of spooky places on Route 66 by a long shot. A few Route 66 travelers have reported spooky experiences of their own, as the comments in this post from 2005 show.