A Stranger in America Eureka Springs : Ghosts town
By : Hatem Dhwibi
I wanted to go farther, I wanted to explore more than what was in Fort Smith, so I went online and started checking places on Google map. A nice name has taken my attention, Eureka Spring. The next day, I got myself ready to go, I drove for about two hours to reach that city. The road sides were pretty, the roads were slender and curvy heading up to the hills where the city was. I arrived. It was like the city of ‘Sidi Bou Saiid’ in Tunisia but wearing a new outfit. When I first saw the name of the city, Eureka Spring, a spirit of nature went inside of me and I started to imagine waterfalls, green lands and all the things related to spring. It was nice, buildings were still standing as they were built long ago, trees all around the place, the stores were really amazing, but I started to notice things.
With every step I moved, I saw something scary, every store has these skulls, candles, crystal balls, walking canes…etc, there were weird signs drawn on every wall. What was running on my mind that time was not possible, I was in the springs, then I saw the road signs, there was a sign that says ‘ghosts turn’, so I figured out that I was in the city of ghosts or may be Dracula used to live there or something, death’s atmosphere was all around the city. I thought I was done with ghosts stories, I found that small ghosts hunting place, I got me a ten dollars ticket to go with a group of people for a tour around the most hunted places in Eureka. I’ve asked the tour guide : ‘isn’t Eureka supposed to be all about the beautiful history’? So he replied : ‘ brother, there is a beautiful history and there is also a dark history’.
I do believe in ghosts but I do not believe that human ghosts exist, I heard a lot of ghosts stories and they were for me just unbelievable, still only God knows. One of these stories was about Ella. Ella was a fortune teller in the area that had to use the cover of being an ‘entertainer’. It seems in the 1920’s and 30’s it was more socially accepted to be labeled a prostitute than a witch. She ‘accidentally’ fell from the 5th floor balcony at the Allred Hotel (now the New Orleans) to her death on the sidewalk below. Her fortune telling book and the box it was kept in was found hidden in the walls of the catacombs are trigger objects for her. It seems Ella likes to assist people with driving their futures even now from beyond the grave. I also heard the story of Bob Jacobson who died accidentally in the Catacombs, also the story of the bank robber George Price, he was shot by a constable during the infamous botched bank robbery of the First National Bank in 1922. His agitated spirit still manifests in the area or that’s what I was told. Dr. John Freemont Ellis was one of the key citizens of early Eureka Springs. He was the “House Physician” for the first 25 years at the Crescent Hotel. His home, just across the street from the Crescent, was featured in a 2005 episodes of Ghost Hunters. He built this building in 1899 and had retained an apartment for himself on the fourth floor. When the building caught fire, Dr. Ellis made it out alive but his faithful pet dog didn’t make it.
The stress of uninsured building burning, losing his dog and the possible other lives in danger was too much for his old heart and he suffered a massive coronary on the curb just a few feet away from his spot. Dr. Ellis’ ghost is seen from the Crescent Hotel, to his house, all the way down and even near the auditorium. Seen often in formal attire in a top hat, he is likely the most seen spirit in town, but I haven’t seen him actually.
The tour was really interesting, I have enjoyed it, it doesn’t matter I believed what I heard or not. Time passed fast and I didn’t have time to explore more the Eureka Springs, but my next visit would be for sure to explore the beautiful history of Eureka Spring.
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