By Joe Bachman
Wisconsin Rapids is a city rich with history, from early European settlers in the 1830’s, to it’s official inception in 1920. However, any city rich in history can also be rich in ghostly activity. In the spirit of Halloween, this month, The City Times looks into the top five haunted places in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hotel Mead — Shanghai Room
According to the legend, in 1953, a female bartender was stabbed to death in what used to be a bar, now downstairs, in the Hotel Mead. However, this stabbing has never been confirmed. Now a basement used for storage, there has been alleged activity in the room, including the smell of blood, flickering lights, doors shutting on their own, and other strange occurrences.
The River Cities Paranormal Society conducted an investigation in this very room, but found no evidence of a haunting. They were able to debunk the claims of feelings of “dread” from high EMF readings, smells of blood from nearby chemicals, and noticeable coldness from the fact that the room is located underground. Still, rumors and stories of paranormal activity at the Hotel Mead persist, and this relic of Wisconsin Rapids history will always find its way to conversations of ghostly activity every Halloween.
First Ward School
The First Ward School, formerly known as Irving School, was built in 1896 to fill the need for Wisconsin Rapids’ overcrowded public schools. The school went through various alleged “omens” and closings throughout its history. In 1910, the bell tower was struck by lightning and burned off the building. The bell tower was never replaced and the school closed down a few years later.
In 1921, the school reopened, ran by nuns who lived on site. Rumors of ghostly activity allegedly stemmed from the nuns, and they kept a log of these activities that has never been confirmed or found. In that same year, the roof of the building caught on fire, but put out in time with little damage. The school would undergo a remodel in 1954, and would eventually close down in 1979. Rumors of desks moving on their own, shadow people, and a little boy named “Oscar” are alleged haunts.
Forest Hill Cemetery
The Forest Hill Cemetery has long been known to carry alleged paranormal activity. Reports of babies crying in the distance with nobody around, voices have been known to call the names of visitors, and certain monuments in the area have allegedly caused machine failure. While no known history of tragedy has been paired with Forest Hill to lead anyone to believe that it would be haunted, remember, it is a cemetery.
Railroad Tracks off 72nd St.
According to legend, a mother lost her two children by these tracks — after a desperate and unsuccessful attempt at looking for them, the mother became so distraught that she lay on the tracks in front of a coming train. Her two children, hiding in the bushes, jumped out just in time to scare their mother, only to see her get run over by the coming train. The children’s spirits are alleged to roam in the area of the railroad tracks at night.
However disturbing this story is, the backstory is unconfirmed by any court or coroner documents, and should be taken as just a local legend.
Elizabeth Daly House
This historic house, located on Baker St., is on the National Register of Historic Places in Wood County. According to the National Register, the house was built in 1909 by Elizabeth Daly. Elizabeth was the wife of lumberman, John Daly, who died in a logging accident in 1891. According to legend, the house is occupied by a ghost named “Cookie”, and with it alleged activity of moved objects, flickering lights, and the smell of cooking. While this ghost is referred to as a “prankster”, there have been a few residents who have allegedly experienced this paranormal activity.