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Spooky Spots for OKC’s Local Haunts



The Skirvin Hilton is home to lavish luxury ... and perhaps a lingering presence.


 

Tales from the grave continue to baffle believers and naysayers alike. Many people in Oklahoma City have heard the urban legend that the tenth floor of the beautifully restored Skirvin Hilton is haunted. Above the dark wood-paneled walls and elegant chandeliers of the lobby, guests say they hear doors slamming in the middle of the night and an unseen baby crying in empty rooms. A few even claim to have seen a spectral woman appear in their rooms. Rumors tell that the woman is W.B. Skirvin’s hidden lover, and the baby is their illegitimate daughter, both killed when the mother jumped to escape their imprisonment.

Although researchers have been unable to find corroborating evidence in archives, and managers at the hotel have reported no sightings, the debate about the ghost continues. Whatever the truth, its legend is enough to provide a little psychological warfare against visiting sports teams. Even The New York Times noted “Effie” spooking NBA players of the Knicks, Bulls, Suns and others. Yet the Skirvin is only one among many of Oklahoma City’s spooky sites.

One of the lesser known examples, although perhaps more notable, is the Governor’s Mansion to the east of the state Capitol. There, Oklahoma’s ninth governor, William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, is said still to roam despite his term being up in 1935. Murray was famous for his cost-saving measures during the Great Depression, such as turning the Capitol grounds into pasture where sheep could be raised and the wool sold to save Oklahoma tax dollars. More infamously, Murray held his business meetings in red long johns while smoking cigars. Anyone who complained simply was not invited to the meetings any longer.
 

Persistent shivers abound in the metro, whether on the stairs of the Governor’s Mansion


Like many of Oklahoma’s governors, Murray lived in the state-provided mansion. Built during the oil boom of the 1920s, the Dutch-Colonial style home features limestone walls that match those of the Capitol, a tennis court first used as a helipad for President Lyndon Johnson and an Oklahoma-shaped swimming pool. The building also is said to hold the spirit of Murray, who lingers to watch over today’s governors.

According to staff, occupants and even guests, Murray haunts the stairs leading up to the second floor and causes people to stumble as they pass by. Former Oklahoma first lady Cathy Keating once told the Chicago Tribune that she herself had been tripped. Keating didn’t believe in ghosts, but the stairs were inspected and found to be level, causing the answer to seem a little more spectral. Still, she seemed to bear no ill will. “He’s ornery, and he’s fun.”

Langston’s Western Wear in Stockyards City is another site noted for its past residents refusing to pass on. In the early days of Oklahoma City, when the Stockyards were a rough-and-tumble center for cowboys fresh off the range eager to spend their pay, this building served as a dance hall. The lower floor had a wide barroom and stage for entertainment, while the second floor served as a hotel where cowpokes could find some rest and, allegedly, a little companionship.
 

Behind the scenes at Langston’s


Today, Langston’s is a great place to search out a new pair of jeans and a must for tourists visiting Oklahoma City. More than just the fashion of the past is said to stay on, however.

The story goes that two sisters worked at the dance hall, Rose and Patty (“Goldie” in some versions of the tale). In what is now the area between the ladies boots and the kids department, a jealous boyfriend marched up and shot Patty while she performed. Rose, distraught from her loss, hanged herself on the second floor. Although they are long departed, many say that the women still wander the building, seeking consolation for their troubled ends.

Numerous employees have claimed strange experiences through the years, especially a nauseating sense of trepidation when going up the stairs. Lights notoriously flicker. One woman noted how, upstairs, she and others had seen a “lady in purple” out of the corners of their eyes. They described the woman wearing a “nice purple outfit” 100 years out of style. When they turned for a better look, she was gone.

Another employee said that several people had often walked upstairs and “felt something go by you.” Some time ago, one girl even claimed to have been pushed down the stairs. She said she felt something cold like a breeze and then hands on her back. The next thing she knew, she was at the bottom of the stairs with bruises and several sets of scratches.
 

In the underbrush around “Crybaby Bridge”


Once people begin sharing ghost stories about town, another one always seems to pop up. Oklahoma City even has its own version of the “Crybaby Bridge” urban legend that is ubiquitous across the nation. The story goes that a young mother and her baby were driving in a storm when their car plunged through the seldom-used bridge at SE 134th and Air Depot. It was days before a policeman happened by to discover the wreck and the long-dead bodies. Supposedly, one can still hear the cries of the child wafting in the overgrowth below the broken wooden planks that remain there to this day.

A little farther south of that is another story not often shared: the Kitchen Lake Witch. Out in the newly refurbished state park is a stone chimney, all that remains of a house that burned down mysteriously with its patron inside. She was reputedly a witch, and it is said today that her spirit still roams the grounds of her old home. In vengeance for her death, she still starts fires to this day. People claim to see smoke coming from the chimney and to come across smoldering piles of ashes. They also say they have heard footsteps and felt scratches, although they cannot see anyone human. Few stick around to investigate, but even leaving can be a problem as cars notoriously fail to start near the field.

These stories might not be factual, but there’s no shortage of variations and similar tales, and it’s fun to consider. So happy Halloween … and be careful out there. 


(Editor’s note: Jeff Provine is the founder of the OU Ghost Tour. His collections of local folklore include Campus Ghosts of Norman, Haunted Norman and, new in 2015, Haunted Guthrie, co-authored with Tanya McCoy.)

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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