https://www.statista.com/statistics/632126/united-states-belief-in-ghosts/

For as long as humans have lived we have shared stories. While some of these stories record our lives, they have also recorded the things we cannot explain. According to this 2016 survey, 44% of teenagers aged 13 – 17 believed in ghosts while 41% of Adults 18 and older still believe in ghosts. Today, we will be exploring ghosts, aliens, and cryptids sightings that have happened right here in Missouri. Also included will be resources for you to come to your conclusions. Data has been collected from Statista and articles referenced come from NewsBank, both resources free to use via the Kirkwood Public Library.

Missouri is known for beautiful bluffs, the vast Mississippi River, and – Oh! Did I mention its haunted locations? You read that right, even the official Visit Missouri website recommends must-visit haunted locations. From the ghosts of the Lemp Mansion to the Pythian Castle here there are many locations nearby you can visit. 

 

If you are from St. Louis or the surrounding area, chance has it that you have heard of the Lemp Mansion and the chilling history of the Lemp family. Lemp: The Haunting History  is equally filled with history as it is with speculation about the ghosts that wander the mansion.  

Pythian Castle located in Springfield, Missouri has been deemed certified haunted. Built by the Knights of Pythias, the Pythian Castle was once an orphanage meant to house those in need. Eventually, in 1942, the United States Military commandeered the castle to work as a rehabilitation and entertainment center for the troops during World War II. While today Pythian Castle functions as an event space, the Castle holds stories of torture and suicide which draw the interest of ghost-hunters far and wide. Even the show Ghost Adventures (Season 15 Episode 11) has graced the halls of Pythian Castle. 

 

Do you enjoy exploring the outdoors? You can take a hike down Zombie Road. An offshoot of the Al Foster Trail in Wildwood Missouri, Zombie Road has consistently been rumored to be haunted. Some people believe the area was once an ancient Native American Burial Ground while others speculate an orphanage used to be in the neighborhood as well, though there is no solid evidence to support either belief. While ghost sightings are less certain after dark, you are more likely to find some teenagers haunting the trail in search of a paranormal experience.

 

Want to learn more about Missouri’s unique ghostly history? From the Smiling Ghosts at Meramec Caverns to the spirits on Jesse James’ family farm, Kirkwood Public Libraries Missouri Spotlight book The Big Book of Missouri Ghost Stories is a great read for people interested in local paranormal hot spots. Maybe you would like something local? Check out Haunted Webster Groves: Legends and Firsthand Accounts of Ghosts in Webster Groves, Missouri, a book that records haunted experiences all over Webster! Other great Missouri ghost reads include Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories and Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots.

The truth is out there, and most Americans agree. According to this 2018 survey, 54% of American adults believe that it is very likely the United States Government is hiding information about UFOs from the general public. Let’s also not forget 2019’s Alienstock, a music festival whose origins came from a Facebook event to storm Area 51.

Like the rest of the United States, Missouri is chock-full of UFO sightings. When referencing the National UFO Reporting Center, Missouri has had 1866 reported sightings, with about 90 of those happening within the last year. Probably the most well-known UFO event here in Missouri is the alleged UFO crash in Cape Girardeau, which happened in 1941 – six years before the famous Roswell crash in 1947. It is alleged that Reverend William Huffman was called that night in Cape Girardeau to read the rights of people who had died in a plane crash, but what he saw wasn’t what he expected.

Illustrated above is the 1941 Cape Girardeau UFO crash. It was submitted by Michael Huntington UFO Researcher highlighted in the article 75th Anniversary of Alleged UFO Crash in Cape Girardeau.

Wanna read more about extraterrestrials and unidentified flying objects? Check out UFO Hunters: Book One by William Birnes. 

Kirkwood UFO Sighting Report. Click to Enlarge Image.

The paranormal isn’t the paranormal without cryptids! 

Did you know that Missouri has its own cryptid? The Missouri Monster “MOMO”, also known as the swamp ape, is said to be tall, have a pumpkin-shaped head, a long tail that sweeps away footprints, and has hair covering everything on its body but its red eyes. First seen in 1972, MOMO was first reported to be seen outside of a 15-year-old girl’s room. From there a wild goose chase ensued and people from all over the United States came searching for MOMO the monster.

MOMO isn’t the only cryptid that roams Missouri. Ozark Howler, a beast the size of a bear with thick limbs, long black hair and horns on top of its head. It is said to roam southern Missouri with a screech like one has never heard before. 

There is also the Nixa Hellhound aka “Booger Dog”. It grew in popularity after someone called into a Springfield Missouri radio station saying they had seen it right outside of Nixa, Missouri. The DJs, finding this funny, renamed the hellhound “Paul” and made a Facebook page in its honor. The appearance of the animal is described by Valerie Schremp Hahn, author of the St. Louis Post Dispatch article Creature Feature: Missouri and Illinois Beasts and Why We Love Their Stories. She writes One commenter on a blog about the Nixa Hellhound claimed to have seen it, writing: “It looked like a deer and a dog had had a one-night stand, to be honest.” If you want more information on these Missouri Cryptids and other interesting information check out Weird Missouri: your travel guide to Missouri’s local legends and best kept secrets

In conclusion, whether or not you believe in the paranormal, its effect on us is significant. Booger dogs, and spooky hiking trails, aren’t self-contained to the areas they reside in, but also shape the culture of the humans around them. In Cape Girardeau, the UFO Crash has become somewhat of an urban legend. We bond over MOMO sightings and speculate if maybe the light we saw in the night sky was a UFO. These phenomena bring us together; something we need now more than ever.

Thanks for stopping by and reading the Pop Culture Dive! Did you find anything new? If you have any other related media that you would like to shout out or something that you enjoyed please feel free to leave a comment!

Alex G. Williford is a Reference Librarian at Kirkwood Public Library. They enjoy reading graphic novels, playing video games, and watching cult classic movies. Some of their favorite creators are Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, N.K. Jeminsin, and Naoki Urasawa.