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Boo! Wisconsin towns revel in legends of ghosts and hauntings

Boo! Wisconsin towns revel in legends of ghosts and hauntings

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Associated Press

RIDGEWAY - This Iowa County city of 637 people is haunted, or so the story goes.

According to those who have seen it, the Ridgeway ghost has appeared in the form of a carriage pulled by two white horses, a goat, a pig, a headless horseman and a dog with eyes as red as hot coals.

Melva Phillips, known as the city's historian, is blunt about her opinion on the matter: "A lot of those stories came from drink."

But the ghost stories are part of family lore for Jeanie Lewis, editor of the community's newspaper. The earliest account came from her husband's great-grandfather.

William Lewis came into contact with the ghost one night in the form of a carriage pulled by two white horses. The apparition disappeared as he drew closer. He ran home and fell across the threshold. Two days later, Lewis' hair turned white and he died.

Jeanie Lewis' said her oldest son, Rod, has also had an experience with the supernatural.

On the way home from helping a neighbor about 25 years ago, he felt something following him. He ran hard and fast, then stopped to sit on a log to catch his breath. The ghost was sitting on the other end and spoke to him.

"You're runnin' mighty fine, friend."

Lewis said the story is her favorite. "My four kids grew up on ghost stories, not fairy tales," she said. "I'm sure they've all seen the ghost."

Phillips doubts the tall tales, but said she has fun with them.

"I think the stories are nice. It's funny how all the stories have changed along the way," she said.

True believers say the Ridge Hotel is haunted. Owner Nick Kirch said the broken-down building said visitors sense there is something in the air.

The hotel, which will be open for visitors Halloween night, attracted more than 500 people last weekend.

"One woman almost fainted, another left crying, several young boys were seen running away even after they paid their admission. And three girls wet their pants," Kirch said.

Ghost stories have popped up in Mukwonago, too. Especially at the Inn the Olden Days and Heaven City restaurants. Employees report doors slamming, lights flashing and even flying objects.

Inn the Olden Days, built in 1885, was bought in December of 1990 by Bob and Kitty Kokott.

Kitty. Kokott said her first experience with the a ghostly presence came when she was in the basement. Something grabbed two fingers on her right hand and yanked her arm in the air, she said.

"I knew I was not alone," she said.

The ghost has come into contact with customers, too.

"We've had a roll slapped out of a gentleman's hand on a Friday fish fry," she said.

The Kokotts have a running log of up to 40 reported incidents.

The Heaven City Restaurant, built on top of an Indian burial mound, has also been the site of several eerie encounters.

Owners Scott McGlinchey and Mandy Meyer have heard reports of creaks, moans, doors slamming, sudden pressure changes and employees who have said they've heard a woman calling their names.

More than one person has reported seeing the ghost of a woman with black hair, parted down the middle and drawn up in the back. Even skeptics have seen things like bar glasses flying across the room, Meyer said. "Just because we can't understand it doesn't mean it's not true. That's like saying the world is flat," Meyer said. "If it was an evil force, I think we'd know by now. But this is a nice place to hang out in and I'm glad they feel comfortable here and hope they like what we've done to it."


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