Union Pacific Depot

When the Trails and Rails Museum offices were housed in the Union Pacific Depot, employees reported many strange occurrences, including hearing footsteps upstairs while in the basement or hearing sneezing that could be attributed to no one else in the building.

A faceless man is said to haunt a restaurant in what could only be called the middle of nowhere. And could he also be the Phantom Hitchhiker along the Funk-Odessa Road?

Or how about the stories of a ghost of a University of Nebraska at Kearney sorority sister who supposedly haunts rooms on the third floor of a former dorm building.

Wafts of a women’s perfume will fill the air in an old farmhouse at an area museum.

Each place has its own story or legend, whether it has been passed down through the generations or continues to be spun to this day. And each building is located in the heart of Nebraska.

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Speakeasy in Sacramento

The Speakeasy: A ghost named Faceless Fred is rumored to haunt the Speakeasy in Sacramento. Fred was a known adulterer, and when his wife discovered his philandering ways, she shot him, cut off his face and threw him in the well in the basement.

1. The Speakeasy, Sacramento

A painting of a faceless man with shaggy blonde hair, a red flannel shirt and blue overalls looms in the former grain elevator. The man has become known as Faceless Fred, and it is said that he haunts The Speakeasy restaurant in Sacramento.

According to Ryan Puls, Speakeasy owner and chef, the building was once a general store owned by Fred.

Fred cheated on his wife, and when she found out, she shot him, cut off his face and threw him in the well in the basement, Puls said. There also are stories that his body was dumped along the Funk-Odessa Road.

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Faceless Fred

Faceless Fred: Faceless Fred is depicted in a painting on the wall of the Speakeasy restaurant in Sacramento. Some stories say that Fred also is the Phantom Hitchhiker that haunts the Funk-Odessa Road.

“From what I have heard from locals is that this is also the same ghost as the Phantom Hitchhiker, which is the ghost that haunts the Funk-Odessa Road and is always wearing overalls and a plaid shirt. People would stop to pick him up, but then when they do that and turn around he isn’t there,” said Erica Fitzgerald, front of the house manager of the Speakeasy.

The spirit of Fred has become known as a bit of a ladies’ man, and he tends to be drawn to dark-haired women.

In the late ‘80s, a former chef threatened Fred for harassing one of the waitresses. After threatening the spirit, some of the chef’s knives went missing the next day and he couldn’t find them.

Puls hasn’t experienced much strange activity at the restaurant lately, but some staff members and patrons have noticed peculiar activity. Several hostesses and waitresses have had someone come in waiting to be helped, but when they turn around to assist them, the person is gone.

About seven years ago, a woman came up to the bar to pay and she was convinced some of the kids in the establishment were yanking on her shirt, but the kids weren’t near her. They had ghost hunters come into the restaurant about five years ago, and while they didn’t sense the spirit of Fred, they did notice a spirit of a mother and child who died in a prairie fire in the area.

There is plenty of lore about the Speakeasy, but Puls and Fitzgerald have never felt uneasy in the building.

“I’m here all the time, and I don’t ever get a bad feeling or any weird feelings, and I’m pretty intuitive to all that stuff. I never feel uncomfortable,” said Fitzgerald.

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UNK Fountain (copy)

2. University of Nebraska at Kearney

Conrad Hall on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus has been rumored to be haunted for several years.

A May 1978 edition of the Kearney State College magazine, Encounter, featured a variety of stories of hauntings on campus buildings. One of the buildings said to be haunted is Conrad Hall, once a dorm that now houses administrative offices. Bev and Roger Mathiesen were houseparents of Conrad Hall in the 1970s when they had a number of students report mysterious events happening on the third floor of the building, according to the Encounter article.

Residents would see lights on in a certain room on the third floor even though the floor was empty and all the doors were locked.

Girls would wake in the middle of the night convinced they heard furniture moving in a room, even though it was unoccupied and the door was locked. The houseparents couldn’t get into the room that night with their master key, but the next day they were able to enter the room and all the furniture was overturned. Other incidences included a girl being pinched when no one was near her, girls waking at night and reportedly seeing a ghost or even carrying on a conversation with it, reported the Encounter.

According to the UNK Library archives, the spirit is known as Stella, a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. Sounds and visions are most common during the week before students move into the dorms, and she most often appears at night and will sit on students’ chairs and beds.

Students have woke in the middle of night to find “Stella” sleeping next to them. Fans will change speed for no reason and water taps are turned by no visible hand, stated the archives.

Wafts of a women’s perfume will fill the air in an old farmhouse at an area museum.

Housekeepers report that they heard a door shaking in a room only to find pillows stacked in the middle of the bed and no one around.

Each place has its own story or legend, whether it has been passed down through the generations or continues to be spun to this day. And each building is located in the heart of Nebraska.

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1889 Church

It is said a woman can be heard whispering “Be quiet” in the 1899 church at the Trails and Rails Museum.

3. Trails & Rails Museum, Kearney

Jennifer Murrish, executive director of the Trails & Rails Museum in Kearney, has experienced several strange occurrences in different buildings on the museum’s grounds.

“I can’t rationalize everything I see,” said Murrish. “I can’t explain a lot of it. At this point, I do say I’m a believer.”

When the museum’s offices were housed in the Union Pacific Depot, Murrish heard a lot of sneezing that couldn’t be attributed to anyone in the building. When in the basement, many people have heard footsteps upstairs or if an actual train goes through town, a chair can be heard scooting back and footsteps of someone walking to the window.

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Trails and Rails

Some people have reported feeling someone touch their legs even if no one is close to them in the 1860s log cabin on the grounds of the Trails and Rails Museum in Kearney.

“Sometimes, they are attached to a certain object. In the depot, that’s where a lot of the Army and the veterans would come through there. Especially if they are deceased, a coffin might sit in the backroom overnight. Somebody would sit with it to guard it. Bodies would go through there and a lot of grief,” Murrish said.

The Loup River Freighters Hotel is another building where unexplained things have happened. Old-fashioned dolls and a full-size mannequin of a woman in the master bedroom add a chilling air to the room. Trevor Donahey, an employee at the museum, has been in the hotel when the blinds in one of the rooms have suddenly shot up.

Other strange occurrences happening at Trails and Rails include a woman whispering “Be quiet” in the 1899 church, and people have been able to smell perfume or cigar smoke in the Boyd House.

The museum offers private ghost hunts for groups with three to eight people as part of a fundraiser for the Buffalo County Historical Society, which owns and operates Trails and Rails.

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Arrow Hotel

The Arrow Hotel in Broken Bow has had a variety of strange occurrences happen in the building during the years. Lights randomly will turn on in the building, guests will hear what they believe to be furniture moving in the middle of the night and cupboard doors will be opened in empty rooms.

4. The Arrow Hotel, Broken Bow

When Anne and R.J. Thomas first invested in The Arrow Hotel in 2005, almost immediately Anne began hearing stories from the staff about strange occurrences happening in the hotel.

Anne didn’t pay much attention at the time, but the more stories she heard from community members and guests, she wanted to find out more about the incidents at the hotel.

“I contacted the University of Nebraska at Lincoln because I wanted someone who was really serious and was not just doing it for fun,” Anne explained.

Three different groups have come to the hotel to survey the supernatural activity, and while each has noticed different things, there has never been anything ominous happen at the hotel, Anne said. Abby Mattox is the manager of the Bonfire Grill in the hotel and has worked there for 10 years. Mattox has heard stories from guests about strange noises, and she has had her own unique experiences.

“When I was working overnight I came down to see something at the front desk one night, and I glanced at the cameras and I saw a guy in the cigar room smoking a cigar.

“I run in there, I go in there to tell him, ‘No, you can’t be doing that,’ and there is nobody in there,” she said. “I go back to the camera, and I see the smoke rolling when he takes a drag of the cigar.”

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Arrow Hotel room

The Arrow Hotel in Broken Bow has had a variety of strange occurrences happen in the building during the years. Lights randomly will turn on in the building, guests will hear what they believe to be furniture moving in the middle of the night and cupboard doors will be opened in empty rooms.

Mattox ran outside to see if she could catch him leaving the building, but when she looked into the windows of the cigar room, there was no one there.

Guests have told Mattox they thought they heard furniture moving at 3 a.m. or all their cupboard doors will be open when they return to their room. There’s been times when she has heard someone knocking on the bar but when she goes to help them, there is no one there, or items will randomly fall off shelves in the kitchen. Despite the strange occurrences, Mattox feels like the incidents all are in good fun.

“They are always good and fun-spirited,” she said.

Anne also has had strange experiences at the hotel.

A couple of years ago, she was on the first floor with some housekeepers when they could hear a door across the hall shaking. When they entered the room, the pillows in the room were piled on top of each other on the bed. Previous employees have heard music playing from the main floor, but when they went to investigate, the music stopped.

One guest even told Anne her young son was sitting on the sofa bed talking to someone, but no one else was there. She also has noticed over the years that during any sort of remodeling there tends to be more activity, but it’s never been anything that has been a cause for concern.

“We’ve had this 14 or 15 years and there’s never been anything ominous. I’ve been when we were remodeling upstairs, in the basement in the middle of the night when we were taking down wallpaper,” she said. “I won’t say you don’t ever feel anything, but I never felt uncomfortable.”

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