Pipestone scaring up ghost walks for third yearPIPESTONE — Driving home from vacation, Chuck Ness had an idea. “My wife and I were out at Gettysburg and they had ghost walks out there,” he said
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
PIPESTONE — Driving home from vacation, Chuck Ness had an idea.
“My wife and I were out at Gettysburg and they had ghost walks out there,” he said. “We thought, well, this would be kind of a fun thing to do. As we were driving home my wife talked more and more about it and I said, ‘This would be great, do you know any ghost stories?’ She says, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, it doesn’t look very promising for us to do this in Pipestone.’”
In a few short years, that has all changed.
Starting on Saturday and running every Saturday until Sept. 2, Ness and three others will lead ghost walks through historic downtown Pipestone.
“We’re just telling the stories about things that have happened in Pipestone,” Ness said. “If you told me when we were driving home from Gettysburg that there would be a single ghost story in the community of Pipestone, I would have been amazed.”
After he and his wife came up with the idea, the Pipestone County Museum had a ghost exhibit. People started telling stories of their experiences.
Then, in 2010, the walks started.
“It was popular and I’m not really certain what the exact numbers were for tours in 2010, but the museum said, ‘Would you be willing to do this again next summer?’” Ness recalled. “We recruited two more ghost walkers. During that process, during that first year, we gathered enough stories that we wrote a ghost book.”
“The museum sold it as a fundraiser,” Ness continued. “Over the winter, enough people heard about it and started to call us, e-mail us and send us letters saying, ‘I want you to know about my story.’”
The stories have been compiled into three books already — with a fourth on the way.
“It was just kind of interesting,” Ness said. “We would do ghost walks and at the end somebody would kind of hang back and they would say, ‘Can you I tell you a story about what happened to me?’
“It got to the point, wherever one of us went in town, someone would stop us and say, ‘I want to tell you my story.’ It just kind of grew from there.”
The tours started in 2010, and last year more than 450 people had gone through the ghost walk.
“Sometimes people say to us, ‘How many of these stories have you made up?’ And we always tell them we have never had to make up a single story because we have more stories to tell than we can tell on our hour ghost walk,” Ness said. “Right now we have probably somewhere between 140 and 160 stories that have been told to us.”
The tour starts at 8 p.m. at the museum and lasts approximately one hour.
“Typically, the tour lasts a minimum of an hour and it just depends upon how interactive; sometimes it lasts more than an hour and a half,” Ness said. “We say it’s a walking tour. Basically, we’re walking around a total of two blocks. People don’t have to be concerned they are going to walk a mile or something.”
There is a small cost involved in taking the walk, but the money is used toward a good cause.
“It has been really well received,” Ness said. “It’s been a combination as a fundraiser for Civil War Days and the county museum. It takes place every Saturday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day, unless we get rained out. And that’s only happened to us once.”
One of the highlights on the tour is the Calumet Hotel.
“They allow us in every Saturday night and we spend 15 or 20 minutes in the Calumet talking about different experiences,” Ness said. “Sometimes we’ll be telling the stories and one of the staff people will literally stop and say, ‘This is what happened to me last week.’”
There have been some creepy incidences while on the tours, as well.
“One of the places we would typically stop and tell a story about a cat,” Ness said. “Last year, when we would start to tell the story, this cat would show up on the roof, sit there and listen to the story, and when we were done the cat would leave. We later found out that the cat had the same name as the cat we were telling the story about.”
Along with ghost stories, Ness adds some history into his tour.
“We talk a little bit about the early people who came in and Pipestone itself was settled by Civil War soldiers, even though the county had been formed, the first settlers didn’t come to Pipestone until 1873,” he said.
Ness’ wife, Laurie, leads tours, as well as Myron Koets and Dave Rambow, with each giving a slightly different tour and stories.
“One night, one young girl said to me, ‘So, do you believe?’” Ness said. “I just said, ‘Well, I’ve never had any experiences.’ She said, ‘And you won’t until you start believing.’”
The stories aren’t necessarily going to give lasting nightmares.
“We don’t tell any gruesome stories,” Ness said. “We start off telling them, ‘You know what, if you expected Jason to be living Pipestone and going around doing these kinds of things, our stories are closer to Casper the Ghost.’ Some of the things have been very frightening to people at the time.”
Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.