I have been aware of the Maude ghost stories since moving to Eldon in 1986. It is the most widely googled spook story of the lake area online.
We are going on a little “tour” of some unknown spooky places around the lake area. Some of these places are well known haunts in their communities, but others nobody is aware of. The internet is full of references to these locations. Some are false, some sound very real. We will find out.
First, I’m sorry to debunk the Maude haunting of Eldon High School. I have been aware of the Maude ghost stories since moving to Eldon in 1986. It is the most widely googled spook story of the lake area online. The legend is one of the first stories I heard from a friend after moving to Eldon. The story he told me was his own personal experience. My friend who will remain anonymous informed me that when he was working in the computer lab late one night, he went down to the main office to borrow a pen. He said as he was inside the office, one of the two office doors opened and closed on its own. Maude occurrences are reported to mostly be in the old senior hallway, where the science room was located, ending in the old entrance to the Ag. classes. The main office was located at the beginning of this hallway. The origin of Maude herself is described in many different versions online, but to summarize it, Maude Allee was a little girl whose house was located where the old high school football field was built. This field became named Allee Field. The details of her death are where the story varies greatly. Some say the house caught fire and she burned to death in it. Others say the house collapsed killing her. One story said she became sick and died. Please don’t hang me for what I am about to report. I didn’t mean to debunk the myth, it just kind of happened.
In 1991, I was working as a licensed practical nurse at St. Joseph’s Care Center in Jefferson City. One day, I was assigned to the third floor as a charge nurse. While I was in a resident’s room administering her meds, her daughter was sitting next to her bedside. I read the resident’s name as Elsie Maude Allee. Well the last name for sure rang a bell, as I was from Eldon. I had no idea at the time that the ghost of Maude’s name was Maude Allee. I asked her daughter if Mrs. Allee was from Eldon, because our football field is named Allee Field. She said yes, her mother used to live in a house where the field now sits. She said whenever Maude and her husband left the home, they donated the land to the school sitting next to it. Thus the field being named after them. Maude Allee was in her 90’s when I cared for her, very much still alive. Sorry.
Our next stop in our search for spooky oddities is the Saline Valley on Highway M near Eldon. The legend of Bigfoot sightings have been known since 2012.
From 2012 Last October in the Saline Valley Conservation Area, while scouting for a new area to hunt, this hunter spotted a deer head stuck between a walnut tree about 30 feet up. The conservation department was contacted and he was granted permission to retrieve the remains. Could it have been a panther? Who knows? Could someone have cut the head off while harvesting meat and left it? Maybe.
The last reported sighting, according to BFRO Bigfoot Researchers Organization, is August 2016. One resident reports strange noises on his wooded property at night. Foul smells, animal bones, mutilated animals with chunks missing from the carcass were found. Groups of small trees were found bent oddly and uniformly, a very large animal den. The owners reported glowing eyes on a growling creature near their front porch.
As of 2017 the family still has scares with the creature that they describe as 8-9 foot tall, with fiery eyes. No-stop barking of their dogs usually alert them to when the Sasquatch is approaching their house, followed by loud screaming.
The Eugene Tunnel is our third destination. Formerly a passageway for the defunct Rock Island Railroad, it now stands waiting for renewal from the Rock Island Trails project. One can park near the grounds to the tunnel and walk in, but it is private property and permission should be obtained before entering. I had the privilege of a guided tour by the vice president of Ameren back in June, and this place, while beautiful, was spooky even at high noon.
Our third place is the abandoned church on Gageville Road in Etterville. The story tells of two small children running around the small church building that is no longer in use. The sightings occur at night, with the children kicking and throwing rocks. Legend tells that these two were beaten and killed by their parents in that church. They say that if you go in this abandoned place in the middle of nowhere, the children will call your name, and turn your flashlights off and on.
Next is Aurora Springs, specifically Aurora Cave. An excerpt from Miller County Historical Society archives reads: Aurora Springs boasted of fantastic hunting and fishing facilities; and Aurora Cave was described as unbelievable. It had a Gothic Chamber, The Lovers' Grotto, The Fountain of Youth, The Grand Fork, The Catholic Cathedral, and The Death Chamber. Ample hotel accommodations were available at the fantastic price of only $3.50 to $8 per week with access to the curative springs nearby. It advertised that the Springs could cure "sore eyes, leprosy, tetter, kidney diseases, rheumatism, milk leg, neuralgia, paralysis, indigestion, female diseases, liver ailments…and on and on…"
At different times between 1890 and 1920, dance floors were built in the cave's ballroom about 300 feet inside but the floors never lasted long due to the humidity of the cave and periodic flooding by the cave stream. The dance floor was used for both roller skating and square dancing, winter and summer. In the winter, cold air from the large entrance would often freeze ponded areas of the shallow cave stream back for 50 yards or more into the cave and local youths would ice skate inside the cave. This cave now connects to Stark Caverns, a commercial cave tour.
I have personally investigated all of the Aurora Springs grounds as I lived there in my teen years. My boyfriend and I hiked these areas all day. A stairway nearby was known as “the stairway to hell” or the “stairway to nowhere”. I’ve been up and down it many times. It is creepy. The park itself is strange because water slowly bubbles out of the ground.
Our last location is Cry Baby Hollow, outside of Crocker and possibly the most frightening. The story states that a young pregnant girl was thrown out of the house by her father because the pregnancy was illegitimate. At a time when the area was sparsely populated, the girl wandered with her crying baby she had birthed through the woods until they both starved to death.
Another variation of the story is that some travelers vehicle went off the road there, crashed, and mother continues hunting for the crying baby. A third version goes that the young family was hiking, and the husband pushed the wife and baby off of a cliff. The oldest version is that a toddler wandered off from the house, and the mother continued searching for the crying child, until both were never seen again. Some have said the child was snatched by a wild cat. Others describe “an opening to hell.” A lot of visitors report spook lights and freezing spots. Crybaby Hollow is on a public highway outside of Crocker, but dead ends into private land.
One visitor’s personal account is as follows:
“A visit to Crybaby Hollow is when the terror started for me and mine. She really didn't intend to scare any of the family when she asked if she could say anything she just wanted to know what that thing was that was looking at her thru the back glass of our station wagon. I glanced into the rear view mirror and could see nothing but two red eyes looking back at us. After turning half around in the seat I looked into some thing's eyes I still think came straight out of a Stephen King Nightmare.
I will try to tell you or rather explain what I saw in case your are unfortunate enough to see the same thing.
What I saw was something with a kind of monkey faced , with a long flowing Mane, hair longer than any lions mane, a body kind of like a cat's body only very thin, with a very long tail.
At the time of this incident I'd been to several zoos I can promise you It wasn't like any cat I have ever seen. The creature had his hands on top of the car leaning in towards the back glass of the car presumably to see us better. At times prudence being the better part of valor I decided it was time to be in Lebanon at our home. I turned around in the drivers seat and turned the ignition on the car, Then i did something I,m not proud of I Peed
The darned car wouldn't do a thing,no lights on the dash no cranking of the starter no nothing, this was after several hundred times of trying to restart the car while looking in the rear view mirror knowing this creature was holding my wife and kids future in a car it could have easily entered by knocking out the back glass, and also knowing it was going to do just that.
When the creature dropped back down to all four feet . The car decided it also wanted to be somewhere else and started. Needless to say we were soon home. My Father-in Law was in his late seventies when we went to see him the next day. He had run all over this country when he was a boy and young man when we showed him the tracks the creature left on the glass of the car.His first words were ‘Stay the hell away from CRY BABY HOLLER, and no I don,t even want to know WHAT IT IS.’
Another terrifying story a visitor relates:
“I went to cry baby hollow one time in Crocker Missouri. I can tell you now that I ain't ever going to go there ever again. I went with my husband, my sister,my cousin and my sister's boyfriend at the time. When we got there we all got really hot like we was burning up.We decided to turn off the car lights. When we did my cousin and my sister seen a light coming up out of the creek. All of us started to freak out and decided to leave. We all went to my Aunt's house and looked the vehicle over that we was all in. We seen baby hand prints on the hood of the car. It looked like to all of us that a baby put its hands in dust and touched the hood of the vehicle. We looked at the trunk of the vehicle and there was scratches on it like somebody took their fingernails and scratched it. It seemed to me it looked like it was trying to hold on but couldn't. Before we left to go to Cry Baby Hollow we looked ourselves over cause we all heard stories that we would get marked. Sure enough we all did. Some of us had bruises and some of us had scratches on our backs. My husband and I went back home that night. When we awoke the next morning we noticed that some stuff was knocked over one side of our Television Stand. I noticed that one of my porcelain dolls were missing. A month later we moved to a different town. I left a box in the house we moved out of and the next day we went to go and get it. I noticed that the side of the box was torn like somebody ripped it down the side. We brought it to the house we just moved into.I woke up alot in the middle of the night and kept on hearing a noise like somebody was knocking or tapping down stairs. A couple of weeks later I decided to go through that box. Sure enough there was that porcelain doll that went missing that one night. So we moved into a different house on the same property and I left that box with that doll in the house.”