Night on the Goldenrod Showboat
October 10, 2014 from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Located 3 miles north of Kampsville on Route 100
On the Illinois River Outside Kampsville, Illinois
Join American Hauntings for a Halloween season ghost hunt aboard this eerie and historic riverboat, the vessel that was the inspiration for Edna Ferber's book, "Showboat." Spend the late night looking for the ghosts of this historic -- and very haunted -- boat with a limited number of ghost hunters during a private ghost hunt. Find out if this sprawling, semi-abandoned and decrepit riverboat is really as haunted as so many people claim and perhaps come face to face with one of the performers or crew who once called this boat home! The evening will include a history of the boat, followed by a ghost hunt aboard what was once known as one of the most haunted boats on the Mississippi!
Very Limited Number of Available Spots! | $60 Per Person
The History of the Goldenrod Showboat:
Called the "last showboat of the modern era," the Goldenrod was built by the Pope Dock Co. of Parkersville, West Virginia in 1909. At 200 feet long and 45 feet wide, it had a huge auditorium with a seating capacity for 1,400 people. In 1901, it was one of 21 showboats on the Mississippi River. By 1928, this number had dwindled to 11 and by 1938, only 5 remained in operation. Between the Great Depression, movies, and increased mobility, the days of the showboat were all but over. The Goldenrod became the last showboat to work on the Mississippi -- but even her days were numbered.
By 1937, she was moored on the St. Louis Riverfront. Shows were still being played into the 1950s, and, for 75 cents a head, St. Louis playgoers could board the boat and "sass the actors" on stage. On June 1, 1962, a disastrous fire, caused by an electrical short, all but destroyed the superstructure of the auditorium, and caused severe damage to the entire structure. But that was not the end for her. She was purchased by a group of St. Louis businessmen, who restored the ship to her original glory. Plush carpeting was laid in the auditorium, with cabaret seating, under a huge crystal chandelier. Many antique appointments were salvaged from old St. Louis mansions being torn down. Brass fixtures and rails were restored or replaced, as was the tin ceiling and elaborate woodwork. A cocktail lounge was added, with a small bandstand. The upstairs staterooms were converted into a buffet dining room.
The Goldenrod had her grand re-opening in 1965 and she was registered as a National Historic Landmark two years later.
Beginning in the early 1960s to about 1985, the National Ragtime Festival at St. Louis was held in June aboard Goldenrod. Many vintage jazz and ragtime bands were featured and the event became an annual phenomenon on the St. Louis riverfront. In 1989, the Goldenrod was purchased by the city of St. Charles, Missouri. She was restored and renovated, costing the city about $3.5 million over the next 12 years. The dinner theater continued to operate as a popular attraction. Then, in 2001, the ship ran aground and repairs were going to cost more than expected, so the city sold her in 2002.
With no takers, however, St. Charles offered to give the ship away. Several offers were submitted and after time and legal wrangling, the boat was stored for a time in St. Louis, then moored on the Illinois River near Kampsville, where she remains today, slowly deteriorating -- but according to many, still haunted by the spirits who have been lingering aboard since her days of glory.
In years past, author Troy Taylor appeared in a documentary about the Goldenrod and hosted several tours and ghost hunts on the showboat, when she was still docked in St. Charles. Even back then, rumors were rampant that the vessel was haunted.
Now, years after the last performers walked her stage and long after the lights have been turned out, the question remains -- is the Goldenrod truly silent and empty? Those who have experienced the haunting here say that it isn't. It's been said that -- in addition to the numerous sights and sounds that cannot be explained -- a girl in a red dress has often been seen. During the days when the showboat was still in operation, she was nicknamed "Victoria." Her story claims that she was the daughter of a widower who once worked on board the boat. They lived in the staterooms where the banquet room was later located. She wanted desperately to be a performer on the boat someday, but her father always rejected this idea.
One night, they were docked in St. Louis and had a terrible fight about her performing. The girl stormed off the boat and went walking along the dangerous river front. The next morning, she was found floating dead in the river. She had been brutally attacked and then murdered. Her killers were never found and her father died a short time later, deeply regretting the events that led to his daughter's death. A short time after she died, people began to report the ghost of a woman in a red dress on the boat. Actors and staff members claimed that the ghost was responsible for the strange things that happened on board, like doors slamming and items being moved about. She made frequent appearance to surprised staff members. Perhaps "Victoria," who never realized her dreams of performing on the Goldenrod during her life, is still lingering in the theater after death, still hoping for her chance on stage.
Do the ghosts of this young woman and the other spirits of the Goldenrod still remain aboard the boat? You can find out for yourself if you're brave enough! But this is not an event for the faint of heart or those lacking in courage. A waiver is required to take part in the event and you have to climb a ladder to gain access to the vessel. But if you're not afraid -- this is definitely the night for you!