CROFTON, Neb. (AP) — Tales of ghosts and other spooky happenings go hand in hand with old buildings that have seen their share of history.
Crofton’s Historic Argo Hotel Bed and Breakfast has been here for more than 100 years, and there are probably hundreds of ghost stories to go with it.
Guests and employees at the historic hotel for years have reported strange sounds and sightings: mysterious laughter and music, glasses falling for no apparent reason and sightings of strangers who disappear upon second glance.
Often, there’s no proof to provide the skeptics.
Until now, perhaps.
Argo Hotel owners Frank and Megan Marsh opened their historic property up this summer to the paranormal investigators from “Ghost Hunters,” a TV show that’s explored haunted sites for 14 seasons. What they found inside the Argo is, well, haunting.
Before divulging their findings, a little about the Marshes and the Argo’s colorful past.
The Argo Hotel opened in 1912, when Crofton was a booming railroad town. The boom passed, but the beautiful, brick Argo has persevered, remaining viable as a doctor’s office and, since 1994, various forms of a bed and breakfast and restaurant run by different owners.
The Sioux City Journal reports it also once was a sanatorium offering medical treatments — some of them experimental, if you believe the old tales and rumors. You see where this is going.
The Marshes knew nothing about the Argo’s many ghost stories when buying it in 2018.
“I don’t think it would have hindered us. At the time, I would have scoffed about them,” Frank said.
Historical carpenters, Frank and Megan buy, remodel and sell historic properties, moving from one project to another. It didn’t take long for them to become acquainted with the strange goings-on that have long been rumored to occur inside the Argo.
While unpacking the first night they moved in, Frank and Megan began arguing in the main floor dining room. As their voices rose, they heard breaking glass in the bar area in back. They stopped arguing to investigate, finding a glass that had fallen off a wine rack and shattered.
A week later, as Frank was working on the building, the town’s police officer pulled up to introduce himself, tipping Frank off to the hotel’s haunted reputation.
“He said, ‘Have you seen anything?’” Frank said. “I said no. He said, ‘You will.’”
As they remodeled the Argo from top to bottom, the Marshes operated it as a traditional bed and breakfast, its nine guest rooms available on weekends from April 1-Nov. 1. Over and over, guests reported hearing carousel or circus music in one of the rooms. So many guests in the honeymoon suite reported the bathroom door opening and moving that Frank finally removed the door and replaced it with a curtain.
So when a “Ghost Hunters” producer emailed the Marshes in early spring, asking them if they’d be interested in being featured, they were game, figuring the publicity could be good for business and help them find a buyer since they’d put the Argo, its restoration complete, up for sale.
“We decided it would be good press no matter what. For us, it was let’s get some of these stories out there,” Frank said.
In late July, the “Ghost Hunters” team of Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and Shari DeBenedetti, along with guest investigators Satori Hawes, who is Jason Hawes’ daughter, and her husband, Cody Ray Desbiens, rolled into town with about 20 crew members.
They interviewed Frank and Megan, former guests, employees and others around town. They set up their instruments in the Argo, then cut the power and spent a few nights inside.
In the 42-minute episode, the ghost hunters are seen staking out the first and second floors and the basement speakeasy, seeking evidence of spirits.
In the suspense-filled show, they’re seen making contact with a former employee’s dead husband, who was never seen but communicated through a series of knocks in response to questions, ultimately telling them to let his wife know he was OK.
Investigators heard a few strange sounds and jumped up after feeling something brush against them. Lights on their instruments seemed to indicate the presence of a woman who had died in the hotel long ago.
Perhaps guarding against any show secrets getting out ahead of time, the crew told the Marshes none of this when leaving after five days at the Argo.
“We thought they had found nothing. When we watched the show, it was a totally different story,” Frank said.
Frank and Megan learned of the findings along with all the other viewers when the episode first streamed on Jan. 8 on the Discovery+ streaming service.
“If there is such a thing as paranormal activity, then there certainly is at the Argo,” Frank said of the ghost hunters’ final verdict.
Frank hasn’t totally bought in to the idea of ghosts in the building, but enough strange happenings continue that his mind remains open. Now and then, one of the Argo’s extremely sensitive motion detectors will sound, but when Frank checks the video monitor, there’s no one there.
“And then you’ll see some dust swirl like someone walked through,” he said.
It’s enough to keep him and Megan from blowing off talk of paranormal activities.
“We give it its credit,” Frank said.
The “Ghost Hunters” episode likely will bolster the Argo’s ranking as Nebraska’s number one haunted hotel, though the Marshes market only its turn-of-the-century atmosphere, not its supernatural qualities.
“They did a great job,” Frank said of the show. “I felt we were represented very well.”
Any regrets about taking part in the show? Not a ghost of a chance.