Downtown Joplin's haunted history uncovered in walking tours, interactive exhibits

·2 min read

Oct. 16—Care to find out what goes bump in the night?

Dream Theatre Troupe actors are now leading walking tours throughout Joplin's downtown district that mixes historical dark deeds with ghostly tales from the city's past, including a murder and lynching on Main Street, stories concerning crime matriarch Ma Barker, and facts about the historic Connor Hotel and the House of Lords, a famed brothel and saloon.

"This is a just a neat way to entice people to get excited about preservation in a way that they may not have had previously," Dream Theatre founder Becki Arnall said.

From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and again during next week's Third Thursday, eight Dream Theatre tour guides — each one in costume, miked up and face bathed in light — will lead small walking groups throughout the downtown area centered around the 100 block: telling stories, dropping facts and interacting with the public, including answering questions.

While the tours begin and end outside Studio 124 on South Main Street, a number of interactive stations can be found inside, each manned by a Dream Theatre actor, Arnall said. The space puts an artistic spin on the traditional spook house, but there aren't any ghouls or goblins holding chain saws or lurking for jump scares. Rather, each exhibit is centered around a local historical event or phenomenon showcasing tidbits of information as well as props.

One exhibit centers on the "satanic panic" that hit Southwest Missouri more than 30 years ago, involving the ritualistic slaying of a 17-year-old Carl Junction man via baseball bat. The Spook Light, mass murderer Billy Cook, the 1863 massacre at nearby Rader Farm, the 1933 shootout involving Bonnie and Clyde and Joplin police, as well as an area dedicated to a séance table and Ouija board — tying directly with historic Murphysburg during the Victorian era — are other stops along the way.

The tours are being operated by a theater group, so expect professional acting and costuming, special effects and music.

"It's so very important to us that we give (the paying customer) a great experience," Arnall said.

She hopes the ghost tours will become an annual event, with additional tour days scheduled next year. She sees the 2021 tours as a trial run.

"We're learning as we grow," Arnall said.

Tickets can be purchased in person at Studio 124. Admission is $15; children under 10 are admitted for free.

For more information, call 417-622-6470.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting