In a city as small as Crofton, Nebraska (population 760), it seems that visitors have found small-town paradise. The city is picturesque, with nearby waterways, a promenade of flags honoring deceased Crofton veterans, and free camping grounds available for those who wish to use them. However, sitting somewhere near the center of town sits a large brick building, inviting to guests and boasting fine accommodations which include five-star meals and comfortable rooms. It seems like the perfect place to rest weary heads, but one must remember that every place has a history, and that history is not always at peace with the present.
Not every haunting is frightening, horrific, or even threatening. For some, tragedies long since passed continue into the present, reminders of bygone ages. While the living sleep well and enjoy their stays at the Argo, there are some permanent guests whose time is anything but restful.
Built in 1911, the brick structure actually began its life as The Argo, during a time in American History in which many such hotels were built. These multi-floor brick buildings offered every modern amenity the time could provide, ensuring it a prosperous future among it’s targeted clientele of traveling businessmen. It was, however, sold in 1923, and its name was changed to the New Meridian Hotel.
For more than ten years, the hotel prospered, but business began to fall off. The decision came in 1935 to sell the hotel, and the New Meridian Hotel became a clinic. Checking the historic records of Crofton, one finds that the clinic was well regarded for its service to the community, and is considered an important historical site for its contributions. Still, the patients who came for treatment were often terminal. Diseases such as cancer, emphysema, and other such maladies proved too deadly, costing hundreds who came to Crofton hoping for a miracle cure, their lives, causing the clinic to close its doors.
The building changed hands twice in the year 1962. Little is known about the first man to buy it that year, only that he sold it to another doctor, who ran his own practice from within the walls. His practice ran for several years before it too closed its doors.
The hotel regained its birthright in 1994, thanks in no small part to Sandra McDonald, who purchased the building and began the process of renovation. It was during renovation that rumors of a haunting began to surface. One of the most macabre finds during the renovation period was a burlap sack of bones, belonging to an infant, that was found cemented into a wall. McDonald, not knowing what to do with such a strange artifact, took them and buried them in a local cemetery. The building was once again renamed The Argo Hotel, and has remained so ever since.
There are quite a few phenomena reported in the Argo, though the owner says she doesn’t find any of it particularly horrifying. Eerie and strange, maybe, but not horrifying. During one incident, she and a co-worker saw what they both describe as a man, roughly six feet tall, wearing what may have been a hospital gown. It appeared in the hallway beside their office on the upper level, and was gone in the blink of an eye. There also was, prior to remodeling, a cold spot on the lower level. However, the construction seems to have dissipated it. That does not mean, however, that everyone within the Argo rests well. At the Argo, it is often the case that the unrestful still walk the hallways, even after having died within the last 60 years.
Among the most common phenomena reported by guests and employees include doors that bang for no reason, glasses that shatter without cause, and even lights that flicker in spite of a relatively new wiring system. Cold spots are also reported, as are apparitions by guests. There are even stories of a phantom baby’s cry and of a woman calling for her lost child.
The most persistent soul of the Argo Hotel, however, is a woman in the basement named Alice. She died in child birth some time in the 1940’s, and has been seen, heard and felt ever since. While it is unknown if the bones found in the wall belong to her child, it seems at least plausible. She continues to haunt the Argo, looking for the child she lost more than sixty years ago. Numerous groups have ventured into her domain, capturing strange phenomena on cameras. Alice’s portrait hangs behind the bar in the hotel lounge, curiously unable to be seen in either darkness or light, unless one shines a flashlight on it. In its beam, there she stands.
Since purchasing the hotel, Sandra McDonald has done a good job of remodeling the building and returning The Argo Hotel to glory. Today it operates as a bed and breakfast, steakhouse, speakeasy bar, and contains a cigar room, and dance hall, not to mention the thirteen rooms for guests. It is open seven nights a week with live entertainment of Friday and Saturday nights. They also host special events and even balloon rides for guests.
The haunting continue, though no more invasive than they’ve ever been. According to McDonald, though she’s always known there were spirits in the hotel, it was only recently that she had her own experiences, which is to say that the ghosts show no signs of slowing down.
Crofton is a small town with a great deal of charm, and as there seems to be no way to predict the activities of the restless souls within the Argo, the best time to visit would seemingly be in the summer months. Days can be filled during the summer months with excursions of a dozen different types, balloon rides, and other activities hosted by the Argo. Night time, however, might prove a prudent time to pay a visit to the basement, where Alice still searches for her child.
For more information, visit The Argo Hotel website.
Cold Spots would like to thank Sandra McDonald for her generosity and time in helping bring this article together.
See you in two weeks!