Ride Into Haunted History
Explore the Spirits Just Outside the Senses
Each year, as the heat from August becomes entangled into the coming fall, summer releases its clutches and fades away into a slow yet colorful death. And with its demise comes a new season that seems to take the last few breaths from the dying one and breathe new life into that which is forever dead. It’s the haunted season, where death itself has an awakening, and the ghosts from previous seasons stir about and beckon to be heard… and sometimes seen.
Tulsa has no shortage of history, and therefore, the restless spirits that clutch to the remnants of a long-ago time meandering through the present continue to provide the hauntings that draw so many of the living this time of year. Fortunately for those of us who love the thrill of a chill up our spines, there are those who step in and out of this world of mystery and fright to guide us to those haunted locales where these disembodied souls roam. In Tulsa, Teri French is that guide.
French is the author of “Tulsa’s Haunted Memories,” as well as a paranormal investigator. But more than that, she is someone who has researched the dark corners and hidden closets of the city, seeking out the forgotten souls that salvation and damnation have left behind. For the past 20 years, she has tracked the ectoplasm trails that have been just beyond human senses throughout the city’s history.
Having her own interest piqued by a haunting in an apartment complex where she once worked, French would begin researching hauntings and ghosts and eventually start the paranormal group Paranormal Investigative Team of Tulsa (PITT) with a friend in the late nineties. Her personal haunting experience even produced an unexplainable image from a Polaroid photo. That and other eerie experiences intrigued her enough to investigate the strange occurrences she was experiencing.
The grisly murder and mutilation of a young woman and her lingering spirit long after her body had been removed is what she would uncover at that complex. And today, that murder remains unsolved. The absence of justice is a pretty good reason a spirit might hang around. French knew these types of hauntings must be happening all over Tulsa. The next twenty years would be spent researching what other spirits might still be lurking between worlds.
But where’s the fun in finding spirits if you can’t introduce them to your friends? This sentiment prompted French to begin putting together a one-time tour on Halloween in 2003. A friend and fellow member of her organization suggested that with her already vast and continuing historical knowledge about Tulsa’s haunted past, she should share it with others.
French agreed, said it sounded like fun, and announced the idea of a haunted tour on her Myspace page. In no time, she had enough interest to fill a trolley. After word got out of the first one, the phone kept ringing, inquiring about others. This one-time labor of love then became a seasonal event and, ultimately, a business with multiple tours each year. This year marks twenty years of tours for Tulsa Spirit Tours.
The bus tour begins at the American Legion (it’s haunted) and begins its trek around downtown Tulsa, where French begins with history lessons about some of the oldest and most famous buildings in the city – including Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa Theatre (Formerly Brady Theater), and the Black Wall Street area. She tells tales about the hauntings as well as playing real EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) collected from her paranormal investigations over the years. In addition, there is a TV on the bus where old photos of Tulsa and surviving Race Riot photos are shown to the riders.
Her methods must work. She is always booked and doesn’t advertise. French explained that she shakes it up every few years and will add new locations while removing others. When new places are suggested to her, and if she finds the purported haunting credible, she adds them. But the typical locations include the American Legion, haunted by a small girl aged five, the VFW, where she also teaches a Ghost Hunting 101 class, and any place where she has evidence of ghosts.
The Cave House, Brady Theatre (Tulsa Theater), Cain’s Ballroom, and others have all been past sites where she has found such evidence. There are approximately 15 places that the tour drives by, and the details of their hauntings are discussed. At one of those places on the tour, the group gets to enter for an up-close personal opportunity to have a ghostly experience. As a plus, Tulsa’s brothel history and other sordid details within the cracks and crevices of this fair city are also included. Bus tours are usually two hours, French said.
She also offers haunted pub crawls and walking tours, which are the focus during the spring and summer. But October is all about the bus tours, and for you paranormal enthusiasts, it is just behind the now-dying season of summer. But if you miss your opportunity during this upcoming Halloween season of the spirits, fear not, as she also does a “Creepy Christmas” tour in December. This is a Christmas light tour where she shares creepy Christmas stories from all over the world accompanied by very eerie versions of the Yuletide carols. But let us not jump on the creepy sleigh just yet.
The traditional hunting season will soon be upon us, and there are many tours yet to come for wannabe riders. And even for those who don’t believe in the mysterious world between the living and the dead, take the ride anyway. Because who knows? As French says, “one experience is all it takes to make you a believer, that’s for sure.”