Spooky Scavenger Hunt
Updated: Oct 1
What do secret societies, murders, and crying babies have in common? They’re all included in our Monmouth fall SPOOKY SCAVENGER HUNT! Back by popular demand, the Buchanan Center for the Arts has concocted a cauldron of conundrums and chaos! Deadline for entries is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27 giving you almost three and a half weeks to hunt! Everyone who successfully takes a picture of themselves with the named object at each of the10 locations will be entered into a drawing on Friday, October 30th … winner takes home a huge basket of HALLOWEEN FUN!
We’re going to start in downtown Monmouth at a building erected in 1894 that is the 4th of its kind in Monmouth, actually, and a great example of Richardsonian architecture. The 3rd building was located on what is now the front lawn of the current building, and where Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith was brought before a judge (Stephen Douglas) for an extradition hearing to face murder charges. You will find two bronze eagles on the front lawn of the current building. Choose one, and take your picture with it…and Clue #1 is done!
One of the first three settlers of Monmouth gave this ‘yard’ to the county in 1833. In it, you will find county PIONEERS, civil war vets, victims of a local cholera epidemic, and victims of the tornado disaster of 1851. Located high above the street, you may miss it if you’re not looking for it…which would be a ‘grave’ mistake…so we’ll give you one hint: East Archer Avenue…just click your pic next to the sign at the top of the stairway and…
you’re done with Clue #2 – good for you!
Do you believe in haunted houses? Things that go bump in the night? Unusual paranormal activity? Well this hunt takes you to the Rankin house…where objects move by themselves, then show up in the dryer! Where lights unexplainably turn on or off…and where guests have felt the sensation of being touched or grabbed! Once, when a paranormal investigator visited, many witnessed a candle flame shoot straight up to the ceiling after the ‘spirits’ were taunted. When standing in front of the house, look to the peak…to the window with the lace curtain…that’s where a lot of “unusual” activity happens…
It doesn’t get more haunted than this, people! At the top of the cement stairs off the sidewalk in front of the house, you will find a metal witch’s hat hanging on a shepherd’s hook at the top of the metal railing. This is where you take your pic for Clue #3…this is key!
White and stately with green shudders, you can find the name of this ‘house’ right above the front door. Word has it that a secret society was formed in one of the rooms on the 2nd floor named I.C. Sorosis by 12 young Monmouth students back in 1867; this was the beginning of the women’s fraternity movement. Today this house is used as a venue for club and group gatherings, weddings and receptions, and parties. Close to the street, you can’t miss it, but we’ll give you a hint anyway: “HH”. Now all you have to do is click a pic of yourself next to the sign with the witch’s hat on the west lawn...and you can do no more for Clue #4!
Birthplace of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, this prairie-style home museum is dedicated to highlighting the importance of the women’s movement, but…five deaths have also occurred here…and a Murder Mystery Night to boot! The Honorable James H. Stewart built this house in 1865 located on spacious grounds adjacent to Monmouth College. Look for a fancy schmansy spider on the porch, and tell it to smile and say ‘cheese’! Congratulations…you just survived Clue #5!
Established in 1970, this museum’s purpose is to “preserve Warren County’s artifacts and to educate the community about their importance.” The museum once held an exhibit pertaining to a triple ax murder that happened right here in Monmouth back in the early 1900’s. Even though there were several suspects, as well as those that did jail time, the murders were never really solved. A book written in 2017 shed light on a German serial killer who traveled America by rail and ended up butchering around 100 people before returning to Germany; the author believes this may have actually been the ax murderer.
You will find a feisty rat in a hat on a cart near the entrance to the museum. Click a pic with the rat in the hat (but don’t climb on the cart!), and be on your way as the next clue will take you out of town! Hope you had some kicks seeking out Clue #6.
For this one, you will head out of town on 67N to 230th Ave W to 60th Street-a secluded one-lane road that winds around and down a hill to cedar creek. Here a small one-lane bridge crosses over it. A bridge with a legend. A bridge with a nickname.
There are two legends that befall this bridge. The first: a single, unwed mother tossed her baby off the bridge into the creek below in fear of being shamed. The second: a school bus full of elementary school children lost control and went over the edge of the bridge and all of the children perished in the accident. No matter if you believe the local lore or not, the bridge is supposedly HAUNTED!! This is not for the faint of heart!
As the story goes, if you venture out to the bridge at night (or even during the day), and put your car in neutral in the middle of the bridge, the children will push your car across the bridge to safety. If you spread baby powder on your bumpers, the small handprints of the children who pushed your car are said to appear. You can’t be a ‘crybaby’ if you’re going to hunt this clue down. Once you’re there, click a pic of you on the bridge...but beware!! It will be heaven if you get Clue #7.
This clue takes you out of town again, down a few country roads (67N to 210th Ave W to County 13N) past Sugar Tree Grove United Presbyterian Church – the first church in Warren County – to a narrow gravel road (225th Ave) that will lead you east, then curves south up a hill to a wrought-iron gate. Through this gate lies a myriad of history and mystery.
As the legend is told, in the 1830’s, the rich farmland prompted fights between the Sauk and new white settlers to the area. The US Army intervened, and drove out or killed around 500 Sauk over an 18-month period from the surrounding area after a white settler was scalped “in an incident that he might have provoked while drunk”.
You are welcome to look around, but know this…many feel this piece of land that looks over surrounding corn fields and woods is still inhabited by spirits long passed. The church you passed on the way here used to be on this hill…and now in its place is a large marker that marks the original site of the Sugar Tree Grove United Presbyterian Church established in 1830. Take your picture with this marker. There’s no debate…you conquered Clue #8!
Displayed in the window of this public place where kids and adults can go to ‘check things out’, you will find the works of local mystery writer, Susan Van Kirk. You may know of her Endurance series trilogy: “Three May Keep a Secret”, “Marry in Haste”, and “Death Takes No Bribes”, or her latest novel “Death at Tippitt Pond”. Murder and mysteries abound in these fun reads (and whoever wins the drawing with receive one of each of these books in the Halloween Fun basket!) Take a pic of yourself next to the window displaying these books. Have a Spook-tacular time with Clue #9!
It’s the very last clue on your Spooky Scavenger Hunt! You will need to find a plaza with three gated entries, eight benches, and one gazebo right here in the heart of Monmouth. This park plaza is surrounded by a black fence, and hosted delightful musical entertainment all summer long. It is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 10am to 2pm, so you will have to come when it’s open to click your last photo.
You will find 25 Halloween-themed light sticks hidden throughout the plaza. Your mission is to find the SKULL and click your pic with it! Oh what a fun time it’s been…you’re done with Clue #10!