If you’re looking for something a little different to do during the Halloween ‘season’, going on a ghost tour in Iowa is a fun thing to do! I went on a haunted history walk in Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque! The walks are lead by G.R.I.P.S. (Great River Investigative Paranormal Society) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout October.
Ghost Tours in Iowa
Haunted History Walk at Linwood Cemetery
🗺2736 Windsor Ave., Dubuque, IA
💰$10 per person (paid at the start of the walk)
📅Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays throughout October
🕖6.30pm – 8.30pm
*Note – The haunted history walk takes place at night. I have included daytime photos of some of the things I mention for visual context*
Linwood Cemetery first opened in 1870. It covers 145 acres with apparently enough space for over 1000 years worth of burials! It’s a pretty impressive site, with a whole range of unique headstones and mausoleums. The cemetery is also the final resting place for several well know characters that called Dubuque home. These include: Stephen Hempstead (an Iowa governor who Hempstead High School was named after) and Mathias Ham (a local business man, whose former house is also open for public tours).
The tours start at 6.30pm, so being in October, they take place in the dark (take a flashlight/use light on phone). It can be a little chilly so it’s best to wrap up warm and be prepared for the weather! Participants meet at the entrance way before setting off around the cemetery with the guides. The cemetery is usually closed at this time and it opens especially for the walks.
The Great River Investigative Paranormal Society state on their website that:
“We believe that spirits should be treated as live people and we want to listen to them and tell their stories to others.”(G.R.I.P.S.)
The tour goes around to various graves and stories of the people that rest there are shared. Some are legends about how they died and others are about the history of the person and what their life and connections to Dubuque were. It’s really interesting to find out about the folklore of the city in this unique setting.
Being a paranormal society, they also use some of their equipment while on the walk. A couple of people were given EMF meters (Electromagnetic Field Gauss Meter) to carry around. It is said that Spirits give off high energy and therefore these changes in the atmosphere can be picked up using an EMF meters. G.R.I.P.S. believe that there are certain graves that have more fluctuations than others, and these are the Spirits that are more active and want to share their stories.
Is it suitable for children?
On my walk there were a couple of children. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really like Halloween, I don’t enjoy scary things, but I really enjoyed the walk. As mentioned above, it is more like a history walk that focuses on stories from those that have passed. The children on the tour mainly had control of the EMF meters. They seemed to be more interested in seeing if they could find areas that made the gauge move than listening to the stories!
There was only one area that was a bit creepy due to the shape of one of the gravestones. Especially in the dark it does look like a figure that’s hanging out in the cemetery. I have included a picture so you can decide for yourself!
How to join the tour
Keep an eye on the G.R.I.P.S. facebook page as they share when bookings open up each year. The walks have to be pre-booked and payment is taken in cash at the start of the walk. At the time of writing, they no longer allow walk-ins, spaces have to be booked in advance.
Visiting Linwood Cemetery
After my haunted history walk, I decided to return to the cemetery during the day (gates open at 8am). As strange as it sounds, there’s something very peaceful about wandering around a cemetery. After all, there’s so much history from people that led all sorts of lives. It creates a strange feeling inside to think about it all. The grave sites are well maintained and only silk flowers are allowed. This avoids having dead bunches of flowers on the graves and keeps the plots bright and smart.
The cremation plots sit high up on top of the bluff that overlooks Downtown Dubuque and the Mississippi River. It’s a pretty cool view for a cemetery!
I loved how unique many of the headstones were. They were an art form in their own special way. For example, the ‘Woodmen of America’ used to provide headstones to their members ‘free of charge’, during the early 1900’s. These particular headstones are in the shape of tree trunks and stumps and the Linwood Cemetery has a few of these dotted around!
Mathias Ham House Halloween Event
A new annual Halloween event at the Mathias Ham Historic Site is ‘A Haunting On Lincoln Ave’. This includes a house tour and Halloween arts and crafts. Tickets are $7.50 for adults and $4 for children. Check out the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium website for more information.
Check out this post for more fun things to do in Dubuque!
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