Grand Encampment ghosting
Tales of hauntings told about the Parkinson house at the Grand Encampment Museum
October 31, 2018
The Grand Encampment Museum (GEM) in Encampment, Wyo. is known for its collection of buildings from the town’s past. Walking the grounds of the museum, visitors can see the Palace Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor, the Kuntzman Building, the Battle Miner and the Peryam House among other historical structures.
One of those buildings, which sits just off the boardwalk and behind the Vo-Ag Building, is the Parkinson House. The two-story house, the rear of which provides a backdrop for events at Grand View Park, looms over anyone who either walks by it or enters it. According to Lauren Buford, a current student at Encampment K-12 and former employee of GEM, there is more to the Parkinson House than meets the eye.
“It just felt eerie,” said Buford. “It wasn’t so much that there was always something moving, it was just an eerie, creepy feeling. You think something’s watching you, but you don’t know or don’t see anything.”
That was Buford’s initial feeling of the house upon starting at GEM. Just a few weeks into working at the museum, however, she began to notice things were a little more than just eerie about the house.
“Three or four weeks into the museum, I noticed dolls were moving across the couch up in the storage room, heard walking upstairs. Just kind of normal, ghosty stuff,” said Buford.
Buford added that, when the dolls would move across the couch, it would be between times that people entered and exited the storage room.
“They weren’t getting up and moving, but their heads would turn,” Buford said. “The first real experience I ever remember seeing a doll move, I was giving a tour and I had walked to stand in front of the storage room … just to make sure no one would go in there and mess with anything. As I walked in, into the doorway, a doll had looked at me, cocked it’s head a little bit, sat straight up and looked away.”
Without making anyone in the group aware, she showed them through the rest of the building and continued the tour. Along with the dolls moving, according to Buford, she could hear footsteps in the house that often sounded like they belonged to a child or a woman.
“It was kind of between a child and a woman, it was kind of lighter but some days it would be a little bit heavier depending on what days you were in there,” said Buford.
The Encampment senior, who was between her sophomore and junior years while working at GEM, spoke with other student employees about the house. Most, if not all, agreed the Parkinson House was a little eerie. The moving dolls and the footsteps weren’t all that Buford experienced in the historical building, however.
As the season neared its end, Buford had some experiences involving the basement door of the Parkinson house. She wasn’t alone when they happened, either. Two of them occurred while she was giving a tour.
“Towards the very end of the season, towards the end of the summer, I was going around to make sure everything was in place. Going around every building, as I always did every morning, and the basement door that goes to nothing was open,” Buford said. “I brushed it off, I shut door and heard it click. That’s the one thing that people don’t believe: that I heard the door click. I made sure it was shut, I pulled on the door a little bit to make sure it was all the way closed.”
While giving her first tour of the day with a decent sized group, discussion led to Buford’s thoughts that the house was haunted after the group remarked about the eerie feeling they got from the building.
“One of the girls, she was about 20 years old, was reading the sign on the basement door,” said Buford. “And the door opened as she was reading this note. I kind of panicked for a second. Her boyfriend at the time went to shut the door and it slammed shut.”
According to Buford, the group was more than ready to move on to the next building in the tour. During the following tour, which consisted of a man, a woman and two children, she told the small group of what had happened earlier that day.
“Second tour I gave that day, we were in the Parkinson House once again, and I was telling them that exact same story. We all were standing kind of close to the door, I was pointing out how it was and I was standing off towards the laundry room area and the woman was standing closer to the basement door,” said Buford.
The woman, pointing towards the basement door, asked Buford if that was the door she was talking about. No sooner had the woman asked, then the door opened again. While Buford had stayed with the first group when the door opened on its own, the second group was not so lucky. She ran out of the building in tears straight to the Doc Culleton building where she explained to former GEM Director Christy Smith and the student employees what had happened.
While she was telling her supervisor and her fellow employees the experience she just had, the tour she left behind came into the building and confirmed her story about the door. Buford returned to the building to, once again, close the basement door. Since then, however, she says that she refuses to enter the Parkinson House on her own because of her experiences.