Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Only a handful of ghostly tales at Culver
October 31, 2017

With such a rich history spanning 123 years, one would think Culver Academies would have more than just a small handful of ghostly images lurking about. But that is not the case.

The most enduring legend has been “The Phantom of Argonne.” Culver Academies Museum Curator Jeff Kenney (who also made the video) searched the Digital Vault archives a few years ago and found two stories, almost 70 years apart, in The Vedette documenting that ghostly image. While his presence was officially noted as far back as 1926, the reason for his appearances has never been established.

According to a March 26, 1926 Vedette article, this dark figure patrols the third floor halls of Argonne. The article states that the question “confronting the terror-stricken cadets” is why does the Phantom stay strictly to the third floor.

One time the cadets heard “weird shudders and moans.” Another night there were footsteps and the cadets heard the water fountain running. Yet, when they checked the fountain it was dry.

The phantom reappears in a Feb. 1, 1994, Vedette article when girls living in Argonne said “a man dressed in a tuxedo appears in the mirror in their bathroom. This spooky gentleman is referred to as ‘Tuxedo Man.’”

That article added that Argonne residents reported hearing the showers mysteriously turning on and off. But witnesses added they didn’t know whether to chalk it up to a ghostly presence or just “bad plumbing.”

There is also talk of two ghosts haunting Eppley Auditorium. The first is a cadet that stays in the balcony. He evidently jumped to his death after being jilted by his girlfriend. The second is a construction worker who stays backstage and in the basement. He was killed in an accident while the auditorium was being built. (Read visual arts instructor Bob Nowalk’s story from The Culver Citizen in 2014.)

The website Ghosts of America has four total sightings listed for Culver and a very brief Culver Academies reference to “a tall figure in a black suit that can be seen standing on the clock tower during the Sunday garrison parade.” The writer, who is anonymous, adds when he and his friends went up to the clock tower to check, “we only saw scribbles from other people stating they saw a similarly dressed man.”

The author finishes his piece with “He stands on the tower and watches us.”

A spooky tale that originated around the campfires of Woodcraft Camp explains why there is no Division 2. It involves a camp counselor named Zeke who slips in wet grass and runs over his foot with a lawn mower. The horrendous accident leaves his foot disfigured, giving him a very noticeable limp.

The accident evidently impacts him psychologically as well. When Zeke overhears the Division 2 campers making fun of his limp, he loses control and extracts his revenge against the entire unit.

Another undocumented story involves a group of cadets who sneak out of the barracks late one night and go to Memorial Chapel. While inside, they hear young boys singing. As the song progresses the voices get deeper, as if the singers are growing older. The cadets didn’t stay for the song to end.

Do you have a favorite Culver ghost story? Let us know.

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