When thinking about quaint historic inns, what could be more inviting then antique themed rooms and a cookie jar in each and every bedroom? How about respectful ghosts that simmer down when asked, unless you count the active spirits that like to play with the guests by lightly touching them, but only if you are open to that sort of thing. Owners Chuck and Joy Hanson have never kept it a secret that the bed & breakfast they adore so much is in fact haunted. Even some of the locals come and stay overnight just to experience encounters from the other side that the inn is so famous for. Ghosts have long been a part of the inn’s history starting with three of the inns previous owners who just so happened to have died at the bed & breakfast. Built in 1846, the Mason House Inn originally served steamboat travelers who frequented the establishment when it was then known as the Ashland House. The name changed accordingly to the Mason House when in 1857, new owners Lewis and Nancy Mason purchased the haunted inn.
The historic bed & breakfast sits nestled along the bank of the Des Moines River in Bentonsport, Iowa and the current owners believe that much of the paranormal energy stems from the river water itself since water contains kinetic and potential energy which moves during processes like movement caused by any number of sources. Those who visit the inn share this same belief, and the Hanson’s claim that seventy-five percent of their guests who stay, do so with the knowledge that the bed & breakfast is haunted and actually want or expect some type of paranormal experience. Most of the guests hope to be physically touched by one of the five ghosts living at the inn, and actually encourage it by snapping random photos and calling the ghosts out. Among the guests that visit the inn, there are skeptics and non-believers, but even they often walk away with a change of heart after experiencing strange events that they just cannot explain away as mere coincidence or an overactive imagination.
The inn’s colorful history only adds to the phenomenon, and people really gravitate towards it. The bed & breakfast has survived five major floods, served as a hospital during the Civil War and it was used as a sanitarium from 1920 thru 1950 for tuberculosis patients. Later the inn became a boarding house until it finally landed into the hands of Herbert and Buretta Redhead who turned it into a bed & breakfast and rightfully listed the inn on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mason House Inn was later sold and extensively refurbished and is now owned by the Hanson’s who purchased the building in 2001. Chuck and Joy immediately recognized that there was something special about the inn and that it definitely was affected by paranormal activity from many entities wishing to communicate with those willing to listen, watch and see. Many of the guests admit to be touched, and guest, Dean Craig claims that the spirits repeatedly rubbed up against him during his stay.
The Hanson’s claim that things started happening to them right after they bought the inn and have just never stopped. Alarm clocks and fire alarms would go off on their own, no matter how much you turned them off they would start right back up again after walking away. Many of the guests have reported seeing the image of a ghost boy on the boat landing. He is almost completely surrounded by fog and plays tricks on those that see him. A Minister staying in room 5 claims that his pajamas were tugged on throughout the night. He at first thought that it was his wife attempting to wake him, but then after waking up realized that she had not joined him on this particular trip. The spirit of a lady in white appears and then vanishes right before your eyes. The apparition of an elderly gentleman has been caught staring a hole through people, and then when they catch him staring he simply disappears into thin air. Many guests staying at the inn complain about kids running up and down the hall all night despite their being no children staying at the time of the complaints.
Believers and skeptics alike are shown footage of the ghosts caught on camera as Chuck takes you through a series of images snapped during a field trip in 2004. One eerie photo caught the apparition of a Civil War soldier who more than likely died at the inn where he stayed during the time it was used as a hospital. His Union soldier’s cap comes through clearly, leaving no doubt as to it’s authenticity. Dark shadows can be seen across the rooms as you sit quietly and watch. Voices from afar can be detected by the human ear and have been caught by electronic voice phenomenon equipment. The ghosts like to touch those who are awaiting for their presence to be known. Chuck and Joy refer to their inn as a Paranormal Disneyland, because they say that the haunted atmoshere is all in fun.
Railroad enthusiasts can enjoy a night’s stay in a real train car dubbed room No. 9. The popular 1952 caboose cottage is the real deal that offers all of the amenities and gives you the advantage of climbing up to the cupola to catch some of the most breathtaking sites that the nearby town and riverfront have to offer. The train caboose comes from the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific Railway out of Texas. The queen-sized bed found in the heart of the caboose is embellished with a charming quilt and all of the comforts of home. To reserve the railroad caboose, call: 319-592-3133
Halloween Ghost Dinner
This year on October 26, 2013 the Mason House Inn is featuring an evening of ghost stories and dinner. Guests will begin dining at 5:30 pm followed by tales of ghostly shenanigans that occur in and around the bed & breakfast. Ghost hunters are encouraged to bring digital cameras and an open mind for catching orbs and other paranormal phenomenon on camera. Of course the spirits do come out and mix it up with the guests in most cases, but they can be unreliable when we impatient humans demand their immediate attention and seem to flow better when they are left to stick to their own special schedule. Cost: $75.00 per person. The dinner, ghosts, an overnight stay and a hearty country breakfast are all inclusive. *Reservations required* Call: 1-800-592-3133 to check availability. Room Rates: $74.00 to $89.00 per night.
Location: Just off of J40 Bentonsport Road at 21982 Hawk Drive, Bentonsport, Iowa, 52565