It's an iconic structure in Dodge City. The Harvey House and railroad depot is one of the most recognizable buildings in Dodge.
The building was the first of the famous Fred Harvey Houses that was built specifically as a hotel and train station. The building was constructed in 1896 and, according to some, a few of the early residents have never left.
Karl Stinemetze, maintenance manager for the City of Dodge City Santa Fe Complex, said there have been numerous accounts of ghost activity in the building from the top to the bottom. On a June evening, after Stinemetze had finished his duties, he told of a number of encounters and the efforts to verify the existence of these unusual occupants.
Stinemetze said his first encounter was in the basement with an electrical box during some restoration work.
The original fuse box was in an inconvenient place to get to so the lights had to either be left on or it took a flashlight to see the way out. He was by himself and relocating the electrics when he discovered some of his tools had moved from where he had left them. He said he felt someone was looking over his shoulder. A plumber who had done work in the basement refused to return. He was scared but wouldn't say why, Stinemetze said.
A new electric paper towel dispenser would suddenly dispense two towels, so Stinemetze replaced it, but the same thing kept happening. This happened a year after he started working and it was the first time he thought something was going on.
Road Trip Paranormal, an investigating team from Wichita, has visited the building several times and has confirmed there is paranormal activity there, said Stinemetze, who is skeptical but open-minded and appreciates that the team looks for logical explanations for strange sounds. He told them stories of what he had seen but not where, and they would report where the events took place.
One thing Stinemetze has learned is that the entities are not evil and don't do bad things.
Stinemetze said Road Trip Paranormal told him that if the entities are given names, that is an acknowledgment they exist.
Stinemetze has named an entity in the women's restroom on the dining room "Moaning Myrtle," after the Harry Potter character.
In the basement is "Walter," named after the Jeff Dunham character. Walter is not evil, but he is grumpy and makes the hair on Stinemetze's neck stand on end. When a psychic encountered Walter just after entering the building, she asked who he was and why he was there. The entity said his name wasn't Walter but he liked the name, so he kept it but didn't say why he was there.
Road Trip also found on the third-floor stairs a young female named Beth, possibly Elizabeth or Mary Beth but Beth for certain. One night, when Stinemetze was in the building alone, he saw Beth out of the corner of his eye, said "hi, Beth" and heard her giggle and run away.
Stinemetze said a reputable psychic said Beth is 9 years old and has no idea why she hangs out on the third-floor stairs.
Beth once appeared on the staircase on the main floor when an actress was practicing a song and the actress saw her out of the corner of her eye.
"Henry" is another child, age unknown, who hangs out on the second and third floors. Henry is playful and once hid keys from a Ford County Development employee. They were returned to their original spot the next day.
There is a child, "Wyatt," who is short with curly hair and is possibly African American. Harvey Houses did hire young African Americans to wash dishes.
The original building has had modifications and additions including a restroom facility in the original dinning room and a theater added to the north side of the building.
The railroad depot is currently served by Amtrak. At night, the actors and Amtrak staff report hearing someone running up and down the stairs, an event that continues today, Stinemetze said.
Stinemetze said Hispanics were not allowed to stay in the Harvey House.
During a Road Trip Paranormal visit, a Hispanic man with the group said he wasn't supposed to be there and he felt a pair of hands push him and say "get out, get out."
The ghosts are said to be most active at night and during electrical storms, so Road Trip does its research from 9 p.m to 2 a.m. The theater has Paranormal Night, when people pay to go along on Road Trip investigations.
One night, an entity suddenly showed its face and everyone screamed. One woman had to be escorted out of the building out of fear, Stinemetze said.
Exactly where the children came from is unknown, but orphan trains did stop in Dodge, so they may have just stayed.
The building was also a house of ill repute after Harvey House closed down, and Stinemetze said they may be children of the women who worked there.