Ghost tours show spooky side of Lincoln

  • Capitol
  • Cheddars
  • DuggansPub
  • MattressCo
  • StatePen
  • Tabitha

Standing toward the front of the bus in a colorful Hawaiian shirt, Scott Colborn seems to be the farthest thing from the head storyteller of the Lincoln Ghost Tours.

However, as the bus pulls to its first stop, the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Colborn launches into the first of his many tales. He describes apparitions of prisoners trying to escape; a long ago torn-down guard post that still tends to appear at times.

And that’s just the beginning. During the 2½-hour tour, Colborn details multiple paranormal phenomena, from Bigfoot to seeing into the future. However, as Colborn points out, what makes the Lincoln stories different is that they’re true.

“There is the real paranormal and then there is Hollywood horror,” Colborn said.

Besides the countless stories, the bus actually stops outside 20 specific verified-haunted areas around Lincoln, ranging from Tabitha Health Care Services to Nebraska Wesleyan University. The stories are ever-changing on the Tour, as Colborn encourages individuals to submit their own ghost stories.

“I let people know I am very, very interested in their experiences,” Colborn said. “I’m the last person who would say, ‘You’re nuts. You’re crazy.’ I don’t ridicule.”

Colborn estimates that he has led the Lincoln Ghost Tours for 15 years. The Tours run through the month of October, and consist of 50 people. Tickets cost $15. This year marks the longest tour season yet with 15 tour dates.
However, Colborn said, the true pioneer of the Ghost Tour is the late Dale Bacon, who first gave the tours in the daylight in a station wagon or van. Colborn realized the potential the tour had, and they decided to rent buses, starting with only two tours.

Colborn first found his interest in ghost story telling during his younger years in the Boy Scouts. Through Colborn’s relaying of ghost stories rather than the horror, murderous stories of Lincoln, the tours are family friendly. Colborn admits that seeing the children attendee’s reactions is one of his favorite parts of the tour.

“Talking to the kids after the tour and seeing their eyes big and round with excitement takes me back to my own life when I was that young,” Colborn said. “It’s the power of the imagination.”

Colborn continues his passion by hosting the “Exploring Unexplained Phenomena” radio program that airs on KZUM Radio 89.3 FM from 10 a.m. until noon. The radio program celebrated its 30th anniversary this October, and is one of the longest-running paranormal talk radio programs in the world.

Colborn relates hearing people discuss their paranormal experiences as being in church. He said it’s “a very holy, very spiritual experience.”

Tickets for the Ghost Tour typically sell out as soon as they are released in late August at Lincoln’s A Novel Idea bookstore, located at 118 N 14th St. This last release date the lines for tickets wrapped around the block.

Colborn said the reason he believes his specific tour is so popular, compared to other Lincoln ghost walking tours advertised on Craigslist is due to their audience interaction, as well as their marketing tactics. Colborn also states that the reason people keep coming back for more is due to their curiosity in the paranormal.

“I think there is interest out there,” Colborn said. “There’s a real thirst for people finding out what’s behind that curtain in the land of Oz. Some people never want to peek behind that curtain, but some have a natural curiosity, and once they find out there is a larger dimension to life, it’s as if they’ve walked around previously with a blurry set of prescription glasses.

“And, after they see clearly, if you ask them if they want to go back, they say, ‘No way.’”

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