For decades upon decades the stories of “the Baker years” at the 1886 Crescent Hotel have been told. With no living eyewitnesses to these stories, they were mere legend. It wasn’t until earlier this year that actual proof of these stories was literally uncovered when the Arkansas Archeological Survey team carefully uncovered the secret bottle grave of the Crescent’s most infamous resident owner, Norman Baker.
Also unearthed, it seems, was additional paranormal activity further validating this historic resort, located atop the Arkansas Ozarks, as “America’s most haunted hotel”. This ghostly moniker has now been chiseled into granite… or more accurately stated: limestone, the predominate rock formations of Crescent Mountain.
Baker, a charlatan from Muscatine IA, owned the hotel in the late 1930s when he operated the structure as a cancer hospital where promises of a cure filled the hotel with suffering victims of the disease. His bottles contained a) several of his “curing” potions, despite the fact that no one was ever cured; and b) fleshy medical specimens extracted from his patients, despite the fact that Baker was not a doctor. Also found was an identifiable section of one of his promotional movies, a find that the archeologists said was like finding Baker’s business card.
“We had heard the stories. We had read the promises of Baker’s promotional material. We had even seen his poster where he proudly displayed his bottled cures and bottled tumors extricated from his patients,” explained Jack Moyer, hotel vice president and general manager, “but it wasn’t until more than 500 bottles from the northwest corner of our 15 acres were excavated during a formal archeological dig, did we actually get to see these antique bottles of macabre proof.”
Added proof of these bottles’ authenticity came during an interview with two ladies, Genevieve Bowman and Dorothy Bridgeman, who once served the hotel as waitpersons while in high school. Each, upon seeing them again, remembers the bottles as those they saw during excursions to the hotel’s basement area that was Baker’s morgue. It was in the morgue where these bottle were stored in a displayed manner.
The legend now proven has spawned such often re-experienced paranormal encounters as children being seen huddled under the morgue’s autopsy table pleading for help; the reoccurrence of a Baker patient who also served as a hospital assistant being seen in and around Room 419, better known as Theodora’s room; the early morning, loud squeaking of wheels in the third floor corridor accompanied by sightings of a nurse pushing a corpse-laden gurney down the hallway only to see it vanish into thin air; and the numerous “conversations” with former patients by way of responses via an EMF (electromagnetic field) ghost meter during paranormal investigations.
The interest in the paranormal aspect of the Crescent Hotel has drawn more than 15 national and international television production companies to visit this Historic Hotel of America and air ghostly episodes on the hotel. Two such notable programs are the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” and the Syfy channel’s “Ghost Hunters”. With the airing of each episode, ghost aficionados flock to Eureka Springs to see firsthand the hotel and now its bottle find. “Our numbers are growing exponentially,” Moyer added.
The best of the unearthed bottles is now back on display in the Crescent’s morgue. Both the morgue, complete with autopsy table, and a walk-in cooler where Baker stored cadavers and body parts are open for public viewing as part of the hotel’s nightly ghost tour. Even the burial site, the archeological dig locale, has been preserved and is open for viewing during the hotel’s VIP Ghost Tour.
To add to the enhanced paranormal interest during the month of October, hotel guests will also be able to take part in such extra resort offerings as “Flickering Tales”, a campfire circle where Ozark ghost stories are told under a nighttime sky; and a private paranormal panel entitled “Ghost Tour Guides: Their Inside Stories”, a forum where veteran Crescent Hotel ghost guides tell of their personal hair-raising encounters while touring the “Grand Ol’ Lady of The Ozarks”.