In the fall of 2008, I was eating out with two friends, and the subject of ghosts came up. “Brad” mentioned a nature reserve some miles from town called Gitchie-Manitou, in northwest Iowa. A few miles to the north is the Minnesota border, and you hit South Dakota if you go a little ways west. According to Brad, he’d gone there some time before with another group of friends, and was attacked by some evil force.
Gitchie-Manitou Reserve is of historical significance because it’s believed to be an ancient Native American burial ground. Additionally, four teenagers were viciously attacked and murdered there by a pair of brothers in the 1970s. Also in the ’70s, a young person claimed to have seen an “alien” at this place. So all in all, Gitchie seems to be a hotbed of paranormal occurrences.
Brad agreed to take me and our friend “Joe” to the nature reserve that night, to see if we could experience this ghost or whatever it was again. By the time we arrived, the sun was set, and we made the mistake of forgetting flashlights; therefore, the light from our cellphones held open would have to do.
Gitchie’s entrance consisted of a small dirt parking lot in an isolated area. Large boulders marked the boundary of the parking lot, and to the west lay the nature reserve. We got out of the car, held our phones open, and walked onto a narrow path. To the right was a corn field, and on the left were some trees and we passed one or two small ponds.
Our destination was the woods, where there was a small stone house-like structure partially covered with earth, like the old dug-out houses early settlers would build. At that spot, the brothers had first attacked their victims, shooting and killing the first victim at the opening of the dugout.
The closer we got to the woods, the more nervous Brad and Joe became (I’d never been there before). They felt cold, and Joe said he felt really sad. I was anxious, but not cold. We had to keep re-opening our phones as the lights went out, and they provided just enough light to see by.
After what seemed like ten minutes, we got to the woods, and entered. Just to the north, we found the dugout. This was where the first murder occurred, and I became frightened. Brad and Joe began freaking out, saying they sensed the presence of this evil “thing” and that it did not want us there.
So, we turned around to leave. Brad became disoriented and began wandering the wrong way, deeper into the woods, muttering the whole time. We had to tell him to turn around and follow us back out. A short distance outside the woods, Joe and I both heard drumbeats. It was eerie, and I couldn’t tell where they were coming from. They weren’t loud, it was actually a faint sound.
Brad and Joe said they sensed it following us back down the trail, and Joe saw it standing near a tree to our left, and once again as we passed one of the ponds on our right. He cautioned me not to look at it, and said it was a tall, black figure. Brad continued to mutter gibberish, and Joe began coughing and seemed to grow weak. They believed this thing was “attacking” them. At one point, the high grass just by my feet on the right side of the path swished loudly and visibly, and at that point I was quite scared.
Finally, we arrived at the parking area, and got in the car and left. It seemed to have taken us twice as long to walk back to the car as it had taken to walk the same path from the car to the woods. Afterwards, we talked about what that thing could have been. Was it an ancient spirit, or was it the lingering evil of the killings that happened at Gitchie? We agreed that either way, the murders didn’t help matters. Our greatest worry was that it would follow us, and I felt like I was being watched for a couple nights afterwards.
I don’t know why it never did anything to me, as it seemed to attack Brad and Joe. Both of them are rather sensitive, and have seen spirits before. Joe is of Native American background, and spirits are a very real part of his religion. Joe also belongs to a ghost hunting group, and has encountered spirits in places the group has gone. I never saw anything, never felt cold… the only signs I had were the faint drumbeats and the grass swooshing near the path, which admittedly could have been an animal hiding that we scared off. I’ve never been back to Gitchie since, and I still wonder just what that being is that “haunts” the nature reserve.