Dale Bacon Ghosts
Dale Bacon tells ghost stories on a “Ghost of Lincoln” bus tour in 2008. (Micah Mertes/Journal Star file photo) MICAH MERTES

Dale Bacon has hosted the popular Ghosts of Lincoln bus tours for nearly two decades, taking folks on dozens of treks through ectoplasm-laden Lincoln every October.

He's been collecting stories of the supernatural for twice as long. While a college student, he encountered his first ghost, and a paranormal raconteur was born.

But the bus tours won't go on forever, and Bacon wanted to put the tales he's collected over the years into a more permanent format. He decided on a DVD documentary.

It's called "A Haunted History of Lincoln: The Capitol City" and includes tales told on many a bus trip. Stories like that of the State Capitol, the Cold Spot at 20th & Washington streets, the Lake Street area, "Bloody" Mary, the Starship Theater, Raymond Hall. And this is only Volume 1 in what he plans on being a four-volume series.

LJS: What made you decide to make the movie?

Bacon: The tours are fun, but they're problematic. I'm trying to get used to the idea of not doing them anymore. So I started getting the stories into a format that will outlive me. The first video is a series of ghost stories in Lincoln. The second, which I'll start working on Nov. 1, will focus more on Nebraska-related ghost stories, things people haven't heard on the tours.

LJS: Did you use past stories for the video, or did you solicit new ones?

Bacon: I'm always coming up with new ones. Every year new ones crop up. But the first DVD is a collection of my favorites. These a lot of people will have heard.

LJS: Most people try to make ghost stories scary. You don't.

Bacon: I report them the way I hear them. And they're not really scary for the most part. It's usually not until after the fact that people get scared about these things. We're so ingrained with television and Hollywood and books and what have you that these things are just scary and horrible and there's always got to be some tragic death involved. In reality, this is not necessarily true.

LJS: Why do ghost stories have such a universal appeal?

Bacon: It's because it's the one commonality that every human being is going to experience. We're all going to die at some point. What happens after and questions of the afterlife challenge us all.

LJS: Are there any stories you've heard that are just too dubious to include in the tours?

Bacon: There are several I don't talk about because I don't have enough information to make it an interesting story. When I used to go to people's houses on a pretty regular basis, I'd go to a number of places where after about 20 minutes I determined it's not a haunting this family has to be worried about. This is a situation where the family needs counseling. You can blame it on ghosts if you want. No, I go after the stories that have some meat and potatoes on them.

LJS: You think there's a misconception of how people deal with the supernatural, that they're evil, harmful, etc. Is it frustrating to see ghosts misrepresented?

Bacon: It used to bother me a lot. When I first started doing this, I went in as a knight in shining armor. I'm going to go out there and let the world know the truth. But the competition ... People are so conditioned to believe what they see in the movies. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped trying.

LJS: Is there such a thing as a harmful, malevolent spiritual world?

Bacon: Oh, absolutely. There are evil people on the planet. When they die, if indeed some of their energy is left behind as ghostly phenomena, why should it not be nasty anymore? I don't encounter that, but I'm sure it's there. But most ghostly encounters are really quite passive, pretty laid back, and some of them are just downright fun.

Reach Micah Mertes at 473-7395 or mmertes@journalstar.com.

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