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12 Ghostly Stories and Mysterious Urban Legends from Arkansas

Updated September 23, 2021 100.8k views12 items

Arkansas is full of spooky urban legends, with more than its fair share of ghosts and creature sightings. It’s a state rich with dark history, lonely small towns, and dense woods, making it the ideal environment for the birth of many myths. The Boggy Creek monster originated here, as did the famous White River Monster. 

Arkansas shares the town of Texarkana with the state of Texas, which means it also shares the stomping grounds of the Phantom Killer. The film The Town That Dreaded Sundown was based on the real-life “Texarkana Moonlight Murders” that began in 1946 and remain unsolved to this very day. Collected in this list are some creepy Arkansas tales of eerie ghosts, mysterious creatures, and terrifying killers that have inspired campfire tales for generations.

  • A Grieving Mother Haunts the Wolf Bayou Bridge

    Photo: fallsroad / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The original bridge was replaced in 2005, but the spirit of Mama Lou still haunts the waters of Faulkner Lake in Pulaski County. According to legend, a woman drove her car off the bridge with her newborn in the car and they both died. Rumor has it that if you go there at night and call out to the spirit, “Mama Lou, I’ve got your baby!” three times, she’ll appear to you.

    Stories of what happens next vary. The original story says she’ll grab you by the leg and pull you down into the water with her – but there are no reports of this actually happening. Some people claim to have seen Mama Lou's body floating up from the water, while others have reported mysteriously having car problems after calling out to her.

  • A Murdered Railway Worker Appears as the Gurdon Ghost Light

    Photo: Electroburger / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    The “Gurdon Ghost Light” is an ongoing phenomenon that’s been photographed, documented, and was even featured on Unsolved Mysteries in 1994. The light certainly exist - the question is, what is it? There are several legends and theories told by locals, but the most popular legend is that it’s the ghost of a railway worker because the light moves the way a railway worker carrying a lantern would move. There’s also a little bit of history backing this up. 

    In 1931, a Missouri-Pacific railway foremen named William McClain fired one of his workers, Louie McBryde, for causing a train derailment. McBride didn’t take this very well: he beat his former boss, and then killed him with a pick-ax and left his body along the side of the tracks. McBride later confessed to the murder and was executed. Right after the murder is when the mysterious "Gurdon Light," began appearing to people. Many believe it's Will McClain haunting the tracks. 

  • The Elusive White River Monster Is Protected by State Law

    Photo: texas_mustang / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Newport, Arkansas, was booming with monster sightings along the White River from 1915 until about 1924. Locals called the snake-like creature “Whitey." It was allegedly about 30 feet long, with a spiny backbone. Whitey had a tendency to hang out for around 10 minutes on the surface making bellowing sounds before returning to the depths.

    Whitey took a bit of a hiatus sometime in 1924, with the exception of a few random sighting here and there, he didn’t really resurface until 1937. This resurgence prompted locals to try capturing him with nets - they even went out on scuba diving missions, but failed to capture this elusive creature of legend. 

    All this hunting only made Whitey take off again - there wasn’t another sighting until 1971. One grainy black and white photo (with no discernible monster in sight) taken by Cloyce Warren is the only “hard evidence” that Whitey even exists. Arkansas State legislators took the photo as proof enough. Senator Robert Harvey created the White River Monster Refuge, which extends along the White River in the area running adjacent to the Jacksonport State Park. Arkansas legislators even passed a law making it illegal to "molest, kill, trample, or harm the White River Monster while he is on the retreat."

  • The Old Arsenal Tower Building Is Haunted By Many Ghosts, Not All of Them Harmless

    The Old Arsenal Tower Building is widely known for being extremely haunted. There has been everything from disembodied voices and laughter to phantom music to full-body apparitions, not to mention a few too many shadows dancing along its walls. The sensation of being in Old Arsenal goes beyond that eerie feeling of being watched: here, many people have gotten the vibe that they were not wanted on the property. A very domineering and dangerous presence guards the building.

    The second floor of the tower used to serve as a theater and an employee reported a man in a dark uniform lounging across the chairs around closing time. She went to get someone else to help wake and remove the unwanted guest. When the two returned, her co-worker gently touched the man and they both watched in horror as he completely disintegrated in front of them. There are two soldiers at constant battle with one another in the basement, and a semi-transparent man that hangs out on the staircase randomly throwing things at people. He’s never actually hit anyone directly - he likes to make objects whiz by, just narrowly missing people.