When most people think of haunted locations, they envision dilapidated houses or dusty, forgotten mental institutions. There are many other places that can be just as, if not more, active.
Haunted Nebraska: Hummel Park
Hummel Park looks like a nice, peaceful place to enjoy an afternoon walk. The area features hilly terrain that offers good hiking trails. This North Omaha, Nebraska landmark encompasses 202 acres of wooded space and was named after longtime Omaha Parks superintendent, J.B. Hummel.
The park also includes Cabanne’s Trading Post which was created in 1822 by the American Fur Company. It was originally named Fort Robidoux after the renowned trapper Joseph Robidoux.
Hummel Park has served as the setting for many rumors that circulate throughout the local community. These include tales of lynchings in the 1900s. Most do not have solid documentation to back them up, but there is at least one legend that was factually corroborated. This story involved a German immigrant named Jacob Clatanoff. He was an early settler in Omaha who setup close to Hummel Park’ current location.
Clatanoff was allegedly murdered by his wife who buried his body in the park. His wife mysteriously disappears from any archives after this incident. Many believe she probably left the area with another man.
There was another legend about a “Staircase to Hell” or “Morphing Stair” which was constructed during the Depression era. The stairs would allegedly have a different number of steps on the trip up than it did on the trip down. This is generally attributed to counting error since many people forget to count the first or last step.
Many also claim that the park’s eastern side contains a number of steep cliffs that earn it the name “Devil’s Slide.” They state that this is a popular place to commit suicide and that other areas are frequently dumping grounds for murder victims.
Paranormal Activity in Hummel Park
Many believe that the ghost of murdered Jacob Clatanoff still roams the park. Visitors sometimes report hearing strange sounds. While it’s difficult to identify footsteps or other “common” sounds that could come from regular people in the park, some report hearing distinct screams and cries.
The Paranormal Research and Investigative Studies Midwest (PRISM) investigated Hummel Park. The investigators believe that some of these sounds may come from the various murders committed in and around the park. One in particular involved prostitute Laura LaPointe. Four other prostitutes sexually assaulted and robbed LaPointe then beat her to death with a 6 foot long tree limb. She may be one of the spirits crying out from the shadows of the park.
PRISM also managed to investigate a recent murder but did not capture any EVP evidence at a time. It’s worth mentioning because most investigators are only able to explore incidents and locations that are old. The murder victim was 12 year-old Amber Marie Harris. She disappeared after getting off the bus at 5:41 pm on November 29th, 2005.
Her backpack was located on February 14th, 2006. It wasn’t until May 11th, 2006 that the girl’s remains were discovered inside Hummel Park, dumped in a shallow grave. Her killer was captured and her case closed, but it goes to show that the park is an appealing spot for those with ill intent.
PRISM’s appearance on NBC WOWT News in 2010
Hummel Park Today
It’s safe to say that many of the legends passed around about Hummel Park are likely little more than rumors that have been blown up over time. That being said, there are many reports of unexplained activity in the park. It’s difficult to know how many are misinterpretations or true experiences. PRISM’s Hummel Park page includes a number of comments from people who have been to the park and noticed strange things there.
Have you been to Hummel Park (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.