Tracking spirits

La Grange Ghost Tours
back by popular demand

Some residents say
they have experienced strange things

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. – Norma Jean Burley is startled by things that go bump in the night. And she should be. Her restaurant building, Norma Jean’s, is supposedly haunted, as are many of the buildings that line La Grange’s historic downtown district. The previous owner had told Burley a little about its history, and then she experienced paranormal happenings herself.

Norma Jean

Photo by Cassandra Trueblood

Norma Jean stands in front her restaurant,
one of many buildings in La Grange
that is allegedly haunted.

Burley purchased the former business known as Kaelin’s Trackside Restaurant in fall 2005. She learned not long thereafter that people had reported bazaar incidents happening there.
She didn’t think much about this until one night at closing time. She was sitting facing her kitchen door with no one else in the room but one waitress. Suddenly, the kitchen door swung open and a cold breeze wafted into the room.
Burley and the waitress looked at each other, held on to one another, and then ran out of the building. The waitress’s husband came back later, but could find nothing amiss.
Burley and her husband, John, have recorded such stories for the third annual Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours. Held every Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., this 1 1/2 hour guided tour will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 28.
Tickets are $12 and reservations are required. Tour size is limited to 20 participants and will begin at the Oldham County History Center located at 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange.
“It’s a fun thing to do in the fall,” said Discover Downtown La Grange Executive Director and Tourism Commission Director Keli Quinn. Many couples pick an evening to spend in Oldham County and have dinner while they’re in town.
There’s even a waiting list because “we’ve been swamped with calls in previous years,” said Quinn. “We’ve gotten a lot of response outside of the county.”
The Bank of Oldham County and Metro Mobility of La Grange are co-sponsors of this event. Proceeds go to the Discover Downtown La Grange Facade Grant Program.
The tour consists of seven allegedly haunted locations, and participants will have the chance to “go into at least two locations where paranormal activity has been documented by researchers,” said Quinn.
Burley had heard about the tours last year and wanted to become involved. Her restaurant will be open and serving a meal while the tour is being conducted.
Burley and her husband live in an apartment over the restaurant but have never experienced anything out of the ordinary upstairs. But the previous chef lived there, and his son supposedly experienced things all of the time, said Burley. The little boy would fall asleep, wake up feeling cold and see images walking past him.
Burley said she doesn’t think its unusual to experience such paranormal activity in La Grange when considering the fact that many Civil War soldiers camped out on the Oldham County Courthouse lawn. These soldiers temporarily rested and ate there before moving on to their next battle. And naturally, many died there as well.
She refers to her ghost as “Pete” and said there was a man by this name who was either killed or hung himself in her building.

• To register for the Ghost Tours, call (502) 269-0356.

Back to September 2006 Articles.



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