‘Voices of the Past’ offers candlelight tours at Buffalo Bill Ranch

Jamie, a local actress, playing the role of Louisa Cody, is bathed in a red light Friday as she sits in a bedroom in the mansion on the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park during the opening night of the “Voices of the Past” candelight tour.

The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park has its share of ghost stories and most everyone likes to hear them.

Experiencing them firsthand is a different story, however.

A staff member encountered one earlier this week as he was the lone person at the mansion late at night. He could hear a little boy’s voice calling out — “Mama!” — coming from the upper floor. He sprinted out onto the porch to take a look around but his car was the only one on the property.

A paranormal experience? Perhaps.

But it set the tone for the “Voices of the Past” candlelight tours that began Friday night and will continue tonight and Oct. 11-12.

Guests tour the Cody mansion, with lighting and voice-overs conducted by RA Productions that add to the atmosphere.

A few bumps, coming from outside or from other rooms of the house, adds to the mystique. That includes a rocking chair in Buffalo Bill Cody’s sitting room that was moving by itself at a steady pace.

Staff members say there is truth behind the chair movement, however.

“We have interesting visitors here,” tour guide Lois Lynes-Miles said. “We still keep the (tour) historically accurate but part of the idea for doing this came from or experiencing some of these (stories).”

“(The chair) got a little bit of a push tonight but I have been in this house by myself after the ranch has closed and that chair rocks,” Lynes-Miles said. “Very much so.”

During the tour, Lynes-Miles described Cody’s wife, Louisa, as an, “interesting and unique woman.” Louisa was an accomplished seamstress but also liked to conduct séances and also use a Ouija board to communicate with her dead children.

Actors and actresses played the roles of some of the characters in the Cody folklore, including Louisa. As guests walked into her room, they were greeted by the sight of the actress sitting in a chair in the corner of the room and bathed in red light. The actress got up at one point, took a few steps and then reached for the Ouija board which was just a few feet away from her.

Just down the hall in the Cody nursery, another actress sat in the dark cradling a doll as a somewhat haunting version of, “Rock-a-Bye Baby” kicked in over the sound system.

The tours begin at 7 p.m. and run every half-hour through 10 p.m. on all four days.

Each tour will be limited to a dozen people. Admission is $5 and includes hot chocolate and cookies at the end of the tour. Nebraska park permits are required on all vehicles and can be purchased on site.

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