September is here, and that means apple cider donuts, falling leaves, back-to-school, and FOOTBALL season. There is nothing like getting dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, going to the local high school or college stadium, watching football, or watching the ghosts watching football.
An October 2020 ESPN article called “Seven of the most haunted venues in sports” lists Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, as their number one haunted venue. So, what’s so special about Camp Randall Stadium?
Well, way before it became a football stadium, Camp Randall served as a barracks and training ground for Union soldiers. The camp was named after the state’s governor, Alexander Randall, a fierce abolitionist. The camp was created to house Union soldiers and prepare them for war, but following a major Union victory, Camp Randall became a makeshift prisoner-of-war camp, too.
This is from the ESPN article, “To say the facility was ill-prepared for the sheer volume of soldiers would be an understatement. Within weeks, viruses and illness spread rapidly through the camp. By June, all of the remaining prisoners were moved to other locations due to the inadequate and unsuitable conditions. Ultimately, 140 men died on-site during the camp’s brief existence as a prison. They were interred in a mass grave nearby.”
War and mass graves are never a good thing.
In a Fanbuzz.com article, Mike Huberty, the founder of American Ghosts Walks and host of “The Other Side” podcast stated, “It was not a happy place to be. And so that’s why at Camp Randall and around the area, people have said they’ve seen spirits of Confederate soldiers.”
Huberty continued, “Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to a guy who has lived in Madison a long time and is the head of security at a factory. He said one of his security officers came up to him and said, ‘You’re not going to believe it. I saw a Confederate soldier walk through the room. And when I chased after it, there was nobody there.’ He couldn’t believe it and thought it was crazy because he wasn’t familiar with the history, but these are the types of stories you hear.”
An article on the website American Ghost Walks.com by Kristen Winiarski cites some more information about the unhappy stadium. “While waiting on a grant for a steel and concrete stadium, there were some issues with the existing wooden bleachers. They collapsed during a game in 1915, and then some of the remaining wooden seats burned down in 1922.
“In addition to that, an even worse event happened on July 2, 1982, in the form of an unsolved murder. There was a student named Donna Mraz who was stabbed to death in front of Camp Randall Stadium. While they originally thought it was connected to a spree of serial killings that had been happening in the area over 14 years, it was later ruled as unrelated.”
The ESPN article states, “Built in 1917, Camp Randall Stadium has been hosting football games for over 100 years, but fans and area residents are unable to forget its history. Tailgaters have described seeing spirits ahead of games, and they reportedly are usually seen wearing their uniforms — as well as various slings and bandages — and wandering in and out of the stadium, seemingly oblivious to the thousands of rowdy fans.”
Rowdy fans or Confederate soldier ghosts – which is more frightening?
Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Library – https://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/NWSV27I7MSLGE8Q