About an hour away from Dubuque, IA is the small village of Strawberry Point. On the outskirts of this town is a small park, called Mossy Glen. Mossy Glen is reported to be one of the most haunted locations in Iowa. Rumored to have no less than five noted ghosts its history is full of murder and deceit.

Missy pulled into a wide and well kept farm lane. Up on an ATV came a young man in his early twenties. Smiling big (no doubt the pretty blond at the wheel brightened his day) he welcomed us and asked if he could be of help.

We all leaned forward in our seats toward the rolled down window and his smiling face. Missy smiled back and said “We’re lost. Looking for the road to Mossy Glen.”

I don’t think that I ever saw a face drop from a big toothy smile to a look of sheer horror in a split second. It was the look in his eyes that chilled a body most.

“You know it’s haunted.” He said barely under his breath.

“Yea,” Dee piped up. “That’s why we want to go there.”

He shook his head and told Melissa the route to take. It wasn’t marked at all, a person had to know what lane to take. Adding he would call his friend and tell him and his family that we were coming to Mossy Glen, whose farm bordered the park, so that someone would know we were there and to make sure we could get help if needed.

We thanked him for his kindness. He stood still watching us drive out of his lane. The car happily began kicking up dust on the gravel road as we headed for the turnoff not too far from where we had met the young man. The way to the park was almost hidden between rows of tall corn and weeds. Soon we were passing a nice big farm house and on the lawn stood a young man about twenty or so and his parents. The three simply stood waiting to watch us pass, almost like how one stops and watch the funeral procession go by as a child, very serious and very solemn. Honestly it added to our excitement. We figured that it must be strange for people to drive a good way to go to a very small and isolated park.

The road became narrow and rutted, so rutted that we had to stop at the top of a hill. There was no way that the little four wheel drive SUV could travel the ruts, they were a good foot deep and the dirt was baked hard from the summer’s sun. We did not want to lose an axle or snap a tie-rod so it was on foot that we journeyed to the park, taking cameras and meters since we didn’t know what awaited us down the steep hill and around the bend. We figured it was better to travel light – after all it’s hard to run uphill with a ton of equipment.

At the bottom of the hill was tiny turn around with a small blue kiddy wadding pool in the middle. The road had been lined with barbed wire and we couldn’t believe that we must have walked right pass the entrance to the park. The pool had a rancid smell and contained parts and pieces of animals. One could barely make out hooves of deer, a raccoon’s striped tail and different colors of fur in the slimy lime mixture. Someone was disposing of carcasses, probably the Park Ranger. Perhaps the animals had died from a flash flood, it would explain the deep ruts. Life does go on, we could hear the mooing of cows in the pasture beyond the wire.

Shaking off the stench and creepy feelings of the pool we headed back up the hill, the sun was bright and helped, on the left was the entrance. It had a lovely wooden sign that said, Mossy Glen Park.

The drive to Mossy Glen didn’t seem to take long as the four of us, Missy, Dee, Leah and myself talked and theorized about the spirits we were hoping to find:
o A man who committed suicide by jumping in a sinkhole
o A peddler who had been robbed, murdered and decapitated and left in a cave
o A lawyer, who was suspected of murdering his wife, who along with his horse and buggy disappeared into the glen never to return
o Lucinda who had leapt to her death at Mossy Glen
o Pearl Shine, a hillbilly vixen who hid in the glen with her lover after murdering her third husband

Once on the other side of town we followed the back gravel roads. Melissa at the wheel, I with the directions off the internet we traveled back and forth, not finding the turnoff to the park. Dee and Leah in the back seat kept watch for any signs, but we just couldn’t find any. Something was not right with the internet directions they didn’t seem to match up with the dusty county roads. We needed help.

Following a hard dirt trail we walked down deep into the valley, trying hard to keep our balance. The air was heavy and still. I don’t think I was ever in a place that was so shadowed, yet so open. It felt eerie and dead. Though there was vegetation is was thin and stunted. And the quiet was so loud, no insect or birds noises. Whatever was there did not want us there, you could feel it.

Trying to break up the mood, we talked it over and figured we had to be on our guard, not so much for ghosts, but for the guy we had met. We wouldn’t be surprised if he and his friend where to do something to scare us. Farm boys can be very mischievous.

The glen had a stream that curved and winded along the floor of the valley. A huge tree truck lay across it. Dee and Missy headed over the natural bridge and disappeared out of sight. Leah and I were left to investigate the north side of the park.

Leah and I both noticed there were no visible animal tracks, not even near the stream. No insects either were around us, usually gnats and flies always buzzed about. We couldn’t hear or see any squirrels in the trees, and the trees were so still. No rustling of leaves, just silence. I never realized how quiet silence could be.

Walking along the floor of the glen following the stream we came suddenly across tracks, not deer or raccoon or snake, but horse. The thought of the lawyer who disappeared with his horse and buggy came to mind, but we reasoned it had to be the Park Ranger when he was collecting all the deceased creatures for the pool.

Least wise that was what we talked about as dampness was beginning to cling on one’s skin. It felt cold and one could sense that maybe one should not be here in the park. There are very few places where I can say I did not feel welcomed and here was one of them.

Time seemed to stand still in the quite valley. It even seemed out of place to speak, so we eventually stop talking and simply walked between the spare and stunted blades of grass.

"Linda”, the sound of my name being called in the distance broke the silence like a hammer. Leah and I froze to listen, to figure out who and where the voice was coming from. It was a woman’s voice that was clear, so it had to be Dee or Missy, after all who would know my name. “Linda” again echoed, seemly bouncing off the sides of the valley. Both Leah and I yelled back “We are here!”
We made our way back to the log bridge, and waited for the gals to return. Twenty, thirty minutes passed before we saw two blonde heads come bouncing through the maze of tree branches. The gals came bounding over the bridge, they were out of breath and excited. “We heard you call, what’s up?”

“We didn’t call you, you called us and we answered," I said. Looking at their perplexed expressions on their faces I knew they didn’t call my name.

Leah chimed in, “You were yelling Linda, I heard you.”

“We never yelled anything we heard you screaming ‘we’re here’ and thought you were in trouble or found something.” The four of us just stared at each other, each determining if the others were fibbing. One could tell by the looks on each of our faces no one was.

“Lucinda," I muttered under my breath, “Had to be the name called, not Linda.” A cold chill went through me. The names sounded so similar that they could so easily be mistaken for each other. She was a girl who had reportedly killed herself for a lost love. Was she calling to let her fellow know she was still there waiting or claiming her space and letting us know we were trespassing? Or was it another spirit searching for the lost soul of Lucinda?

“It’s late and I don’t want to drive back in the dark.” That statement by Missy was agreed to by all in a heartbeat. The climb up the steep hill was slippery with what grass there was and it was slow travel. It had been wise to bring only basic equipment. That way both the equipment and us made it out safely and in one piece.

Trudging up the rutted path to the SUV, we all watched the woods that surrounded the glen. The other side of the road was open pasture and corn fields, such a contrast. The one side of the road ominous and foreboding with the dark shadows of the sparse trees and bushes that lined the rim of the park, the other open and filled with fading sunlight and the gentle mooing of cows. Who would have guessed that the sounds of cattle would bring comfort to a city girl, but they did.

Mossy Glen Park was a place where the imagination and primeval dread go hand and hand.