Is Vinton Train Depot Haunted?

Vinton Train Depot

This old Iowa train station may still house listless spirits, forever awaiting their train home

Paranormal Activity at
Vinton Train Depot

  • EMF Spikes are reported in the building
  • Sounds and lights of a passing train are heard when no train passes by
  • Shadow figures have been seen in the building
  • Visitors report being bitten by unseen forces
  • EVP and ITC communication has been reported in the depot
  • Objects and balls have been seen moving without known cause

A Time of Travel:
History of Vinton Train Depot

In the quiet community of Vinton, Iowa, passing freight trains are about the only thing that breaks the town’s calm air. And as those hulking engines roll through town, they pass right by the old town station: Vinton Train Depot. While it hasn’t been an active station for decades, you can still find much of the old station preserved.

Vinton Train Depot today is a well-restored museum, laid out as close to its original appearance as possible. You can even find telegraph keys still in place and mailbag hooks still at the ready to catch deliveries from passing trains.

Along with countless artifacts, the station may also harbor a few apparitions, waiting for their train to the afterlife.

Timeline of Vinton Train Depot's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Vinton Train Depot through the years

Being here at night, it is not hard to imagine a ghost train moving past this station


Vinton, Iowa, like many Midwestern towns, sprung to life in the 1800s as railroads breathed life into middle America. The railroad first reached the budding community of Vinton in 1869, and townsfolk went to work building infrastructure around it. The town’s first train station was a simple space, built into an old grain elevator store room.

This was quickly supplemented by a freight storehouse and other essential buildings. Unfortunately, these buildings were made of wood and eventually were consumed by fire over the ages.

Shingles from the original roof that were removed by a derecho that moved through the area


By the end of the century, the town resolved to build a new, fire-proof train station. Work began in 1899, and by 1900, the new Vinton Train Depot opened to passengers. The new building of brick and limestone promised a much more luxurious station experience than before.

Along with being fire-proof, the spacious station included separate waiting rooms for men and women, and modern amenities for the station workers. The station also included long roof overhangs to protect passengers from the elements.

Station masters would handle ticket and records for the train line


For almost 70 years, the Vinton Train Depot greeted passengers as they came and went on the town’s train line. Whether they were coming to stay or just passing by, Vinton Depot offered train travelers a prime opportunity to experience the warmth and culture of the small Iowa community.

But, by the 1950s, air travel was swiftly overtaking train travel. In no time, towns that were staples of train itineraries became part of broad swathes of ‘fly-over country.’ Vinton was no exception, leading to the Depot ending passenger service in 1967.

Old rail lamps sit, waiting for their former owners who may still haunt the build


In the 1970s, Vinton Depot became offices for the local farm implement company, Hawk Bilt. There was talk not long after of gutting the Depot to convert it to farm machine storage. Luckily, this idea was quashed before it could get off the ground.

Fears of gutting or demolition ended in 1990 when Vinton Train Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Under the Benton County Historical Society, the Depot quickly became a popular local resource.

memorabilia from the days the station spent in service are all on display


Over the years that followed, Vinton Train Depot became beloved in the community. Much of the building was restored to its early 1900s look, and filled with everything from historic artifacts to a model train track of Vinton. Today at the Depot, visitors can learn about how the railroads helped to build communities like Vinton.

But, the Depot is also known now as one of the town’s haunted places. Whether its shadow figures or strange sounds, some say spirits are still there waiting for their train to pull into the Vinton Depot station.

Is Vinton Train Depot Haunted?

Since ghost stories started leaking out of the Vinton Depot, people have wondered just where the spirits came from.

As such a busy travel hub for the community for many years, most figure the hauntings are residual leftovers from the station’s life.

Others, however, suggest a nearby murder may influence the activity. Just down the street, in 1925, a local temperance movement leader named Myrtle Cook was shot dead through her home’s front window.

Now, some say she lingers near the Depot in spirit.

Reminders of former importance line the walls of the old, haunted train station

Shadow Figures in the Station

Some of the more common claims of ghostly activity at Vinton Depot involve shadow figures. No one knows the identities of these mysterious figures, but many have spotted them lingering through the waiting rooms.

Oftentimes, a particular shadow figure is seen in the building, holding the hand of a smaller ghostly figure. Perhaps this is the residual energy of a mother and child waiting for their train. Or, could this be the specter of Myrtle Cook, helping another lost soul find their way?

Numerous people have reported seeing a ghost train on the tracks, being able to see the lights but the train never passing

Vinton’s Ghost Train

Another peculiar report claims visitors can see the lights and hear the sounds of a train that never comes. While freight train traffic still comes through town a few times a day and passes right by the Depot, some swear the sounds are paranormal.

These reports most often come at night, when the beams of train lights are much more visible. Both train lights and even the squeal of train brakes have been heard by visitors to the Depot, only for them to be shocked when no train roars by. This has led some to suggest a ghost train makes its way through Vinton at night.

Many investigators have noted receiving what sounds like telegraph signs on their EMF meters while in the train station

Speaking to Station Spirits

All of these claims and reports of activity have led many ghost hunters to the Vinton Depot in recent years. Strange sounds and voices are common claims in the station, with some investigators reporting they’ve captured EVPs there.

Other investigators have reportedly communicated with spirits via Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) methods, like spirit boxes and other specialized tools. In some instances, strange spikes on EMF detectors have been encountered in the Depot as well.

The original cash register from the station is still in tact thanks to the efforts of the Benton County Historical Society

The Depot’s Playful Phantoms

Ghost hunters have also seen objects move in the building. Most commonly, balls left on the floor will be rolled by unknown forces. Could this be the playful spirit of the child-like shadow figure that is sometimes seen here?

But, perhaps the most unique paranormal report from Vinton Depot is a spirit who likes to bite people. At least one visitor has reportedly felt the sensation of being bitten by someone who wasn’t there.

Rumors hold the old train station in town to be haunted by spirits from the town

Vinton, Iowa:
A Village of Hauntings

Vinton Train Depot isn’t the only well-known town haunt. Just around the corner from the Depot is Horridge House, a historical museum and archive that is also said to be haunted.

Visiting ghost hunters can book investigations at both the Vinton Train Depot and Horridge House through the Benton County Historical Society, and even investigate both in the same night! 

Vinton Train Depot’s Haunting Charm

While the main attractions of the Vinton Train Depot are its historic exhibits and its role in community gatherings, the former station makes time for its ghost stories.

Ghost hunters are welcome to visit and investigate the building today. It is just as easy as reaching out to the Benton County Historical Society’s Facebook page for paranormal tours, or getting in touch with them via email.

Once the lifeblood of Vinton Iowa, the train depot is now a museum

While passenger trains have long since forgotten the Vinton Train Depot, it seems a few phantom passengers haven’t.

Perhaps they missed the last train out, and remain there forever. Or, maybe, they’re just waiting for the right train to rumble by, so they can hop on and hitch a ride to their next haunt.