ghost tours of Lincoln

The Temple Building at City Campus on the corner of 12th and R streets on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

With its quaint Midwest charm and vibrant college town ambiance, Lincoln doesn’t necessarily seem like a city full of haunted locations. However, the familiar narrow city streets and pleasant neighborhoods sport a variety of urban legends that declare something paranormal may be going on within this unassuming Midwestern city. For Scott Colborn of The Ghosts of Lincoln Bus Tours, the variety of history and rumors of paranormal sightings are the bread and butter of the popular seasonal excursions. 

21 years ago, Scott and an old friend of his, Dale Bacon, started The Ghosts of Lincoln Tours with one car and a whole lot of information on the history of Lincoln and the paranormal. While the expeditions now feature 19 buses, dozens of passengers and even more knowledge, the heart of the tours remain focused on family fun and finding the difference between sensationalized horror and genuine paranormal experiences. 

“On the tour, we explore the stark difference between Hollywood horror and the real paranormal,” Scott said. “We’ve all grown up with this myth of the paranormal being this evil scary bad thing, and a lot of this is fostered by movie culture. The real paranormal is nothing scary at all.” 

As of now, The Ghosts of Lincoln Bus Tours are led by Scott, who acts as a tour guide, and his daughter Melissa Colborn, who acts as a logistics manager and greeter. According to Colborn, Melissa has been riding with him on these tours since she was nine years old. As an adult, she has become an integral part of the day-to-day minutiae of the tours, regularly acting as a navigator as well as second in command to Scott. 

“It’s been really cool seeing all the new faces and all the returning faces,” Melissa said. “Especially with this being our 21st year, it’s just amazing that I'm able to be apart of this. It’s been a really awesome experience, and it’s definitely brought me closer to my father as well.”

Currently, The Ghosts of Lincoln Bus Tours run three to four times a week throughout October, and feature around 40 stops over the course of three hours. The departures begin at the Indian Village Shopping Center on 13th & Arapahoe at 7 p.m. There is a brief stop at about 8:20 p.m. at Raising Cane’s to provide passengers time to eat and use the restroom, before leaving for the second half of the tour that lasts till 10:20 p.m. Tickets range anywhere from $14.20 to $25 and can be found at The Ghosts of Lincoln website.

According to Scott, many people that have taken the tour are surprised by how uplifting the tours are. While there are many claims of strange and unexplainable experiences at some of the sites, the main focus of the tours is that both Scott and Melissa create an environment centered around concepts of love and humanity. 

“The second theme we explore is that love knows no boundaries, and that the bond between those that we love remains the same despite physical death,” Scott said. “Nothing can break that tether of love. We always have access to them, and they have access to us through that tether.” 

As far as the future of The Ghosts of Lincoln Bus Tours, both father and daughter share high hopes for the development of the bus tours. According to Melissa, there are plans to change the logistics of the websites and ideas of creating soft openings for the ghost tours in upcoming years. 

“I am very excited to see this community grow,” Melissa said. “It’s been a really fun conversation starter in and around me and also with friends and family. I’m hoping to expand this community even more because we have people, not only from Lincoln, but coming in from Auburn and Harding to come and be on these tours and I’m appreciative that word has gotten that far.” 

If one does happen to be haunted by something a bit more paranormal than a store-bought costume this Halloween season, both Colborns recommend going about your business and enjoying the company — because the supernatural spectres probably aren’t as terrifying as Hollywood would like you to believe. 

“I think that the paranormal has a divinely inspired energy behind it,” Scott said. “Because people experience something that causes them to change and to reflect, to reconsider, and in doing so it may not solve the actual mystery, but they end up learning a lot more about themselves and about the reasons that they are here.”