Cedar Falls Ghost Tours ring in spooky season

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TALIYA JAMES, Staff Writer

As the fall season approaches, horror lovers have a chance to learn more about the haunted history of Cedar Falls. Lauren Riensche offers historical ghost tours around the Main Street area throughout the month of October. 

Riensche moved back to Cedar Falls after living outside of Iowa for ten years right before the pandemic. She was working from home in a constant routine, but after a year she realized it wasn’t something she wanted to do all the time. “I love to travel, and whenever I travel, I love to take ghost tours,” she said. “It’s such a good combination of history and mystery.” She then started doing some of her own research to create the Cedar Falls Ghost Tours. 

Some stories she tells on the tour start with history and others start with ghost stories. “I think that history is a very important component….so I would say the tours are 75 percent history and 25 percent ghost stories.” 

When Riensche started the project, she walked up and down Main Street to ask  for the history of the area and some spooky stories. She learned the “architecture of the buildings, who built the buildings, and everything in between.” She then got in contact with the Cedar Falls Historical Society to fill in some of the gaps and learn more, which is why she donates 10% of the tour proceeds to them. She gathered research from March of 2021 all the way up to days before the first tour in October of 2021. 

The project has been self-funded since the beginning. “My investments were largely in research…and the other big budget item was advertising,” she said. She bought books and online archive subscriptions to dive deep on the history of Cedar Falls and the area around it, and then spent time advertising with posters, digital marketing and spreading the word. “It ended up being extremely successful,” she said. 

She sells tickets on Eventbrite. “I looked up the investment of starting up a website for the tour verses using a platform, and it made more sense to use a platform.” It made more sense for her to use the platform since the event is only a once a year event with six tours being offered this year. “I use my own marketing skills from my own career in marketing and advertising to utilize social platforms…to promote the event.” Although tickets for this year are sold out, they were sold at $20 a piece.  

“Last year, the tickets sold out in 72 hours, which blew me away…and this year I sold out more tours in 36 hours,” Riensche said. She does have a waitlist available for the next available tour spots.

She runs the project by herself as of right now. “I started doing this as a passion project. I love storytelling…and so for me, I’m not the most interested in scaling at this time…perhaps in the future, I might turn all the stories into a book.” She enjoys giving the tours in person and plans to keep it self-run for a while. 

If people are interested in the tours, the best place to stay up-to-date is the “Cedar Falls Ghost Tours” page on Instagram and Facebook. Or people are welcome to submit stories or book a private tour by sending a note to [email protected] “I love to hear feedback and other people’s spooky stories. I will definitely continue collecting more of the community’s history and spooky stories,” she said.