There are rumors of ghosts in an area of Fort Leonard Wood thanks to a local legend.

A fantastic story that has apparently circulated among certain military personnel stationed at Fort Leonard Wood over the years holds that the Bloodland area south of the sprawling army post’s main complex is haunted by ghosts. The story traces its origin to an incident that occurred shortly after the fort was completed in the early 1940s when a soldier got drunk and passed out on guard duty near Bloodland. At his trial by court martial, the solider explained his intoxication by claiming he had heard strange noises and, upon going to investigate, had been kidnapped by ghosts and forced to drink hard cider through a straw. Military officials didn’t buy the soldier’s tall tale, and he was sentenced to a year in prison. Subsequently, however, other soldiers reported being taken hostage in similar fashion, and in each case the kidnapping was attributed to the ghosts of former residents of the small community of Bloodland who, upset over being forced off their land when the fort was constructed, still haunted the area.

I don't lend much credence to tales of paranormal phenomena in general, and I place even less stock in this one. Bloodland, of course, was only one of several small communities that were wiped off the face of the Pulaski County map when Fort Leonard Wood was built, but it was the largest. Located about fifteen miles south of Waynesville on old Highway 17, Bloodland boasted a high school, two general stores, three filling stations, a post office, a couple of churches, and a population of about 100 people at the time the army announced plans to build the fort. While it's true that many of the people who had to leave land they had lived on all their lives were initially upset about moving, most quickly accepted it as their small patriotic contribution to winning World War II, which started only a few months later. As a lady whose family was displaced by Fort Leonard Wood told me several years ago when I wrote an article for The Ozarks Mountaineer about construction of the fort, "Everybody knew we had a war to win, and once they accepted it, everybody got behind it."

My parents seemed to exemplify the same sentiment. They were two of the people who had to leave Bloodland because of the fort. In fact, my father’s family had lived in the area a hundred years or more. But I never heard my parents complain about having to leave. So, I don't think there are any ghosts haunting Bloodland, although visiting the cemetery there, where my grandparents are buried and which is about the only still-visible sign that the community ever existed, can be a bit eerie. And when I took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood during the Vietnam era, I always viewed the entire training area, including Bloodland, with some apprehension, but it had nothing to do with ghosts.



Larry Wood is a freelance writer specializing in the history of Missouri and the Ozarks. You may contact him at or like his author Facebook page at