Leaving Kansas City

12th Street Bridge Kansas City

Certainly an odd choice for a final Kansas City tour doodlewash, but this is the Twelfth Street Bridge in the Historic West Bottoms District, and one of the more interesting ways to exit the city. This time of year, it’s a sort of nerve center for commercial haunted houses and just on the other side you’ll find, the Edge of Hell which opened in 1975, and is cited as the first, large-scale haunted house in America!

For years Kansas City, Missouri, sought solutions to connect the commercial and business district on the edge of the bluffs with the industrial district 200 feet below where wholesale houses, rail yards, and stockyards are located on the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. The bridge was built to realize that dream, but most of my life it’s always reminded me of haunted houses.

The first time I was actually able to go to one was in high school and I was really excited and more than a little terrified to go. One of the first rules when attending a haunted house is to be sure that you’re going with close friends. By this I mean friends that won’t look at you strange the next day when you’ve just spent an entire evening frantically feeling them up in the dark.

The first stop was the legendary Edge of Hell and I was immediately impressed by the elaborate sets, makeup and costumes. Though it’s less like entering a haunted house than unwittingly winning a walk-on role in the next big teen slasher movie only to realize you weren’t given a script. By the time you survive your way to the 3-story circular slide at the end, you’re both exhausted and exhilarated. It was a blast!

Years later, I would finally get my chance for payback when I was cast as a ghoul in a new haunted house to be staged in the catacombs of the downtown Midland Theatre, built in 1927. I was what they called a “floater” which is someone who isn’t in a single scene, but allowed to roam freely scaring people as they wander through.

The tour began through a door in the men’s restroom, just to the left of a urinal which had been disturbingly transformed into a crime scene. This alone should have been my first clue to the real horrors that lay ahead with this job, but I took it in stride and was determined to do my best. I donned my black cape and skeleton face makeup and set out to hide in the labyrinth ahead.

I won’t got into the gory details of the night, but it was a long evening that held little satisfaction for my budding acting dreams. The only other ghoul who was nice to me was the singing headless girl who had become my “friend” for the evening. She had an amazing singing voice until she would suddenly stop and scream in your face, something which she never did to me, which was why I liked her.  Shame I never saw her face.

But as we bid farewell to the official Kansas City tour, I have to admit that it’s been a learning experience for me as well. I didn’t know many of these facts before reporting them here and the stories these doodlewashes inspired were memories I’d almost forgotten. I love this city. Whether it’s awesome barbeque or headless singing women, there’s always something new to discover, and love!

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
37 Comments
  1. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Your bridge is a bit spooky and of course a great drawing. Thank you for all of the ghoulish details of the area. Your ghoul debut sounded fun any plans for a remake for this Halloween? Have a nice evening.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! 😃Yeah…I ended up making the doodlewash spooky so I just went with it! Lol And I don’t think I’ll be going back to my ghoul acting days anytime soon. I do want to take Philippe to a haunted house, however, he doesn’t understand the point of paying to be startled all the time. 😊

      • Sharon Mann 2 years ago

        You’ll have do a doodlewash with you both in costume screaming your way through the haunted house. 👀👹

      • Author

        Now that would be a huge challenge!! But so cool!! I don’t think I have the skills to pull that off! 😊

  2. This has been an awesome series, and your descriptions and background have been really interesting!

  3. Kari 2 years ago

    It does look a bit spooky.. My mother used to tell me stories of haunted ghosts when we lived in Okinawa and I grew up believing in ghosts. And though now, I’m a bit more rational, I still get frightened.. Maybe too many nights binge-watching Supernatural but I couldn’t go through a haunted house! Thank you for the lovely illustrated tour of your city! I absolutely loved reading each story!

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! ❤️😃Yeah, I can’t get Philippe to go with me to one! Glad you liked this tour, and hope you’ll stick around. More stories ahead! 😉

      • Kari 2 years ago

        Absolutely! Love your doodlewashes and the stories!

  4. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    cool perspective and rich coloration ~ you’re really developing your style in this piece. very pro looking!

    • Author

      Thanks Cynthia! I really appreciate that! I actually wasn’t sure about this one as it was such a departure and so loose. Glad you like it!! 😃

  5. Carmel Campbell 2 years ago

    Enjoyed your story. However your perspective and use of color is so good!

  6. Jacob 2 years ago

    Love the haunting sky – a noticeably different feel to your other pieces: it’s about to get dark, and it scares me a little (I’m not even scared of the dark! I only go out in the dark!)

    In that respect, a fitting but sad culmination, I suppose! Sad to see the end of this series – each instalment has been a treat, words as well as pictures. I look forward to whatever you have up your sleeve next!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! ❤️😃 You’re so sweet! I need you on speed dial for when I’m feeling insecure. And I do have a new idea rattling around in my head. Hopefully tomorrow I can solidify it! 😊

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        Ha! And likewise, but think of my phone bill…! 😉

        Exciting tease there. I wait with interest!

  7. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I second the sadness at the end of this wonderful tour of your city. All the details really made it come alive.
    But I’m sure you have more stories and wonderful drawings ahead! (K.)

  8. kungfunaomi 2 years ago

    I love the bridge and sky, the colors are wonderful!
    I find your stories really entertaining. 🙂

  9. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    A bridge that carries you places is a very fitting painting to end the KC tour with! Awesome perspective and great sky colors!

  10. Jodi 2 years ago

    Good bye KC – for now – until we come for the Doodlewash convention! 🙂

  11. kirkistan 2 years ago

    It’s been a good tour and great stories. I had no idea there was so much cool stuff in Kansas City.

  12. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    Thanks Charlie for the tour of KC! Enjoyed your art and your stories! Look forward to seeing what new magic you have on that pen and paintbrush! 🎨😄💜🌈🌀🍂

  13. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Beautiful painting, love the bridge. Maybe I am missing something, but it looks rather romantic in an old European sort of way and your sky simply glows…lovely. The closest I will ever get to a haunted house is your story, and it was great…made me laugh. I so love your stories and your tours, it is hard to believe is has come to an end, at least this chapter. Thank you so much for your gorgeous art and sharing such wonderful tales and memories of a place you love.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Haunani! I think this bridge is kind of cool. In the middle section they sometimes have outdoor dinners so it can be romantic. This time of year though…you just hear screams and scary music at night though! So glad you like this tour friend…more stories and doodlewashes ahead! Stay tuned! 😉❤️😃

  14. This painting needs that doon doon dooooooon music!! 😀 Love, Charlie! looking forward to what’s coming next, bro!

  15. Carol King 2 years ago

    Bye Kansas City. I’ve loved visiting you.

    • Author

      So happy you did friend 👍🏻😃 Stick around, Carol… they’ll be bits of KC to come. I still live here after all! Hehe

  16. Rachel Murphree 2 years ago

    oh my, I hadn’t thought about those haunted houses that I toured as a teen for a thousand years. I swear. Thanks for the memories… nice tour of KC. cool!

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