Friday, December 31, 2010


Cliff Park Inn

Cliff Park Inn image from Bestweekends

The Cliff Park Inn, located in Milford, Pike County, dates from a land grant given in 1627 by Charles I when the Buchanan family came to America from Scotland. The one room cabin became the Buchanan Homestead in 1820.

In 1900, Annie Buchanan started the Cliff Park House, named for the 900' cliff vistas the estate offered above the Delaware Gap. During the early days of movies, studios used the Cliff Park as a location because of the stunning view (and the golf course, a popular attraction during non-shooting periods). Many stars such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. graced the resort.

It also has some spooks, many known by name such as Fanny and Big George. People have reported the presence of Walt, the former maintenance man. The "Lady in Brown," supposedly a member of a 1920's film crew, has been spotted gliding down the main staircase, going out the door and across the golf course to the cliff where she was reputed to have leaped to her death.

The Inn's one-time Caribbean chef, Uncle Stew, still holds court in the kitchen. He's been known to throw cans of pineapple juice at cooks he thinks are sous'ing below his demanding standards. In fact, several of the Inn's spooks are associated with the hotel as employees, and seem to aim their otherworldly approbation to current goof-off workers.

The most famous spirit is Sally in Room #10. The stories tell of eerie noises, voices, orbs, seeing her outline lying on the bed and her apparition popping up throughout the Inn. It's said that when you leave the room that Sally will reopen the door if she wants you to stay and slam it shut if she doesn't. So a word to the wise if you're sharing Room 10 with Sally...

The place is locally renown for its paranormal performance, being visited by Penn Valley Paranormal, Paranormal Investigators of the Poconos, and North East PA Paranormal, as well as getting some love in "Pocono Ghost Legends - Book 2" by Charles Adams III and David Siebold.

Another log is tossed on the spooky fire every Halloween with the Inn's "Tales In the Parlor" event, when it hosts stories of local ghosts, legends and lore of the past.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Lowe Hotel

The Lowe Hotel

Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is a hotbed of paranormal lore. It's home to the infamous Mothman, and the victim of Cornstalk's Curse.

Shawnee chief Cornstalk's plague on the area has been blamed for many calamities over the years, while Mothman managed to get a book and movie made of his shenanigans, and even has an annual festival held in the town.

And if you go, look for Mothman's statue. Then look across the street, and you'll spot the only place to stay in Point Pleasant, the Lowe Hotel. It more than holds its own in the spooked-out category.

The hotel opened up in 1901 as the Spencer Hotel, and was known for its ballroom and as a gathering place for the upper crust. The Lowes bought it in 1929 and renamed it after themselves. Rush and Ruth Finley bought the hotel in 1990, and are still in the process of rehabbing the old grand dame.

The more common paranormal experiences at the hotel are the usual things reported from old buildings: loud noises, icy blasts of air, and feelings of presence in guests' rooms, halls and the staircase. While the human eye can't see anything to explain the sense of presence, photographs of orbs have been captured during the experiences.

Starting from the top, the fourth floor features the ballroom and an unfinished storage area. One of the items kept upstairs is Mrs. Lowe’s cane rocking chair. The Finley's daughter watched the chair began to rock by itself, while other staff members say the chair moves around the room by itself.

But the third floor is where the main ghost action is.

The third floor suite hosts the ghost of Jimbo, aka Captain Jim, who appears to guests and tells them that he's waiting on his riverboat, the River Explorer.

A tall, thin man with a beard, whose reflection has been seen by many in the mirror, haunts room 314. It's said that he's none other than Sid Hatfield of Hatfield/McCoy feud fame.

The bottom two floors are just generally "eerie," but spook-free.

A word of caution - the Lowe Hotel was where the film crew stayed when they taped a Sci-Fi Channel program about Mothman. It's reported that at least one crew member had an experience so spooky that he packed his gear and left the hotel, staying out-of-town across the river in a Days Inn.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hotel Conneaut

Hotel Conneaut

The Hotel Conneaut, called "The Crown Jewel of Lake Conneaut" in Crawford County, dates back to 1903. It features 150 rooms, old time, turn-of-the-century ambiance, and as to be expected by its vintage, some long-time guests who checked in but never checked out.

The most famous apparition is Bride Elizabeth. Her and her guy were honeymooning at the Hotel on April 27, 1943, when a terrible fire occurred. Lightning struck the hotel's wooden roof during a thunderstorm, and it burst into flame.

Legend has it that her hubby, thinking Elizabeth had already escaped, fled the building to find her. But Elizabeth was still inside the hotel desperately searching for her husband and quickly became trapped by the flames and perished. (or maybe she looking for the fire escape at the end of the hall. She hasn't told us yet.)

They were in room 321, and she's said to mainly wander in the hallway of third floor, still in her wedding gown, trailing a phantom scent of jasmine while softly sobbing. The room itself is the site of orbs, whispered conversation, messed up linens, water that runs for no reason and windows that open by themselves.

Elizabeth doesn't limit herself to the third floor, though - she's been reported all over the hotel and even in the adjoining amusement park. Those whispered voices have been heard all over the building, allegedly the otherworldly playback of the last conversations between Elizabeth and her husband.

She's become so famous that the hotel restaurant/bar is called Elizabeth's Dining Room & Spirit Lounge in her honor (heck, she's even mentioned in Wikipedia!), and her "ghost book" is prominent in the hotel lobby.

But she shares the space with a bevy of spooks. There's lore regarding an old chef who dismembered a butcher in the kitchen. A spectral couple can be seen dancing in the first floor Grand Ballroom. A soldier has been spotted in a tree on the Hotel lot. The spirit of a former hotel employee, John, may join you in the lobby.

And there are tales of little Angelina, a child who legend claims died long ago when her tricycle either tumbled down a flight of stairs or off the hotel balcony. She now rides her trike on the porch of the Hotel, crashing into people. Angelina has also been spotted in the halls, looking for a playmate.

The Hotel's haunted history is chronicled in The Ghosts Of Hotel Conneaut And Conneaut Lake Park by Carrie Andra Pavlik.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Colonel Taylor's Inn

Colonel Taylor Inn

The Cambridge “House on the Hill” was built in the 1878 by Colonel Joseph D. Taylor, a Congressman, Civil War veteran, teacher, lawyer, bank and newspaper owner, and prosecutor. Taylor was connected enough that his home was visited by Presidents Garfield, Hayes and McKinley.

Now his Victorian mansion, all 9,000 square feet, 21 rooms, 6 baths, 11 fireplaces and three stories of it, is an inn/B&B that's listed on the National Register. The owners rent the four rooms on the second floor; it seems like all the other rooms are already filled - with spooks.

Oh, there's the usual ghostly mischief: people see indistinct shapes, footsteps are caused by unseen entities, voices of little girls and conservations are heard where there are no people, objects are randomly moved around, and beds rock for no reason. But that should be expected; there's a whole family of spirits roaming the manse.

One spirit is that of an impish eight year old boy in a sailor suit who gives the paying guests raspberries and treats the inn's household items like his personal toy box.

The servants quarters on the top floor have their spectral guests, too. The image of a servant girl tripping down the narrow stairs and spilling her tray is often reported. A heavy-set woman has been seen in the old servants sitting room, wearing an apron and tut-tutting; apparently she doesn't approve of the room's transformation into an exercise area.

Women dressed in gowns have been seen on the landing of the main stairway and on the first floor, going room to room through the walls. The three woman are perhaps Colonel Taylor's two wives and daughter; other apparitions seen throughout the inn are thought to be of the Colonel's children. It's a long-running family affair.

Of course, the Colonel has free passage; after all, it is his home. The aroma of his pipe tobacco can be easily detected wafting through the air of the non-smoking B&B. His footsteps can be heard plodding up and down the steps. He's been seen in the bedrooms, checking on people. The Colonel seems to like his house being active and is considered a sort of guardian angel for the inn.

And hey, the B&B's shadows aren't even all human. Samantha the ghostly tabby, a dearly departed pet of the current owners, pads along its old haunts on the third floor, flitting through the walls on its way to her earthly hangout, the foot of the bed.

If you want to know more, you have two choices: motor out to Ohio's Guernsey County and get a room, or read all about it in Chris Woodward's "Haunted Ohio V."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Valley Hotel

Valley Hotel

The Valley Hotel in Jefferson Hills, Allegheny County, was built in 1863 and known as the Hotel Granger, named after its owners. It served passengers of the Pittsburgh, Virginia & Charleston Railroad, miners, and riverboat crews.

It's also sited near the Mon Valley US Steel works at Clairton, and the Granger/Valley Hotel has been the watering hole of choice for workmen looking to wash away the dust after a long eight hours.

The New England & Coal Valley Roads building now houses a bar, and is noted for its live music sets. It's also built a rep for its spooks.

The place is alleged to be filled with spirits and their phenomena, including poltergeist activity, faces in the mirror of people that aren't there and glowing lights. Things disappear from behind the bar and in drawers, then reappear weeks later.

Guests have heard voices and footsteps coming from empty spots in the bar. A worker quit after hearing the voices of a non-existent man and women arguing in the basement.

The Pittsburgh Paranormal Society investigated the place, and came away with pictures of orbs moving around the bar and a spirit beside one of the team members. A mirror shattered when they were in the basement. They came away believers.

So if you'd like to share a beer with a hard-rockin' indie band and a ghost, the Valley Hotel is your kinda joint.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Otesaga Hotel

Otesaga Hotel

Upstate New York's Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown was built in 1911 on the southern shore of Otsego Lake, the noted "Glimmerglass" of native James Fenimore Cooper’s novels. Beside swimming and boating, its golf course is also quite popular.

Designed by architect Percy Griffin, the resort was named a "Historic Hotel of America" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Otesaga is the ritzy - and pricey - hangout for local touristas.

And like any century-old hotel worth its oats, the paying guests aren't the only ones hanging out in the building. Otesaga is the Iroquois word for “A Place of Meetings,” and some believe the Otesaga is now the meeting place of the living and the dead.

Staff and guests have reported floating orbs, moving objects and strange voices over the years. Beds made up by the maids on the third floor are found mussed up later. Staff members hear their names being called when no one else is about.

The night watchman regularly reports people walking around the second and third floors when no one is up, and the sound of a music box playing. A guest told the desk clerk that a woman's spook in a dressing gown was floating around her room on the third floor. A spirit couple have been seen walking hand-in-hand down its hallways in turn-of-the-century outfits.

But the most widely known legend is of the spooky children who have been heard running up and down the third floor hallway, noisily playing, giggling and laughing.

From 1920 until 1954, the hotel was also a private academy, the Knox School for Girls. The school suffered through a whooping cough epidemic, and the little girls who succumbed are supposedly frozen in time at the Otesaga and enjoying their childhood to this day.

But not to worry; none of the many apparitions haunting the halls of the Otesaga have any known evil intents; they're considered Casper friendly by one and all.

If you want to find out just how cordial the spooks are, tune into to Syfy Channel's "Ghost Hunters" with The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS). They did a show there that was broadcast during the summer where every investigator experienced an Otesaga paranormal moment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fourscore and Seven...

Gettysburg National Cemetery image from Obit Magazine

The Gettysburg National Cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863. The main speaker at the ceremony was Edward Everett, but history will remember that Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on that day.

It contains the remains of over 6,000 warriors who served from the Mexican-American War to the present day. 3,512 Union troopers are buried in the cemetery; of these, 979 are unknown soldiers.

But the removal of Confederate dead from the field plots wasn't begun until seven years after the battle. From 1870 to 1873, various Ladies Memorial Associations dug up 3,320 Confederate bodies and reburied them in southern soil. The problem is that about 3,500 graycoats were killed in action and and hundreds more died from their wounds shortly afterward in battlefield hospitals.

Not surprisingly, the most often reported sighting is of three rebel spooks who approach visitors and then drop as if they're shot. Some people believe they died during the fighting at Cemetery Hill, part of which is the site of the graveyard (along with the Everett Cemetery), while others think they are apparitions of rebs whose bodies went unclaimed during the transfer.

The haunting starts before you even reach the cemetery proper, at the Cemetery Lodge, found at the entrance of the graveyard by the intersection of Emmitsburg Road and Baltimore Pike. The building stored all the unclaimed personal belongings of the soldiers killed during the Battle of Gettysburg for decades.

People report hearing footsteps on the stairs, supposedly from entities upset that their belongings were held there instead of being sent home according to some and from a lone sentry patrolling the gatehouse according to others. The cries of babies can be heard outside the structure; there's no reason known for that particular phenomena.

Once you make it past the Lodge, it's said that ghostly footsteps follow some visitors around the cemetery. Many people have reported soldier's spirits roaming the grounds, along with floating orbs and unexplained sounds. You can sometimes hear the sound of phantom Civil War band music being played in the woods of Cemetery Ridge by the Pennsylvania Monument. A blue column of light has been spotted coming from Cemetery Hill.

They also retell the famous haunting by Cavalry Captain William Miller. He was buried at the cemetery, but his stone didn't mention that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. His spirit restlessly roamed his gravesite for years until a psychic contacted him and found out about the omission. The honor was belatedly added to his marker, and Miller rested peacefully ever after.

One final bit of the paranormal. There are reports that claim that the "Gettysburg Address" is still heard being spoken by Abraham Lincoln seven score and seven years after the event...well, let's hope those words ring forever.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flanders Hotel and Emily

"Emily" painting by Tony Troy from Art & Architecture of New Jersey

Hey, if you're heading to the Ocean City boardwalk and pass 719 E. 11th Street, stop in the Flanders Hotel.

Built in 1923, the ritzy hotel was named after the Flanders Field in Belgium made famous by the poem of Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae. It was OC's entry into the upper end resort trade, and the building featured speakeasies, grand halls and rooms, and a huge "catacomb" of a basement, all the better to lure some East Coast mob and celeb business from Atlantic City.

It also provided the perfect setting for a guest who wouldn't leave, the "Lady in White" dubbed Emily.

Guests and staffers have reported spotting the spook of a young woman in the hotel for years, her apparition appearing before dozens, if not hundreds, of people. She's been seen all around the Flanders, but mostly in the Hall of Mirrors. Other sites she roamed were the catacombs, the hotel lobby, and the second and fourth floors. And she's always barefoot - hey, it is on the beach.

Emily appears and disappears into walls, plays with door locks, opens and shuts doors, unscrews light bulbs, and for years her laughing and singing have echoed merrily through Flander's halls. The train of a white gown has been seen disappearing around the corner of a corridor. A photograph taken at one of the hotel's weddings captured her misty form; ghost hunters have rolls of orbs on film.

Her presence is so famous that the hotel had a mural of her painted, and named a restaurant after her. Artist Tony Troy painted a portrait of Emily based on the descriptions told by workers and guests of the hotel, and it's hung on the second floor. It shows a young woman with long reddish-brown hair standing by a piano wearing a long white dress and no shoes.

Ghost Tours of Ocean City say that Emily is the shadow of a woman who was a girlfriend of a WWI soldier who never returned from Europe; how fitting for a girl from a place named for Flander's fields.

Many paranormal groups have examined the hotel. The South Jersey Ghost Research gang found the spirit of a young girl in the Flander who may have died from hypothermia or from the water.

They noticed that the painting of Emily shared a physical resemblance with the little girl. Putting two and two together, the SJGR group theorized that she was looking for her mother - and that woman may be Emily. Here's their report on YouTube, Part 1 and Part 2.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Philly Boo Zoo

Solitude image from Skyscraper Forum

Hey, Simon and Garfunkle knew it was all happening at the Zoo. Now, thanks to SyFy TV and the Ghost Hunters, we know it's the Philly Zoo that they were talkin' about.

America's First Zoo opened on July 1, 1874, after a long delay brought on by the Civil War; its charter was originally approved in 1859. And, of course, it was rumored to be built on a Native American burial ground.

The zoo staff has reported a wide range of ghostly activity over the years, including flickering lights, partial and full-bodied apparitions and black shadow-forms seen roaming the zoo's buildings paths.

That was plenty enough to tempt the TAPS team. The Zoo episode was filmed in early April, and aired September 1st.

First they checked out the Solitude House, which was built by John Penn, the grandson of city founder William Penn, in 1784. It's housed reptile exhibits, and is honeycombed by an underground tunnel system, which doesn't sound like all that great a combination to us.

Prior reports from the Solitude included sightings in the attic, a door that locks itself, disembodied footsteps on the stairs and voice in the basement.

The Ghost Hunters heard music and voices while in the tunnels and footsteps coming from above. One member had her hair fondled (or brushed by a spider web or dust bunny; take your pick) and the team heard the disembodied voice of a man, along with humming in the basement and a door slamming upstairs.

Then it was off to the Penrose Building, which formerly functioned as a research laboratory and vet hospital. Its phenomena included claims of lights going off and on by themselves and a woman seen in the library window. The best the GH could come up with was a cold spot.

The Shelly Building houses offices and classrooms, and featured reports of a face peering through a plexiglass window in the lobby and the sounds of doors opening and closing. The paranormal explorers couldn't get a face to pop up, but did hear some banging and a slamming door.

The Treehouse is the only remaining one-time animal pen, but after a long renovation is now used as a children’s exhibit hall. It's claimed to host an apparition and some visitors have reported uneasiness and the sound of disembodied footsteps. The TAPS team got a sort of knock-knock response from an unidentified entity.

The verdict? Enough interesting stuff to keep the tales alive, but nothing conclusive. It would be nice if the Zoo could put a name to its spooks; each place that was checked out has an apparition; is it the shadow of John Penn, an old lion tamer, a long-time docent or a Delaware looking for some peace?

And oddly, there are no animal spirits haunting the grounds, not that the critters would have much reason to stick around. If you want to visit unencumbered by an obligation to feed the monkeys, there are several sweet Halloween tours of the Zoo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jack O' Lantern

Image from the BBC Pumpkin Gallery

Irish legends tell us that the Jack O'Lantern was named after a neer-do-well named Stingy Jack who tricked the devil into paying for his drinks (or trapped him in a tree, or...well, there's quite a few devilish predicaments noted in folklore.)

They're all resolved when Old Scratch promises not to take Stingy Jack's soul. Jack, though, didn't quite cover all his bases. When Jack died, the devil, true to his word, let him pass by and journey toward the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter took one look at the Book, and informed Jack that he was at the wrong doorway. Jack reported to Lucifer, and found out the joke was on him; the Devil still refused to let him into his realm.

Unable to enter heaven or hell, Jack was compelled to walk the shadows of the earth for eternity. When he complained that he couldn't see, Old Nick tossed him a burning ember from Hades, guaranteed to never go out.

Jack scooped out a turnip (his favorite snack; he would steal one whenever he could, and always had one stuffed in his pocket) and to this day, it lights his way.

The Irish began to refer to his ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

And the ol' Jack O' Lantern would prove handy for all varieties of spooks, not just Stingy Jack. Irish lore claims that if a demon would encounter something as fiendish looking as itself, it would flee in terror. So the folk from the Emerald Isle would carve a gruesome countenance on a hollowed-out turnip and set it out on All Hallow's Eve to keep the roaming undead away.

The story and the use of a Jack O' Lantern crossed the Atlantic with the Irish Catholics of colonial Maryland, who soon discovered that a pumpkin was a heck of a lot easier to carve than a turnip, and that as an added bonus, the innards made a pretty tasty pie, too.

The tales and use of the Jack-O'-Lantern are at least two thousand years old.

The first were simple faces carved in hollowed turnips used as night lanterns. They were designed to both frighten away evil spirits and to guide and protect the living.

The symbolic protection provided by the Jack O' Lantern would carry over. Night watchmen in the mid-1600s were called Jack O' Lanterns, or the men with the lanterns, guarding the dark medieval cities and hamlets. The eerie connotation carried on, too - a Jack O' Lantern was another name for a will-o'-the-wisp, better known as ghost lights.

So hey, when you're carving out that split-toothed goblin with the triangular eyes, put a little soul and artistry into it - you're the latest link in a tradition that dates back millenniums.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Witch's Grave

image from the William A. Renfrow Online Gallery

Annapolis, Maryland, has its share of haunted history. In Truxton Park, near the head of Spa Creek past the ballfields, there's a gnarled tree leaning over the bank; the immediate area is known as the Witch's Grave.

One version of the local story claims that three witches were executed - two were hung, one burned - and buried there in the 1800’s. It's said that their ghosts haunt the local woods and can be seen from the road.

The second and more publicized bit of lore says that the victims of a vengeful witch spook the place. The crone was reportedly hung and buried here, but rose from the dead and escaped her grave, never to be seen again.

That wasn't good news for her executioners; she got her payback, and it's been told that you can see their apparitions hanging from the same tree that claimed her.

Some say the legend holds true during any dark evening; others say it only holds sway on Halloween. Oh, and if you stay and gawk too long, according to the lore, you could end up being one of those swinging bodies.

The Witch's Grave is the stuff of urban legend; no local documentation or history to support a local witch hunt or trial can be found. Still, the story started somehow and is passed on to this day...and Halloween is fast approaching if you have the itch to find that tree.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rehmeyer's Hollow

Nelson Rehmeyer image from Dagger Press

Also known as Hex Hollow, this site in Shrewsbury, York County is home to the infamous 1928 Pow Wow (Pennsylvania Dutch witch doctor) murder of Nelson Rehmeyer.

The short story is that Rehmeyer was a self proclaimed Pennsylvania Dutch witch doctor. Neighbor John Blymire, another pow-wow doctor experiencing a streak of bad luck, was told that he had come under the hex of Rehmeyer by Nellie Noll, known as the River Witch of Marietta.

Blymire decided to break into Rehmeyer's home in search of a book of spells; burning the book or burying a lock of Rehmeyer's hair would remove the hex, according to Noll.

He went to Rehmeyer's home with two companions, and Blymire found Rehmeyer, demanding his hex book. A fight ensued, and the trio killed Rehmeyer, effectively ending one curse and starting another, compliments of the Pennsylvania court system. He got life for his crime. The Hex Murder was the trail of the era, and probably as close to a witchcraft trial as the state had in over three hundred years.

Rehmeyer's home, known as the Hex House, just became a museum in what's now called Spring Hollow Park. It's said that if you are in the area, you may see the faces of people that have died in Hex Hollow floating about. Cars in the area stall out for no reason.

It's also said that you can't get back to the main road from the same road you came in on, because they morph into a maze when you're by the Hex House. Cell phones often go on the blink in the area, so don't look for your GPS to bail you out.

One reader from the area wrote to debunk the tales. "I'm a local and most of the things said aren't true. However, do be careful. It can get a little strange, especially near the pond where it is said they threw bodies into as if it were a grave site."

The book Hex by Arthur Lewis was written about the murder. Brian Keene wrote two novels loosely based on Rehmeyer's Hollow and the region's powwow magic: Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Witch of Highland

Highland Cemetery image from Buscatube

Located in Marion County, the small community of Mannington is rich in history. But its best known bit of lore doesn't involve Indian battles, the Civil War, or the oil and gas boom: Mannington is the home of one of the state's most enduring urban legends, The Witch's Grave at Highland Cemetery.

Highland Cemetery and its chapel sit off a rural dirt road, high on a hilltop. Abandoned for years (although it's now being used again for services), the chapel was supposedly once the meeting place for satanists.

The chapel reportedly doesn't have a cross in it; in fact, its decor is said to feature ancient Greek woman in a kind of Bacchanal theme. On Halloween, its attendance board is rumored to equal the number of people in the chapel, and is updated with each new or departing visitor by an unseen census taker.

(Don't just bust in to find out, please; the once abandoned church is now used for services again, and the remote graveyard has been vandalized too many times.)

But the main claim to paranormal fame for Highland Cemetery is that the graveyard is reputed to be the final resting spot of West Virginia's most famous witch.

She goes by many first names in lore: Zelda, Sarah Jane, or Serlinda Jane Whetzel. Her tombstone reads "Serilda Jane Whetzel, date of death: May 29th, 1909"; we assume that answers that question.

Whetzel shares the graveyard with an alleged warlock, Tusca Roy Morris ("Born November 11, 1874 Died December 30, 1900.") Both graves face west, toward the setting sun; the cemetery's other markers face east. Both tombstones are in a corner of the graveyard, under a dogwood tree.

As ominously spooky as the headstones' placement may seem, the reason probably lies in Highland Cemetery vandals, who have knocked down the markers several times and replaced them backwards. It's said that whenever the workers set the stones straight, the midnight partiers quickly return and reverse them again.

But the desecration of the stones can't explain away the carvings etched on them so easily. Whetzel's obelisk shows a staircase descending down into the fiery mouth of a demonic dragon.

A staircase ascending into heaven is a common enough depiction on a monument. The question is whether Whetzel's artwork shows a fall into Lucifer's underworld or is a century-old etching that time has eroded just enough to blur and contort the original image.

Tusca's stone shows a face with horns. Again, whether that's just a result of the ravages of time or something more sinister isn't known.

Of course, there's always the inconvenient fact that they were buried in Christian plots; apparently the good reverend back in the day didn't think the pair were Satan's spawns at the time of their deaths if he allowed them to be interred on church grounds.

At any rate, the local tale is that if you visit Highland Cemetery late at night, you'll see glowing in the woods and hear strange noises. The witch and her warlock companion have been reportedly spotted in the vicinity of their graves, quickly disappearing when approached. And on Halloween, a trip to the chapel will include your gang in a netherworld census headcount.

Urban legend or something more...?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Legend Of Tuggy

Harriton cemetary
Harriton Family Cemetery from the Lower Merion Historical Society

The Harriton House, in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, dates back to 1682 when it was a 700 acre land grant given by William Penn to Rowland Ellis. The first home was built by Ellis in 1704 and was called Bryn Mawr, meaning "high hill" (the town is named after the house). It was sold to Richard Harrison in 1719.

Although a Quaker, Harrison was a tobacco farmer from Maryland. He grew tobacco at Harriton too, and employed slave labor to farm the crop. It's thought, in fact, that Harriton (Harrison had married Philadelphian Hannah Norris in 1717; some of the vast Norris family holdings were known as Norriton, thus their land became known as Harriton) was the northernmost slave plantation in America.

One of his slaves was named Tuggy, who knew some voodoo. She and some other Harriton slaves despised life in Pennsylvania and badly wanted to return to their Maryland families.

Tuggy tried to kill her hated owner, first by poisoning his morning cup of chocolate. But a timely knock at the door saved him from drinking the concoction and foiled the plot, so she came up with a Plan B.

She went to the graveyard with a wooden stake. Some think Tuggy was planning to use necromancy by raising a body from the dead to do her bidding, while others believe she was trying to cast a death spell on Harrison. Whichever, it worked - but on the wrong victim.

A bloodcurdling scream was heard from the graveyard that night. Being superstitious, no one dared venture into the boneyard until morning. There they found Tuggy's body, staked to a grave plot.

The legend says that she accidentally drove the stake through the hem of her dress, and Tuggy thought that a dead man's hand was pulling her down into the grave to join him. She died of fright.

(The house is a Historic Landmark and is now the centerpiece of a 16-1/2 acre park)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Satan's Hollow


We were checking out Ohio for some of its witchy past, and hey - we discovered that not many witches seemed to ply their craft there.

But we did find an urban legend concerning a storm sewer where some devil worshipers used to chant and sing, and figured "close enough." This is the tale of Satan's Hollow, a series of drainage channels located by a small creek in Blue Ash, a suburb of Cincinnati.

It's said a group of satanists used to meet in the pitch-black, cave-sized tunnels (you can easily walk upright through them) and conduct their rituals, including, of course, animal sacrifice. The followers of Beelzebub were said to have brought forth spirits and were visited by the kingpin, Satan himself, during their ceremonies.

They gathered in an altar room, and even opened a direct gateway to Hades, now marked in graffiti and tagged as "God's Chamber," a manhole with an impressive drop; it seems deep enough to reach China, if not the depths of hell. It doesn't appear that the coven is active anymore; teens with spray paint seem to have taken over the complex. But the cultists have left their reminders behind.

Female screams can be heard at night echoing through the concrete conduits. There have been reported sightings of various apparitions, including floating skulls and a demon, not to mention the usual assortment of earthly critters drawn to a nice dark cave.

The star spook is the "Shadow Man," one of Old Scratch's loyal demons, left to guard the tunnels. Kinda appropriate that one of the Devil's boys is keeping an eye on a sewer, hey? He gets his name because the imp has a human form, but it's completely blacked out, like a floating shadow.

One reader shared his experiences there: "We heard a girl's voice saying 'help me' and there was a black figure walking back and forth that just disappeared. We freaked out and started to run, and it felt like something grabbed me and my brother by the ankles when we were running out up the side hill, and we felt like we were being dragged."

There are a also couple of Satan's Hollow YouTube vids out, filmed by intrepid explorers of the occult. One group has seen and heard spooked-out things, the other just walked through with nary a sighting.

Urban legend or not, Satan's Hollow is the perfect place to spawn a scary tale; black as sin, echoes resonating, occult symbols (and no small amount of obscenities) covering its walls... a shadow man would be the ultimate finishing touch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hexenkopf Rock - The Witches Head

Hexenkopf from Racheshop

In Northampton County, Hex Rock has been held in awe by the locals since the early 1700s, when it was reputed to be the hangout of the area witches. They would sing, dance, and of course plot against their more saintly neighbors, causing crop failures, miscarriages, illnesses, and farm animal deaths.

Dubbed "Misery Mountain," it used to cast an imposing shadow on the lives of early German settlers. Some nearby residents still refuse to stray too close to the rock at night, especially on Halloween, when the witches party at Hexenkopf Rock.

One story claims that a witch who lived on the forested hill placed a curse on her neighbors for nebbing in her affairs. When people started falling sick, the villagers took justice into their own hands and hanged her. She was later seen wandering the hill seeking vengeance.

An older bit of lore passed on by Rick Cornejo says that local shamans would perform rituals known as "pow-wows" to draw the evil spirits out of the sick. These evil spirits would then be imprisoned in the mountain. It is said the hill used to glow at night from all the evil trapped inside it.

The hill has long lost its eerie night glow. Skeptics speculate that the glow had been caused by a coating of a mineral that has eroded away. But some say it's because the spirits aren't in the rock anymore; they're out roaming the woods, looking for a new body to call home.

Other witchy spooks have been allegedly spotted, along with a the ghost of a headless hunter and various locals who have met their doom there. There have also been sightings of strange floating lights and the sounds of eerie noises have been reported. Some say it's the sound of debauched witches; others say it's just the cry of vultures. Neither one sounds very melodious.

Witches Head abounds with local lore of ghosts, disappearances, demons, insanity, and suicides. One legend we'll pass on is that of a one-legged farmer, who fell to his death chasing (or fleeing from) a demon; it's said you can still hear the tap-tap-tap of his wooden leg in the area.

Now it's largely deserted, with the ruins of a few old farmhouses left in the woodlands. But occasionally a crop circle will pop up on one of the local farms. It's blamed on the whirling witches leaving their ghostly imprint on the field after their Hexen Danz.

If you really want the whole story, read Ned Heindel's 1976 history of the place, "The Hexenkopf Mystery, Myth and Legend."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Susquehanna Spirits

Seibert Hall

Located in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, Susquehanna University is a small, liberal arts school that was founded in 1858 as the Missionary Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Susquehanna Female College. And like so many of its' sister schools, it lays claim to a haunted library and theater among other venues.

Blough-Weis Library: Students working in the library basement at night have felt a presence watching them and seen an occasional apparition, followed by intense cold afterwards. No one knows who the spirit is.

Charles Degenstein Campus Center: Charlie the ghost has been seen atop the catwalks and in the audience of the Degenstein (not Digestion, as often reported) campus theater in the "Deg." He's such a well known figure there that Charlie's Coffee House located in the Center is named in the ghost's honor.

Seibert Hall: Seibert is a colonial-style building and listed as a national historical landmark. Many students living there say they have experienced objects moving and have heard strange noises in their rooms. A former resident of the building said, "I used to see objects frequently fall off my desk and shadows of people when no one else was in the room." Dowsing rod divinations found that the spirit is that of a little girl who enjoys playing tricks on students.

Trax: Trax is a student-designed nightclub and entertainment venue. It's said to house the ghost of a worker who died in the building when it was a warehouse. Many employees claim this spook has played tricks on them, such as breaking props, throwing glass and pushing people down stairs. The spirit also told psychics that he gets lonely at Trax and enjoys seeing and interacting with the students. This spook is considered friendly if somewhat mischievous.

Weber Chapel Auditorium: The Chapel Auditorium holds 1,500, and hosts numerous university events, guest lecturers and visiting artist performances as well as chapel services.

A faceless spook has been spotted numerous times in the Auditorium. The ghost has mostly been sighted in the basement. Dowsing rods detected a middle-aged male ghost who had some relation to the Phi Mu Delta fraternity.

Former frat members believe the shade may be that of Charles Degenstein of "Deg" fame, as he not only matched the description but had a son who was a member of the fraternity. Many have felt a strong breeze and some claim that they saw a dark figure moving among the auditorium seats. Old Deg must really love the stage!

And one of our readers wrote in to tell us that we may have only reported the tip of the iceberg: "There are a lot more occurrences that happen on campus, such as multiple ghost (sightings) in Sorority houses, one which was exorcised." So give us a yell if you can add to the SU lore.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wilmington College Haunted Horses of Old Main

College Hall

Wilmington College of Clinton County was founded in 1870 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). This affiliation continues today. It offers a wide ranging education: it's the only private school in Ohio to offer an agricultural degree, and also features the largest depository of materials outside of Japan relating to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

The college is also home to the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center, a museum, gallery, and meeting house. It's been said that Wilmington College is the most visible legacy of Quaker culture in southwest Ohio. Its offices are even located on Quaker Way.

But there are no Quakers haunting the halls of Wilmington, nor farmers nor A-Bomb victims. Nope, just a couple of old nags that won't leave College Hall.

The first Wilmington College building, College Hall was built in 1866 as the site of Franklin College, a non-sectarian institution which went out of existence in 1869.

On August 11, 1870, the college was auctioned to a group of local Quakers represented by Civil War Colonel Azariah Doan, a Quaker officer famed for being unarmed while leading his men into battle. That's living the Book.

The institution was renamed Wilmington College, and construction resumed so the single-building college could open in spring 1871. It was dedicated April of that year, with the first day of classes commencing the next day.

College Hall or Old Main, as it was often called, has served many purposes; now it's the administrative and faculty offices and several classrooms. In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

The first haunted horse belonged to Azariah Doan. When the steed, "Ole Bill," passed on, the good Colonel decided to bury its remains between floors of Old Main for reasons only Doan knew. In 1957, Ole Bill's skull was put on display in College Hall, part of its complete skeleton which was found during renovations.

The other galloping ghost parades on the top floor. According to college legend, a student prank, pulled off decades ago, involved locking live farm animals in the building. An unfortunate horse went berserk and injured himself so badly that he had to be shot.

Both horses are blamed for the clip-clop sound of horse hooves on the tiled hallways of Old Main, as well as the sound of snorts and whinnies.

There was one other tragic incident in the building. During the early days, the long smooth banisters on the stairways leading to the second floors tempted the students to slide down them. In 1899, Ethel Sparks, sliding down the banister with her arms full of books, fell off the rail, struck her head on the floor below, and later died. But there has been no reported return visits by the unfortunate Ms. Sparks.

If phantom horses don't get your paranormal juices flowing, there are a couple of more traditional haunts in the town of Wilmington.

One fright site is the Haw Chapel Cemetery, just outside of Wilmington. The small cemetery has a tombstone that sits underneath a small grove of trees and can be seen to be glowing from Haw Chapel Road.

The Snow Hill Country Club is allegedly so spooked out that they have a regular "Dinner and a Ghost" feature every October, the "200 Years of Whispers Haunted Tour" and a "Sleep With a Ghost" room special.

The main hotel building dates to the 1820s and has been plagued by mysterious occurrences for a long time. Most of the spooky reputation has been validated by EVPs and orb pictures; there isn't much in the way of full-throated screaming meemies reported from the CC.

Finally, there's the Old Mill, an old-fashioned haunted house that was built before the civil war. Here's how its story goes:

A Civil War vet brought back a small pack of illegal slave children to help him take care of his business and home. The man would beat the children constantly for doing little things, sometimes just for laughing. They were better off as slaves, which was what they were to the old soldier.

One night while the man was sleeping, the children entered his bedroom and killed him.

It's said today that you can see the rug rats running around at night and hear their cries. Sometimes you can actually see the kids reenacting their revenge. And you can sometimes see a man and two children standing in front of the mill. He'll be holding one child’s hand and with the other he will be holding his hat across his heart, staring at you. Brrr!

Now we couldn't find any mention of an old mill in Wilmington. But there is an Old Mill mall, a group of antique/collectible dealers that have turned an old feed mill into a shopping mecca. So if you're local and can help us out re: the Old Mill and whether these buildings are one and the same, give as yell.

Haunted Homestead Police Station In The News

Two years ago, the Allegheny County Homestead Police Station and Municipal Offices were a hotbed of eerie rumor; the cops and staff dealt with touchings, voices and electronics gone haywire. Hey, the cell block was tougher on the officers than it was on the bad guys!

In came the Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society to check the Mon Valley spirit world in the spring of 2008. They recorded some EVPs, heard a door open and footsteps across the first floor, and collected some orb-like video anomalies.

It was enough that the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Mary Neiderberger chronicled their investigation in her piece "Haunted in Homestead?" on Thursday, April 17, 2008.

The spooks' audience would soon be on the move, though - a new building would welcome the politicos and police within months.

Well, two years later, after the old station house was empty, the Haunting Research people went in with a dowsing rod to see who - or what - stayed behind after the living had moved on.

Among those they said they communicated with were a former mayor from the 1800s, a woman who said she died as part of a murder-suicide pact and assorted others. They also got videos of orbs, and found a friendly spirit, that of the current Mayor's dearly departed white Maltese pooch, Suze!

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Mary Niederberger again wrote up the results in "Ghost Seekers Uncover Spirits In Homestead Police Station" on Friday, September 03, 2010.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ghost Train Claims New Victim

As reported by Phil Gast of CNN:

"On August 27, 1891, a passenger train jumped the tracks on a tall bridge near Statesville, North Carolina, sending seven rail cars below and about 30 people to their deaths.

The legend: On the wreck's anniversary, the sounds of screeching wheels, screaming passengers and a horrific crash might still be heard. You might also see a uniformed man with a gold watch.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, on the 119th anniversary of the Bostian Bridge train tragedy and at about the same time, between 10 and 12 ghost hunters were on that approximately 300-foot long span.

They were hoping to hear the sounds of the crash, and perhaps see something.

Instead, a real Norfolk-Southern train -- three engines and one car -- turned the corner as it headed east to Statesville, about 35 miles north of Charlotte, authorities said.

The terrified amateur ghost watchers ran away, back toward Statesville, trying to cover the nearly 150 feet to safety, said Iredell County Sheriff's Office Capt. Darren Campbell.

All but two made it."

The rest of the story is here. It's not regional, we know, but H&H sometimes worries about his buds and the ends they'll go to in search of some lore. Always be careful when you're out; there are a lot more things to fear than ghosts - like joining them.

Philly U Phantoms

Ravenhill Mansion from Skyscrapers

Philadelphia University in East Falls was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School, established to educate America’s textile workers and managers. The School continued to grow, and in 1961, changed its name to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, becoming Philadelphia University on July 13, 1999. And as anybody from Philly knows, you can't stay in one place that long without picking up a spook or two.

Fortress Hall: This was formerly a classroom for Ravenhill Academy (see below) and is now a woman's dorm. It hosts a variety of poltergeist-type activity: objects being moved, windows opening and shutting on their own, and touchings in the form of taps on the shoulder when no one else is nearby. There have also been many orb pictures taken inside the Fortress.

Ravenhill Mansion: Ravenhill Mansion was built in 1802, bequeathed to the Catholic Diocese in 1910, and opened as the Ravenhill Academy by the Religious of the Assumption, an order of nuns. It became Philly U. property in 1982 and the historic house is today used for offices. The tale goes that a nun was impregnated by a priest, and shamed by her act, hung herself in the attic. Natch, the attic has been closed off for years - the spooky sister's sightings date back to Ravenhill Academy days - but people have seen lights flitting about in it. More eerily, it's said you can sometimes catch sight of the sister, too, especially if you perch on the hill opposite Ravenhill at daybreak.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Duffy's Cut

Hey, I know my spook lovin' buds on H&H are avid followers of the ghosts of Duffy's Cut and its whole sordid story. Here's a CNN update on Doc Watson's merry band of historians trying to set things right: "Grandfather's Ghost Story Leads To Mysterious Mass Grave" By Meghan Rafferty.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marshall's Thundering Herd...Of Spooks

Marshall University's Old Main

Marshall University is a public university in Huntington, West Virginia, with 13,435 students. It was founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy, back when Huntington was still part of Virginia, and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. And yes, a school that old has to have some spooks on campus.

Alpha Chi Omega House: Alpha Chi Omega was founded in 1885 as a music sorority. It's house is located directly across from Corbly Hall on Fifth Avenue, and they share it with more than the sisterhood.

It's gently haunted by the ghost of little boy who died in a fire at the house. He's said to cause gusts of cool air (cold spots, as they're called in the paranormal biz), flickering basement lights that electricians have checked out and can't explain, and missing objects in the house. Hey, what would you expect from a pesky little brother fooling with his sisters?

Gullickson Hall: This is the classroom part of the Cam Henderson Center, the Thundering Herd's basketball arena. The women’s locker room is said to have a playful voyeur. Girls have had her hair pulled when no one was around and many feel the presence of someone watching them.

Harris Hall: Built in 1976, professors and students have heard children talking and walking through the building.

Hodges Hall: Ah, a tale of love gone bad. The most popular version of the HH tale is that a football player was dating several girls, telling each that she was his one and only. Well, the girls found out about each other, and one took it hard. She committed suicide by jumping out of the third story window. Legend has it that her soul lives on in the attic.

You won't find her there anymore, though. Hodges, built in 1937, was razed in 2007.

Jenkins Hall: Jenkins Hall was constructed in 1937 and named in honor of a Confederate calvary officer, General Albert Jenkins, who was a native of Cabell County. Until 1970 the building provided kindergarten through high school education and served as a lab for prospective teachers.

There have been reports of children laughing, and ghost hunter Tigger Conn caught a picture a few months ago of two young kids who were staring and laughing while looking out one of the windows in Jenkins.

Laidley Hall: This 1937 dorm provides upperclassman resident housing. The lore here is that every night at nine, coincidentally the start of dorm quiet hours, the fire alarm (or glass breaking, depends on who's talking) can be heard, joining noises like footsteps and banging radiators to raise a cacophony. Some say the spooks are raising a ruckus; others say an old building makes noise, quiet hours or not.

Memorial Student Center: The Memorial Student Center was completed in 1971. Its name commemorates the loss of the entire Marshall football team in the 1970 plane crash.

It hosts a ghost who walks down the stairs and goes out through the double doors of the front entrance in the student center.

Morrow Library: The James Morrow Library was once MU's main book center; it's the haunt of special collections like the Appalachian Research Center and scholarly academics now. The original bulding was erected in 1872-73, and it was dedicated as a library in 1931.

Morrow survived the 1937 flood (barely) but fell victim to digital technology and modern architecture, as its general stacks have been moved to the John Drinko Library, opened in 1998. But it still has its allure - and lore.

Its ghosts violate the first rule of libraries across the world - they won't be shushed. Students have heard loud arguments while no one was around, and seen books fall off the shelf for no apparent reason and no one around. A little quiet, please! Ghosts are supposed to be seen, not heard. And actually, they have been: white orbs have shown up on pictures taken by the building.

Old Main: The landmark Old Main, which now serves as the primary administrative building for the university, was built on land known as Maple Grove, once the home of the Mount Hebron Church. It's also served as an infirmary during World War II and a girls dormitory.

Old Main is actually a series of five buildings that have been joined together between the years 1868 and 1908 (the oldest dates back to 1830), ranks as the oldest structure on campus, and its spires have become the symbol of the university. It even looks spooky, with a gothic ambience, cobbled together in both Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The attic and the Yeager suites are said to be haunted by past spirits that have made Old Main their home after death, and eerie tales abound from each part of the old structure.

There have been several reports of basement spooks. One is of a man walking in and out of the girl's loo. Another is the shadow of an old handy man dressed in overalls who still dishes out directions and help, then disappears.

But its main claim to ghostly fame comes from the acting area of the old Auditorium. It starts with footsteps from the catwalks above the auditoriun, which can be plainly seen from the floor - but no one is on them.

It's most noted for its ghost of the stage. A large, well-dressed man has been seen sitting backstage during performances who quickly disappears when he attracts someone's eye.

The dapper shade is believed to be the ghost of a 1920's theater director who was wrongfully accused of embezzling money from the college and disappeared. Proof exonerating him wasn't found until the eighties, too late to do his his earthly incarnation any good, but his ethereal self could still enjoy the show.

One Room Schoolhouse: It was built in 1889, and is a museum now. During the 1937 flood some students were drowned and there are stories of kids singing and laughing inside the schoolhouse. They must have moved with the school; it was relocated in 1995.

Sigma Phi Epsilon House: The Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity House is located on Fifth Avenue. Its lore is that in the late 1960s or early 1970s, a woman named Gail and her twin sons died in a basement fire of the home. Reports of hearing sobbing and seeing blurred images are among things that are attributed to the ghosts. One brother said of Gail: "We don't mind having her here. We feel she takes care of the fraternity house." Hey, every frat needs its house mother.

Twin Towers East: The dorm was opened in 1969. In room 1218 of Twin Towers East, a student claims to have seen a young man sitting in his room, looking at him and his roommate. He pulled his blanket up over his head to make it go away, and it worked. When he looked again, the image had disappeared and the door was still locked. He later learned from friends that a student had committed suicide in that room; he assumed that's who his mysterious visitor was.

Hey, is it any wonder the school hosts Ghost Walks on campus?

(H&H took the tales posted here primarily from articles from the Marshall student newspaper, the Parthenon.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Duquesne Demons

Old Main from Take A Virtual Hike

Duquesne was founded in 1878 as the Pittsburgh Catholic College and held classes above a bakery on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. In 1885, they moved into their current campus on Boyd's Hill, now known as the Bluff. In 1911, they became the Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost. And like many Catholic colleges, they could use a good exorcism.

* Fisher Hall: Formerly the Fisher Scientific building, Duquesne took over the century old structure in the early nineties. The building was extensively renovated, but, per agreement with Chester Fisher, the second floor, consisting primarily of a cafeteria and museum, was left largely unchanged.

But several mysterious happenings led the staff to believe the floor was haunted. Doors would shut on their own. Papers would be blown around in a windowless office. Sounds of screaming could be heard from the museum hallway.

Then one morning when the manager tried to turn on the lights, a cold breath was felt on her wrist and a disembodied voice said “Leave it off”. The spirit later relented, allowing the switch to be flicked on after several tries. A week later, priests from the University blessed the cafeteria and its' workers, and so far, that's turned the trick.

And upstairs, where the building is connected to the main campus by a walkway, an elderly man will hold the door open for the crossing students. When they turn to thank him, he's gone.

* Old Main Administration Building: The basement of the Old Main was a major transfer point in the Underground Railroad. Most escaped slaves there were well on their way to freedom; others were captured there. Door and lights operate on their own in the basement. The sound of voices can be heard through the building's vents, and sometimes the sounds of rattling chains can be heard echoing through the Old Main's halls.

Old Main was the first campus building on the bluff, built in 1885, and the five story red brick landmark was the highest point on the Pittsburgh skyline for years. But that date would place it past the Underground Railroad's halcyon days. Maybe it was built on the bones of an older structure or perhaps its prominence attracted the tortured souls that passed through Boyd's Hill on their way to freedom.

* St. Ann's Learning Center: The center is a freshman residence hall built in 1964. The spirit of a boy with a temper problem allegedly haunts room #409. He scatters objects and belongings all over. Boys just wanna have fun.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Navy's Shipyard of Spooks

Naval Academy Chapel from Wikipedia, photo by Dan Smith

The Naval School was established on a 10-acre Army post named Fort Severn in Annapolis, Maryland, on October 10, 1845, with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors. In 1850 the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.

Since then, it's been churning out top rate sailors, a couple of which have never left the USNA.

John Paul Jones was the captain of the Bonhomme Richard in the Continental Navy during the Revolution who famously said "I have not yet begun to fight." Jones is buried in the academy's chapel and now said to meander around the Chapel grounds. He's even spoken to his gate guard sentinels, reducing one to a babbling mess.

He's a busy ghostie; JPJ is also reported to haunt the John Paul Jones house in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he lived when he was overseeing the construction of the ship America, and had a mistress (one in every port, right?).

James Sutton was a lieutenant who died at the academy in 1907 under suspicious circumstances. The Academy said it was suicide, but his ghost appeared to his mom and told her he had been beaten and shot. A second investigation proved he was right, although the perp was never found.

His ghost has been sighted by many witnesses on Annapolis’ grounds, in buildings, floating above the academy’s fence, walking through walls, peeking into windows and hovering over Midshipmen’s beds.

There are also tales of spirits haunting the campus tunnel system, nicknamed the "Ho Chi Minh" trail during the Vietnam era. They're supposedly the shadows of first-year students who entered the system through manhole covers and died before they could find their way out. Whether this urban legend is more a cautionary tale for adventurous frosh to keep out of the tunnels or not is a coin toss.

Another haunt that is associated with the Academy is the Brice House, which at one time was rented out as a residence for VIP visitors and USNA professors. The downtown Annapolis home is said to be the most spooked out building in the town.

The spirits of a murdered owner, Thomas Brice, and his valet have been seen (the butler was either the murderer or a second victim; history is unclear on that tidbit) roam the halls. Juliana, Brice's mother and a popular hostess, has also been sighted.

Other unidentified spirits have been reported, and voodoo artifacts left behind by the black servants and a skeleton buried in the wall have been found.

Anchors aweigh!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College Campus from Wikipedia

Founded as Pennsylvania College in 1832, Gettysburg College in Adams County was a sister institution to the Lutheran Theological Seminary.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, the school's Pennsylvania Hall was used by both sides as a field hospital and communications outpost as the tides of the battle ebbed and flowed.

The school even had its' own troops, the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Regiment. They actually got into combat with light casualties, although over 100 of the students were taken prisoner. No wonder their team nickname is the Bullets.

It became Gettysburg College in 1921. President Dwight David Eisenhower was heavily involved with the institution and even had an office there that still bears his name. Some of the spooky occurrences on campus have been shown on the Travel Channel, the History Channel, and NBC's Unsolved Mysteries.

-- Brua Hall: This is the home of the Performing Arts department and Kline Theatre, once the college Chapel. It's haunted by the spook of an older Civil War officer called the General.

He's been seen in the catwalks and backstage, and enjoys playing pranks with the props and costumes. He also likes watching the performances, and has his own center stage seat that depresses when he sits in it and pops back up when he leaves. The student actors make sure it's always empty, just in case the General wants to catch the show.

-- Glatfelter Hall: The legend goes that a young couple climbed the bell tower of Glatfelter in a suicide pact. The girl jumped, but the guy changed his mind. Her spook has since been seen on the bell tower, but only by males. It seems she's trying to lure a fellow to jump for her, to replace her cowardly beau and join her ever after in the afterlife. The 1887 structure is the computer science center now, so GC techies, beware if you hear her siren call.

-- Pennsylvania Hall (Old Dorm): Built in 1837, this is the oldest building on campus. It was used as a command post and hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg, and it's said that the spook of a guard - the Lone Sentinel - can still be seen in the building's cupola (although some tales say there are three guards marching around the outpost; they even disagree as to Blue or Gray). It was also used as a hospital.

The Old Dorm's most famous story, as related by Mark Nesbitt in Ghosts of Gettysburg, involves two administrators on the elevator. Passing the intended stop, it went down to the basement, where the doors opened to an operating Civil War hospital.

The women were terrified watching the doctors at work, performing meatball surgery on their patients - and watching the growing pile of amputated limbs stacked up in the corner. The scene was completely silent, but when one of the blood soaked doctors approached them, they hit every button on the elevator and escaped.

The spook doc probably thought they were a couple of nurses coming to help him, but they weren't about to stick around to find out, just in case he was looking for a ticket out of the OR. The women found a guard and went back downstairs, suspecting a student prank, but the basement was empty except for some boxes when they arrived. It's never been experienced again, but if it happened once...

-- Red House: This off campus apartment house is generally occupied by women attending GC. It's said that the grave of a Civil War era girl is in the backyard, and she haunts the house. You can tell she's around when you smell her lilac perfume in the home or when she pulls one of her poltergeist tricks like moving things around or breaking dishes.

-- 60 Chambersburg Street: The building has been standing since 1863, but the section in question was added later. It is reported that the off-campus apartment is haunted by a make-yourself-at-home ghost named Chuck. He whistles around the apartment for hours on end, and turns electronic appliances on and off. Once, it's alleged, he even rewound the VCR to watch a scene he liked again. It's also reported that once Chuck lifted a woman's hair off her shoulder and made it stand straight out on the other side of her head.

-- Stevens Hall: There's one very well know ghost, the Blue Boy, haunting this Hall, which opened in 1868. The story goes that a young ward fled from the brutal Homestead orphanage and was given shelter by a couple of girls in their dorm room one icy winter night at what was then Pennsylvania College Prep School.

The house mother knocked on the door, and the girls hid the boy outside on a window ledge because he would surely be returned to the orphanage if found. The weather was bitter, and the house mother stayed and chatted for an hour. She finally left, but when the girls went to get the child, he was gone. He had wandered off and left nothing behind but footprints in the snow.

We don't know exactly what happened to the poor lad, but ever since girls staying in that room have been visited by his spook. It has frozen blue lips. He's also been seen peering into Steven's windows, faced pressed against the pane.

As for his window, it's known to fly open whenever there's a winter storm - even when it's locked. Once a girl saw him, shook her head in disbelief at the sight, and when she focused again, he was gone. But the words "Help Me" were written in reverse on the icy pane. This is another tale made famous by Mark Nesbitt in Ghosts of Gettysburg.

There's a lady ghost that's been spotted roaming the halls of Stevens, but we don't have her story. There are also tales of whispers coming from the attic, voices of children, and the spirit of a young girl that looks at herself in the dorm mirrors. You can see her reflection, but not her. The hall was a girl's prep school from 1911 - 1935, and that's where these spirits are thought to come from.

-- Stine Lake: OK, nothing spooky here, just a bit of GC lore. Before the Musselman Library was built, the quad outside of its' present location would flood whenever it rained and turn into a gooey, muddy bog.

The quad picked up the nickname Stine Lake (No, we don't know why. If you do, give us a yell), and it's still called that today, much to the consternation of frosh and visitors looking for a campus pond. In actuality, the quad's been high and dry since the late 1970s when the drainage was unclogged and updated. It's also the center for many campus April Fool pranks and the College's Springfest.

-- Theta Chi House: The urban legend here is that a previous owner of the house hung himself in the basement. If you're unfortunate enough to see his ghost hanging, you or someone close to you will run into bad luck. The fraternity must have run out of luck - the Theta Chi's are no longer on campus. Maybe everyone was in the basement at a kegger and the ghost appeared, cursing them to the next life.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hobart Happenings

hobart manor
Hobart Manor, William Paterson University

Founded in the city of Paterson in 1855, William Paterson University is one of the nine state colleges and universities in New Jersey. Built on 370 wooded acres in Wayne County, New Jersey, the campus is located 20 miles west of New York City and has about 11,000 grad and undergrad students. And one spooked out building, the Hobart Manor.

The history of the estate begins in 1877 when John McCullough, a Scottish immigrant who made a fortune in the wool industry, constructed the two-story fieldstone castle with two octagonal turrets as his crib.

At the turn of the century, McCullough returned to his native Scotland and the property was sold at auction in 1902 to Paterson resident Jennie Tuttle Hobart. She was the widow of Vice President Garret A. Hobart who died in office in 1899, while serving under President William McKinley. Hobart deeded the property to her son, Garret, Jr., as a Christmas gift that year.

It stayed in family hands until 1948, when it was sold to New Jersey and added to the campus of William Paterson.

Hobart Manor is one of the two original structures on campus, and a national historic site. Today, the mansion houses the offices of the President, Institutional Advancement, and Alumni Affairs - and a couple of other long time guests.

One story has it that McCullough discovered that his wife was having an affair with a servant that worked for them. Ol' Captain John supposedly killed them both in a rage. The legend is that on some nights you can see the wife walk down the staircase in a white dress, and dance with her lover near the window.

Now as far as we know, there is no factual basis at all for this lore...but when McCullough abandoned the manse and sailed back to the Bonnie Isles never again to return, he did leave himself fair game for some wagging tongues, we suppose.

This building's star spook is the spirit of the wife of Garrett Augustus Hobart, Jenny Tuttle. Her specter reportedly roams freely through the house as if no one is there. She goes from room to room cleaning, as if still alive, and has been allegedly seen by both campus security and the Manor staff. Other say she roams around the halls as an eternal hostess, being reputed as the Perle Mesta of her era.

While we're not sure why she'd haunt her kid's house, Jenny's got a houseful of company from the other side. For starters, there are the fairly common phenomena of footsteps, piano music, and a crying baby.

Psychics visited the Manor one Halloween (when else?) to check out its permanent guest list. They encountered the spirit of a young man reading a newspaper on the second floor staircase, and a young girl on the third floor who kept flitting from room to room, avoiding them.

Another reported house spook that they missed was the man in the top hat and cape, reported by other non-psychic but apparently perceptive guests and staff.

So hey, if you ever visit WPU and stop by to see the president, and a lovely lady in turn of the century clothes entertains you as you wait, well, just say "hi" to Jenny. Then you can go upstairs and mingle with the other guests - and hopefully you won't have to wait as long as they have so far to get an audience.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cabrini College

the mansion cabrini college
The Mansion at Cabrini College from CIC's Historic Campus Architecture

Let the campus tour continue. Cabrini, a small Main Line Catholic college located in Radnor, Delaware County, was founded in 1957, and its' campus sits on 112 acres with 25 buildings and a handful of spooks.

-- Grace Hall: This is Cabrini's urban legend. It's said that there was a tunnel connecting Grace Hall with the Mansion that was used as a hideout for people during the Revolutionary War days. The tunnel collapsed while there were several people in it, trapping and killing them. Ever since then, the basement of Grace Hall has been sealed off from the rest of the building with strange sounds heard coming from the underground. Are their ghosts there? No one knows until they open up the cellar again. And they're still not sure that they really want to know.

-- Mansion at Cabrini: The Mansion currently serves as offices for Cabrini College, but it was once the country retreat of the well-to-do Dorrance (Campbell Soup president, mmmm good) and Paul families. The star spook of this tale is Mary (or Lucy, depending on the version), although we're not sure which family she's from. We've heard versions placing her as a Dorrance, others as a Paul, and it's immaterial to the story.

As a young girl, she used to play with the son of the carriage master, Xavier. But as they became older and the social strata took hold, her father forbid her to meet him anymore. But it was too late. She had fallen in love with him, and was shortly carrying his baby. When her father found out on one wintry evening, he put on his top hat and cape and went out to the stables after the lad. Fearing the consequences, Xavier ran to the bell tower and hung himself.

In fact, it's said the tower has been sealed since that fateful night, and that the rope he used still dangles from the rafters. After hearing of the suicide, Mary threw herself off a balcony, killing herself and delivering a stillborn baby. (Some versions say the baby was stillborn before her leap, some say after, and some say the dead baby was taken from her.)

They were buried in the peach orchard nearby where Woodcrest Hall now stands. It's alleged that Mary, with long blonde hair and a dress described as either white or blue, still roams the area in front of Woodcrest in search of her lost baby.

One of our readers wrote and said "A fried of mine claims to have been awakened by Mary in one of the houses, I think it was House 2, (and) being asked, "Have you seen my baby?"

As for the father, the lore claims that during the first snowfall of the year, his footprints can be seen on a driveway between Grace Hall (built over the old stables) and the Mansion that suddenly end. He's also been seen as a tall man wearing a top hat and a black cape walking along the driveway.

He's been described as wandering around and looking lost (although other versions have him storming along the path, head down), and reportedly been hit by a car or three on the driveway. The drivers can hear the thud, but when they get out to check on the man, he's gone.

Once, during a dance, the students rolled up a rug to uncover the hardwood floor. There was blood seeping between the boards. They've never held another dance in the Mansion.

One of our readers, Michael, said his mom, a Cabrini alumnae of 1966, was part of a group that invented and spread the Mansion lore back in 1964. It sure has taken off since then and hey, it's still too good a story to let pass, especially as there are readers who have told us of seeing Mary, the stableboy and/or the father.

-- Woodcrest Hall: Besides Mary's visits, Woodcrest is also the home of the "Old Hag" syndrome (also known as night paralysis). Many girls have felt a weight on top of them as they were in bed, and can't move or speak. They report hearing voices whispering around them, though no one else was in the room with them. One writer who was a victim reports an old lady dressed in gray or black standing beside her bed.

Electronics have been said to turn on by themselves, even when unplugged. The laundry room has been the site of poltergeist-type activity, as well as some bathrooms.

One alum wrote us and added another tale: "In Wood Crest Hall, there is a corner room that faces the Mansion where the cross on the wall would always turn upside down even after several tries of fixing it. So the College made the room into a storage room and would not allow students to sleep there."

-- Xavier Hall: A lady in white has been seen reflecting from the door mirrors there, apparently taking residence in response to a ouija board session that went wrong.

Friday, July 9, 2010

West Point's Spirit Cadets

West Point from ATOS

OK, as we continue with our eerie college tour, we swing north to visit one of the most famous schools in the nation, the United States Military Academy.

From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, a favorite expression at West Point is that "much of the history we teach was made by people we taught." Great generals such as Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus, are among the more than 50,000 graduates.

And just to keep that history intact, a few of the old cadets have hung around.

-- Padlock Barracks: There is supposedly a bedroom in the barracks, behind the padlock, where no cadet has slept in years. It's rumored to host a ghost that rises through the floor.

-- Pershing Barracks: A cadet was returning to his room after his afternoon classes and saw his roommate by the window. Beside him was a figure of another cadet, who wore a full-dress uniform with crossbelts, a brass breastplate, and plumed tar bucket (shako) hat. Wondering why someone was in dress uniform, he asked his roomie who had been with him in the room. No one else had been there.

-- Professor's Row: In the 1920s, a priest was called to a house on Professors' Row to exorcise a spirit that had caused two young, terrified, servant girls to flee, naked and screaming, into the night. Bet that caught the attention of the cadets!

-- Room 4714: 47th Division Barracks: In 1972, roomies saw a Civil War era ghost dressed in full-dress grey coat, and an Union Army cap, carrying a musket with a bayonet. The next night, the room’s temperature dropped and both cadets saw the shadow of a man’s torso floating between the floor and ceiling, accompanied by numbing cold. Upper class chain-of-command cadets stayed in the room to check out the tale, some seeing the ghost, some seeing a mist, some seeing nothing at all, but all feeling the chill, which was verified by thermometer readings. The Academy closed the room until the summer, and nothing has ever been reported since...has the spook gone or just become classified information?

-- Superintendent's Mansion: The manse is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Irish cook named Molly. She can often be found kneading bread in the basement kitchen. The spirit, known as "Miss Molly," is said to be the shadow of Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer's maid of the early 1800s.

-- West Point Ghost: Cadets have seen a 5’3” tall soldier dressed full Jackson-era regimentals, including a musket and a shako, a high plumed military cap worn by US soldiers up until the end of the Civil War era on the grounds. Maybe Napoleon likes to visit.

Hey, enjoy your visit there; it's actually quite gently haunted for a place of its history. But if you see a cadet wearing a shako...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

St. Vincent's Abbot Wimmer and Guests

St. Vincent's Basilica from Wikipedia taken by ohnoitsjamie

St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, was founded by Bavarian Benedictine Brother Wimmer in 1846. It's famous for hosting the Steelers in August and spooks all year 'round.

Aurelia Hall:
Girls using a ouija board contacted a spirit named Henry. They asked him to give them a sign he was real. It took him a while, but when the girls went to bed that night, their floor length mirror flew off the door and shattered against the opposite wall. Not only did they get the scare of their life, but seven years bad luck, too. They apologized to Henry for rousing him, but just to make sure, they slept in friends' rooms for the next few evenings. However, some stories persist that Henry still shows up, as a glowing red face. Another girl found an empty leather bag in her room, and gave it to her mom. Her coat then disappeared. She and her roomie pulled out a ouija board (what ever happened to St Anthony?) and contacted a spirit called T.E. The specter wanted her bag back, and took the coat to hold as collateral until she did. They made the trade. Later, in that same room, (we'd be in an off-campus apartment by now) a blinding light shot out of the closet, and when it faded, an old man with a white beard was seen standing there. When the girls got out of bed, he disappeared, the voyeur! There's also been reports of strange noises and the sound of a basketball bouncing on the seventh floor – which is closed off to the students. The 7th floor is also where a student of the occult was found dead, so lots of bad juju there.

The Basilica: The cornerstone of the basilica was laid in 1892, and the consecration took place on August 24, 1905. The basilica was completely restored in 1996, as part of the 150th anniversary of the college. And it's a good thing, too - it still holds a lot of the past between its walls. It's said that you can feel people rushing by you in the basilica, even when it's empty, and can sometimes see the images of brothers long gone in prayer. Every year, security guards hear strange sounds coming from the basilica after midnight mass on Christmas Eve – kneelers going down, the smell of incense, and sounds of music and singing. They're just keepin' the faith.

Gerard Hall: There are reports of cold spots and disembodied footsteps.

Graveyard, Grounds, & Wandering Monks:
Images of the faces of the monks and nuns have been seen in the cemetery, along with an occasional funeral procession. There's a tree stump that's been carved into a wooden throne by the little boy whose grave is beside it; some students claim they've seen his tiny ghost sitting in it. In one part of the cemetery is a statue of Mary, who is said to cry tears of blood when someone in deep sorrow prays to her, in acknowledgment of their pain. In the middle of the graveyard is a Pieta statue of Mary holding Jesus after he has been taken down from the cross. It's claimed that if you sit on the bench in front of it long enough, she will raise her head and look at you. Also, it's regularly reported that entities spotted in the graveyard by security guards vanish without a trace.

Keck's Monk: A monastic novice named Paul Keck reported in the 1850's that he was visited by the spirit of a Benedictine monk that sought prayers for souls in purgatory. Abbot Wimmer at first backed his claims, but as the sighting worked its' way up the chain of command, all the way to the Vatican, Wimmer changed his tune. The visions were eventually deemed a hoax, and they raised considerable scandal within the church at the time. “Keckism” became a form of heresy. It didn't help Keck's cause when he was discovered to have been an actor before donning the robes.

St. Benedict Hall: Benny is haunted by a small girl, nicknamed Jenny, who has appeared in various rooms and likes to play games and tricks on the residents, "borrowing" their things and running through pods in the middle of the night. There are also handprints on the outside of windows.

St. Xavier's Convent: There's a tale of a monk who roams between St. Vincent's and St. Xavier's, a nearby convent. His cowl covers his face, which is invisible even you're looking directly at him. There are visions of brothers working in the kitchen. Shadowy nuns have been seen walking to mass.

Sauerkraut Tower: This landmark structure was built in 1893, designed by Brother Wolfgang Traxler to move 80,000 gallons of water daily through the campus as a gravity powered water tower. Not one to waste space, chief cook Brother Innocent stored barrels of pickled cabbage among it's pipes in the early 20th century, earning the 90' tall building its' nickname. In the 1930's local mines started to drain some of the water supply from the tower, and a monk had to climb the 10 flights of steps 3 times a day to check the water level. Thankfully for the Benedictine's lungs, St. Vincent tapped into the municipal water system in 1942. But it was too late for one nameless brother, who punched his ticket to St. Peter's gate when he got caught in the windmill arms atop the tower and hung himself. To this day, you can still hear the dedicated monk tread up the steps, carrying out his obligation to the college through eternity. And he must be afraid of the dark. Security has to frequently shut off the lights of the empty building, and some people have claimed to see his face looking out of the top window.

Abbot Boniface Wimmer: Abbot Boniface, the founder of the college, rises on the anniversary of his December 8th death and goes to the basilica to say mass for the souls of the departed. He passes through every red door in the crypt area where he's buried beneath the church to check on everyone and to find out how the school has progressed over the year. He's the most famous spirit at St. Vincent, and his sighting is jokingly referred to “freshman orientation” on campus.

And hey, there's supposed to more; we've heard that there are tales from the Grist Mill and other buildings that we haven't been able to run down. So if you have the paranormal poop on any of the stories we missed, give us a yell.