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!