Road Trip Destination: Haunted Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania may be well-stocked with zombies, UFOs, Bigfoot (Bigfeet?) and other assorted creeps, but you don't hear much about ghosts.
Yes, we have those, too. A state as old and weird as Pennsylvania ought to have some ghosts, poltergeists, spectres and other mysterious “presences” — and it does. In fact, just about every city, town or borough worth its weight in ectoplasm has its own special local haunted and/or creepy place — an abandoned insane asylum, or simply a scary-looking tree — so, just ask around.
Still, if you're looking to cover some serious ground, and don't have the time to chase phantoms, here are some good places to start this October.
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7901.
The Steel City is known more as zombie country, thanks to George Romero and “Night of the Living Dead,” but we do have our share of hauntings and ghost stories.
If you could combine one of them with the ultimate Pittsburgh tourist site, the Monongahela Incline, well, that would be perfect, right? Well, Haunted Pittsburgh has done its homework, offering the tale of the spirit that has long bothered Incline staff. Atop Mt. Washington, the little Carnegie Library has its bevy of paranormal visitors.
Haunted Pittsburgh prides itself on avoiding costumed actors and cheesy theatrics, in favor of chilling, well-told stories. Pittsburgh characters large and small have their own encounters, including industrialist and strike-buster Henry Clay Frick, acclaimed artist Maxo Vanka and a haunted toaster.
Details: www.hauntedpittsburghtours.com or 412-302-5223
Any town that has seen as much carnage as Gettysburg probably ought to have unsettled paranormal activity, and it does. Ghosts of Union and Confederate dead have long roamed the town and battlefield, even at historical sites like Little Round Top — where, legend has it, a ragged Union soldier appeared and gave real live, historically authentic ammunition to re-enactors during the filming of “Gettysburg” in 1993.
“Ghosts of Gettysburg” author Mark Nesbitt is the guy to see for stories of unexplained goings-on in Gettysburg.
Details: www.ghostsofgettysburg.com or 717-337-0445
This small, old city in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country has its fair share of ghostly interlopers, some of which go back almost 300 years.
Among the apparitions known to locals are former President James Buchanan and his sweetheart, who, apparently, are quite attached to St. James Graveyard.
On certain nights in Lancaster Cemetery, a statue on one woman's grave apparently arises and roams the cemetery.
Lancaster Candlelight Walking Tours give the lowdown on these instances and others.
One of Pennsylvania's nicest small towns, known for its strikingly well-preserved architecture, was, at one time, known by the much-creepier-sounding name Mauch Chunk.
The local Rotary Club hosts Ghost Walks in Old Mauch Chunk through Dec. 17, starting at the Inn at Jim Thorpe. The inn has enough paranormal activity on its own, including a spectral nurse who gets annoyed when people sleep in the same bed as her patient, and a room where visitors' possessions tend to disappear and reappear in odd, unexpected places.
You won't need to look hard to find creepy things in Philadelphia, what with all those Flyers and Eagles fans running around. OK, obligatory cheap shots aside (hey, they'd do the same), Philadelphia was a thriving metropolis when Pittsburgh was a rickety wooden fort, so the city has been around long enough to pass down a few spectres during the years. The question is where to start.
One place could be St. Peter's Churchyard, which has been the sighting of many spirits over the years. The Physick House mansion on Society Hill has been visited by several spectres during the years.
The famous Independence Hall has long fielded reports of bouts with some kind of invisible intruder. One theory revolves around its role as a hospital during the Revolutionary War, with a burial pit for those killed in the fighting.
Then, there's Washington Square, a public park that also features a burial pit containing the unmarked graves of prison inmates, Revolutionary War soldiers, yellow-fever victims and freed and unfreed slaves.
If you want a curated tour from local experts, try the Ghost Tours of Philadelphia, which meets at Signers Garden at 7:30 p.m. every night. Supposedly, one of Ben Franklin's favorite afterlife hangouts is nearby.