Thursday, June 11, 2015

Updates

I've been busy the past week working on streamlining the website and trying to make it simpler.  I've opted to use the blog to share information on investigations, stories, equipment or anything else I think falls into the paranormal category.

I've also created a page for the future book: The Haunted Trail which is what I decided to name the book I've been working on about ghosts, cryptids and UFO's on the Appalachian Trail.  Please head over to Facebook and like the page: The Haunted Trail: Ghosts, Monsters and Aliens on the Appalachian Trail !  I post things from time to time that have to do with research and writing the book, tidbits about stories, etc.

And don't forget there is a Facebook group for Gettysburg Ghosts: Gettysburg Ghosts Paranormal Investigation and you can follow us on Twitter: Gettysburg Ghosts @GburgGhosts

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Haunted Appalachian Trail: West Virginia



The Appalachian Trail passes through about 4 miles of the state of West Virginia.  In those 4 miles, it goes through the town of Harpers Ferry home to the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  It's considered the "psychological" half way point (the actual half way point is further North in PA).  Harpers Ferry has a rich history in outdoor adventure, but it also has quite the reputation for being haunted.


 
 Lost Gold
In 1747, Robert Harper visited the area where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet known at that time as "The Hole".  Harper ended up purchasing the Ferry service and property from Peter Stephens.  He eventually built a Mill and improved the Ferry.  After losing his cabin to a flood, Robert Harper and his wife Rachel decided to build a home high above the flood plain.  Because workers were hard to come by during the Revolutionary War, Mr. Harper was forced to do most of the labor himself and his health began to fail.  Fearing the bands of thieves roaming the countryside, Mr. Harper told his wife to bury all their gold and tell no one where she had buried it.  Robert Harper died before finishing the house.  Mrs. Harper tried to finish the home she and her her husband were building, but she fell from a ladder and was killed instantly- taking the secret of the buried gold with her.  During the 1800's, Harper House was widely believed to be haunted and was feared by the locals.  Today, people claim to see an old woman dressed in 18th century clothes looking out an upper window gazing at the garden.  Could it be Rachel Harper looking over her stash of gold?

 Everyone Loves a Parade
In 1798, our new nation was apparently in danger of a war with France*.  Troops were sent to Harpers Ferry under General Pinkney and camped on the ridge around the bend of High Street in an area now called Camp Hill.   Because no war ever broke out, the troops were often bored, so every evening they would parade through town with their fifes and drums.  During this time, many of the men developed cholera during an outbreak and died and are said to be buried on the west bank of Camp Hill.  Today residents sometimes hear the sound of fifes and drums and go to the window expecting a parade but no one is ever there.  The music grows louder as it grows closes and then fades away.

*Other information states that the troops were there to aide in the construction of the Armory, canal and river dam.


 Screaming Jenny
In 1833, the railroad came to Harpers Ferry linking the town with the east.  Part of the track passed through the Armory Yard.  There were storage sheds located in the Armory Yard, and once the railroad came though, the sheds were abandoned.  It wasn't long before those who were less fortunate began using the sheds as housing in the cold winter months.  One woman named Jenny who was down on her luck and had no family to turn to, took up residence in one of the sheds.  On a particularly cold evening, she sat too close to the fire and a spark landed on her clothing and set her skirt on fire.  Panicking, she fled the shack and began racing down the tracks towards the station for help. In minutes, she became fully engulfed in flame.  Staggering, she did not notice the lights of an oncoming train.  The engineer, seeing the burning human like form, began frantically blowing the whistle and applying his brakes, but he was unable to stop in time.  Men from the station heard the whistle and the screeching of the brakes and ran to the scene.  They found Jenny's still burning body and put out the fire.  She was later buried in a pauper's grave.  Today engineers do not like coming through Harpers Ferry on misty nights.  They claim to see a ball of fire emitting unearthly screams.  When they try to stop, they never stop in time and feel the telltale bump that means they've run over something.  When they stop to investigate, there's never anything there.  Sometimes at night you can hear the train whistle blowing frantically and you know Jenny's ghost has shown up again.

A Bevy of Ghosts
The Booth House, also known as The Haunted Cottage, was named because of its infamous visitor John Wilkes Booth.  Booth was a nationally known actor who visited Harpers Ferry several times.  He always rented a room at the cottage sometimes inviting a lady friend to join him.  Over the years it served many purposes.  It was rented to families as a single family home and eventually earned the reputation of being one of the most haunted houses in Harpers Ferry.  Paranormal author Vince Wilson rented the home and woke up one night to the sounds of footsteps on the floor above him.  He was able to actually record the ghostly noise.  Many people have experienced paranormal activity at the Booth House.  They report footsteps, strange noises, singing and people talking.  Objects have been known to move on their own.  There have been sightings of shadowy figures and some even report having their hair or clothing tugged.  Several years ago, we attended the open house of the Haunted Cottage (it has since closed).  The basement is supposed to be the most haunted location in the home.  It's said that a child's tricycle is known to move across the room on its own.  While we didn't witness that particular phenomena, we were able to record an EVP in the basement that said "Turn the lights back on".  During the recording the that EVP, we had turned the lights out and my son asked why we had turned them out. The attic area was a somewhat active area for us.  I have a recording that doesn't contain any EVP but records my young son asking who was looking at us and who was behind us.  He was seeing something the adults couldn't.  We also had the sensation of something pushing down on our shoulders.  The Booth House is located near the KOA Campground.

Booth House EVP 1
Booth House EVP 2
Turn Lights Back On

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Haunted Appalachian Trail: Maryland's Ghosts



Crampton's Gap

Maryland is the only place along the entire Appalachian Trail corridor where the AT passes through a major Civil War battlefield: The Battle of South Mountain.  Also known as the Battle of Boonsboro Gap, it was fought on September 14, 1862.  Three battles were fought for possession of three mountain passes: Crampton's, Turner's and Fox's Gaps.  McClellan needed to pass through these gaps in his pursuit of Lee's Army.  By dusk Crampton's Gap lost and his position at Fox's and Turner's Gap precarious, Lee ordered his men to withdraw.  The Union casualties totaled 2,325: 443 killed, 1,807 wounded and 75 missing.  The confederate casualties totaled 2,685: 325 killed, 1,560 wounded and 800 missing.  Today hikers claim to have heard ghostly canon fire and see phantom fires and ghost soldiers in the woods along South Mountain.

You can listen to recordings of an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
from the area of Crampton's Gap:
Crampton's Gap EVP 001
Crampton's Gap EVP 002

Spook Hill

Near the area of Crampton's Gap is an area referred to as Spook Hill.  At Spook Hill, the Union Army managed to push back the Confederate Artillery in the area.  Not willing to allow their canons to fall into enemy hands, the Confederates began pushing their canons up the road.  Now, if you stop and put your car in neutral, the ghosts of those Confederates will push your car up the hill.  Some claim that if you coat your trunk with flour, ghostly hand prints will appear.  During an investigation of the area, we did witness the phenomena as our car did seem to move uphill on its own.  We had plans to use a level to determine if the area was creating an optical illusion and the road actually slopped downhill rather than uphill.  However, the traffic along that stretch of road was heavy and fast, and it was unsafe to attempt any type of measurements on the road.


Daniel Wise Farm

Daniel Wise Farm

At Fox's Gap, a man named Daniel Wise lived in a house with his two children.  Because Fox's Gap was the focal point of the South Mountain Battle, Daniel Wise and his family fled to a nearby church.  During the battle, Wise's home was used as a hospital by the Union Army.  Legend says that the Union Army paid Daniel Wise $5 per body to bury the dead.  It was said that Wise dumped 58 Confederate bodies down a well.  However, it was actually the Union Army that dumped the bodies in the well.  The bodies remained there for 12 years until they were re-interred in the Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown.  It's said that today, you can still hear the loud thuds of the bodies hitting the bottom of the well.

The Washington Monument

The first monument to honor George Washington to be completed is located in the Washington Monument State Park.  The rocks in the area below the monument contain a maze of caves.  During the Civil War, a young solider stopped at a farm to get a drink from the well.  He met the landowner's daughter and they fell in love.  The girl begged him to leave the war so he deserted and the two ran away and hid in the caves.  While hiding there, a rockslide trapped them inside where they died.  Today people can hear their cries as they continuously try to escape their tomb.

Old South Mountain Inn

Located along Route 40, the Old South Mountain Inn has stood since 1732.  In 1755, General Braddock and Lieutenant George Washington marched the army past on their way to battle the French and Indians near Fort Duquesne.  The Inn served as wagon stand and stagecoach stop and in 1859, John Brown's followers held the Inn overnight as an outpost and staging point.  In 1862, General D.H. Hill used the Inn as his headquarters during the Battle of South Mountain.  The Old South Mountain Inn was sold in 1876 to Madeleine Dahlgren who used it as her private residence.  Madeleine enjoyed entertaining guests and often had friends stay the night.  One night, her guest opened her bedroom window and dozed in the rocking chair near the window.  She woke up to eery quiet and a strange glow.  She moved to the window and looked out and saw a glowing figure about 50 yards from the house floating above the road.  The apparition was taller than any human she had ever seen.  Terrified, she slammed the shutters closed and hid under the covers.  A few nights later, another guest was staying in the same room when she too noticed a strange light.  She went to look out the window and saw the same large glowing figure.  The woman ran to get her friend Madeleine and together they watched as the figure unfurled gigantic luminous wings.  The women slammed the shutters closed and knelt down and began praying.  Though Madeleine Dahlgren died in 1884, some say she is still in residence at the Old South Mountain Inn.  The current owner tells of seeing a "flash of something" in the attic while she was searching for holiday decoration, and they also say that Madeleine saved her beloved house.  One evening, the cleaning man was staying late waiting on a delivery.  He noticed that a door that is always kept shut had come open, and through the open door he smelled smoke.  The rear of the Inn was engulfed in flames.  The man called 911 and the Inn was saved.  It's believed that Madeleine opened the locked door to save her home.  Other phenomena have been experienced in the Inn as well.  People tell of seeing phantom soldiers inside and around the grounds outside of the Inn.  There are doors that shake as though someone is trying to open them, and voices and footsteps that come from empty rooms.  During a night of investigating, I stopped at the Old South Mountain Inn and pulled into the parking lot.  There were portable toilets along the back of the parking lot and as I sat there in my car, I heard the distinct sound of one of the port-a-potty doors slamming shut.  The spooky part was that all the port-a-potties were visible and there was not a soul to be seen.

Gathland State Park

George "Gath" Townsend was a journalist and a novelist who built an estate on what is now known as Gathland State Park.  Mr. Townsend, who used the pen name "Gath", built the first War Correspondant's Memorial on the property.  Gath had a tomb erected on the estate grounds though it went unused as he died in New York and was buried in Philadelphia. Today his ghost still haunts the property.  Mr. Townsend's footsteps can be heard in the area of his former home.

The Purple Church

Built in the 1880's, this abandoned church in the area of Crampton's Gap was once the site of Satanic rituals in the 1980's.  Many claim that the church is haunted.  During an investigation, we were able to get an EVP at the church. 

Purple Church EVP


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Haunted Appalachian Trail: Maryland Cryptids

The Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail is probably one of the most paranormally active, if not the most paranormally active section of the entire Trail.A large part of that is that Maryland doesn't have just your typical ghosts, it also boasts 4 different cryptids along its 40 mile section.

Snallygaster

The name Snallygaster comes from the German Schnelle Geist or "fast ghost" that was associated with slamming doors and the toppling of light weight objects.  It's thought that it migrated here with the Germans in the 1730's.  Unlike the ghost, the Snallygaster is a large creature that is part reptile and part bird.  It has a large metallic beak lined with razor sharp teeth and vise like alligator jaws.  Its tail is like that of a lizard, its body scaly and its legs short and tipped with talon sharp hooked claws.  It has large wings with a spread of 25 feet. Some descriptions include octopus like tentacles and poisonous breath.  The Snallygaster flies over South Mountain looking for prey, and once it finds a victim, it shrieks and screams as it swoops in to grab its dinner.  It's said that the screech of the Snallygaster sounds similar to a train whistle.  In the area where the Snallygaster roamed, there were reports of dogs, livestock and even children going missing.  Outrunning the monster was the only way to prevent being devoured if it had you in its sights, but you could prevent the Snallygaster from coming near your property with the use of a 7 pointed star.  Many barns in the area still have them painted on their sides.
In February 1909, there was a report that the Snallygaster grabbed a man, bit his jugular, drained his blood and dumped his body off the hillside.  In fact, the Snallygaster's reign of terror was so great that Theodore Roosevelt considered postponing a highly publicized African safari to go to Maryland and hunt the Snallygaster.  However, he decided to just stick with the African safari. 
I came across some information that suggested in the 1980's, Maryland added the Snallygaster to its Endangered  Species List.  A check of the current Endangered Species List did not turn up any mention of the beast.  So next time your out camping or hiking the area of South Mountain and you hear that train whistle, ask yourself  "Was that really a train whistle?"

Snarly Yow

The Snarly Yow might be more ghost than cryptid, but I'm still including it in this list.    It's described as a large black dog with grotesque red mouth, large fangs and a howl like a werewolf.  Its appearance is similar to a Hell hound, but unlike the Hell hound, the Snarly Yow hasn't foretold anyone's imminent death.  The Snarly yow roams the area around South Mountain chasing cars and scaring hikers by jumping out of bushes.  Many years ago, an expert huntsman came across the Snarly Yow.  He took aim and shot at the animal but the bullets passed directly through. 

Dwayyo

The Dwayyo is a creature that is described as being between 7 and 9 feet tall, hairy, similar to a wolf but with the arms, stance and stature of a man.  Its hair is bristly and it has a large bushy tail.  Many accounts mention hearing screams from the creature.  Chickens and cattle have been found dead in the areas where the Dwayyo has been seen and dogs refuse to hunt the beast and hide when they sense its presence.  There was an account of a girl who was driving to a friend's house who saw the Dwayyo.  As she drove through the woods she felt as though something was watching her and she saw something running through the trees.  As she slowed her car, a dog like creature ran out into the road on 2 legs.  It had large fangs and lunged at the car.  The girl sped away.  A nearby farmer claimed to see what he described as a 9 foot dog creature.  There was also a report from a man who used the alias "John Becker".  He said he went outside to investigate a strange noise and saw something coming at him as big as a bear but it had a long bushy tail and growled like a wolf or dog in anger.  The creature stood on hind legs and attacked him.  Becker fought the creature until it ran into the woods.  He did call the State Police and file a report under the alias.  Several hunters have also reported seeing a strange creature, and 2 men out spotlighting deer also had an encounter.  They said they saw a 6 foot tall creature that was inclined forward as it moved.  The head was large and had a profile like that of a wolf.  Its body was covered in brown or brindle fur and the lower half of the body had a striped pattern.  It's forelegs were slimmer and held in front and the back legs were think and muscular like a kangaroo's. Two park rangers also described seeing a large hairy bipedal creature in the area.  So what is roaming South Mountain?  Is it a werewolf like some have said or something akin to a hexenwulf- a person able to transform into a wolf like beast by using a magical talisman like a wolf hide belt or an amulet given to them by another person (often received by making deals with the devil).  Whatever it is, I would prefer not to encounter it or hear its awful screams.

Bigfoot

Bigfoot doesn't really need any introduction.  Most people know the basic Bigfoot description.  But many people don't realize that Bigfoot doesn't just live in Oregon and Washington.  Bigfoot has also been sighted often on the East Coast.  In fact, there is some speculation that Bigfoot uses the Appalachian Mountains as a migration route.  There have been a few sightings of Bigfoot like creatures in the South Mountain area.

So, if you're out and about on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, keep your eyes peeled for something out of place.  There's no telling what kind of beast you might stumble upon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Haunted Appalachian Trail

I recently decided I wanted to begin section hiking the Appalachian Trail, and in researching for my first trip, I discovered that the trail has some haunted areas.  It wasn't a shock that it's haunted, but it was shocking that I didn't consider it at all when I started planning the trip.  Typically I start my adventures because of the paranormal stories associated with the area I'm traveling to.
So I began looking into things a little more.  I've decided to research the topic and come up with some stories of ghosts and other paranormal happenings from each of the 14 states the Appalachian Trail passes through.  I'm touching upon the stories on the hiking blog (Hiking 40 For My 40th) but I'll be taking a little more in depth look at some of them here on this blog. 
Since my first section hike of the AT will primarily pass through Maryland, that's the state I opted to begin with.  It's also the state I have the most knowledge about.  In fact, my belief early on is that Maryland's 40 miles might be the most haunted section of the whole Appalachian Trail. So stay tuned for stories about ghosts, cryptids and maybe some UFO's along the Appalachian Trail.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ghost Ships: The Carroll A. Deering

The Carroll A. Deering was a five masted schooner built in 1919.  In midwinter 1921, she was found aground on Diamond Shoals off the North Carolina coast near the Hatteras light.  There was no storm and no distress calls were received.  When rescuers made it aboard the ship, there was no one to be found except for a gray cat.  The bunks were all made and the food was left on the plates and stove as if everyone was coming right back.  The Captain's Log and sextant were missing.
The ship had been sighted by the Cape Lookout Lightship in North Carolina, when the vessel hailed the lightship. The lightship's keeper reported that a thin man with reddish hair and a foreign accent told him the vessel had lost its anchors. The keeper took note of this, but his radio was out, so he was unable to report it. He noticed that the crew seemed to be "milling around" on the fore deck of the ship, an area where they were usually not allowed.  The next time the Carroll A. Deering was seen, she was abandoned on the shoals.
An investigation was launched into what happened to the Deering after she was spotted at the Cape Lookout Light.  A message in a bottle was found at Buxton Beach, NC and read:  
DEERING CAPTURED BY OIL BURNING BOAT SOMETHING LIKE CHASER. TAKING OFF EVERYTHING HANDCUFFING CREW. CREW HIDING ALL OVER SHIP NO CHANCE TO MAKE ESCAPE. FINDER PLEASE NOTIFY HEADQUARTERS DEERING.
The mystery was never solved, though there are many theories: piracy, Russian/Communist Piracy, Rum Runners or Mutiny. And there are those who believe that the Carroll A. Deering could even be a victim of the Bermuda Triangle. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle Today

While the vast majority of Bermuda Triangle mysteries occurred in the beginning half of the 1900's, there have been some in the late 1900's and early 21st century.

In 1991, the pilot of a Grumman Cougar jet made a radio request to increase altitude.  As the aircraft flew higher, it gradually faded from radar and then vanished altogether.

In 1995, Cary Gordon Trantham was flying her Piper warrior home after a visit with her daughter.  While flying over open water, she felt as if a dark blanket of fog had been thrown over her plane.  The horizon disappeared and she couldn't see lights of any kind.  Her compass went erratic and the panel lights were fluctuating from dim to bright.  The altitude indicator began to roll and there was a buzzing in her headset.  Unlike many of the Triangle stories, Ms. Trantham was able to land safely.  You can read more about her story on her site Bermuda Triangle Survivor.

Eight years later in 1999, a distress call was received by a vessel sailing near a freighter called the Genesis reported the ship was having issues with their bilge pump.  After this call, the crew and ship were never seen or heard from again despite intensive searches.

There have also been a few disappearances in this century.  In June of 2005, a Piper plane disappeared between the Bahamas and Florida with 3 people on board.   In 2007  a plane and its pilot disappeared near the Berry Islands and in 2008 a Britten Norman Islander vanished with 11 people on board near the Windward Islands. 

So why the lull in strange disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle?  One thought is that the advancement of navigational technology (like GPS) is responsible for the lack of Triangle mysteries.  It's also possible that the anomalous area has moved. The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field, and this magnetic field changes location over time.  In fact, there is an area off the coast of Venezuela that is being called the new Bermuda Triangle. In any case, I'll be packing a compass or two and my trusty digital recorder for my cruise through the Bermuda Triangle to see if anything happens.