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.


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. 


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 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.