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

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