Some paranormal investigators theorize that cemeteries and burial sites should not be haunted because spirits are not thought to remain near their earthly remains. However, this thinking can easily be proven wrong with the sheer number of cemeteries and burial sites that are said to be haunted. This directory lists all cemeteries covered within this blog.
Boyington Oak, inside Church Street Cemetery, Bayou Street, Mobile
Most people have heard of the National Register of Historic Places which was established in 1966 by the Historic Preservation Act. Maintained by the National Park Service (NPS), this list denotes places of historical importance throughout the country and within all U.S. territories and possessions. Since its establishment, it has grown to cover nearly 95,000 places.
While the National Register is widely known, the National Historic Landmark (NHL) program is little known. This program denotes buildings, districts, objects, sites, or structures that are of national importance, essentially a step-up from a listing on the National Register. The criteria for being designated as a National Historic Landmark includes:
Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;
Places where prominent persons lived or worked;
Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;
Outstanding examples of design or construction;
Places characterizing a way of life; or
Archeological sites able to yield information.
Among the listings on this exclusive list are the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia; Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building in New York City; and the White House in Washington. Currently, there are only 2,500 landmarks included on the list.
The state of Maryland has more than 1,500 listings on the National Register and has 76 National Historic Landmarks. In addition to these listings, there are seven other nationally important sites that are owned and operated by the National Park Service, so they are technically National Historic Landmarks, though because they are fully protected as government property and do not appear on the list of NHLs.
This article looks at the Maryland landmarks and other protected properties with reported paranormal activity. This article has been divided up and this looks at the first eleven landmarks on the list.
National Historic Landmarks, Part I
Clara Barton National Historic Site
5801 Oxford Road
While this site is owned and operated by the National Park Service, it is listed on the list of National Historic Landmarks as well. I have covered this location in my article on “Montgomery County Mysteries.”
42 East Street Annapolis
This masterpiece of Georgian architecture is also counted as part of the National Historic Landmark listed Colonial Annapolis Historic District. I have briefly covered the paranormal activity here in my article, “Brice House Photos—Annapolis.”
Chestertown Historic District
Hynson-Ringgold House (private)
106 South Water Street
Located on the Chester River on the state’s Eastern Shore, Chestertown was a major port town for several decades in the latter half of the 18th century. As a result, the town is graced with a number of grand merchant’s homes, including the Hynson-Ringgold House, which now comprise this NHL historic district.
The earliest part of this lovely Georgian house was constructed in 1743. As it passed through the hands of various owners, it has gained many additions. Over the years it has been owned by and attracted luminaries who, and who possibly even remain to haunt it. Since the 1940s, the house has served as the home for the president of Washington College.
Rumors of the house being haunted have been circulated since the 1850s, though the only documented story speaks of a maid who lived and worked in the home in 1916. After having her faced touched while she tried to sleep in the attic garret, she eventually refused to sleep in her room.
College of Medicine of Maryland—Davidge Hall
University of Maryland School of Medicine
522 West Lombard Street
Davidge Hall is the oldest medical school building in continuous use in the country, as well as possessing the oldest anatomical theater in the English-speaking world. This elegant, Greek-revival structure was built in 1812 and its anatomical theater reminds us of the dicey issue of anatomical training in early America. While it was important for future physicians to understand anatomy by dissecting human cadavers, there were no established protocols for actually procuring these bodies. Even the most well-established medical institutions and educators often turned to “resurrection men” to steal bodies from local cemeteries and burying grounds, which obviously caused a great deal of consternation among the families of those who were recently deceased.
Dr. John Davidge, an Annapolis-born physician for whom this building was later named, began providing training to local medical students in 1807. Not long after opening his school, which included an anatomical theater, an angry mob interrupted a dissection, stole the corpse and they may have also demolished the building. Following the riot, a bill officially establishing a medical school was passed by the state’s General Assembly. The use of stolen bodies in the College of Medicine ended in 1882 when a bill was passed providing medical schools in the state with the bodies of anyone who had be buried with public funds, including criminals and the indigent.
According to Melissa Rowell and Amy Lynwander’s Baltimore Harbor Haunts, there are reports of disembodied voices and strange sounds within the building. Perhaps the spirits of some of those who were dissected remain here?
The city of Annapolis dates to 1649 when a small settlement named Providence was established on the shore where the Severn River enters the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout the 18th century, the village grew into a prosperous port and administrative city. Its importance was recognized when it was named as the temporary capital of the United States following the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
With its dearth of colonial buildings, much of its historic district was promoted to a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Of course, with much of the historic built environment remaining many of these structures are haunted. Two taverns among them—Middleton Tavern and Reynolds Tavern—that I covered in my article, “One national under the table’—The Haunted Taverns of Annapolis.”
USS Constellation Pier 1, 301 East Pratt Street Baltimore
The last remaining sail-powered warship designed and built by the United States Navy, the USS Constellation was constructed here in Baltimore in 1854 and includes parts from the first Constellation constructed in 1797. Since the ship was decommissioned and preserved as a museum ship in 1955, stories have come from visitors and staff alike of ghosts and assorted paranormal activity being witnessed on board. The same year the ship opened to the public, a photographer remained aboard the ship late one night hoping to capture the image of one of the ship’s ghost. He was rewarded with the image of a 19th century captain striding upon the deck captured on film. I have covered his story here.
B & O Ellicott City Station Museum
2711 Maryland Avenue
There is perhaps no better place to meet one of Ellicott City’s spectral residents than the old Baltimore & Ohio Train Station in downtown. One local resident discovered this fact as he walked to work one foggy morning. Just outside the old station he was approached by a young boy who was apparently lost. The resident told the little boy he would help him find his mother. Taking his hand, they began to walk towards the restaurant where the man worked. Oddly, the man didn’t take any heed to the boy’s old-fashioned clothing, but as they neared the restaurant the child let go of the man’s hand. As he turned the man was shocked to see no one behind him. The little boy had vanished.
The Ellicott City Train Station was witness to the first rail trip ever made in this country on May 24, 1830. That day a horse drawn rail car opened rail service spanning the twenty-six miles between Baltimore and Ellicott City. That day, the station was being built and would be completed in 1831. Over the last nearly two hundred years, as rail service has come and mostly gone in the United States, this station has remained standing and is now one of the oldest remaining train stations in the world and the oldest in this country. Throughout its history it has seen the comings and goings of the citizens of Ellicott City including many sad farewells and happy greetings, all of them leaving their psychic traces on the thick stone walls.
The little boy encountered by the restaurant employee is not the only spectral resident that has been seen here. Staff and visitors alike continue to have odd experiences in the museum.
Amidst the hostilities of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Fort Frederick was constructed on the Maryland frontier to provide shelter and protection attacks from Native Americans and the French. During the Pontiac Uprising of 1763, hundreds of frontier residents found shelter within the fort. During the American Revolution, the fort was pressed into service as a POW prison, housing up to a thousand British and Hessian soldiers at one point. After the founding of the fledgling United States, it was no longer needed and sold at public auction. As fighting broke out during the Civil War, however, the fort was once again pressed into service, although it was quickly found to be unnecessary. The state of Maryland acquired the site as a park in 1922.
While the fort saw mercifully little action, many deaths occurred within its walls from disease. From these grim times of illness, spirits have been left who continue to roam the old battlements and grounds. Among them, a “Lady in White” has been seen drifting through the fort.
Fair, Susan. Mysteries and Lore of Western Maryland. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
19 Maryland Avenue Annapolis
Annapolis has a wealth of colonial brick mansions, all of which are a part of the Colonial Annapolis Historic District, and several of which are important enough to afford individual listings as National Historic Landmarks, including Brice House, the William Paca House, the Chase-Lloyd House (just across the street), and the Hammond-Harwood House. These homes may also share an architect in common, William Buckland. Unfortunately, some of the homes are only attributed to his had as documentation has not survived.
The Hammond-Harwood House is considered most likely to have been designed entirely by Buckland. In fact, the front elevation of the house can be seen in painter Charles Wilson Peale’s contemporary portrait of the architect. On the table at Buckland’s side is a piece of paper with a drawing of the home. It is known, however, that the home’s design was adapted by Buckland from a plate in Andrea Palladio’s 1570 magnum opus, I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (Four Books of Architecture).
Construction on this home for Matthias Hammond, a wealthy planter with fifty-four tobacco plantations, in 1774. The magnificent manse remained a private home for a succession of wealthy families until St. John’s College purchased the house in 1924. A non-profit took over operation of the home in 1940 and it remains a house museum.
Over the years, a legend has sprung up regarding Matthias Hammond’s fiancée. It is believed that Hammond may have never occupied the house once it was completed and the legend states that he neglected his fiancée during the construction, much to her chagrin. Tired of waiting for completion on the mansion, she broke off the engagement, though she later returned to him as a mistress. Witnesses have spotted a woman in colonial dress peering from the windows of the home and have claimed that the spirit may be the aggrieved mistress. Upon her death, she was buried on the property in a secret crypt. According to writer Ed Ockonowicz’s interview with the home’s manager, this legend is not true.
In the dark years prior to the Civil War, John Brown began to formulate plans to liberate the enslaved population. In 1858, he cast his eyes on the small town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia with its Federal armory. His plan was to use his motley crew of men to capture the armory and use the arms stashed there to arm local slaves and foment rebellion. He rented a small farm that had once been home to the late Dr. Booth Kennedy several months before the planned attack. In this spot on the Maryland side of the Potomac River Brown and his men drew up plans for his raid and gathered arms. The raid was put into action on October 16, 1859 and lasted until the arrival of General Robert E. Lee with a detachment of Marines from Washington.
The raiders holed themselves up in a fire engine house which came under fire from the Marines. Eventually the soldiers were able to break their way inside and arrested all the remaining raiders including Brown himself. Brown was quickly put on trial for his leadership in the raid and was executed in nearby Charles Town roughly a month and a half after the failed raid began, on December 2. Since his death, his spirit has been drawn back to many of the places associated with the raid, including the Kennedy Farm.
In 1989, a reporter from the Washington Post interviewed a student who was renting a room inside the historic farmhouse. He reported hearing the sounds of footsteps climbing the stairs to the farmhouse’s second floor where the conspirators slept in the days leading up to the raid. He told the reporter, “it sounds like people are walking up the stairs. You hear snoring, talking and breathing hard. It makes your hair stand up on end.” The student and his roommate would often play video-games late into the evening to avoid going to bed, after which activity usually started. In the years since the interview, a number of people associated with the building have also had frightening experiences there.
Thomas, Dana. “On a tour of Harpers Ferry’s favorite haunts.” Washington Post. 31 October 1989.
Maryland State House
State Circle Annapolis
Located at the center of State Circle, the Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol building still in use, having been built in the final decades of the 18th century. Construction began on the building in 1772 and it was finally completed in 1797, after being delayed by the American Revolution. Even in its incomplete state, the building was used between 1783 and 1784 as a meeting place for the national Congress of the Confederation.
The building’s most prominent feature is the central drum topped with a graceful dome and cupola. So prominent is this feature that it appeared on the back of the Maryland state quarter when it was produced in 2000. This dome plays a part in the capitol’s ghost story.
Legend speaks of a plasterer, Thomas Dance, who was killed while he worked on the building when he fell from the scaffold upon which he was working. According to a guide from the Annapolis Ghost Tour, the contractor refused to pay Dance’s pension and outstanding wages to his family and confiscated his tools, leaving his family destitute.
While it is not known what has kept Mr. Dance’s spirit bound to the state house, he is blamed for much of the paranormal activity within the building. The spirit of a man seen walking on the balustrade at the top of the dome and within the building at night is believed to be Dance. Flickering lights and blasts of chilly air experienced by the living here are also blamed on him.
When I put together my spectral tour of US 29, I realized that a number of locales along the route haven’t been covered in this blog with Montgomery County, Maryland being one of those. Located just outside of the District of Columbia, Montgomery County has become a major Washington suburb in recent decades. It is also home to a number of fascinating hauntings.
Old Georgetown Road
A 2003 article discussing Maryland paranormal investigator Beverly Litsinger has a brief list of haunted places throughout the state including this road in Montgomery County. The article notes that people have had “disturbing sightings of a ghostly being” along this road. It goes on to say that several Civil War-era homes along the road are also haunted. No further information is available.
Brick, Krista. “Ghost-tracker has plenty of weird tales.” Frederick News-Post. 27 October 2003.
Carousel at Glen Echo Park
7300 Macarthur Boulevard
The Glen Echo Park Carousel sports a menagerie of animals, including 39 horses, four ostriches, four rabbits, and a deer, tiger, giraffe, lion, and perhaps several spirits flitting amongst them.
Glen Echo Park opened as an amusement park in 1911 following a couple of decades as a National Chatauqua Assembly. The grounds were outfitted with dozens of rides as the premier park for family fun in the Washington, D. C. area. In 1921, park owners contracted the carousel building firm of Gustav and William Dentzel of Philadelphia to install this carousel for the delight of park patrons. For years, the animals and their accompanying Wurlitzer organ gave rides to guests until the park closed in 1968. After the park was acquired by the National Park Service in 1971, the carousel was restored and continues to delight riders to this day.
Karen Yaffe Lottes and Dorothy Pugh include in their 2012 book, In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County, the experiences of a gentleman who spoke of seeing spirits at the carousel as an adolescent. In the 1960s, while this gentleman was around the age of thirteen, he began sneaking out of the house late at night and his excursions often took him to Glen Echo Park. On a couple occasions he heard the sound of the carousel’s organ playing and saw shadowy forms within the carousel’s round house. As he peeked through the windows, he saw a large group of people inside riding and standing around the ride. Oddly, this group was comprised of African-Americans and they were dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1930s or 40s. On both occasions, the young man was frightened by this vision and fled the scene. This story is odd in that the park was not open to patrons of color until the late 1960s, just before it closed.
Lottes, Karen Yaffe and Dorothy Pugh. In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2012.
Clara Barton National Historic Site
5801 Oxford Road
Groundbreaking nurse, Clara Barton, spent the final fifteen years of her life residing in this odd building in Montgomery County. The wooden portion of the building had been prefabricated in the Midwest for use at disaster sites. In the case of this structure, it had been put together after the devastating flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889 where the building served as the Locust Street Red Cross Hotel. After its emergency use came to an end, it was dismantled and shipped to Washington, D. C. with the expectation that it would be used for the next emergency. In 1891, it was erected in Glen Echo with some modifications and additions for use as the headquarters of Barton’s fledgling Red Cross.
Unfortunately, Barton’s dream of a fine headquarters was thwarted for several years by the lack of transportation and communications infrastructure but in 1897, the building finally became the national headquarters. Ever modest in her own personal needs, Barton took a bedroom at the back of the building. It is here that she spent the final years of her life of service to others.
Now, a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service, visitors and, I suspect some staff (despite the Park Service’s official line that none of its sites are haunted), have encountered a woman in a green period dress, who may be the apparition of the famed Clara Barton, still going about her duties from the other side.
Clara Barton. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 25 January 2022.
It seems that the spirits of the Olney Theatre Center don’t haunt the theatre itself, but rather one of the buildings where theatre staff and artists reside during performance seasons.
The company was initially created as a summer stock on a rural estate with Ethel Barrymore as its first associate director. Over the years it has attracted many of the leading lights of American stage and film, including Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Tallulah Bankhead, and the inimitable Helen Hayes, the First Lady of the American Stage.
An 1889 family home on the property, named Knollton, has served as cast housing since the founding of the company. Cast and staff who have lived in the old house have reported a variety of paranormal activities including apparitions and spectral sounds.
Lottes, Karen Yaffe and Dorothy Pugh. In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2012.
As the county’s Clerk of Court, Upton Beall wanted the prominence of his position reflected in his family home. He had this elegance home built in 1815 in this small crossroads village. Beall’s prominence even brought a visit from Lafayette during his 1824 grand tour of Maryland. The house remained in the Beall family until the 1930s when it was sold away from the family. It was later acquired by the county historical society who have used it as a museum for many decades.
As with many house museums, this house possesses its fair shares of creaks, groans, and disembodied footsteps, typical occurrences in many old houses. Some years ago, a docent working in the kitchen saw the apparition of a black man in old-fashioned clothing kneeling on the floor of the carriage entrance room laying bricks. The brick floor was laid in a herringbone pattern, with the bricks set in sand. This same apparition has been seen by a handful of people over the years. Has this man returned to worry about his carefully crafted floor?
Lottes, Karen Yaffe and Dorothy Pugh. In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2012.
Along Southern roadways and bridges, people sometimes experience strange activity. From lonely “Cry Baby Bridges” to apparitions, phantom coaches, and strange sounds and feelings, this directory covers hauntings throughout the South. This directory covers roads, streets, bridges, trails, and sites immediately adjacent to byways.
AL 169, Connecting US 80 to Opelika, Lee and Russell Counties
The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) June 12, 1923
“GHOST” HOLDS SWAY AS DOUBTERS FLEE
Family Moves From Dulaney Street House And Schemes To Lay Spook Fail.
A “spook” thought to be the spirit of a departed long-distance dancer, has visited the house at 2630 Dulaney street and has driven the tenants away, residents of the block say.
Those who have gone to the house to scoff have departed very suddenly when the “haunt” came forth and gave visible demonstrations of its power, and today the ghostly visitor from the nether world reigns supreme.
Mr. and Mrs. John Welk, who moved into the house from Woodberry six months ago, have been driven out. Residents of the block who have seen strange things happen in the house are inclined to agree with them, and neighbors tread softly as they walk past the deserted house at night.
Non-Stop Jazz Spook.
But though the “ghost” haunts the house, it, too, seems ill at ease, as though it is doing penance. For as it does its stuff it groans mournfully, and the sight of a shoe seems to exercise an unbreakable power over it.
This has caused some to think that it is the ghost of a long-distance dancer who passed out after shuffling for 167 hours and who is doomed as punishment to shuffle for an eternity on the Elysian fields.
Mrs. Welk first became conscious of its presence when a pair of shoes she left on the floor started to shuffle wearily about the room, while heart-rending groans emanated from somewhere in the empty space where the person in them should have been.
Nor is it only Mrs. Welk’s shoes which are moved by the unseen ghost. According to neighbors, it is perfectly impartial and say shoes which are places in the building are seized with a desire to get somewhere else.
This includes not only unattached shoes, but those on the feet of investigators. Persons who have, in a calm and scientific spirit, sought to plumb the depths of the visitations have found that their shoes have suddenly carried them out of the house when the manifestations commenced.
Robert Mason, 2611 Dulaney street, was one of the scoffers who tried to show up the ghost. A pair of shoes were placed on the first floor as bait, and presently they began to move without any visible shanks in them. They moved to the accompaniment of a low moan, and at the same time a sweater which had been placed in the shoes was thrown a foot away.
Goose flesh began to appear on the backs of the necks of the investigators, but they stayed to see what would happen. A moment of shivery silence passed and then Mrs. Welk suddenly screamed, “There he is!”
A shadow appeared on the wall, a shadow which Mrs. Welk declared was the spirit of her dead father. But, unlike Hamlet, she did not stay to converse with it.
“Come with me,” said a hollow ghostly voice.
For a moment the group stood unable to move. Then their shoes got restless and they went out the front door.
George Pettingill, a carpenter, 2638 Dulaney street, is another who tried to lay the ghost. He piled up more shoes then six ghosts could wear in the middle of the floor and put some of his tools on them to weight them down. Suddenly the tools were scattered to the corners of the room and to the cadence of the same lugubrious groans, the shoes began to waltz. Everybody seemed satisfied with this and left.
Dulaney Street lies southwest of downtown Baltimore, just off US 1 in a neighborhood called Mill Hill. Looking on Google Maps, it appears that the house where this haunting took place is no longer standing. The street is derelict with many of the town homes boarded up. A residence that was once a neighbor to 2630 still stands and appears to be occupied by tenants.
This article is interesting, not only in documenting this strange phenomenon, but in linking it to a “long-distance” dancer. It seems that the article is referring to the dance marathons that were popular in the 1920s. In these marathons, couples danced for as long as they could endure. As long as the couple remained moving, they were still in the running and rules sometimes allowed one partner to sleep, while the other remained dancing. The article notes that this particular dancer danced for 167 hours, which is more than six days, which was possible. The current record for marathon dancing, according to Guinness World Records, for an individual is 124 hours and for a pair is a mere 41 hours. Dancers setting records before the advent of Guinness World Records, which was first published in 1951, have not been included.
Dance marathon. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 December 2020.
“Ghost” holds sway as doubters flee. The Evening Sun. 12 June 1923.
In the early 20th century, American roads were a mess. In the late 19th century, the railroad was really the only means to travel throughout the country as roads weren’t well-maintained or even necessary except for local transportation. With the advent of the automobile however, “good roads” (as the movement was called) became increasingly crucial. Car owners began to band together to form auto clubs to create roads for themselves.
In the 1910s, these auto trail organizations and automobile clubs reached even further to create the Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental highways stretching from New York’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. With its popularity among travelers and local governments alike, the idea was expanded to the South with the creation of the Dixie Highway, which originally connected Chicago to Miami. Not only did this open up the South to tourism, but it brought industry as well.
While this new network of roads was increasingly useful, the Federal Government began investigating ways to expand and organize this network. State roadway standards were introduced in 1914 with the creation of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO). Their standards eventually evolved into a U.S. Highway system over the next decade. This system, now nearing a hundred years old, continues to expand to this day.
U.S. Route 29, a north-south highway, connects Pensacola, Florida to Ellicott City, Maryland. Along its route it passes through a number of major cities including Auburn, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Danville, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Fairfax, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and some of DC’s Maryland suburbs before its termination in Ellicott City, a suburb of Baltimore.
For me, US 29 has a very personal connection. On its route through my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, it passes many landmarks from my youth and is the road on which I currently live. It also figures into several stories that I now tell on my Strange LaGrange Tour. For a few years I have wanted to take a big road trip to visit many of the haunted places I have written about and considered that driving the length of US 29 would make an excellent trip. This article covers many of the haunted locales I plan to visit should the trip come to fruition.
This article is intended to provide links to places I have written about elsewhere on my blog along with several brief entries and other suggested locations that I may cover in the future. This article is not intended as a static article, but will change as I cover more locations along the route of US 29.
US 29 begins at the intersection of North Palafox Street and Cervantes Street (US 90 and 98), just north of downtown Pensacola. While there are no haunted places (that I know of) at that immediate intersection, less than a mile south is a cluster of locations. The Saenger Theatre (118 South Palafox) is located at the intersection of South Palafox and Intendencia Street. A block south of the theatre is a cluster of hauntings around Plaza Ferdinand VII (which is haunted) that includes the T.T. Wentworth Museum, the portion of Zaragoza Street between S. Palafox and S. Baylen Streets, the Quayside Art Gallery, Pensacola Children’s Museum, and Seville Quarter. Just east of the Plaza is Old Pensacola Village.
Old Christ Church 405 South Adams Street
The Old Pensacola Village consists of a collection of historic and haunted buildings important to the early history of Pensacola including the 1832 Old Christ Church. The churchyard of the church once held the remains of three of its vicars, but during renovations, their graves were obscured. Some years ago, their remains were recovered during archaeological excavations. During the service marking their reburial, one young man witnessed the three vicars walking among the guests.
US 29 bypasses downtown Andalusia which features a haunted jail. The Old Covington County Jail can be viewed from North Cotton Street behind the courthouse.
As the highway makes its way through downtown Troy, Alabama, it passes near the first of many major institutions of higher learning, Troy University. Two dormitories on the campus, Pace and Shackleford Halls, feature ghost stories.
North of the city of Tuskegee, US 29 heads through the Tuskegee National Forest, a site of high strangeness that includes tales of ghosts and Sasquatch sightings.
As US 29 approaches Auburn, it joins with I-85 to bypass the city, though there is a concentration of haunted places in and around downtown and Auburn University. Two locations at the university have been covered in this blog including the University Chapel and the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, both of which are located on College Street.
Auburn Train Depot
120 Mitcham Avenue
Railroad passengers entering and leaving Auburn have passed through one of the three buildings that have occupied this site since 1847. The first building was destroyed during the Civil War while its replacement was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike. The current building was erected in 1904 and served as a rail depot until 1970. The building was left empty in 2003 after being used as a real estate office for some 20 years. The building has served as a restaurant for a number of years and rumor has it that staff has experienced a number of strange doings.
There is a legend about the building recounted in Haunted Auburn and Opelika regarding a young woman who met a young man here. The couple began to meet regularly despite the insistence of the young woman’s father that she would marry another man. The young couple planned to elope, but the young woman’s brother thwarted the plans and killed his sister’s lover. She then threw herself in front of an arriving train. Her wail intertwined with the train’s whistle are supposedly still heard.
Cole, Ashtyne. “City plans to renovate historic train depot.” Auburn Plainsman. 12 June 2014.
Serafin, Faith, Michelle Smith and John Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Woodham, Brian. “Restaurant coming to Auburn Train Depot.” Auburn Villager. 3 December 2014.
As US 29 (still concurrent with I-85) passes into Opelika, it crosses AL 169, which has had some activity.
The exit with US 280 provides access to Spring Villa(1474 Spring Villa Road), a most unusual plantation home with ghosts and other strangeness. At the next exit, US 29 becomes independent and heads north through Chambers County.
The city of Valley extends up to the state line with West Point, Georgia. Just before 29 crosses that line it passes through the community of Lanett with its Oakwood Cemetery(1st Street) which is home to the dollhouse grave of Nadine Earles.
West Point, Georgia
In downtown West Point, the Depression era U. S. Post Office(729 4th Avenue) may feature a few spirits. The area also has a small Civil War-era fortification, Fort Tyler, which was constructed to protect an important railway bridge over the Chattahoochee. The four-hour siege that was fought here in April of 1865 left many dead, including the commanders of the fort. These men were buried in Pine Wood Cemetery which is passed by US 29 as it leads north to LaGrange. Both of these locations may be home to paranormal activity.
I have been a resident of LaGrange since early childhood and this town instilled in me a love of ghost stories. For the past couple years, I have been providing a ghost tour of downtown, the Strange LaGrange Tour, on which I feature the LaGrange Art Museum(112 Lafayette Parkway). Along its route through town, 29 passes LaGrange College with its antique centerpiece, Smith Hall. My tour discusses Smith Hall, Hawkes Hall, and the College Chapel, which are all spirited places. The college’s theatre, Price Theatre, off Panther Way, has an assortment of theatre ghosts.
In its journey between LaGrange and Atlanta, the road passes a number of haunted locations, though I have yet to cover any of them in this blog.
Downtown Atlanta has a number of haunted places on its famous Peachtree Street including the Ellis Hotel(176 Peachtree Street), the Fox Theatre (660 Peachtree Street), and Rhodes Memorial Hall(1516 Peachtree Street) all of these are covered in my “Apparitions of Atlanta” article.
Leaving DeKalb County, the road enters Gwinnett County near Stone Mountain, home of Stone Mountain Park(1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard). Not only have there been spiritual encounters on the slopes of the titular monadnock, but the park’s Southern Plantation has a number of spiritual residents inside the historic structures.
As the highway leaves Gwinnett County, it passes through Barrow and into Oconee County. South of US 29 is the small town of Watkinsville, where the creepy Eagle Tavern(26 North Main Street) has served customers, and now museum patrons, for more than 200 years.
From Blacksburg, South Carolina, US 29 continues across the state line into North Carolina. I have not covered any locations in Cleveland or Gaston Counties. In Charlotte, I have covered one location, the Carolina Theatre(224-232 North Tryon), though I intend to rectify this in the near future.
Salisbury, North Carolina
Some years ago, I discovered an 1898 article from the Salisbury Sun describing the appearance of a ghost on Fisher Street. In addition, I discovered that the building at 122 Fisher Street has been reported as haunted. These locations were written up in my article, “’His ghostship’—Salisbury, NC.”
Salisbury National Cemetery 202 Government Road
The treatment of prisoners by both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War was atrocious and certainly has led to very active haunted locations where the prisons operated. This is certainly evident in Salisbury where an old textile mill was turned into a prison to house 2,000, but eventually held some 11,000. With a number of deaths occurring on a daily basis, a small cemetery was established a short distance from the prison which in 1874 became the Salisbury National Cemetery. According to Karen Lilly-Bowyer, a retired educator and the operator of the Downtown Ghost Walk, the area around the old prison site and the cemetery are quite active and a Union sentry has been spotted around the trenches where the prisoners were interred.
Lilly-Bowyer, Karen. “A war-haunted landscape.” Salisbury Post. 22 January 2011.
While I have yet to cover Lynchburg in my blog, there are a number of haunted locales here, especially on the campus of Randolph College.
Sweet Briar, Virginia
US 29 passes through the small college town of Sweet Briar, home to the private women’s college Sweet Briar. From the tales that have been told on campus, it seems the founders of the college have remained here.
As US 29 passes out of the city, it comes near a haunted former bed and breakfast, the Silver Thatch Inn(3001 Hollymead Drive).
Brandy Station, Virginia
This small community in Culpeper County was the scene of one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War in 1863. A small home near the Brandy Station depot was commandeered as a hospital after the battle. The patients left graffiti covering the walls and perhaps spirits as well, giving this home the nickname Graffiti House(19484 Brandy Road). A small, historic church, Fleetwood Church, nearby and the Brandy Station Battlefield are also known to be paranormally active.
This small, Fauquier County town is home to several haunted places, including the Black Horse Inn, the Hutton House, and a home called “Loretta.”
Manassas National Battlefield Park
US 29 cuts directly across the Manassas Battlefield in Prince William County. Among these farm fields, hills and wooded copses, two major Civil War battles–the First and Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas–were fought. The first battle was fought on July 21, 1861, and the second battle was fought on August 29-30, 1862. As a result, this battlefield is known to be quite haunted. New York Avenue, so named for the New York regiments that were decimated here during the second battle, is known to be haunted by the apparition of a Zouave soldier.
Occupying the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s former estate, Arlington National Cemetery provides a resting place for some 400,000 soldiers from every conflict since the Civil War. With so many dead, there are ghost stories regarding the cemetery, Arlington Mansion, and the surrounding area.
US 29 enters the nation’s capital on the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River. It continues onto Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown before crossing Rock Creek and becoming an elevated freeway. This point over Rock Creek is significant for two reasons, the bridge itself is haunted and this crossing is at the beginning of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
The canal, which was begun in 1828, was meant to provide transportation of cargo from the end of the navigable portion of the Potomac to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the end, cost overruns ended the construction in Cumberland, Maryland, 184.5 miles from it’s beginning. From the end of construction in 1831 to 1928, the canal was used primarily to ship coal from the Alleghany Mountains to Georgetown. The “Grand Old Ditch,” as it was called, lay abandoned for many years until ownership was overtaken by the National Park Service. The canal is open as a National Historic Park with a trail alongside it. From end to end, the canal is lined with legends and ghost stories.
Along its route through Washington, US 29 comes near many haunted places. For a list of places covered in this blog, please see my District of Columbia Directory.
Montgomery County, Maryland
Montgomery County is a suburban county providing suburbs for Washington. While I don’t have any haunted places listed along US 29, there are several places close by. See my article, “Montgomery County Mysteries.”
This city’s historic district lies in the valley of the Patapsco River, with Main Street running downhill to a bridge over the river. A tributary, the Tiber River, meets the Patapsco near here and problems with severe flooding have been experienced at points along Main Street. One of these recent floods is discussed in my article on theJudge’s Bench(8385 Main Street). Housing shops, boutiques, and homes, many of the buildings along Main Street also house spirits.
Since I started my blog, I have been hesitant to use random encounters from online. Of course, while many of these stories are hard, nay impossible, to prove, some of them do ring with a sense of truth. For a writer like me, one of the most difficult tasks in my research is finding good, firsthand accounts of ghostly encounters, especially for areas where there is a general lack of documented stories (i.e. books, newspaper articles, etc.).
Recently, I have become fascinated with the Ghosts of America website. This website collects stories from people throughout the country. While many of these accounts talk about ghosts in private homes, some discuss specific locations. While wading through this vast collection, I’m looking for specific accounts that not only mention specific locations but have a sense of authenticity as well.
Please note, I cannot guarantee that any of these places are truly haunted or that these accounts are totally truthful.
Birmingham, Alabama was named for the English city of Birmingham—one of the earliest industrial cities in the Western world. Altoona, Alabama, which was founded around the turn of the 20th century as a coal-mining town, was named for the great Pennsylvania coal-mining town of Altoona. Likely, the town supplied coal for the burgeoning steel industry centered in nearby Birmingham.
There’s not much to the community of Altoona; Main Street is Alabama Highway 132 as it heads southwest to Oneonta in neighboring Blount County, traveling east you’ll connect with US 278. A post office and several stores form the center of the town with small homes radiating outward.
Brown Street branches off Main Street and winds through rural woods with sporadic houses lining its side before it terminates south of town. An anonymous poster to Ghosts of America documented an interesting encounter on this street. A woman was driving this street at night when her car broke down within 500 yards of 11th Avenue. She pulled off the road and called her husband to come get her.
As she waited on the side of the road, she noted that she felt comfortable as she was familiar with the area. An old Dodge drove past her and she watched as it turned around to check on her. As the vehicle passed her again, she saw an elderly man driving. Slowing down, the mysterious driver smiled at her and nodded, “as if to let me know I would be fine.” Reaching for her phone, the woman looked to see if her husband was nearby. As she looked up again, the vehicle was nowhere in sight, and the witness realized the old Dodge had made no sound at all.
New York Avenue begins auspiciously at the White House heading northwest towards Maryland. As one of the original avenues laid out by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, this thoroughfare originally began at the Potomac River southwest of the White House, but over time those sections of the avenue have been consumed by development, so now only a block remains south of the White House. According to L’Enfant’s plan, the avenue terminated at Boundary Street (now Florida Avenue), though support was garnered around the turn of the 20th century to extend the road into Maryland. This was finally accomplished in 1931.
As New York Avenue stretches northeast away from the hubbub of downtown Washington, its monumental nature falls away and it begins to take on a more plebeian flair as it sidles up to the Amtrak Railyards. Upscale businesses are replaced with light industrial and pedestrian commercial development. Efforts to redevelop the corridor were discussed in 1980 and up through the early 2000s, though much of that work has not come to fruition. A 2005 study of the most crash-prone intersections in the city concluded that five were located on New York Avenue, with the top one being the intersection with Bladensburg Road.
An encounter posted to Ghosts of America makes note of the avenue’s dicey reputation, especially after dark. “Larry” however, decided to use it as a shortcut around 3 AM one morning. As he waited at a stoplight, a disheveled man approached his car and stopped in front. The light turned green and the man continued to stand in front of his car. Larry honked, though the strange man continued standing there. As he backed his car up to go around, Larry realized that the man did not have legs and was seemingly floating in mid-air. Terrified, he sped away from the scene.
Melrose Landing Boulevard is a sparsely inhabited road through rural Putnam County, Florida, near the towns of Hawthorne and Melrose. According to a poster named Sarah on Ghosts of America, it was along this road that her father and brother came upon a woman standing in the road “in a dress that looked to be out of the 1700’s.” She appeared suddenly, and the truck didn’t have time to stop before passing through her.
Around 3 AM on November 1, 2009, All Saints’ Day, the day after Halloween, Sarah turned onto the road at the same place where her father and brother had their earlier incident. As she drove down the road she passed a woman walking “with her long dress all gathered up in her arms.” Realizing that she might need to check on the woman, she turned around and discovered no one around. Sarah also noted that she was returning home from working at a seasonal haunted attraction and was driving a hearse. She considered that the oddity of someone encountering such a vehicle on such a day might have frightened the mysterious woman and that she may have fled into the woods, though Sarah doubted it.
Connecting Valdosta with Moody Air Force Base and Fitzgerald, GA 125 is named Bemiss Road in Valdosta as it heads towards the small community of Bemiss. A poster on Ghosts of America named Arturias revealed that he drove this road frequently at night over the course of fifteen years. During that time, he witnessed people walking along the road, though on three occasions he “noticed coming up on them that they didn’t have legs under the streetlights. Looked faded out.”
After these experiences, he heard the road referred to as the “Highway of Death.” I can find nothing online to prove or disprove whether this is actually the case and why.
Branching off of US 31W, Baker Road serves as a truck entrance to Fort Knox. A post on Ghosts of America from someone going by the handle, Redfraggle, was apparently written by one of those truck drivers who frequently drives Baker Road late at night. While headed towards the Brandenburg Gate, this driver had to swerve “to avoid hitting a dark-haired woman crossing the road.” Dressed in a muumuu, the woman appeared solid and the driver stopped to check on her. The woman only looked at him with a “broken hearted” expression and vanished.
The driver reports that he has seen the woman many times but doesn’t stop for her. In addition, this apparition has appeared along this stretch of road to his fellow drivers.
Please note that this road is on a military base and off limits to the public.
Fort Knox, Kentucky Ghost Sightings. GhostsofAmerica.com. Accessed 30 July 2020.
Elbert Stewart Road
Albany/Independence, Louisiana Area
About five miles north of Albany and five miles west of Independence is Elbert Stewart Road, home to the locally known Albany Lights. I can find no other reference to these lights online or in any of my research.
A submission from Larry on Ghosts of America, describes his experiences with the lights throughout his life. According to the post, Elbert Stewart Road was once called Dummy Line Road. The term “dummy line” refers to railroads that were constructed to serve the timber as it cut huge swathes of land throughout the South the end of 19th and into the early 20th centuries. Presumably, these lines were called “dummy” because they did not connect to the transportation rail lines.
The story of the lights involves a brakeman who was killed when he failed to pin the coupling between two cars and was crushed. The lights are supposed to be the brakeman’s signal “that the pinning was made.”
Larry explains that some years ago the road was named for his grandfather and that at 49 years of age, he recalls the lights appearing all his life. Interestingly, he points out that if you have photographic equipment on you, the lights will not appear (what about cellphones?). Otherwise, viewers have an 80% chance of seeing the hazy, bluish colored light.
Interestingly, he notes that the phenomenon has been investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Geographic Society. None of these investigations were successful as they all had photographic equipment on them.
A comment on the post from a nearby resident states that they have encountered the lights here “plus much more.”
Church Road Cemetery
Broomes Island, Maryland
Occupying a small peninsula extending into the Patuxent River, the community of Broomes Island plays host to a haunted cemetery. Not only do spirits haunt the cemetery, but they apparently have spilled out onto surrounding streets. This location is documented in Ghosthunting Maryland by the father and son duo of Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. The Varholas describe a ritual where someone circles the cemetery three times at night, after which a fog rolls in the laughter of young girls can be heard.
A post on Ghosts of America mentions that the cemetery has numerous spirits which have spilled out into the nearby streets where they “scream and laugh.” A comment on this post is from a newspaper delivery man who has encountered the spirit of a young boy who told him and his mother to leave. Afterwhich, they saw it run past the car windows.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cinncinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
MS 33 Bridge over the Homochitto River
Less than a mile north of the unincorporated community of Rosetta in the Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi State Route 33 crosses the Homochitto River on a fairly new bridge. This bridge has seen multiple iterations as the shallow river erodes the stream banks. For nearly two centuries a ferry crossed here which was eventually replaced by a bridge. That bridge was replaced in 1941. The new bridge was damaged during a flood, and it was repaired and extended in 1956.
By 1974, the bridge was again needing work and it was extended again. Just two months after completion, the bridge was washed out during a flood. This washout claimed the lives of two men who were reportedly standing on the bridge. The current bridge was completed by the MDOT in 1978, though it too, has been extended around 2014.
A brief post on Ghosts of America states that phantom headlights have been seen on this bridge heading southbound but disappearing before they cross the full length of the bridge.
South Queen Street Bridge over the Neuse River
Kinston, North Carolina
A couple from out of town was staying at “the hotel that sits right next to the Queen Street Neuse River Bridge,” presumably the Red Carpet Inn and Suites. After dark they walked across the road to get dinner from Hardee’s. As they made their way back to their hotel, they began to hear the sounds of “men screaming, ‘stop the fire’ and the sounds of water splashing” coming from the direction of the bridge. The sounds continued with the noise of a battle. At the same time, they both smelled the odor of cigar smoke. They ran back to their room.
The following day, they mentioned the incident to the hotel manager and were told that a battle was fought there during the Civil War, and that guests routinely report hearing and seeing things around the bridge. The couple reported their experiences on Ghosts of America.
In fact, this was the site of the Kinston Bridge which came under attack by Union troops on December 14, 1862. After defending a defensive line south of the bridge, Confederate troops retreated towards the bridge and crossed into town. Thinking that all his men had crossed, General Nathan Evans ordered his men to set the bridge aflame. However, a number of Confederate troops still remained on the opposite side and were now taking the brunt of artillery fire from both Union troops and their own men on the other side of the bridge.
As these men began to run for the bridge they realized that it was in flames and many were captured by Union forces. General John G. Foster sent his men to douse the flames and continue across the partially destroyed bridge into Kinston. As Evans retreated away from town, Union soldiers looted and destroyed parts of the city.
Stretching between Key West., Florida and Fort Kent, Maine, US 1 is the longest north-south road in the country. While this highway passes through many busy urban areas, it also passes through quiet, rural areas such as this area of Kershaw County. Michael posted on Ghosts of America about his experience on this lonely stretch of road around 12:30 at night.
As he passes through an undeveloped area, Michael passed a woman walking on the side of the road. He noticed that she had an “old mottled blanket wrapped around her. The entire figure was so very pale. Her hair was blonde, and the blanket appeared to have dark dots on it.” As he passed her, he wondered why someone would be out on a chilly night on this lonely stretch of road. Looking in his rearview mirror, he could only see darkness. The following night he was on the lookout for the woman, but she did not appear. After arriving at work, he told some of his co-workers about the experience only to have someone come in from the next room saying that they had seen the woman as well. Their description matched his, all the way down to the blanket.
An employee for an industrial laundry posted on Ghosts of America that two of his drivers had strange experiences on Dolly Parton Parkway. The first encounter involved a driver as he drove into work around 2:30 AM along Dolly Parton Parkway. He encountered a thick fog, and “came upon 4 men in old tattered clothes pushing a cannon across the road.” Slamming on the brakes, he sat and watched as the men rolled the cannon across the road without noticing him or his car. Going into work, the shaken driver told his supervisor of his experience.
The second encounter also involved a man driving the same stretch of road in the very early morning also driving through a thick patch of fog. “His entire windshield froze completely over with frost to the point where he had to pull over and scrape it with his license.” Interestingly, the temperatures that morning were quite warm.
The poster, Leslie, Googled the area and discovered that a battle was fought near the roadway during the Civil War. Though a small battle, the Battle of Fair Garden was furious, and led to roughly 250 casualties. Most curious is a detail on the recently installed marker near the battlefield: the battle was fought on a cold January morning in a heavy fog.
A resident East Virginia Avenue named Larry reported seeing a man walking the street with a lantern in this small Virginia town. He notes that he and his family have lived on the street as long as he can remember and that he has seen this apparition the entire time. While he knows of no other neighbors who have witnessed it, several of his relatives have seen it. One relative visiting from out of town went out to smoke in the front yard around midnight and watched an orange light glide down the street. As the light came closer, it vanished.
The town of Crewe was created in 1888 by the Norfolk & Western Railroad—later Norfolk Southern—as a site for locomotive repair shops. The necessity of the repair shops decreased towards the middle of the 20th century.
West Virginia State Route 2 New Cumberland, West Virginia
Hancock County is the northernmost county in West Virginia, and the South. It pushes up between Ohio and Pennsylvania, and one side of the county is defined by the Ohio River. New Cumberland is one of the towns located on the river. WV 2 runs through the heart of the town.
A post on Ghosts of America from John describes an incident that happened to him as he was driving southbound on WV 2 in New Cumberland in the spring of 1974. As he and his passenger neared railroad tracks and a bridge, “a ‘man’ stepped out in front of my vehicle. He turned and looked directly at me as the hood of my car went through him.” Then he suddenly disappeared. He continues, “I actually saw the upper part of his body in the middle of my hood. The lower part was inside the front of the car.” Reportedly, the man had white hair and beard, and “wore a ‘brimmed’ hat.”
In tracing the route of WV 2 through New Cumberland, I could only locate one place where a bridge and railroad tracks are close together: at the bridge over Hardin Run. Going southbound, the railroad crossing is about 200 feet after the bridge. Is this where the mysterious apparition appeared to a frightened driver in 1974?
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.
—Williams Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5
The world of the theatre is filled with mysticism, superstition, and spirits. As a theatre person, nearly every theatre I have worked in has this mysterious side, especially in the connection to the spirit world. In his Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans, author Jeff Dwyer contends that one can be almost certain that a theatre will be haunted.
There are few certainties in ghost hunting. But when it comes to haunted places, ships and theaters offer ghost hunters the greatest opportunities for encounters with the spirit world. Theaters often harbor the ghosts of actors, writers, musicians and directors because something about their creative natures ties them to the place where they experienced their greatest successes or failures. Stagehands and other production staff may haunt backstage areas where they worked and, perhaps suffered a fatal accident. They may also be tied to room where props are stored. The ghosts of patrons remain long after death because they love the theater or, more likely, they loved an actor who performed regularly at that location.
Much of the mysticism in theatre revolves around actors, especially in how they take on a character. Even the language of an actor bears parallels with the language of ghosts and spirits. Some actors will describe an experience akin to possession when they are inhabiting another’s body and lose themselves. Certainly, within the ritual of preparing for a show, there may be a ritual in applying makeup, getting into costume, and warming up. I’ve watched as some actors will walk the set, absorbing the energy of the world of the play, all of which resembles summoning. If the play utilizes masks, actors may put on the mask in a nearly religious manner. Onstage, the actors are in tune with the energy that surrounds them, including that from other actors, the set, the audience, the crew, and the audience. Once the actor has finished his hour of strutting and fretting upon the stage, these spirits are banished to the world of fiction. But, are they really? Perhaps some of these spirits linger in the theatre?
As for the directors, writers, musicians, technical crew members, and the backstage functionaries, many imbue their work with their own passion, thus leaving a little bit of themselves behind in their work. Even once these people pass on, they may return to the theatres to feed their passion in the afterlife.
The practice of leaving a ghost light onstage when the theatre is dark is wrapped up in superstition and practicality. Some will argue that the light assures the theatre’s spirits that the theatre is not abandoned and provides light for their own performances. In a way, this could be a sacrifice to the genius loci, or the spirit of a location. As for practicality, non-superstitious thespians will contend that a ghost light provides illumination to prevent injuries if someone enters the darkened space.
Theatres are often inherently dangerous places where actors, crew, and even some patrons can, and do, get injured. Indeed, there have been numerous accidents throughout history where deaths have occurred on or just off stage sometimes leaving spirits in limbo within the space. The haunting of the Wells Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia comes to mind. One of the spirits in this 1913 theatre may be that of a careless stagehand who became entangled in the hemp rope-operated fly system (a system that is still in use) and accidentally hung himself. Other deaths may be blamed on medical conditions that have claimed have claimed lives while people are at work.
As for lingering spirits of theatre patrons, a love for theatre or a particular space may be reason enough to return in the afterlife. Though it seems that most of the hauntings by members of the audience are residual in nature with phantom laughter and applause sometimes being heard.
Contributing to theatres’ haunted natures, some theatres occupy spaces that were not intended to be performance spaces. These repurposed buildings may already be haunted, and the spirits adapt to the new use of the location. Among the numerous examples of these types of theatres are the Baltimore Theatre Project in Maryland in an old building originally constructed for a men’s fraternal organization and the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Florida, formerly a post office and courthouse.
Over the decade I have worked on this blog, I have covered a number of theatres and theatre spaces. In addition to places that have formerly served as theatres, I have added movie houses, larger structures that include a theatre, structures that are associated with theatres, and the Maryland home of the Booth family, which included some of America’s most famous and infamous actors in the 19th century.
A ghost haunts the light-house at Havre de Grace, Md. The keeper of the light-house said, recently: “The head of the man, devil, woman, or whatever it was, appeared to rest against the wire frame around the lantern. The top of the head was covered in black, and the eyes and yellowish-looking inch or so of the forehead above them appeared set in a frame of black. Its eyes were as big as those of a cow, and sparkled just like two big diamonds. There was no expression about them as they moved and quivered in the lantern light.” He couldn’t look long at them, as they affected his eyes more than the bright steady flame of the lantern. Where the figure appeared, it left a strong odor of cologne. The place which generally smells of oil, was then filled with a perfume like a flower garden.
The Havre de Grace Lighthouse, as it was officially known, was constructed in 1827 by John Donohoo, who constructed a number of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses in the early 19th century. The light is situated at the point where the Susquehanna River enters the bay and was authorized by the Maryland General Assembly after numerous wrecks occurred at this point. For much of its history, the light was operated by members of the O’Neill family starting with the very first keeper, John O’Neill. The light was discontinued by the coast guard in 1975. The light has been restored and is currently operated as a museum.
This story from 1889 could be considered the first documented story of paranormal activity at the lighthouse. Several recent sources contend that activity remains at the site. Ed Okonowicz, who has venerably collected ghostlore from the Chesapeake region, notes that a number of locals walking near the lighthouse at night have seen a “slow-moving shadow in the upper windows of the light tower,” while a dark figure has been encountered near the memorial cannon at the tower’s base. Author Amelia Cotter includes the lighthouse in her book, Maryland Ghosts. Her account mentions that the body of a murder victim was discovered on lighthouse grounds in 1994. She believes that his spirit may remain here as well.
Cotter, Amelia. Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, 2nd Haunted Road Media, 2015.
Okonowicz, Ed. The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
“A Perfumed Ghost.” Fayetteville News. 15 February 1889.
Whittington, W.M. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Havre de Grace Light. 25 November 1975.
In 1955, a photographer was poised to snap a photograph of a spirit aboard the USS Constellation, the historic ship docked in Baltimore Harbor. The photographer, Naval Reserve Lieutenant Commander Allen Ross Brougham, set up a camera on deck just before midnight December 29th. A friend interested in the psychical world advised him that midnight was the best time to capture something. At 11:59, something materialized on the deck and the lucky photographer snapped the shutter on his camera, capturing an incredible image.
Sometime later, Brougham recalled the moment. “How can you describe a ghost? It’d be difficult to do it justice—the sudden, brightening blueish-white radiance; the translucency.”
A moment before, the naval officer detected the sharp odor of gunpowder. In that instant, the spirit appeared, took a single stride, and vanished after the camera’s shutter snapped.
The photograph, which was published in the December 31st issue of the Baltimore Sun, shows the figure of a man beginning to materialize. His right leg, seemingly fully formed, is determinedly stepping forward and a white or gold stripe rises up the side of the spirit’s trousers. From the hips up, the image is blurred by movement, though there is still enough detail to make out that this is a naval officer. The man’s right arm is drawn across his waist as he reaches for the hilt of his sword.
The man’s coat appears to have a swallowtail that seems to lift at the back as he marches forward. Echelons of gold buttons rise on the breast, possibly with fanciful embroidery, and large epaulets crown the shoulders. Above the figure’s craggy face, he seems to wear a captain’s bicorn hat.
A glance at a history of naval uniforms dates this style to around 1852, putting this figure around the time that this ship was constructed. In the Sun article, Brougham posits that the uniform is from around 1800, but the figure’s pants with braiding on the side, prove that this is later. A ship’s captain of 1800 would have worn a similar jacket, though with knee breeches and stockings.
The history of the USS Constellation is complicated. The sloop-of-war that is docked in Baltimore Harbor was constructed here in 1854, though some parts of the original 1797 frigate of the same name were used. For much of the 20th century, authorities argued that this ship was simply a rebuilt version of the 1797 ship, which has not held up under close scrutiny. From the date of her construction, the ship remained commissioned by the Navy until 1955—nearly 100 years—before she was retired for preservation as a museum ship.
During her time as a museum ship, the Constellation has seen several restorations and paranormal investigations. Staff and guests have experienced much activity aboard the historic vessel. I plan to explore these encounters in further articles.
Catling, Patrick Skene. “’Ghost’ appears, but Navy doesn’t give up the ship.” Baltimore Sun. 31 December 1955.
Mills, Eric. The Spectral Tide: True Ghost Stories of the U. S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009.