Wendy Royal Fall 2015
As someone who thoroughly appreciates the rich history that the state of Pennsylvania possesses, I also know that with every great achievement comes a great price. Most often the cost can’t be calculated in dollars and cents but in conflict and sacrifice. The United States’ struggle to gain independence and personal freedoms came with great sacrifice.
Farmers who left home and traded a pitchfork for a musket knew they might never return, yet so many joined the Continental Army. The unorganized band of farmers and merchants committed to fight a powerful army that came with ships, cannons and numbers that left them little hope of success. But the cause was bigger than their individual circumstance. Independence at all cost seemed to be the cry for these brave men and women.
Nearly a century later, brother fought brother to prevent an immoral ideology from spreading. Communities were transformed to war zones, and homes became makeshift hospitals and morgues. Gettysburg was forever changed as armies clashed in what is often considered the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. Again, the individual price that ended slavery was extremely high, but it was worth the sacrifice.
Yes, the Revolutionary and Civil wars made enormous contributions to Pennsylvania history, but not all of our history involved war. Violence and murder were often the outcome of the conflicts between Pennsylvania coal miners and their bosses in the late 19th century. Miners risked their jobs, homes and at times their lives to achieve safer working conditions and better wages.
As autumn’s chill approaches, many cities in Pennsylvania unveil the shadowy side of history with haunted history tours. Many haunted history tours take place around Halloween, while cities like Philadelphia offer tours year-round. Some of the untold stories of our history come to light as the sun goes down.
GHOST TOURS OF PHILADELPHIA CANDLELIGHT WALKING TOUR
The secrets of America’s most historic city are revealed in this walking tour through Old City, Independence Park and Society Hill. Hidden gardens, side streets and graveyards uncover an eerie and troubled past shrouded in intrigue. Benedict Arnold, Ben Franklin and other historical figures and founding fathers have left such and indelible mark on Philadelphia that their presence is still felt today.
The creepy 90-minute tour is offered every evening at 7:30 p.m. from March through November. October tours are also offered at 9:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Halloween. Reservations are required.
Tours Depart from Signers’ Garden at 5th & Chestnut streets in Philadelphia.
Tickets: $17/person, $10/person ages 4-12 – You can save $2 on adult tickets by purchasing online at www.ghosttour.com/philadelphia or by calling 215-413-1997.
The website gives instructions on where to pick up your tickets.
GHOST WALKS OF OLD MAUCH CHUNK
The town of Jim Thorpe is never more beautiful than in the fall. But something happens when the sun sets behind the autumn-painted mountains. The little town takes on a different hue; some might say a foreboding hangs over the valley.
The Rotary Club takes full advantage of the town’s dark history by hosting Ghost Walks. A costumed storyteller takes guests on the hourlong 1-mile tour through the streets past historic homes, a church built right out of the mountain and a very notorious jail.
The Ghost Walk takes guests past the Old Jail Museum, where the handprint of an executed prisoner is said to appear on the wall that has been painted over multiple times.
Tours are given from Friday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Dec. 19. Days: Fridays and Saturdays in September and December and Fridays through Sundays in October and November.
Tickets: $12 for adults and $6 for ages 7-12. Though the tours are not scary, they are not recommended for children under 7.
The tour departs from the Inn at Jim Thorpe, 24 Broadway, Jim Thorpe.
Space is limited, so reserve your tour by calling 570-325-2346 or clicking on “Contact Us” on www.jimthorperotary.org/GhostWalks.cfm. Walk-ins are welcome if the tour is not filled. Be at the Inn at Jim Thorpe 15 minutes before the tour is scheduled to depart to check for availability.
Proceeds from the Ghost Walk help support the many community and international service projects of the Rotary Club of Jim Thorpe.
GHOST TOUR OF LANCASTER CITY
Lancaster city has 300 years of history to draw from when exploring its dark side. It was a haven for the Second Continental Congress during the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777 and for fleeing slaves longing for justice and equal opportunity during the following century. Exploring one of America’s oldest cities by candlelight should be both enlightening and unsettling.
The 90-minute tour departs from the Soldiers & Sailors Monument at Penn Square and the intersection of King and Queen Streets in Lancaster.
Tours are available nightly from June through Halloween; on Friday and Saturdays in April, May and November; and on Saturdays only in March. Call for availability December through February.
Tickets are $15 /person; $10 ages 4-12. Purchase tickets by calling 717-687-6687 or online at www.ghosttour.com/lancaster.
GHOSTS OF GETTYSBURG CANDLELIGHT WALKING TOURS
The battle scene must have been horrific, the makeshift hospitals even worse. The Battle of Gettysburg was not confined to the fields and woods around the town; the battle spilled over into the streets and homes of Gettysburg residents. Families were forced to step aside as their homes were transformed into hospitals, while the dead soldiers littered the town. With a past as tragic as theirs, is it any wonder there are so many stories beyond explanation in Gettysburg?
The Ghosts of Gettysburg tours are based on Mark Nesbitt’s best-selling books. There are three separate walking tours, each covering a different historic street in Gettysburg. All three are more than one hour long, with the longest being nearly two hours in length. The tours range from three-quarters of a mile to one and one-quarter miles in length.
Open daily from April through October. Fridays and Saturdays in November and Saturdays in March.
Tickets are $9.50 +tax/person for the Baltimore and Steinwehr Street tours and $10 +tax/person for the Carlisle Street tour. Make reservations at 717-337-0445 or online at www.ghostsofgettysburg.com/tours.htm.
Tours depart from The Ghosts of Gettysburg Headquarters at 271 Baltimore St., Gettysburg. Tour office opens at 2 p.m. on tour days.
EERIE ERIE GHOST WALKS
From the bayfront to historic Millionaire’s Row, Erie’s maritime history includes its share of eerie tales. Several different tours, even those gears toward young adventurers, are available weekends from June though Halloween.
Reservations are required and can be made by calling or texting 814-790-9517 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. When reserving tickets, you are asked to provide a name, valid phone number and number of people in your group.
Tickets are $5 for most of the tours. Check www.eerieerie.com/index.html for exceptions.
HAUNTED PITTSURGH GHOST TOUR
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote of the tours as “… truly great stuff – a delightful mix of western Pennsylvania history and eerie supernatural lore – all meticulously researched, brilliantly crafted and beautifully told.” If you’re looking for guides dressed in period costume or decked in ghoulish makeup, you’ve come to the wrong place. The folks at Haunted Pittsburgh know the rich and sometimes dark history of the Steel City and are eager to share their knowledge with guests.
Tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays from May to early November, starting at 7 p.m. The length of the tour varies from 90 minutes to two hours.
Tickets are $15 and can only be purchased online at www.hauntedpittsburghtours.com
Tours depart from the City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Pittsburgh. Look for your guide at the statue of Mayor Caliguiri.
GHOSTS OF WASHINGTON: HAUNTED HISTORY WALKING TOURS
From Indian raids to a Whiskey Rebellion that brought 13,000 troops to the area in 1794, Washington, Pa., has a rich and tumultuous history. The home of the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion, the David Bradford House is now a museum and National Historic Landmark that details the first domestic challenge against the new American government. While the museum is open throughout the year, Ghosts of Washington tours are offered just one weekend each year.
2015 marks the fifth year for the Ghosts of Washington. The tours will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25, with a new tour departing every 20 minutes from 6 to 9:40 p.m.
Tours depart from the Bradford House, 175 S. Main St., Washington.
Admission is $5 per person. Call 724-222-3604 or log on to www.bradfordhouse.org for more information.
HISTORIC HAUNTS OF DOWNTOWN BETHLEHEM
The Moravian Book Shop has been hosting haunted history tours of Bethlehem since 2009. Founded in 1745 by the Moravian Church, the shop is said to be the oldest continuously running bookstore in the world. It’s not surprising that a town with a centuries-old bookstore has a lot of old buildings and likely a lot interesting stories to tell.
Historic Haunts of Downtown Bethlehem Ghost Tours are offered on Fridays and Saturdays from Oct. 2 to 10 and on Wednesdays through Saturdays from Oct. 14 to 31. The one-hour tours begin at 6 and 6:30 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 7:45 p.m. for the first two weekends and until 9 p.m. the last three. A special midnight tour is planned for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31. The tour is not recommended for children under 10 years of age.
Tours depart from The Moravian Book Shop at 428 Main St., Bethlehem.
Reservations can be made by calling 610-866-5481.
For more information, find Historic Haunts Bethlehem on Facebook or visit the Moravian Book Shop at www.moravianbookshop.com.
MORE GHOST TOURS WORTH TAKING…
Old Jail Ghost Tours, Old Jail Musuem, Jim Thorpe – Oct 3, 10, 17
8th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk, Dubois – Oct 10
Blairsville Underground Railroad Twilight Cemetery Tour – Oct. 17
Flashlight Cave and Haunted Miners Maze Tours, Penn’s Cave, Centre Hall – October 23-24, 30-31
Spooky Stories: Halloween Meets History, Old Stone House, Slippery Rock – Oct 23-24
Haunted Easton Walking Tour: Easton – Oct 23-24
Spirits of the Past Tours, Historic Fallsington – Oct 25
Flashlight Fright Nights, Greene County Historical Society Museum, Waynesburg – October 30-31