Eastern Airlines Flight 401

At the time our story takes place the Tristar Jet (Lockheed L-1011) was a mere four months old in December 1972 and the height of commercial aviation. In fact, it’s release was just a little later than the equally nascent Boeing 747. On December 29th, 1972 there were 163 passengers abroad along with 10 flight attendants, and three crew members. The Eastern Air Lines flight 401 was headed out of chilly JFK Airport in New York towards Miami. However, most of those aboard this flight would not reach their final destination...and some, they say, still wander the skies.

Source Source Source

Captain Bob Loft was the pilot at the controls and with over 30 years of experience and normal flying conditions, there was no reason this flight wouldn’t be like the hundreds he had flown. Additionally, Donald L. Repo, an aircraft mechanic, and First Officer John Stockhill, a flight engineer were aboard. However, an issue was encountered when the front nose gear was having some issues and despite attempts to lower it, the signal that it was actually down and locked never appeared. Air Traffic Control was alerted and the plane was put into a holding pattern over the Florida Everglades.

The three-man crew worked diligently to solve the problem. Once autopilot was engaged, the malfunctioning light was dismantled by Captain Loft and First Officer John Stockhill, while flight engineer Luis Repo attempted to use a porthole in order to get a visual on the gear. 

Sadly, their driven focus on the interior landing light was so all-consuming that they failed to realize that one of the crew members had accidentally switched off the autopilot. As they steadily lost altitude, the crew nor the people on board were aware that their lives would be in grave danger soon. Because ATC had them in a holding pattern over the Everglades, there were no city lights or other visual cues that could help alert anyone aboard that they were plummeting. 

By the time the crew realized how horribly wrong their flight was going, it was too late. Flight 401 crash-landed into the Everglades as jet fuel engulfed it at over 250mph. The National Transportation Safety Board reported after an investigation that the main fuselage broke into four sections, which killed First Officer Stockhill instantly. 

A mere 67 of the 163 passengers managed to survive the crash, along with 8 of the flight attendants. Repo and Captain Loft died en route to the hospital and during the rescue, respectively. 

The crash of Flight 401 on December 29th, 1972 remains one American aviation’s worst aerial disasters. 

But what does this do with Astonishing Legends (...well, besides the fact that Scott really likes planes, trains, and automobiles?). Well, shortly after the crash rumors and sightings began to swell in the aviation community and beyond.

One of the biggest reasons people attribute to the flight crew and other strange things happening on other Tristar Jets is the fact that the undamaged parts of Flight 401 were used in other Eastern Air Lines planes.

A little over a year later in 1973, an Eastern Airlines Tristar was boarding at JFK to its flight down to Miami. That morning, one of the Vice Presidents of Eastern Airlines was traveling, so he decided to board the airplane quite early. As he moved towards his seat, he noticed a company captain in full uniform in the first class cabin walking around. Excited to have a chat with the pilot, he walked over and the two began to discuss the flight. However, the VP soon realized something was amiss as he realized that not only did he recognize the man, this man was no other than Captain Loft. Stunned and confused, the VP called for a crew member and as he turned his head the apparition of Captain Loft vanished. Seeing this as a sign the VP requested that a full search of the plane be carried out to find either the Captain or something wrong with the aircraft. Nothing was found and the flight had no problems...but maybe that is from Captain Loft’s double-check.

Another story recognizes Repo as the haunter of the Eastern Air L-1011. A flight engineer arrived at the L-1011 and was shocked to see another engineer had beat him there. Thinking there was some kind of confusion, the flight engineer approached the other flight engineer and before he could speak, he recognized the engineer...it was Don Repo. Before the flight engineer could turn or scream or do anything, Repo simply said “You don’t need to worry about the pre-flight, I’ve already done it.” before disappearing.

However, the most infamous sighting of the doomed crew members was on Flight 903 from JFK en route to Mexico City. A Stewardess, Fay Merryweather, was busy in the galley prepping meals for the flight. As she reached for the oven door to put in the next round of food, she screamed as she saw the face of Repo staring back at her. Frightened, she brought another stewardess and the aircraft engineer on board to check the oven. Shockingly, and unlike other sightings of Repo, his face remained...and looked as if it was trying to communicate with them. Finally, after a few seconds, the apparition muttered “Watch out for a fire in this plane” before it disappeared into the ether.

The flight reached Mexico City without any hiccups, except for a few frightened members of the team, however, on the return flight there were problems with the starboard engine. An inspection was done but the flight was cleared for take-off. However, as it rose the engine failed and backfired repeatedly. The engine was shut down right before it caught on fire and no one was injured.

After this incident and the many little stories that had swirled around Eastern Air and beyond, it was rumored that pilots would refuse to fly planes that had parts of Flight 401. Interestingly enough, all of the salvaged parts of Flight 401 were removed from Eastern Air’s L-1011. 

On Eastern Air, at least, there were no other Tristar Jet crashes...and one has to wonder if the crew members were making amends for the problem they couldn’t solve on that night in 1972

Today, the Tristar is the last non-Russian wide-body airliner to enter production that is not manufactured directly by Airbus or Boeing. In popular culture, it remains a popular aviation ghost story...however, it’s more than just words. The airplane prop in the first episode of Lost was directly derived from a dismantled Tristar Jet that had belonged to Delta. 

The above image is of a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar Jet. It is not the same plane as Flight 401, nor is it specifically rumored to have ever contained any of 401’s parts. The above image is of Eastern Airline L-1011, though. It is licensed under CC by 3.0 and was taken by VersaGeek.

The Ancient Ram Inn

In a country full of haunted Inns, the Ancient Ram Inn stands above as Britain’s most haunted house. Despite the stiff competition many agree that, as far as inns go, the Ancient Ram Inn holds the title of most haunted thanks to its long and disturbing past of murder, satanic worship, horrible crimes, hauntings, and witchcraft. The former Bishop of Gloucester, where the inn is located, said that the Ancient Ram was “the most evil place I have ever had the misfortune to visit.”

Source Source Source

To begin discussing the Ancient Ram Inn and its all strange inhabitants both past, present, and long gone we must begin with its location. The Inn was first built in 1145 on the intersection of two ley lines (though it impossible to tell if this was purposeful or not). If one traces these ley lines you’ll pass squarely through the center of Stonehenge, which makes this British Inn seem all the more powerful. It is also purported that the Inn is built on-top of an ancient “Pagan burial ground” although that claim is a bit more difficult to prove. Nevertheless, when construction finished in 1145 it was primarily used by priests to house workers and slaves who helped build the impressive St. Mary Church. Furthermore, in later years when water had to be redirected on the Inn’s property a portal for dark energy opened up and has been spewing forth nasty entities ever since.

One of the most infamous permanent residences at the Ancient Ram Inn is a witch from the 15th century who made a room home for a number of months. Before she could leave the Inn, she was found out and turned into authorities. Despite attempting to dodge the stake she was discovered and taken out to the front of the Inn and burned at the stake. Her spirit remains angry to this day, and those who visit her suspected chambers often leave with scratches or burns. Others report smelling smoke or even burning flesh. When Ghost Adventures visited the Ancient Ram Inn they caught an EVP of who they believe is the alleged witch saying “I’m Special” in a distinct southern English accent.

John Humphries, who owned the Inn for a number of decades, said before his death again and again that the Bishop’s Room was the most haunted part of an already very haunted Inn. It is said to be home to an astonishing nine different entities. The most popular among these apparitions are a long-dead bouncer and his dog standing guard at the door, a man in a hooded robe believed to be a monk, and a woman hanging from the ceiling. Visitors often report inexplicable mist, orbs, and light as inhabiting this room, forming before their very eyes.

The Humphries family, who have owned the Inn for quite some time, have discovered scads of demonic and pagan artifacts both inside and on the property of the Inn. For example, they found the hoof of a goat encased behind the chimney, mummified animals, ritualistic daggers, and dozens of jars filed with unidentified liquids and objects. John Humphries, the patriarch of the family, bought the Inn in 1968 and has reported paranormal experiences up until his death, including a succubus that lived within the Inn and often tormented visitors and made them incredibly uncomfortable.

According to the Bohemian Blog, who visited the Inn while John was still living, John told the story of discovering a child-sacerfice below the Inn. “That’s where they found the little children’s bones,” John told us. He was referring to a group of ghost-hunters from nearby Swindon, who in June 1997 were given permission to tear up parts of the concrete floor while searching for the entrance to a sealed cellar. Instead, they found a grave – containing the remains of a woman and child, buried along with broken iron shards. The pieces were analysed by Bristol Museum, who conceded that the signs may point to ritual sacrifice using an iron dagger. The ghost hunters, meanwhile, suffered a car crash on their way back home. Coincidence? John thinks not.”

It is said that locals respect the Inn but do not wish to go near it and go as far as crossing the street rather than walk past the Ancient Ram Inn at night.

The above image is of the Ancient Ram Inn taken by Brian Robert Marshall and liscensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.

Corvin Castle

Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle, is one of the most spectacular medieval castles in Transylvania. Built in the 15th century, Corvin Castle looms over the town Hunedoara built by Ioan of Hunedoara, one of Transylvania’s greatest rulers. Corvin Castle has quite a long history. In fact, its location was chosen because it was the site of an old Roman camp and while the building began in the 1400s, it would continue into the 17th century. A castle this old is bound to have some haunting stories surrounding it and is even said to have inspired Castle Dracula.

Source Source Source Source Source Source

The castle was built not only to be a beautiful and powerful reminder of Ioan and his family legacy but also s a strategic defense in case the religion was ever seriously attacked. The castle itself boosts an impressive 42 chambers and can be accessed by two bridges supported on four massive piers.

Being such a strong defense it is unsurprising that the castle hosted some f the most devious lawbreakers and criminals of Romania. One of these prisoners, allegedly, was Vlad the Impaler. It is said he was locked away in the dungeon for years and was completely isolated and driven insane. Today, the dungeon Vlad allegedly stayed in is open to visitors.

And what would a medieval castle with an impressive dungeon be without a torture chamber? Corvin’s torture chamber included several infamous, gruesome instruments used to completely destroy those who visited this horrible room against their will. There was also a bear pit, where prisoners would be thrown in alive to be devoured by the creatures.

One of the other infamous prisoner stories is that of the three Turkish men who dug an impressive well that remains to this day. Ioan had promised these prisoners that if they dug enough and found water they would be set free. They dug and dug for ten grueling years and finally hit water. Grateful that their sentence was served the men were eager to tell Ioan and secure their freedom. Tragically, Ioan essentially laughed in their faces and kept them as prisoners until their death. One of the prisoners wrote the message “You now have water, but you don’t have a soul” on the side of the wall and some say the castle, still new(ish) at this point, was cursed forever because of this injustice.

To this day the many ghosts throughout the centuries seem to inundate the castle. The castle is often plagued by ghostly silhouettes that appear in photographs. Additionally, the castle has been susceptible to bouts of poltergeist activity that is particularly violent. This is usually blamed on the tortured souls that perished within the castle walls.

There is also a story that a group of tourists bribed castle guards to remain in the castle overnight, which none had done for some time. However, when the guards went to open the castle the next day and secretly let out the overnight guests they appeared bruised, beaten, and clearly shaken. It was said they were hunted and haunted by an angry ghost that had tortured them with noises, beatings, and terrifying premonitions.

Another slightly less violent ghost is the ghost monk that haunts the Capistrano Tower. It was rumored this monk met his death and his eternal haunting place when he was spying on a nobleman in the Council Room. He was punished for spying and put to death. Rumor has it his final resting place was within the very walls of where he was spying, the Capistrano Tower, where he was bricked up and slowly died. Many claim to see this ghostly figure, listening and spying on them. It is also common for people to feel as if they are being watched in this part of the castle.

The image for this blog is by Giuseppe Milo and liscensed under CC by 3.0.

Borgvattnet’s Frightening Vicarage

In northern Sweden, there is a small town called Borgvattnet that may be home to one of the most haunted buildings in all of Sweden. In this slightly remote town consisting of just fifty full-time residents, the closest city is Östersund and the trains only run there on weekdays. It may not sound like much of a tourist destination but the strange and intriguing Vicarage draws visitors every year.

Source Source Source Source Source

The vicarage of Borgvattnet was first constructed in 1876. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a vicarage is usually the house where the priest and clergymen lived. During this time there were church endowments and clerical income (usually derived from land, tithes, and buildings) to support clergymen and make sure they had a place to sleep, eat, and serve the church. However, just fifty years after the vicarage of Borgvattnet was established the hauntings began.

The first officially reported hauntings took place in 1927, although it is not unbelievable that there may have been earlier oral accounts that were never recorded. The resident vicar of the time began to note strange happenings from around the vicarage that, at first glance, seemed harmless. These included unexplained noises and laundry inexplicably being torn off the line.

From the first recordings in 1927 through the last of the vicars, almost all who inhabited the vicarage noted or recorded strange, unexplained happenings. Sometimes it was typical and distant such as unexplained noises or the feeling of being watched but other times the activity was much more intense. The house remained a vicarage until the late 1970s.

Although she may not be a lady in white like our dear Resurrection Mary, there is a lady ghost seen around the vicarage. The first recorded sighting of her occured in the mid 1930s by priest Rudolf Tangden. While sitting in a room one evening like he had many nights before, he noticed a woman wearing grey appear in the adjoining room. Confused, he went to get up and ask her what she needed but as he crossed the threshold to the room she vanished. Sightings of this grey lady have continued and she is also sometimes associated with noises of crying, laughter, and music.

In 1947, during priest Erik Lindgren's last year in the old vicarage, activity seemed to have peaked again as unexplainable and poltergeist-like activity plagued the home. The reports of Lindgren were so intense that it gained national attention and was even mentioned in the national press. Erik Lindgren also recorded on the most infamous parts of the vicarage’s story - the rocking chair. Shortly after moving in, Erik was exhausted and decided to take a rest in his rocking chair and read for a bit. Inexplicably, he was thrown from the chair abruptly and aggressively and fell onto the floor. When he sat down again in the chair and righted himself he allegedly felt a strong force enter his body. Today, the rocking chair remains on display and is often see rocking by itself.

However, its reputation continued to precede it and soon scholars of the paranormal and beyond began wanting to further investigate this strange house. One of the most notable was when Tore Forslund, a noted “ghostpriest” visited the vicarage in the early 1980s. His intention was to rid the vicarage and the town at large of this heinous presence and haunting.However, despite repeated attempts, Tore gave up within a year and seemed to have little to no success as many still report strange happenings to this day.

According to Tony and Nicls Lakksonen, who now own the house and have a paranormal ghost hunting team, noted that when they first stayed overnight in the house: “All four of us had dizziness, nausea, headaches, and a strong feeling that we were not alone, that 'they' knew who we were. We tried to document down as much as we could during the only night we had, but because we were so affected, we got out of the house on a number of occasions and we came out dizzy with a headache. But we defied this feeling and spent 24 hours in total in the house."

Today the ghost hunting team mentioned above run the vicarage as a bed & breakfast for paranormal experience seekers. Although, if you don’t want to stay the night you can always stop by the cafe for a coffee and a quick peek around.

The above image is provided and hosted on Ghostwatch.

Stepp Cemetery

Like many interested in the paranormal, some of the first scary stories I encountered in my youth took place in graveyards. Growing up, graveyards often seemed like mystical, sacred places that at once repelled and compelled me to examine them more closely. Tonight, I’ll be exploring one of the most haunted cemeteries in America: Stepp Cemetery located in Indiana.

Link Link Link

The graveyard is over one hundred years old and the oldest gravestone dates back to around 1851. It belongs to Isaac Heartstock, who was a veteran of the war of 1812. Unlike the grand and sweeping cemetery you may be picturing, Stepp Cemetery is quite small and is home to just 25 graves. It is located in Martinsville, a small town located near Bloomingdale.

Today, it is largely only accessible by foot and is deep within a forest. It was already a rural cemetery when it was still regularly active but in 1929 the land the cemetery sits on became part of the Morgan Monroe State Forest.

Many of the stories regarding Stepp Cemetery didn’t occur when the cemetery was regularly used but rather in the 1950s through the 1970s. By the 1950s the Stepp Cemetery had been largely forgotten as a cemetery at all and became a local clearing in the forest where teenagers would hang out. As Stepp received more and more living visitors, the stories surrounding this strange piece of land ballooned.

One of the most popular ghosts that are said to haunt Stepp Cemetery is that of a woman in black. A young woman dressed all in black can sometimes be glimpsed sitting on a nearby tree stump and humming to a baby bundled in her arms. The baby died just a few days after its birth and is buried on the east side of the cemetery under a tombstone that has the name ‘Baby Lester’ etched into it.

Many of the tombstones in this small cemetery actually belong to children, sadly. The Hacker family, consisting of Sir Malcolm Dunbar Hacker and his wife Ann had eight children during their marriage. However, half of their children died before reaching the age of 12. The entire ten members of he family were laid to rest in Stepp Cemetery.

In addition to the lady in black, disembodied noises, and other unexplainable experiences Stepp Cemetery was also once host to the Crabbites. The Crabbites were a fringe Christian sect that allegedly used Stepp Cemetery as a locus for their ritualistic practices.

Rhonda Ann Dunn, an archivist with the Brown County Historical Society, notes “There’s one part in revelations, where it says something about four corners of the earth where the angels will come, so the Crabbites believed the earth was square, because it mentioned four corners, and they had strange beliefs like that.”

After the Crabbites’ departure and use of Stepp Cemetery, the cemetery’s reputation continue to grow stranger.

In the 1950s a young girl was murdered near Stepp Cemetery and her body was dumped in the vicinity of the cemetery. It is said that her spirit continues to wander and search for justice. Her killer was never found, despite her mother’s work to figure out who had murdered her daughter.

Whether or not this strange, remote cemetery is truly haunted is up for debate...but the stories that pour from it remain interesting and consistent.

The above image is from scaryforkids

Stull Cemetery

You may distantly remember a quick mention of Stull Cemetery during our Sallie House series. Tonight, I wanted to bring you more than a mention of this strange place that simply adds to the strangeness of this part of Kansas (it is only an hour away from the Sallie House).

Link Link Link Link

You’ve visited graveyards before with Astonishing Legends, like Resurrection Cemetery and Greyfriars Kirkyard, but Stull Cemetery stands apart from these others for one reason: it is said to be a gateway to hell.

But, before we get to that part of the story let’s take a step back and a learn a little bit about the history Stull Cemetery. Stull, Kansas is located in Douglas County. During the mid-19th century, Stull was founded and settled by Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants. As the community settled and continued to grow they raised the funds for a church. The Evangelical Emmanuel Church was completed in the 1860s and parts of it remain to this day. And, like with many churches, the Evangelical Emmanuel Church also had a graveyard.

Interestingly enough there is a rumor that the original town’s name was ‘Skull’ and later changed to Stull in order to obscure the town’s relation to black magic and the paranormal.

Stories, urban legends, and myths have swirled around this particular church for over one hundred years. Many of them come from the tragedies the small town suffered such as a boy who was burned, accidentally, to death by his own father and several suicides with bodies found in public places. However, despite these tragedies and a strange road named Devil’s Road (before it was renamed in the 1990s) Stull Cemetery did not make it into print until the 1970s when one intrepid University of Kansas student told the story.

In 1974 in an article in the University of Kansas student newspaper examined several strange experiences in Stull Cemetery. The article goes on to say that Stull, and the cemetery especially, is haunted by legends of the supernatural, paranormal, and even diabolical. Furthermore, it reported on the legends that claim Stull Cemetery is one of the Seven Gateways of Hell where the devil appears in person. Specifically, he appears two times a year in the flesh.

However, many residents of Stull claimed they had never heard of the stories or dark associations the town had.

How did a small community in Kansas become a doorway for the devil? Well, there are a few reasons. Some believe that there was something evil about Stull long before the cemetery was even created, as suggested by the tragedies that befell Stull and even the reason behind naming Devil’s Road. Others claim that when the church fell into disuse witches, devil worshippers, and those who used ritual magic took it over and began to summon him and create the gateway for him. However, local lore has a specific story, that of the ‘Wittich’ grave.

In the cemetery, there was once a grave that had the word ‘Wittich’ engraved upon it. This grave stood close to the alleged hanging tree, a tall pine said to have hung more than one witch in its life. Furthermore, the bones in the ‘Wittich’ grave are said to be that of Satan’s own child conceived with a mortal witch. It is for this reason that the Devil visits each year to spend some time at his child’s grave.

There is a grain of truth in these legends, or at least one thing that can be proven. There was a hanging tree...but it was cut down in 1998 to deter legend trippers. Furthermore, it is clear that this legend had reach. In 1993 Pope John Paul II had his flight rerouted so he would not have to fly over the cemetery.

The church itself is also a strange building….It is said that it never rains within the church. In fact, there are hundreds of eye witness accounts that purport that even if it is raining in the cemetery or elsewhere in town if you stand in the crumbling church’s walls you’ll remain dry, even without a roof. It has been vacant since 1922 and was destroyed in many ways by vandals and when the lightning struck the church and cleaved a huge crack in its stone walls. The church was bulldozed in 2003 to prevent legend trippers as well and, as mentioned earlier, the hanging tree was cut down.

Today, Stull is largely abandoned and has a population of roughly 20. Its homes and businesses are largely vacant and most who visit come only for the cemetery. However, these tourists are not welcome. The cemetery and remains of the church are owned by Major Weiss and Harvest Hills LLC who was shocked as he had not approved the razing of the church.

The above image is entitled “An image of Stull Cemetery, KS, looking northeast during the day.” It was taken by Ayleen Gaspar and is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Italy’s Red House

One of my favorite things to write about on this blog is haunted houses you may have never heard of. This particular haunted house came to me thanks to someone posting about it in the facebook group. So, without further ado, let’s head to the mountains of Cortenova in Italy and open the doors to Villa De Vecchi, also known as the Red House and what may be one of the most haunted homes in Italy.

Link Link Link

Villa De Vecchi lies just east of Lake Como in the bewitching, lush forests in the mountains of Cortenova. Villa De Vecchi, in addition to being known as the Red House, has also been called the Ghost Mansion and the House of Witches (Casa Delle Streghe). It took three years to build between 1854-1857 and was initially created to be the summer home of Count Felix De Vecchi. The count specifically sought out his friend and architect Alessandro Sidioli to design the home but it would be Sidioli that would serve as the first bad omen for Villa De Vecchi. Sidioli would die one year before the completion of the home and would never be able to see the finished project.

Some of the rumors about the home might be about its unique architecture, at least for Italy. Before he became a decorated war hero Felix spent much of his youth traveling through Egypt, India, and the Middle East. While traveling he wrote and sketched beautifully of his adventures and even published them in a book, which was celebrated. His travels continued in the early 1840s during his honeymoon with Carolina Franchetti di Ponte. His reputation as a lover of eastern art, architecture, and culture proceeded him and it only made sense that his home would reflect the architecture and art he so admired.

The family lived in the summer retreat for several seasons enjoying the beautiful architecture and lush forest that surrounded them. However, as the legend states, one summer the tranquility of the home was forever changed. In 1862 while the Count was off working his daughter and wife stayed at home in their summer retreat without his protection. In a move that was believed to be born out of anger for Felix’s support of Unification, a team of people unknown to this day snuck into the home and brutally murdered his wife and stole away his daughter. Although he searched for her, it was in vain and she was never discovered. In a fit of pain and unable to continue on without his family, he took his own life.

Although this seems like a legend bound to create a  haunted house, it has been largely debunked. According to Italy Magazine, this tale is, “Not true. The building was abandoned and fell into disrepair after De Vecchi’s death.”

However, it is said the house was never habitable again for a consistent amount of time, even as a vacation home. Although several aristocratic families tried to make their stake in the beautiful and utterly unique home each left shortly after spending time on it. Some say it is because of the ghosts of Felix and his family, others say the very ground is cursed, and others say that something about the house just seems to drive people...mad.

However, the home’s reputation continued to make its way around Europe and in the 1920s infamous occulist, Aleister Crowley spent a few nights in the home. Although it is not reported quite what he did there his visit inspired many of his fans to also make pilgrimages to the Red House. Fans began to flock to the home and rumors of ritualistic orgies, animal sacrifices, ritual harm, spell-casting, astral projection, and other occult activities began to swirl.

Locals of the area say that the infamous, but now destroyed grand piano, can still be heard distantly playing in the distant. Urban explorers frequent the site to this day, although it is now off limits since the second floor collapsed and injured an explorer. Although it has been heavily affected by the elements the house miraculously survived a 2002 avalanche. Large boulders came falling down throughout the moment but they stopped mere feet before they reached the home. And, as Italy Magazine says, “ Locals are not sure that was a good thing.”

The featured image was taken by jeff kerwin and is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

A Haunting in Horicon

Horicon, Wisconsin is a small town of just a little over 3,500 people. The kind of town your drive through or past and see a charming main street, a local diner, and plenty of friendly faces. It is not the kind of town you would ever think would have one of the most intense hauntings in America.

Link Link Link

Debbe and Allen Tallmann has been living on Larabee Street, Horicon for about two years. The couple had a seven-year-old son named Danny, a daughter named Mary Ann, and Debbie was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter, Sara. One day, wanting to economize space and even bring some fun to the home the Tallmanns decided to go out and purchase a bunk bed for their children.

Before the purchase of the bunk bed, the Tallmanns home was your average American household. However, things began to change and shift around the time the bunk bed was bought and put into the home at the end of 1987.

Strange things began happening in the home but at first, they could be brushed off. The children, who were rarely sick previously, were now regularly sick or fatigued. When the couple would tuck Danny in at night his clock radio would suddenly spring to light seemingly on its own, even changing channels. Then storied signs of a haunting began to manifest...doors would open and close at will, chars would rock themselves, and quiet, disembodied voices could be heard in rooms that were known to be empty.

On one night the children began to complain of the old woman that came to their room at night. They described the woman as being old, ugly, red eyes, having long black hair, and that she glowed. There were also reports of the children seeing fires within the room.

Allen and Debbie felt that something was happening in the home that was beyond their control so they went to their local church for help and guidance. Their pastor agreed to come to the home and see if anything strange was going on. When the pastor entered the Tallmanns’ home he immediately felt uncomfortable and shaken. The pastor went as far as saying that he felt the devil within the home. He blessed the home and left...but the activity continued.

The children were now regularly frightened, Debbie and Allen felt uncomfortable, and it seemed like the blessing of the home had not helped enough. One night, Danny came into his parents’ room crying and said he wanted to leave the home. Frustrated that he was unable to protect his family, Allen told the spirits to get out of his home and that if they wanted to frighten someone they should stop picking on his children and fight him instead.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.

Three weeks after Allen’s challenge to the evil that was tormenting his family, he returned home from a late shift around 2 am. It was January 7th, 1988 and when he pulled his car into the driveway he heard a howling sound that seemed to emanate from within the garage. As he got out of his car to further investigate he said the howling stopped and a voice said simply, “come here.” Wanting to get to the bottom of the noises he decided to check around back to see if anyone was playing tricks on him but he saw no one. Then, he walked back to the front of the garage which, to his dismay, was now on fire. He ran inside to get the fire extinguisher but when he returned to the garage just seconds later the fire had gone out. The garage door was completely undamaged.

Feeling shaken, Allen reentered the home quietly so he would not wake his family. He went to put away his lunch pail from his shift that he had put on the table but then suddenly it flew across the room.

Unsure of what to do, he went to bed. Over the next few weeks, he began to sleep in his daughters' room where most of the activity seemed to take place. On one night he awoke to fog swirling in the room and heard a clear voice say “You’re dead.”

Shortly after those two major events, a family member was babysitting the Tallmann children while Allen and Debbie were away. Allen’s relative was only vaguely aware of what was happening in the home but was doubtful and unperturbed at the thought of having to watch the children there. However, the horrible old woman seen by the children appeared and screamed at everyone in the house. Scared to death, the relative phoned Debby to tell her what had happened and Debby told her to pack some clothes for the kids and to get them out.

Shortly after this final event, the family moved out of the house on Larabee street. After moving, the family was contacted by Unsolved Mysteries and some footage was shot at the actual home with permission from the new owners. The episode itself aired in October 1988.

The family, who suspected the activity may be related directly to the bunk bed since the activity started around their purchase, also destroyed the bunk bed. Since moving and destroying the bunk bed no one in the family has had another paranormal experience. Those who have lived in the Larabee street home have also reported no activity.

The above image is unrelated to the story and is from flickr user Anthony Woodside. It is liscensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

The Haunting of the New London Ledge Lighthouse

A lonely building, atop a small manmade island, sits alone on the sea. It is the New London Ledge lighthouse of Groton, Connecticut. In 1900 the need for a lighthouse to keep up with the increased traffic to the New London harbor. It was finally completed 1909 and became an utterly unique landmark...and a haunted one as well.

Link Link Link

Unlike the tall, round lighthouses we’re used to seeing the New London Ledge Lighthouse was a three-story, eleven-room brick building. The uniqueness of the lighthouse is thanks to the influence of Edward Harkness and Morton Plant who wanted the lighthouse to represent of the styles of their decadent homes. It began operating on November 7th, 1909.

The lighthouse demanded 3 or 4 man crews maintained the light, keep up the polishing, oiling, fueling, painting and any and all lighthouse repairs.

The 3-4 man teams would tend to the lighthouse until 1939. In 1939, the Coast Guard took over operation of the lighthouse. Then, in 1987 the lighthouse was automated and did not need to be regularly automated. This automation came to the relief of many...as over it’s nearly hundred years of manned operation all sorts of strange and unexplained happenings occurred to the men whose job it was to keep the light on.

Many going-ons have been reported in the lighthouse...some as negligible as ghostly footsteps and doors opening and closing to a deck swabbing itself and even a Coast Guard Officer Randy Watkins who heard his name being called from an upstairs room when every other man was asleep. Many of the lesser going-ons were chalked up a very helpful ghost, Ernie.

Ernie, although that isn't believed to be his real name, was a lighthouse keeper around the mid 1920s or 1930s. While he was tending to his lighthouse duties and away from home his wife, who lived ashore, ran off with the Captain of the Block Island Ferry. Consumed with grief, loneliness, and sadness Ernie climbed to the top of the lighthouse and jumped. Though his body was never recovered many people feel his presence to this day.

As strange things began to happen they were always chalked up to Ernie. Author William O. Thomson wrote that, “Ernie would turn on the foghorn, and that he sometimes polished brass or cleaned windows.” According to NElights,  “Actual ghost sightings were rare, and supposedly only visiting women have ever seen the lighthouse’s ethereal resident.”

Perhaps Ernie still feels camaraderie for those who visit and tended to the lighthouse in the decades after his death. In fact, those who recount their experiences with Ernie never seem to be scared. In fact, his interactions with humans seem to be playful and at times even helpful, as he was often reported as helping out with daily duties.

Ernie was so impactful to those who had long stays at the New London Ledge Lighthouse that an unknown Coast Guard office penned this goodbye to the lighthouse and to Ernie, “Rock of slow torture. Ernie’s domain. Hell on earth - may New London Ledge’s Light shine on forever because I’m through. I will watch it from afar while drinking a brew.”

This photo was taken of the lighthouse by Moondancedryad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

I-4 Deadzone

One of the deadliest roads of America is a quarter mile of Florida's I-4 Highway. It is said that accidents happen for no reason, ghostly sightings are the norm, and other unexplained phenomena riddle this short stretch of asphalt.

Link Link Link Link

Before the I-4 Deadzone was known as the I-4 Deadzone, before it Sanford, Florida, it was the home of the Mayaca (also known as the Jojoro). The Mayaca, tragically, were primarily wiped out by early contact with Europeans and the ensuing war and disease that the Europeans left in their wake.

After the Mayaca were wiped out and many Native Americans had left the area, especially after the Seminole wars, Swedish immigrants began working the very same land. Tirelessly, they strove to conquer this strange and somewhat alien terrain with farms, buildings, and more. However, just ten years after the initial colony was created a fire broke out and decimated much of the settlement. Shortly after the fire that razed so much to the ground an outbreak of Yellow Fever followed and, since tragedies came in threes,a historic freeze would ruin the citrus crop and hurt the industry.

A few years after this in the late 1870s Henry Sanford, a prominent businessman, turned his eyes towards Florida, believing he could cash-in. He bought up a lot of land in central Florida, including what would later be called Sanford, and had hopes of building a Catholic farming community.

To his dismay, only a handful of families took him and his business partner up on this offer. And, from the very smart, just like the Swedes, Sanford and those who took him up on his offer were in for hardship. Originally, they established a town called St. Joseph’s but that was soon snuffed out by the mosquitoes and the deadly diseases they carried: yellow fever. The homestead was abandoned by 1887.

The farms and homesteads remained empty until the early 20th century. In 1905 Albert Hawkins bought up the land and whatever was left over on it and built a home and farm for his family. He was likely not very aware of the sordid history of the land and was surprised when he came upon a rusty wire fence with four wooden crosses. As a pious man wanting to respect those who attempted to farm the land before him, he rebuilt and began maintaining this tiny cemetery. He put a new fence up, mowed the lawn, and always kept it spic and span. He was extremely serious about its upkeep and was sure to tell his children and grandchildren to respect the graveyard and stay away from it.

However, not everyone was as respectful as the Hawkins. Rumor has it that a neighbor tore down a piece of the fence that surrounded the cemetery. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but his home was struck lightning the same day and completely burnt to the ground. This would only be the start of strange activity as other neighbors began to complain of strange things happening in their home, like toys moving on their own, rooms with drafts, and more.

It would appear that Albert Hawkins was prudent to respect the family that had once lived on his land, as they seem to be the type to hold a grudge and exact vengeance. According to Wizzley.com “ In the 1950’s, a friend of Mr. Hawkins’ grandson thought it would be fun to kick over the wooden crosses and maybe dig up some bones. The next day as he was walking through town, he was struck by a car and died instantly. The driver was never identified, and witnesses to the accident - lifelong residents of Sanford – didn’t recognize the car.”

Around the same time as this man was hit by a car, a superhighway was proposed. The plan had it cutting right through Sanford. Hawkins’ wife, as he had died, decided to sell the land including the small graveyard. The land surveyors, who were aware of the graves, decided that they were so old that they did not warrant refiguring the highway to go around the graves or exhuming and reburying the graves. Instead, they just decided to build over the small plots.

If kicking wooden crosses and messing with the fence made the spirits of this land angry, you can only imagine what building a superhighway over them would do.

The first years of the I-4 in the early 1960s had drivers reporting glowing orbs, full-bodied apparitions, issues with their radios, and disembodied voices.

At first, many of these happenings were dismissed as drivers being tired, bored, over-imaginative, and even driving under the influence. However, soon enough local law enforcement realized something else was a play. For the stretch of highway that passed through Hawkins’ once well-maintained graveyard, there was an inordinate amount of accidents.

Since the I-4 opened in 1963, there have been over 2,000 accidents in that quarter mile stretch alone. That is why it is called ‘The Dead Zone.’ In fact, in 2017 the I-4, in general, was named the most deadly highway in America.  Using federal data, a study found I-4 that the road held an average of 1.25 fatalities per mile and have increased 10% since 2015.

So, what came first? Was this story created to explain and warn others about the dangerous driving conditions of the I-4? Or, is the land the road is built on dating back to pre-European contact simply cursed...by who and for what reason, we may never know.

Thanks to Ericha Loch T for the blogstonishing suggestion!

The above image is unrelated to the story (not taken in the dead zone). It is entitled, ‘Old Florida Interstate 4 shield in downtown Orlando. Taken May 24, 2003’ by SPUI.This work has been released into the public domain by its author, SPUI.

Franklin Castle

Franklin Castle is a gorgeous Victorian home situated on Franklin Avenue in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. It claims to be the most haunted home in Ohio. But, why is that? Is it because of its strange turrets, watchful gargoyles, and odd six-foot iron gate? Or, does this haunting go more than skin deep?

Link Link Link

The home was built by Hannes Tiedmann and his wife Louise. Hannes was a banker and co-founder of Union Bankings & Savings Co. and used his wealth to build the gorgeous home in 1881. Tiedmann decided to name the grand home after the street it was on, Franklin. The home took about three years to complete and the Tiedmanns, along with their young children, moved in in 1883.

Sadly, shortly after moving into this beautiful home tragedy struck the Tiedmanns as their fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma, died from complications of her diabetes. Her grandmother, Hannes’ mother, would die shortly after. However, these deaths would not be the last in the home. By 1887, three more of the Tiedmann children had died in just three years.

In a likely bid to distract himself to the five deaths that occurred in the newly built mansion, Tiedemann continued to expand the home and make it ever and ever grander. He added a ballroom, turrets, and even gargoyles. The Tiedmanns would leave the home in 1896 after Hannes’ wife, Louise, passed away.

Although no activity was ever cited or discussed by the Tiedmanns, their time in their new home was weighed down with tragedy and death. Sadly, rumors that Hannes was behind these deaths swirled in the community. He was also accused of killing his mentally ill niece, his mistress (and servant) Rachel, his four children, and an illegitimate daughter. He would later die of a stroke.

In 1913, the Mullhauser family, who had the home, sold the castle to the German-American League for Culture which some sources report as being the German Socialist Party. The German-American League for Culture taking over the grand home sparked even more rumors that the home may have been chosen for its tragic background or hidden passageways, which the party would use for medical experimentation and spying on their neighbors. During this time the home was known as Eintracht Hall. It was owned by the league for almost fifty years, from 1921-1968.

In 1968, the Romanos and their six children moved into the home. Mrs. Romano had grown up in the area and had always been fascinating by the strange and striking home. Initially, they toyed with the idea of opening up a restaurant within the home although they changed their minds. Mrs. Romano recalls many strange occurrences within the house, including footsteps, disembodied voices, and the sound of people in the ballroom. Scared at the activity, they called a Catholic priest who declined on doing an exorcism. Perhaps this was because he was a not a licensed or trained exorcist? Or, maybe he thought the Romanos were being a little excessive. However, it is said he acknowledged there was something wrong with the home and that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to move. Not prepared to leave the house, they contacted the Ohio Psychical Research Group. Rumors say that one of the members was so terrified he ran screaming from the home. In 1974, the Romanos left the home.

The house was sold to Sam Muscatello who wanted to capitalize on these rumors of a haunting and offered haunted tours of the castle. He made sure to write down every visitor’s experience and often contacted the media to cover the home. This was bolstered by a discovery of a cache of human bones, believed to be baby bones, were discovered. These may have been planted by the owner who wanted to continue the haunted tours, though. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to make Franklin Castle a must-see haunted attraction and sold the place to a doctor who later sold it to Cleveland's police chief, Richard Hongisto.

The Hongistos were allegedly thrilled to snag the home but would abruptly move out just one year later when they sold it to George Mirceta who, not from the area, had no idea of the home’s strange history. Once he did learn of its history, though, he also decided to run haunted tours.

The home was sold again in 1984 to Judy Garland’s final husband, Michael DeVinko. DeVinko would spend almost one million dollars and a decade of his life restoring the home to glory. He said he has no problems with ghosts or haunting activity and jokingly said it was because he was taking care of the home. He would move out ten years later, in 1994.

It was empty for five years but sold again in 1999. However, before the new owner could move in, an arsonist took to the home and caused extreme damage and the new owner would spend quite a bit on repairs but not enough to make it livable. It was sold in 2003 and then stood empty until 2011 when it was announced the castle would be redesigned and zoned to become a three-family dwelling.

Today, Franklin Castle is home to a record company, Norton Records and Zac Webb, an artist who has lived inside the castle since June 2018. According to Cleveland Scene, “Webb's exhibition "Faces of the Castle" will be on display during the party, and is featuring portraits inspired by his time living in the old Tiedemann House. When asked if Webb has ever experienced anything he notes, "I definitely have had a few experiences in the castle, as has everyone that's ever stayed there," Webb says. "As far as 'haunted?' I'm not quite sure." Webb explains that he frequently had unexplained experiences, including noises made when no one else was around.” He also has had strange dreams in the home and these strange dreams and the faces in them were the inspiration of many of the featured paintings.”

Thanks to Sandy C for the suggestion!

The above image is by Christopher Busta-Peck “A view of the Hannes Tiedemann House at 4308 Franklin Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio. The structure, built in 1881, was designed by Cudell and Richardson, architects. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.

The Smurl Haunting

The Smurl family was just like any other family living in Pittston, Pennsylvania in the 1980s. The Smurls were a family of six, Janet and Jack Smurl were the parents of four daughters: Dawn, Heather, and twins Shannon and Carin. Their story begins with a completely natural phenomenon. Hurricane Agnes flooded their home in 1972. The Smurls moved in with Jack’s parents to a duplex on 330 Chase St. This home would soon send them careening into the hold of something evil.

Link Link Link Link

The Duplex was originally built in 1896 and was located on a quiet street in a lovely middle-class neighborhood. The house was bought in 1973. Jack’s parents lived on the right half and the Smurl family lived on the left. The Smurls put a lot of love into their side of the home and spent what money they could redecorating and remodeling in an effort to make their new house a home.

The Smurl family was a well-respected Catholic family. Jack and Janet both grew up nearby. They met in 1967 and married in 1968. Jack served in the Navy and would later become a neuropsychiatric technician.

The haunting began innocently enough in January 1974. A strange stain appeared on one of the home’s new carpets that had no explanation and could not be easily removed. Then the floodgates open. A television set burst into flames, pipes continued to leak despite being re-soldered, the new sink and bathtub were unexplainably scratched. In 1975 Dawn, the oldest daughter, began telling her parents she saw people floating around her bedroom.

This activity may be reminiscent to listeners who tuned into the Black Monk series. Just like the Smurls, the Pritchards also experienced strange figures, leaking pipes, and inexplicable mini-disasters. In addition, two other infamous hauntings, the Perrone family and the Hodgson family both had several daughters. Is it possible that the number and gender of children could also be a factor in these kinds of hauntings?

In 1977, after years of intermittent and easily overlooked experiences the phenomena inside the home began to intensify. In addition to the inexplicable things noted above the family also began hearing footsteps. Other incidents like unplugged radios blaring music, cold spots randomly appearing, drawers were angrily opens and closed, also plagued the home. There were reports of a permeating aroma of rot around the home as well. Furthermore, Jack began to feel an unseen hand caress him and the consistent feeling that he was being watched.

In 1985 the activity sparked to an all-time high. During this time Janet gave birth to the twins (Shannon and Carin) which only seemed to further increase the activity. Scratches began appearing on the family members, the walls would rattle, and the dog and Janet experienced levitation. Jack’s parents, the elder Smurls, often heard insults, screams, and other loud noises emanating from the Smurls side of the duplex. However, nothing evr appeared in their own home.

In January 1986 after years of unexplained annoyances and months of terrifying experiences the Smurls decided to try and get in touch with the Warrens. The Warrens responded positively and made their way from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. They brought along Rosemary Frueh who was a nurse and psychic.

Their investigation would last months - well into August, 1986. In their initial walkthrough they believed there to be four different entities within the home. Three were fairly minor and likely responsible for some of the ‘smaller’ unexplained phenomena. However, the fourth entity was very powerful...and angry. According to the Times Leader, Ed Warren said, “The Smurls are truly a family coming under a visual attack,” Warren said. “The ghost, devil, demon – or whatever you call it – is in that home.”

To deal with the most powerful entity, believed to be a demon, Ed Warren decided to contact a Vatican-mandated exorcist - Father McKenna. The attempted an exorcism did not go very well and seemed to only make the demon angrier.

During this time several members of the family reported being sexually violated or otherwise made ill by the entities. According to Helly Star, “Janet said she had been sexually assaulted by the shadows she had seen, one of the twins, Carin, suddenly fell ill and nearly died from this inexplicable infection, and Dawn, the second twin, she became also sexually assaulting the entity. Janet and her mother-in-law had traces of beatings, bites, and bites all over the body.”

Father McKenna attempted another exorcism some months later but, like the first, this exorcism did not yield positive results.

It was during this time of the activity that rumors began to swirl about the family. Many believed the family might be looking to sell their home or make money off the haunting, as they had recently fallen on tough times.

A third exorcism was attempted but this time with several priests as well as a group of parishioners from a local church. It is important to note that this exorcism does not seem to be supported by the Vatican. However, it appeared to work...no phenomenon was experienced for a number of months. Activity began creeping in again, though, and the family decided to finally leave the home.

Rumors of the haunt being a fake were further bolstered when Ed Warren contacted Robert Curran and suggested he write a book about the Smurls and their haunting.

The person who moved into the home 1988 has never reported supernatural activity. The Smurls have not reported any lingering activity in their new home. In 1991, the Haunted (the same name as the book) was made into a made-for-TV movie.

Thanks to Sonya C-S for the topic suggestion!

The above image is unrelated to the story and was taken by Flickr user Hamish Duncan. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Borley Rectory: An Overview of Activity

Borley is a village in Essex that is an exemplary slice of pastoral England. In fact, the Saxon words "Bap" and "Ley", where Borley comes from, translates to "Boar's Pasture." However, this lovely English hamlet was once home to one of the most intense and storied haunted buildings in England and, perhaps, the world: Borley Rectory.

Link Link Link

Borley Rectory was first built in 1863. It was erected on the site of an ancient monastery, potentially dating back to the 13th century. The long history of this particular piece of land was well known during the Victorian Age. In fact, there was even a ghost story. The legend said that, on the site of the monastery, there was a sad, sullen ghostly nun who would walk back and forth on a specific walk and the locals called it ‘Nun’s Walk.’ The nun was said to hail from Bures and that she had fallen in love with a monk at the Borley Monastery. The two had an illicit love affair and even attempted to elope but were tracked down and punished. Both were executed and, as the legend goes, bricked up in the cellar (which, of course, seems like a bit of a stretch).

This is all to say, the land of the Borley Rectory was occupied long before the walls of the Rectory went up.

The Rectory was first built for Reverend Henry Bull and his family of thirteen (often misnumbered as 14) children, his wife Sarah, along with a small staff to run the stately home. It was twenty-three room, two-story red brick home, and its grounds stretched nearly four acres. Shortly after the Bulls and their staff moved in, things began...happening. It was said to have, like most hauntings, begun as fairly benign, footsteps heard when no one was there, whispering, and other small noises. But, as time progressed things became more and more intense.

While the family reported experiencing these haunting and ghostly noises throughout their time there, it remained the family seat until 1892. It seems that, for the most part, the hauntings were limited to noises although there are some claims the family would sometimes see ghostly faces in second story windows or full-bodied apparitions on the house and grounds.

Interestingly enough, Britannica Online reports, “Revd Bull had a summer-house put up overlooking the Nun's walk so that he could watch the manifestations. However, the lady soon became something of nuisance: often startled guests by peering at them through the windows of the new rectory.”

When his father died in 1892, Henry Foyster Bull inherited his father’s home. He moved in, clearly not put off by the haunting, and remained there until his death in 1927. Perhaps the family had gotten used to the extra noises throughout the home or had even struck up a deal with those extra guests in the 60+ years someone from the Bull family lived there.

Between 1927 and when the new family moved in, it was empty for about eighteen months. The new rector, Rev. Guy Eric Smith, moved in with his wife in 1928 but, unlike the Bull family, did not even stay an entire year. It seems that, during the Smiths short stay that the activity really kicked up. They experienced similar hauntings as the Bulls but in addition, also saw lights and heard the servant bells’ ringing despite being disconnected long ago. Perhaps most horrifically, Mrs. Smith discovered a human skull deep inside one of the rectory’s cupboards.

Although they didn’t stay long, it was the Smiths who first brought attention outside of Borley to the Rectory. They contacted the local paper in hopes of getting in touch with the Society for Psychical Research. Unhelpfully, the paper sent out a reporter to cover the story and write articles. At this time, Harry Price, a famed paranormal investigator, was also contacted.

It is said when Price visited the activity got louder and more intense, including objects flying around rooms and loud knocking from inside the walls. Price left without conclusions but after he did leave the grounds the haunting relaxed. Mr. Smith later said he believed Price was behind the escalated noises and experiences.

The Rectory did not stay empty long this time and in 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their daughter moved in. This small family would experience some of the most intense hauntings the home had seen yet.

Unlike previous residents, the haunting seemed particularly focused and attracted to Marianne. Soon, in addition to the disembodied noises and footsteps often heard in the home, messages and her name began to be scrawled randomly on the walls of the home. In one case, it was said witnesses watched this writing manifest before their very eyes. According to Historic Mysteries,  “However, despite attempts at communication, most remained unintelligible. Though one certainly read, "Marianne, please help get" and another, "Pleas for help and prayers".

Interestingly enough Marianne later confessed that much of it had been a hoax. She had been having an affair with one of the Rectory’s lodgers and that she covered up her physical activities with the intense haunting episodes. Although, this could be a falsity, as some sources cite it and others don’t and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive proof she said this. However, it could be a perfect explanation as to why the haunting, even if it was real to a degree, was so hyper-focused on one person whereas before it never was.

After the Foysters moved out in 1937, the next several reverends decided to live elsewhere and the Rectory remained empty. Returning in 1937 almost a decade after his first experience in the home, Harry Price rented the rectory in order to carry out a detailed investigation in May 1937-38.

In his typical and media-centric approach, he contacted the Times and a story about his impending investigation ran on May 25th, 1937 and an ad for ‘Official Observers’ to come to the Rectory. Price was not investigation alone, though. He created a team of 48 ‘official observers’ to lend credibility and insight into his investigation. These ‘official observers’ included an army colonel, a doctor and an engineer. Sadly, no official log of events was kept. But, Sidney Herbert Glanville, who stayed at the rectory on many occasions and wrote up his experiences.

On March 27th, 1938 a seance was held in the home. A voice from beyond shared the fate of the Rectory. It was said that a fire would catch in the hallway that very night and burn down the home. In the ruin of the fire, a nun's body would be discovered amongst the ruins.

Despite this extraordinary, exciting, and dangerous fortune...nothing happened.

In May 1938, Harry Price’s lease ended and he left. The Rectory was then leased by Captain Gregson, apparently unafraid of the Rectory’s hauntings. Like every other person who has inhabited, or even stayed at the home for a few nights, he was subjected to continuing mysterious happenings. Sadly, this included the loss of his two beloved dogs.

One night, exactly eleven months to the day after the seance held by Harry Price that told the fate of the home, an oil lamp unaccountably fell over in the hall and Borley Rectory burnt to the ground.

According to witnesses, ghostly figures were seen roaming around and through the flames and a nun's face peered down at the destruction from an upper window.

In 1943 it appears the final part of the fortune would be found true. Harry Price returned a third time to the ruins of the home. He had a team of excavators under his organization dig in the cellar and remains of the Rectory. Amazingly, a human female jaw bone was discovered. Price believed these lend credibility to the nun story that existed long before the Rectory was eve built. In an effort to end the hauntings of the Rectory’s ruins and the very land itself, Price gave the jaw, along with the few articles found near it, a Christian burial.

Sadly, the origin of the jaw bones and the articles (including medallions) was later contested and disputed. Although no official evidence or reports have been made one way or another.

The Rectory’s remains remained upright until 1944 when it was completely demolished. However, strange reports still flow out of the former place of the Rectory and the four acres it had.

Thanks to Caztor T for the suggestion!

The above image is of the Borley Rectory after the fire incident. It is in the public domain.

The Stocksbridge Bypass

Astonishing Legends is no stranger to haunted roads (seriously, check out our Resurrection Mary series) but we haven’t visited many haunted roads outside of America. Tonight on the blog, we’re exploring the history behind the Stocksbridge Bypass (A616), which links Sheffield to Manchester.  

Link Link Link

The hauntings for this stretch of land didn’t begin with the road. In fact, it seems that the road wasn’t haunted so much as the land it was built on. Several local legends discuss various origins for why the land is haunted or cursed. One of the most popular stories, surprisingly, involves a monk. It is said that the monk had slowly become disillusioned with religion and when he finally passed the church decided to bury him near the future road in an unconsecrated grave. Other stories say that there were mine shafts dotted throughout the area and that these shafts were not clearly marked. Sadly, many children were said to have fallen or gotten lost in these shafts and died, their bodies never recovered.

Now that we have some potential reasonings behind why it might be haunted, let’s discuss some of the experiences travelers have had on the bypass.

The most well-known, and earliest, stories of the haunted bypass takes place in September 1987. While the bypass was being built security guards were hired to protect construction materials and ensure nothing would go awry. Two of these security guards were just going about their business on September 8th. Or so they thought. However, a call received by Peter Owens, the supervisor of these two men, shattered any idea of September 8th being a normal night.

The two men told their story which happened at roughly 12:30am. They had been driving along patrolling the road when they saw the unsettling sight of children playing in the construction zone. While they noticed that the children were wearing out of date clothing, they were more concerned that they were so far away from home and close to dangerous wiring and construction materials.

After watching for a little while they decided to approach and take the children home, but when they walked over to the children they vanished and there were no footprints or signs of children playing.

The next morning after word got out about the story other members of the construction team said they had heard children’s voices during the night, too.

But, that isn’t where the story ends. The following night the same two men were on patrol and this time they encountered something even more haunting. This time they saw a tall, cloaked figure that they described as ‘monk-like’. When they approached this man, just like when they approached the children, he vanished. They called their supervisor once again and called the police station. The officer that answered jokes that it sounded they needed a priest, not a policeman.  The two security guards later reached out to the church and demanded an exorcism on the site.

The police decided to visit the site on September 11th. Thinking they saw something, both men rushed out of the car but it turned out to just be a construction sheet flapping in the wind. When they returned to the car, Officer Ellis got a horrible feeling and, turning to look out the side window, saw a dark, clothed torso pressed against the door. It abruptly vanished and reappeared on Officer Beet’s door. They both jumped out of the car but could not find the body. Returning to the car, they found it wouldn’t start. After several attempts, the car finally started and as they were pulling out they heard a huge bang on the side of the car with no explainable cause.

Both officers reported it had been the most terrifying experiences of their lives.

While this may have been the first encounter it would be long for the last. Since the bypass was completed in 1988, experiences have poured in.

For example, on New Year’s Eve, 1997, a couple was driving home on the quiet road when a figure suddenly appeared in front of them. Startled, and not wanting to cause harm to the person, they swerved violently. Luckily, no harm was done to them but when they went out to retrieve the person, there was no one there.

Paul Ford also had to swerve to avoid something unexplainable. When he was 28 he and his wife were driving to Jane’s sister’s home in Stocksbridge. While driving, Paul spotted a figure in the middle of the road. He says, ‘I just slammed the brakes on and swerved to avoid hitting it, and it was only through Jane grabbing the wheel that we managed to stop the car from crashing.,’ said Paul. Jane added: ‘If I hadn’t have been in the car Paul could have been killed or seriously injured and it left both of us badly shaken up. It was a very frightening experience and I think it might explain why there have been so many accidents on that road.’ The pair continued their journey in a  state of shock and were visibly shaking when they arrived at their destination.”

To this day, he still will not use the road.

Interestingly enough, this particular road has (statistically) some of the worst accident records in the region. So, is the road truly haunted? Or, has folklore sprung up around since its construction as a way to warn people of the dangerous driving conditions?

Thanks to Dave I for the suggestion!

The Stocksbridge Bypass from Underbank Road by Wendy North. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mirrors & the Paranormal

Mirrors have played a major part in folklore and, more recently, the horror movie genre for decades. But why are mirrors, and reflections, so central in our folklore of fear? There are hundreds of tales of haunted mirrors, from ancient mythology like Narcissus to the sleepover urban legend of Bloody Mary and all even movies like Oculus (2014).

Link Link Link

Many believe that ever since human beings became aware of reflections, both their own and the world, there has been a fascination and folklore, and even myths about mirror worlds, in the cultural consciousness. As we know them today mirrors haven't been around that long. In fact, according to LiveScience, “In 1835, German chemist Justus von Liebig developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of clear glass. This technique was soon adapted and improved upon, allowing for the mass production of mirrors.” But, even before the 1830s we still could see reflections in things like glass, metal, and, of course, water.

But why are we so frightened and intrigued by mirrors?

It seems that we see more in mirrors than our own reflections. One of our favorite astonishing beings often makes appearances in mirrors: Shadow People. Shadow People are often seen standing near or close by mirrors or, even worse, appearing in the mirror’s reflection but being nowhere in actual sight.

Perhaps even worse than Shadow People, Exemplore writes that strange, unknown, and grotesque faces are the most common. “This is by far the most frequent manifestation reported by people in association with haunted mirrors. The faces are, most of the time, human - and sometimes known to the witnesses. But there are a number of accounts where people have reported other entities/demonic faces appearing.”

Even today, mirrors still terrify us. In a dynamic experiment, Giovanni Caputo at the University of Urbino in Italy conducted a study of mirrors in 2010. In the analyzing the results article, published in Perceptions, describes a terrifying experience. In total, 50 participants were asked to stare into a mirror for 10 minutes in a dimly lit space. An astonishing 66% witnessed huge deformations of their own face, 18% percent saw an animal such as a pig or cat in the mirror, 28% observed a completely unknown person, and a shocking 48%  beheld monstrous or fantastical beings. So, it seems, there is something to the legends.

Thanks to Kellie Dawn O for the suggestion!

This image is unrelated to the above story and is entitled, “Marsden J. Perry home, Providence, Rhode Island. Interior scene, detail of piano, crystal chandelier, mirror, and door Abstract/medium: 1 photographic print.” by Frances B Johnson

The Kiyotaki Tunnel

One of the most haunted locations in Japan isn’t a house or a graveyard or anything you’d expect, it’s a Tunnel. Specifically, the Kiyotaki Tunnel. The Kiyotaki Tunnel is a single-lane route that connects northern Arashiyama to the town of Sagakiyotaki. The tunnel is brimming with ghosts, bad luck, cautionary tales, and paranormal activity.

Link Link Link

The Kiyotaki Tunnel began as a part of the Atagoyama Railway and was built in 1927, completed in 1928. It is roughly 1,640 feet. The notorious element of the tunnel began almost immediately. It is rumored that the tunnel was originally constructed with slaves and there were a number of fatalities during the building process. None of these deaths seem supernatural and largely due to the difficult working conditions that were typical of railway building. However, now it is said that these poor souls roam the tunnel. Another theory for what causes the strange occurrences at Kiyotaki is that it was cursed by an ancient man who died in battle and cursed the ground.

The tunnel was active through 1944 carrying people to Arashiyama, Kiyotaki, Kiyotakigawa, and Ataga, which made it an essential part of the railroad. In fact, it was one of the most important stops for those making pilgrimages to the Atago-jinja Shrine. It has not been abandoned, but it has been repurposed. Currently, the tunnel has been incorporated into the road system in the area. 

The occurences in the tunnel are quite varied. Some people say that when they enter the tunnel, a ghostly apparition appears in their car while they pass through the tunnel only to vanish when they exit the tunnel. Others have heard voices, screams, and muttering while passing through. Some who enter the tunnel do not experience anything paranormal at first glance they do complain of dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The hauntings are said to occur largely at night and many people urge against visiting at night unless completely necessary.  Some of the constant full body apparitions include something familiar to Legenders - a roadside woman, often described as wearing white. Others report seeing handprints on the hoods of their car after passing through the tunnel, despite not being there when they entered. 

One thing unique (and a bit hard to do while driving) to the tunnel is to avoid looking at any mirrors. Whether they’re in your car, outside of your car, on the road, or anywhere else. Why? It is said that even if you glance at one for only a second you’ll see a spirit and meet an undeniably dark fate - you’ll see yourself as a dead person and will die in a few days.


The above image is from sugoiinipponnews

Dragsholm Castle and its One Hundred Ghosts

Dragsholm Castle is a stunning castle located on the west coast of Sealand, just an hour’s drive from Copenhagen. The stunning white castle looks like something out of a fairytale and has stood for more than 800 years. It was built in 1215 by the Bishop of Roskilde. It was later modified in the middle ages to be a fortified castle. In fact, the castle was almost impenetrable and said to be the only castle on Zealand to withstand the brutal armies of Count Christoffer.  Today, the castle boasts a Michelin star restaurant, gorgeous suites, rave reviews, and over one hundred ghosts. Yes, you read that right...one hundred ghosts.

Link Link Link

Dragsholm is said to be home to over 100 spirits who are not quite ready to leave this world. One of the reasons Dragsholm is so haunted is because it once served as a prison space for very special prisoners. When the castle was given to King Christian III in 1536, it was modified to become a prison for noble and high-ranking ecclesiastical prisoners. Many of the ghosts are believed to be from these prisoners and the staff that tended to the castle, which remained a prison for almost 100 years. There were several notable prisoners, including the Mad Squire. In life, he was known as Ejler Brockenhuus and was a former confidant of the King. When he was imprisoned and his life coming to an end he began length and incomprehensible diatribes. It is said that you can still hear him rambling in the corridors near his cell.

Another infamous prisoner-turned-ghost was James Hepburn, an Earl. He was the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. However, he had previously jilted a Danish fiancee before marrying Mary and when he fled Scotland he sought solace in Denmark. Seeking solace here was...not the best idea. Why? Well not only had he jilted a member of a powerful family, he also ran off with a sizable dowry that her father had given him for his ex-fiancee, Anna Rustung. For this, he was captured and imprisoned in Dragsholm. It was said he went insane while imprisoned and died at the young age of 44. His ghost has frequently been spotted amongst the castle’s grounds and entering the grounds in a ghostly horse-drawn carriage.

Dragsholm is also home to its very own Women in White (or, in this case, Lady in White). It is believed that this ghostly woman was once Celina Bolves, daughter of the powerful and noble Bovles family. Unfortunately for Celina, she fell in love with a laborer far below her own rank. Disregarding her family’s pleas to leave him she remained with him and soon became pregnant with his child. Her father discovered what his daughter had done and imprisoned her in the castle’s dungeons. It was there she died.

Those who have experience the White Lady say that she appears to be looking for someone (perhaps her lover) and often moans or sighs in sorrow because she is never able to find him. Though beautiful, she is often described as a tragic figure who brings a sense of sadness to those who see her.

The most surprising thing about the Lady in White of Dragsholm castle? In the 1930s when workmen were busy repairing the basement plumbing at the castle they discovered a skeleton wearing a white dress imprisoned in a wall.

There is also a happy ghost that haunts the merry halls of Dragsholm. She was a maid that worked at Dragsholm but did not live on the property. One day, after her commute to work, she began complaining of a painful toothache. The generous master of the castle at that time gave her a poultice to help soothe her toothache. Soon enough, she began feeling better and was very grateful. Sadly, shortly after this good deed her life was cut short and she died. It seems her spirit returned to the castle to eternally show her gratitude. She is often seen at night and appears to be a protective and helpful spirit that happily guards Dragsholm.

These are just a few of the ghosts that haunt what is potentially the most haunted castle in Denmark. Do you know of any other hauntings at Dragsholm?


The above image is of Dragsholm Castle taken by Bococo it is licensed under CC-SA 3.0.

Sachs Covered Bridge

Located in a bucolic stretch of Pennsylvania, one of its most historic covered bridges is also one of the country’s most haunted. Looking at the preserved bridge one would hesitate to call it haunted, as it looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Sachs Covered Bridge in Gettysburg, designated Pennsylvania’s “most historic bridge" in 1938 and also on the National Register of Historic Places, has quite a storied, and potentially haunted history.

Link Link Link

Before it was haunted, it was a bridge built in 1852. Sach’s bridge is a “Town Truss” bridge, which is a lattice-like bridge. Almost ten years later, it became an important bridge during the Civil War. On July 1st, 1863 the bridge was crossed by I Corps of the Union Army marching towards Gettysburg. Just four days later, much of Robert E. Lee’s Army would retreat back over the bridge after the Union victory in the Battle of Gettysburg.

But not every Confederate soldier made it safely across the bridge. Rumor has it that three Confederate soldiers who had attempted to desert during Gettysburg were found and cut here. Perhaps even more interesting is that there is another rumor that these alleged Confederate soldiers were not deserters at all, but spies. Although neither story has been totally verified, many people who have had experiences at the bridge report hearing battle fire, screams of people that sound as if they’re being wounded and killed, and others have even reported seeing full-bodied and uniformed apparitions of these soldiers! Even more, mention feeling cold spots and even seeing a strange, dark, and unexplainable mist.

This bridge is like many bridges in America, especially many covered bridges: haunted. What makes bridges so haunted? Why does every town - big and small alike, seem to have some sort of haunted bridge lurking just on the periphery?

In folklore, bridges often serve as important points in stories - where devils make deals, where trolls live, and especially where ghosts lurk. Is it because we come so close to being washed away should a wood plank give out or our cars fail on top? Is it because the “Imp of the Impure” calls us to the edge and asks what would happen if we jumped?

Water is also believed to be an important aspect of the paranormal and paranormal activity. Water is, as many know, a wonderful energy conductor. Now, although this proves useful in our daily lives it is important to think about everything in context - particularly the paranormal. Many people believe that paranormal entities and happenings are energy-driven, so many, many experiences (some, not all) take place near bodies of water. There is also a belief, if you believe any of this at all, that this energy allows entities to travel more freely.

In my mind, I think it is because it is a liminal space. In between nature and man-made, danger and safety, and the known and the unknown, because we know where the road will take us but not the river.

This image was taken by Kevin A. Trostle and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. 

The Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle

Sprawling across an impressive 30 acres, Caerphilly Castle is Wale’s largest castle. It began its life as a medieval fortress built between 1268-1271, by Gilbert de Clare. The castle’s design is based on a “concentric ring of walls, something not seen in Britain before. It also has an extensive ring of water defenses and huge gatehouses. This mammoth stronghold remains a striking testament to the Anglo-Norman domination of the area.” Its impressive age, size, and strength is legendary enough...but there is a ghost that haunts these halls. She is known as  the Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle.

Link Link Link

This story begins with Alice de la Marche of France, the niece of Henry II and wife of Earl Gilbert de Clare. Alice was a woman with refined tastes, a passionate nature, and had a bit of a wild side. This wild side caused some friction between her and her husband, as she “came to resent her husband’s warring disposition.”

On a seemingly normal day, Gruffudd the Fair (who was also Prince of Brithdir) visited the castle. He immediately caught Alice’s eye and she quickly became enamored with this handsome, well-spoken prince. Before long, the two were lovers. Unfortunately for the secret couple, Gruffudd, unable to handle his guilt, confessed his secret relationship to a monk. This monk was loyal to de Clare, who he quickly informed.

Seeing red due to his anger, he immediately sent his wife back to Franche and ordered his men to hunt down Gruffudd.

Gruffudd, who was forewarned of de Clare’s search, also succumbed to anger and revenge. He hunted down the monk that shared his secret with de Clare and hung him from a tree. Not long after this excursion, de Clare’s man caught up to him. Just a short time later, Gruffudd would also be hanging.

Soon after, a page was sent to inform Alice of her lover’s demise at her husband’s hands. Unable to handle the fact that she helped cause her lover’s death, she dropped dead. Although she died in France, it is said her ghost returned to Caerphily Castle to haunt its great ramparts.

After a few weeks of investigating the Lady in White stories, I was surprised to come and find an interesting sub-genre of Lady in Green stories. Although the above story does share some similar stories to Lady in White stories, Lady in Green stories seem to 1) take place in castles and 2) involve some royal or noble lineage.

Back to Alice, though. She is dressed in green, representative of her husband’s envy, and she wanders the halls in silent solitude. Some say she is stuck in purgatory for her sins, others say she is waiting to meet once again with Gruffudd, and still more say she is still in shock...even all these days later.

Other accounts also give her a unique ability -ability to turn herself into ivy. If you spy her through her guise and she likes you, she will reach out to shake your hand and vanish shortly after.

The cover image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. You can view it here.


The West Virginia Penitentiary

Located in Moundsville, West Virginia The West Virginia Penitentiary has been listed “on the top ten list of the Department of Justice’s as one of the “most violent.” Originally established in 1866, Moundsville’s walls housed over 100 years worth of inmates. Although the last of the inmates were relocated in 1995, some say ghosts of time past still wander the building. Also, like many buildings of this time, although it was originally only built for 480 prisoners by the 1930s there were usually a total of 2,400. In fact, sometimes three prisoners would be assigned to one 5x7 cells.

Link Link Link

Due to the overcrowding riots, escapes, murders, and uninhabitable conditions were common place. Roughly 36 murders took place within the walls and 94 men were executed. Not to mention, the instruments of torture that lay behind the prison’s captivating acade. Specifically, the kicking jenny which was “an instrument invented and built in the prison. It is made somewhat in the shape of a quarter-circle, with the highest end about three or four feet above the platform upon which it is set. The prisoner is stripped naked and bend over upon the machine.” After this,  “His feet are fastened to the floor with ropes, while his hands, which are stretched over the upper end, are tied with roped attached to small blocks, by which a tension so strong that the frame of the prisoner can almost be torn in two can be made with a slight pull.” Finally, “after the prisoner is placed in position the Superintendent, or whoever does the whipping, takes a heavy whip, made of sole leather, two pieces of which, about three feet long, are sewed together, and the ends scraped slightly rounding, the lash being three inches broad at the handle, tapering to a point. With the whip, the prisoner is beaten until he is almost dead, or the strength of the man who is doing the whipping gives out."

Hauntings are nothing new in Moundsville. In fact, they were reported as early as the 1930s. The first report came from guards on duty and not necessarily the prisoners. Guards would often report that they saw inmates “walking freely on the grounds so alarms were sounded.” Once the alarms were tripped, the area was investigated. However, no one ever found the inmates wandering around that were reported by guards or had seemingly tripped the alarm. The repeated false sightings became increasingly common and the reputation of the haunted prison increased.

Like many haunted buildings throughout America, it is rumored that the prison was constructed upon land that once was a burial ground for Native Americans. So many believed that this was the cause for the negative energy and hauntings that the ground of the prison has been blessed many times. However, it is rumored that an unknown curse remains as punishment for disturbing the rest of the dead.

One of the most frightening haunts of the old prison is a being referred to as ‘Shadow Man’. The name comes from this spirit’s practice of lurking amongst the dark corners of the prison, casting his shadow and darkness among the halls and cells of the building. According to witness reports, the Shadow Man has no visible features. Witnesses also report feeling very intimidated when seeing this being. Although his identity is unknown, many speculate he may be a guard that used to check on the cells and walk the halls and life. Others believe he may be an inmate trying to find a way out of the darkness.

Red Snider is another spirit who can’t seem to leave. He was murdered while in prison and some say he can still be seen wandering the halls. “A man that worked on a haunted house in the prison claimed that while he was walking around with his tools, someone, not living, grabbed him by his arm. The man maintained when questioned that nobody else was near him during this event.”

There are several areas known as particular hot spots among ghost hunters and tour guides of the prison. Some of these places are to be expected, such as the North Wagon Gate which is where death row inmates were taken to be hung, Death row itself, and the chapel. One interesting area that is also reportedly haunted is the ‘Sugar Shack’. The Sugar Shack was a recreation room in the basement to be used when prisoners could not go outside due to adverse conditions. In this room there are often reports of chatter and cold spots.

The building is one of the most haunted places in West Virginia, and potentially all of America.

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. It was taken by Rhonda Humphreys. More information can be found here.