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Reporter takes Tri-State terror tour

October 31, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

TRI-STATE -- Apparently, ghosts don't like me. Two years, two ghost-hunting adventures and I've seen not one Thing That Goes Bump in the Night.

This year, I went on three ghost tours in three states and saw, heard and felt nothing out of the ordinary.

Last October, I spent the night at the Pry House at Antietam Battlefield, a hospital during the Civil War where people claim to see ghosts. I didn't.

I'm taking it personally because I'm told ghosts were with us during my final tour Tuesday night at the Old Jail in Chambersburg, Pa. A woman on the tour reported she saw not one, but two.

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They warn you on these tours that sometimes sensitive people become overwhelmed by the "energy" of a particular place and must leave that area.

I guess I'm just not one of those sensitive people.

Harpers Ferry

This tour is famous, at least in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas. I've taken it before and went on the tour again last Friday on my quest to see which town in the Tri-State area has the best ghosts, or ghost stories, at least.

This tour begins with a mini-science lesson that tackles the question "What are ghosts?" Something about Russian theories regarding energy surrounding human bodies ... my degree is in journalism, so don't make me explain any science.

The first stories on the Harpers Ferry tour involve two dead soldiers, accidentally (or not) killed by their comrades and a man who left instructions that he be buried standing upright, his head peering out over the rivers. His head eventually was used as a kickball.

In Harpers Ferry, the most eerie spot is in front of St. Peter's Catholic Church atop the hill. During the day, it's arguably the most beautiful view in the Tri-State, but at night, it's eerie standing in the wind, looking out over the historic town and the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

The tour consists mostly of ghost stories, but includes a few legends. As we stood in front of the church, the guide told us the legend of how the rivers formed.

Potomac and Shenandoah were lovers from warring Indian tribes. Shenandoah's father found out and sent her off into the mountains, where she cried, her tears forming the Shenandoah River. When Potomac found out, he went into the mountains near Cumberland and cried what must have been a lot of tears, forming the Potomac River.

Hey, if love can move mountains, maybe it can form rivers.

The Catholic Church is also the site of perhaps the most interesting story I heard about Harpers Ferry's past. As the story goes, some years ago, a man came to the priest there looking for help at an accident down the road. There was no accident. The next night, the same man came to the priest looking for help. This time, there was a horrible accident down the road. Police records show the accident was reported 24 hours before it happened, the guide said.

Hager House

I have my own reasons, which I will explain later, for thinking the Hager House in City Park might be haunted.

It can be a creepy place, old and creaky.

They said nobody, including tour guides and staff, likes being in the house alone. I believe it -- I didn't like being there in a group of 12.

In the Hager House, apparently, they have a problem with inanimate objects being moved, or moving themselves, however you want to explain it. Chairs, dolls, spoons -- all of these things, the guide said, dance around in the Hager House when no one is looking.

And here's the thing about that house. Call me crazy, but it feels like someone is always watching. And if you are to believe what people say about apparitions at the Hager House, something is always looking.

People say they see a man in black, wearing a stovepipe hat (think Abraham Lincoln) on the porch. Up in the hallway, they say, a woman in green has been seen, even by people on the ghost tour.

The tour guide explained that hallways and stairways are often haunted, possibly because women in long flowing dresses would trip, leading to accidents.

I believe it. I was wearing heels and almost fell up (and later down) the stairs.

Word has it that people have been seen peering out a front window and a side window.

Someone with a digital camera once reported seeing through the finder a scared-looking man in the basement. One expects to hear these things on a ghost tour.

But the guide mentioned ghostly smells. A back room that fills with the scent of sulfur, for example. The guide reported once smelling perfume.

Near the end of the tour, he mentioned that people have smelled tobacco in the house. When I asked after the tour, he said people smell tobacco throughout the grounds.

While I was in the park more than a year ago, I smelled pipe tobacco near the gazebo behind the Hager House. I thought it was odd, since it was just me and those enormous groundhogs on that side of the park. I still haven't seen a dude in a black hat on the front porch, though.

Old Jail

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