'Waynesboro After Dark' features stories from the town's past

October 15, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Jenny and John Poniske will share stories on Waynesboro After Dark haunted trolley tours in October and November.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Civil War soldier and schoolteacher Thaddeus Taylor instantly fell in love with a young woman at a Waynesboro-area harvest ball, then disappeared hours later and left her pining for him for eternity.

Or so legend says.

The tale of Taylor and lost love is just one featured during “Waynesboro After Dark,” a storytelling tour of Waynesboro sites. John and Jenny Poniske started offering walking tours in 2008 and now do trolley tours.

The trolley, owned by Larry and Delisa Leonard, departs from the Waynesboro Mall parking lot at 7 p.m. every Sunday in October and November.

The tour covers much of Waynesboro’s history, including its industrial roots, funeral traditions and Civil War connections.

“This town had a number of intriguing incidents in it,” John Poniske said.

Town founder John Wallace called the community his “Mount Vernon.” His youngest son, John, went to war and came back as the first real estate speculator, laying out 90 lots in what he called Waynesburg after his commander, “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

The Poniskes open their tour with a discussion about the scalping of two young girls, then talk about Burns Cabin, the oldest standing structure. They share information about a former owner of the Candy Kitchen building, the current owner of which says might have six distinct spirits inside.

Other stops include the old Leland Hotel and 1912 Hoover House. The Poniskes stop near the Johnson Controls plant and say human remains were found when George Frick’s crews started creating a power plant near his third factory.

On Lyons Road, a resident supposedly spotted the spirits of slaves walking in the mist along a creek. The Poniskes said the resident felt the spirits were celebrating, but did not know if they were freed in real life.

“They were very happy to be in Pennsylvania,” Jenny Poniske said.

Cathy Baker of Waynesboro took the tour last weekend.

“It was very good,” she said. “I’ve been on ghost tours before, but this was the first time on a trolley.”

For tour reservations, call 717-788-4550. The cost is $15 for adults, and $10 for children and senior citizens.

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