It wouldn’t be a historic holiday without a ghost story or two. And, since the 4th of July is so closely associated with Philadelphia (PA) – where the Declaration of Independence was signed – here’s a YouTube video about Philadelphia’s haunts.
The first half of the video highlights haunted places you might visit if you’re exploring 4th of July ghosts in Philadelphia, “the City of Brotherly Love.”
The second half was filmed at Eastern State Penitentiary. That’s not a surprise; it’s one of America’s most haunted places.
Next, here’s another video featuring some interesting Pennsylvania haunts. The state is large, so most of these sites aren’t actually in Philadelphia. Still, if you’re in Pennsylvania, some of these ghost stories are interesting and could be worth checking out. (Also, I recommend reading about Brandywine Valley ghosts.)
Centralia (PA) is over two hours from Philadelphia. Also, it’s not a place to visit (though it might be haunted). Anyone going there is risking his life; it’s not worth taking that chance.
(I want to make it very clear: I advise against going anywhere near Centralia, for any reason.)
Centralia’s story is both horrifying and compelling. I’m not sure any city or ghost town has a similar history. (I hope not, anyway.)
The following video shows what’s left of Centralia. I thought the scene showing coal residue in the foreground – and a wind farm in the distance – was especially eerie.
I don’t know if ghosts will linger there, long enough for investigators who’ll visit when Centralia is finally safe. It seems unlikely. (For example, I haven’t heard any trustworthy ghost stories about Pompeii.)
Still, if we’re talking about creepy places in Pennsylvania, Centralia has to be on the top 10 list.
If you post a YouTube video showing your paranormal Philadelphia investigations, let me know. When I looked for some to share with readers, I was astonished at how few good, Philadelphia ghost videos are online.
In a historical city like Philadelphia, I’d expect far more haunted places… and videos of people exploring them.
(Note: If you’re investigating rural Pennsylvania, remember that the “Snallygaster” legend – probably more cryptozoology than ghost – is recorded there, as well as in Maryland.)
Texas Hill Country is the home of many people who love wide-open spaces, rolling hills, and the dry climate. It’s a gorgeous place to visit or to put down roots.
It’s also very haunted.
The following three sites are from an article, 10 Most Haunted Places in the Texas Hill Country. (The full top-10 list is linked at the foot of this article.)
That article got my attention because it’s a very good list. Some of those same haunted sites appeared in my early book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas.
I was at the Driskill Hotel (in Austin) is among the top three on the list. I was at that hotel when they were working on the “suicide” room, to reopen it. Its atmosphere was definitely eerie, and the hotel was reluctant to tell me why the room had been sealed up for so many years… with good reason.
The Driskill has many more ghosts than what’s in this article – I talk about them in my book – and that hotel remains one of my favorite haunts to visit when I’m visiting Texas’ spectacular hill country.
If you’ve encountered ghosts in that part of Texas, I hope you’ll share your stories in comments at this article.
3. Dead Man’s Hole, Burnet Co.
Discovered in 1821 by a roving entomologist, Dead Man’s Hole is a gaping Texas hell-mouth that drops some 15-stories into the ground. During the Civil War, Union sympathizers, including Judge John R. Scott, were killed by proud Confederates and dumped down the Dead Man’s Hole. Multiple bodies were retrieved during the 1860’s, but the deaths did not stop during the Civil War. Most recently, one ghost hunter reportedly heard the voice of a young girl pleading, “No Daddy, I just want to go to Dairy Queen.” It is believed that Dead Man’s Hole has claimed as many as 35 bodies.
2. Driskill Hotel – Travis Co.
The Driskill Hotel opened its doors in 1886. It has been the site of paranormal activity ever since the passing of its wealthy owner, Jesse Lincoln Driskill. His spirit is believed to haunt the hotel. Legends also have it that in Room 525, two honeymoon brides committed suicide in the bathtub–exactly 20 years apart to the day. Once blocked off to the public, the room was reopened in the 1990’s. Since then, inexplicable leaks and faulty lighting have continued to disrupt guests in this room. Multiple guests have also spotted the spirit of Samantha Houston, the child daughter of a Texas Senator. Samantha died tragically at the Driskill in 1887. She was chasing a ball down the stairs when she fell down the grand staircase and broke her neck. Her giggles can be heard throughout the hotel to this day.
1. The Devil’s Backbone, Comal & Hays Cos.
The Devil’s Backbone is a limestone ridge that stands tall from Wimberly to Blanco. Ranchers have been known to hear galloping horses running along the ridge. Several people have claimed to see the ghosts of Confederate soldiers, a wounded Native American, and even the White Lady running back and forth across country roads. Once, a four year old boy visiting the area was found speaking often to an “imaginary friend”. When asked about the friend, the boy said she was a little girl with a hole in her head. When his parents asked why she had a hole in her head, he said, “Her daddy put the hole in her head to save her.” The parents were later told by local historians that families of settlers from the region often committed suicide, and even killed their families, rather than being captured by Native American raiders.
But, the idea of making paranormal research into a sort of game show – makes me uneasy.
On one hand, I’m thrilled to see another great, haunted location receive attention. This is the kind of site that should be investigated.
Here’s an short (5 minutes) video about Woodchester Mansion and its ghosts. It covers a lot of history.
And as usual, I’m hopeful that new media coverage will attract fresh researchers to this field. Of course, I’m glad to see Jason Hawes get another gig, as well.
But… (You knew that was coming, right?)
The first two-hour episode of Celebrity Haunted Mansion didn’t show enough of what I’m looking for. It wasn’t an actual investigation.
Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be. I’m trying to keep an open mind and be okay with Celebrity Haunted Mansion as entertainment (as opposed to real life).
I’ll admit it: Like many researchers in this field, it’s far too easy for me to take myself – and ghost hunting – too seriously. (That goes double when I’m putting in long hours, as I am now, working behind-the-scenes on the free ghost hunting course.)
Paranormal Prep School
Apparently, the cast learned about ghost hunting in a “paranormal prep school.” I ranted at the TV screen when they showed clips from that training. The staging seemed to mimic (parody?) Hogwarts, and the lessons made me even more uncomfortable.
Generally, ghosts do not follow anyone home. I felt that the instructors unnecessarily frightened the cast members, especially the two who’d already expressed concerns about that exact issue.
That’s when I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that it’s not a documentary. It’s a TV series. It’s entertainment.
Among the celebrity guests, I especially liked Simon Gregson(Coronation Street). He spoke honestly about seeing a ghost (in the past), while remaining rather skeptical about it. That’s a balance I like to see among team members. I hope he’ll be involved in other ghost-related TV shows. He seems like a level-headed, intelligent man. We need more researchers like him.
I was not expecting Katie Price (“Jordan”) to be an experienced ghost hunter. That impressed me. I liked how she described “the cobwebby feeling” at actively haunted locations. I hope she continues similar, serious research on the show. But, realistically, I’m expecting her to focus more on getting audience votes so she can stay on the show.
In general, I felt that the celebrity guests were a good balance of curious, skeptical, serious and humorous.
Mostly, today’s episode of Celebrity Haunted Mansion focused on introducing the cast and the location. Since this was a live broadcast, it was alternately amusing, interesting, and embarrassing to watch.
It’s difficult to broadcast a show like that. Ghosts don’t perform on cue. Filling the show with interesting content can be a challenge. I think the cast did a good job with the sparse material they had on hand.
Hosts Christine Lampard and Matt Richardson did a very good job of filling the time. I liked both of them.
Also during the show, Jack Osborne and Jason Hawes each made some good points about real paranormal research. I wanted to hear more from them, and see them working directly with their teams.
But, I felt as if they took a back seat to the celebrities, and that may be be planned. As I said, I’m not sure I get what this show is supposed to be, and perhaps it’s finding its own path, spontaneously. (Sometimes, the most interesting things are unplanned and unscripted.)
The Ghost Hunting Equipment
The cast seem to have some good, basic ghost hunting tools. I saw a K-II, an Ovilus, a Paranormal Puck 2, and a REM Pod.
I also heard reference to a Mel meter, and – in the “paranormal prep school” – the cast were shown a pendulum, with confirmation that it’s okay to use it in a stand. (Pendulums aren’t 100% risk-free, but they don’t present anything close to the dangers of Ouija boards.)
Most ghost hunters can afford some of those tools, especially if you find used ones at eBay, etc. And, from my experience, they’re all good tools. (I still prefer my Ghost Meter Pro to my Ovilus III, but that may be a personal quirk.)
Not Available in the US
The rest of the episodes will air on W, a UK network that isn’t available on the American UKTV app. So, I’m unlikely to see the rest of Celebrity Haunted Mansion. Not unless it appears on Hulu or Netflix or something, later.
Meanwhile, the location intrigues me enough to continue researching its past.
As time permits, I may continue researching Woodchester’s history and ghosts.
Here’s what I’d look for:
Contemporary reports from when the workmen “vanished” from the mansion. For that, I’d search old newspapers.
Anything odd about Spring Park. (There’s already a gruesome legend about the Wildcat of Woodchester and animal mutilations. So far, it looks like a wild panther more than, say, a Black Shuck. This link has the kinds of photos that I’d rather not see, and do not recommend.)
Whether there’s anything strange about the repeated building-demolition pattern at the site. For that, I’d dig deeper into the Historic England summary of Woodchester Mansion. Everything I’ve skimmed so far – including that history – seems to be studiously avoiding something. (Or maybe I’m reading too much between-the-lines.)
At that link, I read this:
“A park noted at Woodchester from 1311 which lay near the church and manor was abandoned soon after 1600 when George Huntley began to create a demesne, including a new deer park and warren, in the Inchbrook valley. This park, which was walled, included much of registered area, and was composed of what had previously been common and open-field land.” (Emphasis added.)
I’m wondering how much local residents protested the enclosure of commons that had been theirs to use for nearly 300 years. That’s the kind of history that can lead to residual energy, if not outright hauntings.
That’s as much as I have for you, today. If you pull any of these threads and find something interesting, I hope you’ll leave a comment.
Whether or not the Celebrity Haunted Mansion TV show is compelling (or at least fun), I think Woodchester sounds like an excellent site to investigate.
If you want to see what people are saying about the show, you can follow related Tweets at #CelebHaunted.
However, much of the Winchester house’s most compelling paranormal evidence isn’t obvious. It’s layered in history, mystical beliefs, and secrets.
They’re why I believe the Winchester Mystery House is haunted.
Here are a few videos to introduce you to the strange (and sometimes chilling) Winchester story.
The next video is a 7 1/2 minute visual tour of the Winchester Mystery House. The soundtrack is entirely music, no verbal descriptions.
If you’re looking for ghost stories or history, you may want to skip ahead to the “Winchester Mystery House – Secrets of the Mansion” series, further down this page. That series delivers a tour of the house plus details of Sarah Winchester’s life, and how the house was built.
I recommend the following four short (4-5 minutes, each) videos in a series, “Winchester Mystery House – Secrets of the Mansion.”
The sound quality is okay, but not great. Despite that, if you want a good overview of the history – including some ghostly legends – this series is worth your time. You’ll gain a far better understanding of why the Winchester story is so compelling.
My next link to a Winchester Mystery House video starts around the 3:20 mark, and includes an interesting paranormal story. It resonates with similar stories I’ve heard in other haunted locations. To me, it seems credible.
(After she finishes telling her story, fast-forward to the 7:46 point. There, another tour guide describes her own eerie experience. After the 8:19 mark, the video shows a little more of the house, but no additional stories.)
YouTube videos I did not include:
Ghost Adventures S05E04 Winchester Mystery House – a YouTube video posted by Perdue Adrian. It’s probably the full episode (or more), but it’s in a skewed screen-in-screen image. If you want to see that episode, as of January 2018 it’s at Daily Motion.com.
Ghost Adventures S12E11 Return to Winchester Mystery House 1080p HDTV x264 tNe – another skewed screen image, with a link to another website “to see in full HD.” I don’t click on links like that. Instead, I recommend watching the full episode on Hulu. (That link was current in Jan 2018.)
If you’re looking for the Ghost Hunters episode (Season 2, Ep. 11) that includes the Winchester Mansion, it’s at Daily Motion, too.
Winchester Mansion: The House That Spirits Built – It Is Written. It explains why God warns us about seances and believing in ghosts, and uses the Winchester Mystery House as an example. (If you don’t believe in ghosts and you’re looking for a fairly high-quality Christian video, that’s probably the best relevant YouTube option. The video references: Job 7:9-10, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Leviticus 19:31, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, and so on.)
But, if you’re a fan of the Winchester story, be sure to see the stylish, old-school (1963) video about the mansion, narrated by Lillian Gish,Mrs. Winchester’s House. For me, it was 30 minutes well spent.
In general, I think the Winchester house is one of America’s more enigmatic haunts. Its eerie legends and quirky history raises many questions. Some may only be answered by the ghosts.
The Ripon Prison — originally known as Ripon Liberty Prison — dates back to the 17th century. The current building was the prison site from around 1816 – 1878.
After the enactment of the Prison Act of 1877, the building was empty for about nine years. Then, it became the local police constabulary station through 1958.
It became a museum and visitor attraction around 1984. Today, it offers many opportunities for ghost hunters.
From my current research, no reported ghost has a specific name and history that can be verified.
Several researchers reported a spirit called “George.” (That seems to be a surprisingly popular name among British ghosts.) He’s described as a warder, not an inmate.
Note: When addressing prison ghosts, try using both “warder” and “warden.” The former is an older term and more popular in Britain, especially in connection with prisons.
However, warder’s secondary meaning (in history) includes “a truncheon or staff of office or authority, used in giving signals.” (ref. Dictionary.com) So, a warden might carry a warder, and a “watch out for the warder!” message might be more about an impending assault than a prison guard.
Another spirit is called Mary, Meg, or Margaret. She’s too young to have been a prisoner, unless she was there with her mother. (In past centuries, babies and very young children might be in a cell with their mothers, particularly if there was no one else to take care of the child.)
However, always be cautious when a prison ghost claims to be very young. In some cases, the spirit is actually malicious. (Remember: Prisons held criminals.) That spirit may be hoping you’ll drop your guard/protection, and he (or she) can achieve viciously self-serving goals.
In both past descriptions of Ripon Prison investigations, and the early reviews of this Most Haunted episode, it sounds as if something very dangerous — possibly not a ghost, but something much darker — might be loose.
One of the most useful triggers I’ve found in my research was the 2013 opening of an exhibit of photos of “lady prisoners,” at Ripon Prison.
From my experiences, images of possible ghosts — especially unsavory men and women from the past — can leave an imprint. This can trigger a residual energy haunting, or even give the ghost a reason to actively haunt that location. (After all, people see him or her there.)
In the case of Ripon Prison, those photos may help investigators match ghostly figures and apparitions — as well as psychic impressions — to specific faces and names.
A casual survey suggests that Ripon Prison’s ghosts are an equal mix of prisoners and wardens or police officers.
That’s somewhat unusual. In most prisons I’ve investigated, the site’s ghosts were mostly prisoners or mostly wardens and guards, not in equal number.
If you’ve been to Ripon Prison and Police Museum, I hope you’ll leave a comment with your observations.
Note: Remember that many hauntings are related to extreme emotions and feelings. So, at a prison, you may encounter ghosts (and residual energy hauntings) related to feeling powerful (wardens) and victimized (innocent prisoners).
If you use questions that show admiration (for spirits reliving their glory days) or sympathy (for those unjustly jailed), you may have better investigation results.
Ripon Prison and Police Museum seems very active and offers many kinds of ghostly encounters.
Footsteps where no one can be seen
EMF spikes, including some that respond to yes/no questions
A screw (prison machine) that turns by itself and makes loud metal-on-metal noises (Reported by Simply Ghost Nights)
Physical manifestations, such as objects moving on their own, including table tipping.
However, since Ouija boards and dark rituals have been used at Ripon Prison — certainly in recent years, and possibly while the building was empty — use stronger than usual measures to protect yourself and your team.
Also, before going there, I’d research Thomas de Grey (1781–1859), 3rd Lord Grantham, the designer of the cell block. Sometimes, designers and architects leave their own imprint (or even revisit) sites they’ve built. That’s doubly true when the designer’s name is permanently visible on the building. (See the plaque in the photo, above.)
I’d also explore ghost stories and anomalies reported at Newby Hall, Grantham’s home, and look for connections. I’d especially look for references to “alchemy” associated with Newby Hall or Grantham.
Note: The most famous (or infamous) “ghost” of Newby Hall is from the 1963 photo by the Rev. F. K. Lord. To me, it looks like the photo was altered or it’s a double exposure. (Photo analysis in the 1960s wasn’t entirely reliable.)
However, the photo’s provenance prevents me from dismissing it altogether.
Here’s a short YouTube video that shows the Ripon Prison building. As an investigator, I note at the amount of metal (which can hold residual energy) and the age of this building. Also, all prison sites feature “trapped inside” and “you can’t leave here” cues.
To me, Ripon Prison and Police Museum looks like a great place for a ghost vigil… as long as you take adequate precautions, of course.
NOTE: This is my last report about “Most Haunted” until I’m able to see the shows, myself. (As of early June 2017, the show’s videos are no longer on YouTube, and my U.S. viewing resources no longer offer the Really channel. I’m hoping the latter resolves, soon.)