Ohio’s Tribute monument to Carroll’s Brigade on East Cemetery Hill
Is Gettysburg haunted? It’s sure hard to ignore the large number ghostly encounters that visitors and residents of this historic Pennsylvania town claim to have experienced over the years. Of course, skeptics will always find other explanations for the phenomena but the sheer number of reported experiences certainly lends support to those convinced that something unusual is happening here.
The idea of a haunted Gettysburg doesn’t really seem so ridiculous when you consider the magnitude of the events that took place on this soil for 3 days in July, 1863.
In the sweltering, summer heat, two deadly armies – over 165,000 soldiers – met in Gettysburg and fought what history would record as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. When the horrific haze of battle had cleared, there were 51,000 casualties and many believe that those involved in this epic battle still linger, eternally bound by ties forged in the agony and trauma of war.
Where is all this haunted activity taking place? Basically, any place the battle was fought is a likely place to encounter something paranormal. Many visitors to Gettysburg look for the “official” battlefield–the 6000 acres of federally maintained battlefield just outside of town–not realizing that much of the town also saw action from sharpshooters, skirmishes, field hospitals and tactical occupations. This abundance of battle-worn real estate makes it easy for even the beginner to stumble upon places that are linked to some type of haunted activity.
What should you do if you wish to see a bit of haunted history? Naturally, no one can guarantee that you will have a paranormal experience when you visit Gettysburg but there are guides, locations, and times to visit that can greatly improve your chances. Below, I have gathered together enough information to get you well on your way to your first “haunted Gettysburg” experience.
The Best Times to Visit
For those wishing to experience the haunted side of Gettysburg, there are a few things to consider when timing your visit:
Some have noticed more reported paranormal activity at Gettysburg during the anniversary of the battle – July 1, 2, 3. However, since this is a peak tourist time, it’s hard to say for sure if there’s more paranormal activity or just ore people around to experience it.
Night time, starting with dusk, seems to be the best time – but not the only time – to have paranormal encounters. There are many ghost tours in town that offer candlelight tours for this reason but more on the tours in a minute.
Some paranormal investigators see a connection between the energy produced by thunderstorms and the manifestation of ghosts so, being in the right place just before or after a thunderstorm, could improve your chances significantly.
Taking a Ghost Tour
There are several companies doing ghost tours in Gettysburg, so take some time to check them out before you go. People reviewing the Gettysburg ghost tours on Yahoo Travel gave them mixed reviews. It seems that skill level of the guide is of vital importance so I would suggest asking a lot of questions about your guide’s experience and popularity before you sign up. Another sticking point for a lot of people was the fact that, with some tour companies, the guides aren’t paid and they ask for tips at the end of the walk. If that doesn’t bother you, great, otherwise check before you go.
Here’s a list of tour companies:
The Ghosts of Gettysburg Tours
These are the only ghost tours based on the excellent, best-selling books, Ghosts of Gettysburg, by Mark Nesbitt and include four different tours–one is a bus tour and the rest are walking tours. Contact Info: 271 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325 Phone: (717) 337-0445, Toll Free: 888-337-0445, Fax: 717-337-9673
Historic Farnsworth House Candlelight Ghost Walks
This group is connected to the very historic and haunted Farnsworth House. According to them, they have the “most unique walks,” and are “not confined to scripted and printed stories of recent years.” They have received press coverage on TV, and in books and magazines. Contact Info: 401 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325 Phone: 717-334-8838, Fax: 717-334-5862 |
Sleepy Hollow of Gettysburg Candlelight Ghost Tours
Owned and operated by a 6th generation Gettysburg resident, Sleepy Hollow says it “features storytellers with over 50 Years combined storytelling experience.” Their tours combine first hand experiences with tales and legends, human interest and historical facts. Contact Info: Phone: 717-337-9322 Fax: 717-337-9327
Ghostly Images Tours
This company offers four tours, one of which is a bus tour. The tours from this company often include a visit inside a haunted building but it would be a good idea to check just to be sure. Contact Info: 778 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, Phone:(717) 334-6296
Some Haunted Places to Visit
1) Haunted Places in Town
This is by no means a complete list of places reputed to be haunted in town–consider it just something to get you started:
The Farnsworth House Inn, Pennsylvania Hall and Brua Hall in Gettysburg College, The Wills House – Lincoln Room Museum, Herr Tavern and Public House, General Lee’s Headquarters Museum, The Jenny Wade House, and the Cashtown Inn.
2) Ghosts on the Battlefield
As you might imagine, the battlefield is extremely active when it comes to experiencing all types of hauntings. While paranormal experiences could occur anywhere, some of the known hot spots include: Devil’s Den, Spangler’s Spring, Iverson’s Pitts, the Triangular field, the fields where Pickett’s Charge took place, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, the George Weikert House, the Rose Farm, and the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Information about visiting these places can be found at the National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov/gett/home.htm).