Category Archives: Travel

Haunted Tombstone, Arizona

I first visited Tombstone in 2009, which was a dream come true for this fan of old Westerns. Even though I was born in 1981, I was raised on TV shows like Rawhide and Bonanza. I never had the opportunity to travel out west until after graduate school. When I did, some friends from Phoenix and I made sure to explore everything the town had to offer. One of the most famous buildings in Tombstone is the Bird Cage Theatre.

I never thought I would return, but I recently found myself back in that oddly-named showcase of the Wild West. As I sat down for dinner at Big Nose Kate’s, two cowboys sat at the table next to mine playing cards. Yeah, that felt right. I could feel the living, breathing history there. As it turns out, many of Tombstone’s buildings are said to be haunted, not just the Birdcage. Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is one of these.

Big Nose Kate’s, located at 417 East Allen Street (you can’t miss it), was named after John Henry “Doc” Holliday’s companion, “Big Nose” Kate (Mary Katharine Horony). The saloon sits on the site of the former Grand Hotel, which burned in a fire in the spring of 1881. Sylvester Comstock, owner of the hotel, erected a more modest building in its place. Patrons and staff have reported hearing the sound of boots thundering against the floor, beer mugs and other objects moving on their own, and even catching a glimpse of an ethereal cowboy. Joshua Hawley, author of Tombstone’s Most Haunted, witnessed one of these moving objects himself when a trophy slid off a mini fridge–narrowly missing one of the employees!

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Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site is located in northwestern New York on Black Harbor Bay, Lake Ontario, in the town of Sackets Harbor. It was the scene of two battles in the War of 1812. You can tour the battlefield, or check out a restored 1850s Navy Yard and Commandant’s House. The park is open to the public year-round, but the museum and gift shop operate seasonally, from May 21 until Labor Day (Sept 5). Their website says there’s a small admission fee ($3), but I’ve never seen anyone collecting money.

The buildings at the historic site were not present at the time of the battles in 1813. The site offices, exhibits, and gift shop are located in the Lieutenant’s House, which was built in 1847-48. Directly behind it are the Stable and Ice House, also built in the mid-1800s. The stable contains interesting and informative exhibits on early 19th century American naval history.

There was a functioning naval base at Sackets Harbor until 1955, though the original forts and structures were long since leveled. Today, an empty field is all that remains of Fort Tompkins, the principal fort during the 1813 battle. This gives the historic site a park-like atmosphere. You can enjoy a sunset stroll along a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario, or sit on park benches and take in the view.

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Do Tortured Dead Stalk the Beauregard-Keyes House?

An architect from Baltimore named Francois Correjolles designed this historic Greek-Revival style New Orleans home at 1113 Chartres Street in 1826. Over the decades, it has had many residents, including Confederate General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard, hero of the First Battle of Bull Run. Since 1970, the Keyes Foundation has opened the house for tours and events. Today, visitors come to view its beautiful gardens and author Frances Parkinson Keyes’ rare doll and porcelain teapot collection. Some have gotten more than they bargained for, as rumor has it a number of tormented and restless spirits stalk the house.

The antebellum history of the Beauregard-Keyes House was mostly uneventful, aside from being the birthplace of 19th Century chess champion Paul Morphy. PGT Beauregard lived there after the war, from 1865 to 1868. His sons and he rented the home from its owner, Dominique Lanata. In 1904, a Lanata descendant sold it to Corrado Giacona, who operated a wholesale liquor business there called Giacona & Co.

In the summer of 1908, the Sicilian Mafia tried to extort $3,000 from Giacona, with disastrous results. On June 18, 1908, Corrado and his father Pietro gunned down three mob soldiers on the back gallery. Another was wounded. After a lengthy investigation, New Orleans authorities dropped the charges.

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Video from Plymouth Twilight Lantern Ghost Tour

This paranormal-themed walking tour in Plymouth, Massachusetts is a fun, “spirited” way to learn a little about Plymouth history. The Twilight Lantern Ghost Tour takes you to lesser-known locations, and tells the story of some of the town’s less fortunate residents. For an additional fee, the tour continues inside two historic buildings near the oldest street in America. Check out some video below and then read my review!

Plymouth Twilight Lantern Ghost Tour

This paranormal-themed walking tour in Plymouth, Massachusetts is a fun, “spirited” way to learn a little about Plymouth history. While we’re all familiar with the pilgrims’ story, Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, etc., the Twilight Lantern Ghost Tour takes you to lesser-known locations, and tells the story of some of the town’s less fortunate residents. For an additional fee, the tour continues inside two historic buildings near the oldest street in America.

The tour begins at dusk, 7pm, outside Plymouth Rock. Each participant gets a small oil lantern, which must make an interesting sight in large groups. I took the tour on a cold night in April, with only two others on the tour. Our guide, Jan Williams, runs it with her husband, who spent most of the tour taking pictures, hoping to show us where the ghosts were.

Anomalous photos featured prominently in the tour. Our guide not only encouraged photography, but showed us several pictures sent to her by former attendees that purportedly showed ghostly figures. Many of the photos featured full-bodied apparitions, as opposed to the “orbs” and smudges typically passed off as “ghosts.”

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Tinker Swiss Cottage in Rockford, Illinois

Disembodied footsteps, a rocking chair that moves on its own, and phantom figures would be enough to spook anyone. For Steve Litteral, Executive Director of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens, however, it’s just another day on the job. Located at 411 Kent St. in Rockford, Illinois, Tinker Swiss Cottage is rich in local history and home to a few hair-raising reminders of the past.

The museum sits on a bluff overlooking Kent Creek, where Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake built a sawmill and grinding mill in 1834. This settlement steadily grew until it developed into the bustling city of Rockford, which was incorporated in 1852. Kent’s original retention ponds, which he used for his grinding mill, are still on the museum grounds.

Tinker Cottage’s ornate gables cast a shadow on a far older remnant of the area’s past: a Pre-Columbian burial mound, which is located a few yards from the mansion. It has been archaeologically dated to 1000-1300 AD, and contains the remains of an unknown number of Amerindians from the Oneota culture.

The mansion itself was built in 1865 by Robert H. Tinker, husband of Mary Dorr Manny Tinker. Mary was the widow of John H. Manny, owner of the Manny Reaper Works. Robert and Mary met in 1856 and married in 1870. Robert Tinker designed his home to resemble the Swiss cottages he had seen during his European travels.

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