Monday, September 1, 2014

The Old Jail Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 6 - 2009

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The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe is almost like any other old restored prison museum I’ve been to.  Almost.

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Sure it’s got its display of artifacts from when the jail was in use.  Sure it’s got cells you can enter.  And it’s even got a solitary confinement area, aka “The Dungeon,” which you can wander.  However, it also has, according to local legend, proof of supernatural activity.  Right up on one of the cell walls.

4 of the Molly Maguires (an organization among Irish immigrants sometimes equated to a mafia) were accused of murdering a higher-up of the coal company for which they worked.  Long story short, the trial, jury, and judge were all very biased.  The men were never proven to have committed the murder.  They were found guilty anyway and hanged right in the prison.  Before the execution, one of the Irishmen is said to have placed his hand on the prison wall and said something along the lines of “my handprint will remain here to prove my innocence.”

And the handprint is still there.  Allegedly it has been painted over, ripped down, and knocked out of the wall.  And it always comes back.

Unfortunately, the prison loves their handprint.  And nobody is allowed to take a photo of it.  Not even yours truly.  I did, however, get access to sections of the jail that are usually off limits to tours, like the upstairs cell block.

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The tour begins in the prison’s cell block.  A replica gallows is also in the room.  The handprint cell is also in this room.  After an introduction and brief history, visitors are led around to view the cells and can even enter a few.  The handprint cell can be looked into by one person at a time, but expect a museum employee to be watching over your shoulder making sure you’re not trying to sneak in a pic of that handprint.
If you want a picture of the handprint that badly, you can buy a photo for 50 cents in the gift shop anyway.

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After poking around the cells for a bit, we were led upstairs to where the women’s cells are located.  Before heading there though, I stayed behind and checked out the upstairs section of the cell block first, again not part of the regular tour.  But I’m special so I was allowed to go.

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The women’s cellblock, no bigger than a larger room, is only a handful of cells upstairs on the opposite end of the jail.  They reminded me more of cages than prison cells.  I mean look at the “bars.”

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Finally, we headed down to the basement, where the solitary confinement cells are located.  It was dimly lit, as it was back when the prison was in use.

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Popularity: 20% [?]

Touro Park “Viking Tower”

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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I had been meaning to get to this one for a number of years, but it was usually out of the way.  Since we were touring a mansion in Newport, I finally had a chance to get to the “Viking Tower” in Touro Park.  Nobody seems to be clearly sure of its age or who built it.  There are 2 major sides to the theory of this structure’s origin – some people think it’s the remains of some sort of mill from the 16-1700’s, while others feel it was built much earlier – around 1000 – by Vikings.

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The tower, windmill, or whatever it was sits in the middle of the park, surrounded by a small fence.  There are lights at its base, and a statue of William Ellery Channing – a prominent Unitarian from the 1800’s – is nearby.

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I found a 360-panoramic of Touro Park.  Kinda trippy.

…wow, ‘trippy’ isn’t in my spellchecker.

Popularity: 18% [?]

Devil’s Hole

Posted by Stu On July - 10 - 2009

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Virtually nothing is known about the ruins in the Devil’s Hole, found ironically in Paradise Valley.  According to local legends, the place was a hunting lodge, ski resort, or speakeasy.  The only thing agreed upon is that it was destroyed in a fire decades ago.

I was told it was quite a hike to get to this place, about 6 hours, and that I’d have to wade through a river several times before reaching it.  Long story short, the trek was less than a mile, although I did have to walk through a stream 5 or 6 times.  It was slightly above ankle-deep for the most part.

The first part of the trail winds through thick rhododendrons and abruptly stops at the first water crossing.

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The trail is pretty unclear at times; orange blazes are few and far between.  It doesn’t help that the stream zig-zags across the trail quite a bit.  Lucky me decided to find this place just weeks after the spring runoff, so needless to say the water was cold.

Eventually, a very discernable trail materializes out of literally nowhere.  Following this down a bit will lead you to the first part of the ruins, just a small fireplace.

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Sort of hidden among the trees, diagonally across the path, is the true prize, though.  The big building has two double fireplaces.  The first floor was completely destroyed, so when you’re poking around the place, you’re actually on the basement level.

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So what was this place?  There are a few things here that pretty much prove it was a ski lodge of some sort. I’m guessing that first fireplace I came across used to be a tow shed, because right behind it was a cleared area running all the way up the mountain – a telltale sign of a ski lift.  Also just behind the small fireplace was a wheel mounted in a tree – most likely to run the lift.  I think it’s pretty obvious this place was a ski lodge.

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of the wheel or cleared area because I was too busy putzing around with my camcorder and forgot to take actual pics of them.  If I ever figure out how to edit the video I shot, they’ll be on there.

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Popularity: 25% [?]

Haunted House in Riegelsville

Posted by Stu On April - 9 - 2009

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In all the years I’ve been doing this, the first time I ever had anything happen to me that I could not explain was in this house. I won’t say it’s supernatural; I will say I cannot explain it. That’s all you’re getting out of me for now, ghost lovers. Maybe some day.

The town of Riegelsville, PA, is supposed to be very, very haunted. I met a local author who wrote Ghosts in the ‘Vllle and More Ghosts in the ‘Ville, and he and his friends were kind enough to let me tour one of the more famous sites in town. This particular house is between the town’s library and a church, the very church where the author just happens to be a pastor.

From what I was told, a few entities take up residence at this house. One, a woman whose name I forget, is quite friendly and also makes her presence known in the adjacent church. Supposedly there is a malevolent, older man here as well. I don’t remember much of his backstory, unfortunately.

The church uses the house as storage and the first floor is somewhat of an office, so the building isn’t completely abandoned. So needless to say, the first floor was rather tame. The second floor was slightly creepier I guess, with darker rooms and random things lying around. The third floor was just eerie, and that’s also where I had my ‘experience.’ While going up the stairs to the third floor, I suddenly became dizzy and felt nauseous for a few seconds. My guide told me it happens to a lot of people and that it’s the ‘bad guy’ I mentioned earlier.


Stairs leading to 2nd floor.


Rooms on the 2nd floor.

Stairs going to the 3rd floor. At the top of these is where the sickness feeling tends to strike people, including me.

The author of the aforementioned books also has an official website: Ghosts in the ‘Ville.

Popularity: 23% [?]

Bucksport “Haunted” Grave

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2008

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This is just dumb. Really, really dumb. There’s a tombstone. A shape that somewhat resembles a leg shows up on it one day. Somehow, this gives birth to a ridiculous story about killing witches.

The grave stone is that of Colonel Jonathan Buck, the guy who founded Bucksport. After this shape showed up on his stone, a story started circulating that it was due to a curse put on him by a witch. Supposedly Buck had a witch executed, despite there being no historical records of anyone ever being killed in Maine for witchcraft. Buck was by all accounts a good guy and not one to start killing alleged witches.

I often wonder why ridiculous stories like this won’t go away. Here at least, there’s a reason:

That’s right. There’s actually a sign next to the gravesite that writes out the whole dumb thing. What annoys me is that the sign pretty much says the legend in nonsense, so why bother having it there? That’s not going to make the story go away anytime soon.

Popularity: 13% [?]

Mason-Dixon Line in South Jersey?

Posted by Stu On October - 27 - 2008

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This is more of a writeup than an actual place. Mostly because it doesn’t exist.

For years I’ve been hearing there are, or at least were, markers indicating where the Mason-Dixon Line runs through South Jersey. And like most of my good hunts, people have heard about them but nobody has actually ever seen one. This idea seems to be an older one; most younger people have not heard of it. A bar on Long Beach Island used to advertise being “south of the Mason-Dixon” back in the 60’s, and that’s about the time period where this whole “Mason-Dixon Line in Jersey” seemed to have some life.

My best lead took me to Long Beach Island. I was told there was a marker out in front of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. Along the roadway is a marker, but it’s nothing more than a survey disk. There is nothing anywhere on the sign or benchmark indicating it’s marking The Line. I even went inside the building and inquired about it. The woman working there said she had lived on the island her whole life and never heard of such a thing. She then telephoned LBI’s Chamber of Commerce to ask about it. The woman who answered said when she was growing up, she heard a M-D marker was in Beach Haven Terrace but didn’t know exactly where.
The problem with that is that Beach Haven Terrace and Loveladies are over 10 miles apart. So already we have conflicting ideas of just where this line is. I’ve been told that markers were also found in Tuckerton and Barnegat, again more conflict. Barnegat somewhat lines up with Loveladies, and Tuckerton is closer to Terrace.
Another “lead” I got said there was a marker near Exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike. This would put the line up around Toms River, meaning I grew up in the South. A call to the Turnpike Commission squashed this idea when they said there isn’t and never was a Mason-Dixon marker. They said some of the old East/West Jersey boundary stones are in the area, so maybe that’s what the marker in question was.

So we have false leads. Nobody actually ever seeing a marker. Officials saying such things don’t and never did exist. And let’s not forget the biggest story-killer – The Mason-Dixon never touched NJ. It’s the border between Maryland & Pennsylvania. It then turns south, forming the border between MD & Delaware. So right there, it’s impossible to have markers in South Jersey. But what if you extended the line straight across?
I think that’s what happened here. Some people back whenever decided that if the line continued eastward, a good section of New Jersey would be south of it. Well by that logic, most of Europe was in the Union and India was Confederate.

Popularity: 19% [?]

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