Gettysburg anniversary provides booming season for battlefield ghosts
Eric Wittnebel was more of a Scooby-Doo type when it came to ghosts.
The California native pointed the infrared thermometer into the darkness and watched the temperature surrounding the group of 10 slowly drop, admittedly a peculiar occurrence for such a warm June.
A tour with Gettysburg's After Dark Investigations led Wittnebel and his expedition to 'the Grove,' a small wood south of the Gettysburg square in search of the paranormal. With only so much ghost lore to go around, some tours have extended beyond usual haunts, to such locations as the Grove. Others stick to town and regale visitors with tales of strange phenomenon surrounding the Jenny Wade House or the Farnsworth Inn.
In a town where even the land beneath McDonald's is believed by more than one ghost tour guide to be tinged with spiritual energy, Gettysburg has managed to build a booming paranormal industry. Over the past few years, paranormal tours have become increasingly popular, with as many as 11 popping up recently.
Ashley Brennan, a tour guide for After Dark Investigations, said a person needs to see for themselves to truly believe.
"We didn't want to tell stories, we want people to get their own," Brennan said. "Once you have a paranormal experience, you don't forget it."
After Dark equips their investigators with ghost-hunting gadgets like electromagnetic field detectors - along with old-fashioned dowsing rods.
This year, for the first time, After Dark's bravest of visitors can even pay to spend the night in a 200-year-old church the guides insist is haunted. Still, each tour guide has a different philosophy for the best way to catch a glimpse of the supernatural near America's bloodiest battlefield.
Gettysburg Ghost Tours' guide Johlene "Spooky" Riley dons the garb of Civil War widow each night to give her tours an authentic edge.
Riley led her tour group to the creek behind Steinwehr Avenue the other night to show them the spot where the waterway once became clogged with the bodies of dead soldiers. Her black-gloved hand swung her silver candle lantern as she walked, exaggerating the shadows across her face.
Riley told the cluster of families on her tour she believed strongly in the dying art of storytelling, describing Gettysburg as the ghost mecca of the world.
Still, as the group huddled closer to her in the alley behind Steinwehr to make room for a passing rival ghost tour, Riley tipped her veiled bonnet to the passing Confederate soldier leading them.
"You might think that's a Confederate re-enactor, with no shoes, who's just hardcore," Riley said. "Chances are he's not hardcore - he's a ghost."
For the past decade, the number of tourists traversing Gettysburg's
Investigator Ashley Brennan with After Dark Investigations shines a flashlight on a set of dowsing rods being used by Tracey Wittnebel of California as the group attempts to contact spirits Wed., June 19, 2013 in the Grove. (THE EVENING SUN -- SHANE DUNLAP)
streets and alleys, ghost hunting equipment in hand and cameras at the ready, has steadily increased. So each must find something new to offer sightseers eager for a glimpse of Gettysburg's more-permanent residents - the ghosts.
Ghostly Images of Gettysburg promises their customers will see phantom historical figures - civilian Jenny Wade, killed by a stray sniper's bullet during the battle, for example - during theatrical performances in some of their haunted locations.
Alexis Gasparovich, of Ghostly Images, spends part of her time playing Jenny Wade's mother Mary and the other part as a tour guide.
She encouraged those on her Haunted Orphanage Tour on Baltimore Street to take photos inside the building, in hopes someone might capture a rogue orb or ethereal mist. The orphanage dining room was lined with portraits whose eyes light up on cue. Ersatz cobwebs and the occasional skull could be seen inside.
However, lest they forget it was once a place where orphans were chained to the walls by their guardian in the late 19th century, the group was taken to the deep part of the basement. Pieces of metal, remnants of the shackles, could still be seen embedded in the stone wall.
As the group of 15 filed down to the basement, eerie dolls, suspended from the ceiling by their necks, swayed gently. At first glance, Ghostly Images may seem lacking in realistic touches.
Still, the experience proved too much for one child, who asked to be excused before the lights were turned out. This year Gasparovich said her tours have been lucky with their cameras when the rooms go dark.
"We've been getting phenomenal images this year," Gasparovich said. "People have captured lots of full-blown, full-bodied apparitions."
Despite the variation between each organization's services, the question that all of the tour guides seem to be getting is whether or not there will be more ghostly activity this year because of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.
For a spirit spending eternity in the town of Gettysburg, time might not mean a whole lot. Still, others argue this is a big year for sightings.
"There are more eyes and ears out there," Riley said. "So who's to say if it's going to actually be more active or if we're just looking closer." - YDR
Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary - Calender of Events
NOTE: If I can make a suggestion for those who plan to visit Gettysburg in the next week or so and who want to experience paranormal anomalies...try to find (at night) someplace quiet very near the battlefield park and just take in the activity. Areas near Culp's Hill, the Lutheran Seminary and along Herr's Ridge Road (where the CSA encampments were) offer some of the best night investigations from my experience. The well-known spots are going to be inundated with paranormal groups...ex. Sachs Covered Bridge, touring locations in the town, etc. You are allowed on the battlefield until 10 PM...but the curfew is strictly enforced. So if you plan an 'all-nighter' I suggest using the previously mentioned areas. As always...be respectful. Don't be surprised if you run into a rebel soldier or two trying to make their way back to safety. Lon
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Taken by Small People
Kanab, Utah - 6/1/2013 - unedited: I had awaken I thought there was something in the bedroom, but I said to myself that it was all right. I would take care of it later. and noticed the time was 3:05 am (a habit I have of noticing the time, so I can calculate how much time I have before I have to wake up).
I started to go back to sleep and then I said, wait a minute, what was in the room. And I lifted my head off my pillow and I thought I was dreaming. But I realized that I was not really awake and not really sleeping and I looked at the foot of my bed and noticed small people. Two or three at the base of the bed. One right next to me, just looking. They had control of my mind. I was not afraid, I felt like I had experienced this before. I at first wondered how they got into the house. And when I wondered that, They communicated telepathically that opening doors was nothing. And almost simultaniously I was elevated and going with them. I could not cry out and wondered why my wife was sleeping through all this. She is a light sleeper. Then it occurred to me that they were doing everything telepathically anyway and not making a sound. This is where my memory stops. I dont know if I physically went on a ship with them, or not. I do remember the wind in my face. And being put back into the bed. I looked at the clock and it was 4:22. Went to sleep. End of story. Not quiet. I felt like I had done this before, well several years ago, 1997. I drive truck and a manager of Kanab custom meats at the time. I was on my way back from a small town in southern Utah when I remember coming over a null in the road and there was a bright light. And no more recollection. But I got home an hour later than normal. And I wondered what the hell happened. I remember just glimpses, like being lifted up and such. And once again wind in my face. And also I have a red blemish on my right hand back side just below the knuckle. It has been there every since 1997. Its tender to touch.
Now I dont know if the two experiences are connected. But I feel like this has happened several times since 1997. - MUFON CMS
The Alien Abduction Files: The Most Startling Cases of Human Alien Contact Ever Reported
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The Rise and Fall of the Nephilim: The Untold Story of Fallen Angels, Giants on the Earth, and Their Extraterrestrial Origins
Arthur C Clarke's DNA to join mission into deep space
A "few strands" of the late Arthur C Clarke's hair are due to travel on Nasa's "first ever solar sail mission into deep space".
The craft will be named the Sunjammer, after the story written by Clarke in 1964 about a race in space using solar sails. "The enormous disc of sail strained at its rigging, already filled with the wind that blew between the worlds," wrote the novelist almost 50 years ago. "The immense sail was taut, its mirror surface sparkling and glittering gloriously in the Sun … Something so huge, yet so frail, was hard for the mind to grasp. And it was harder still to realise that this fragile mirror could tow him free of Earth merely by the power of the sunlight it would trap."
The voyage, scheduled to launch at the end of 2014, is being organised by Celestis, which runs "memorial spaceflights" offering families the chance to send cremated remains into space (joining Clarke on board the Sunjammer would cost upwards of £8,000). Development of the solar sail has been led by Nasa, along with aerospace companies including Celestis's parent company Space Services Holdings.
Charles Chafer, chief executive of Space Services Holdings, said he first met Clarke in 1982 at the UN conference in Vienna on outer space. "I was/am a lifelong fan and attribute much of my interest in space to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey," said Chafer. "In 2000, when we were first planning a solar sail mission to deep space we approached him about donating a hair sample containing his DNA for launch. A partner at the time journeyed to Sri Lanka to his home where he obtained the sample."
In a note accompanying the sample, said Chafer, Clarke wrote: "Here are a few strands, I would give you more but I don't have any to spare." The author died in 2008 at the age of 90, leaving behind more than 100 books ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Rendezvous with Rama.
Clarke's deep space voyage next year follows the last journey of Hunter S Thompson, whose ashes were fired from a rocket across his Colorado farm. The late Iain Banks has also expressed a wish for some of his ashes to be fired from a rocket over the Forth. So Clarke is not the first author to go beyond the bounds of Earth – although, with the Sunjammer set to journey three million kilometres towards the sun, he is likely to travel the furthest. - Guardian
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke
Rendezvous with Rama
Surrounded by ley lines, alien abductions and UFO crackpots
My own community is a UFO hotspot. It’s all to do with ley lines, a nearby stone monument created by Druids, an ancient curse – and the fact that we have the most serious alcohol and crack cocaine problem, per capita, in the UK.
My Uncle Norman’s wife was abducted by an alien in the summer of 1993. It carried out ghastly experiments, had sex with her, then dumped the middle-aged woman on her driveway in the early hours.
“He left me with love bites and kept my knickers,” she told Take A Digestive And Dunk It magazine.
She drew a picture of said alien for the coffee table publication. It was green, had large, lozenge eyes and a pointed head.
It was grinning and clutching a pint.
Aunt Rita was, let’s say, visually challenging. Perhaps that explains paragraph 13 of her ‘exclusive’ story: “I asked their leader, Zoren, if he was going to probe me. ‘Not tonight,’ said the giant lizard, ‘I have a bit of a headache’.”
She later left Norman for the alien, who has now taken human form, is called Trevor and drives a milk float in Brighton.
I do not believe her preposterous story. Uncle Norman does.
“Somehow,” he said, “believing she left me for a infinitely more intelligent being from another cosmos is easier to take than believing she dumped me for a tattooed milkman from East Sussex.”
That is the tangled, unsavoury background that drew me to the final slew of extra-terrestrial reports, dating back to 2009 and made public for the first time last Friday.
After that, the Ministry of Defence’s dedicated UFO Desk disbanded, amid claims from strange coves wearing Bacofoil hats that the Whitehall department had tripped on something so terrifying that its research had to be continued many miles from the public eye, such as a hidden corner of the Nevada Desert.
The truth is less sexy. In half a century, the desk was no closer to proving life on other planets.
Frankly, civil servants were also fed up with receiving Freedom of Information requests from inner city fruitcakes demanding to know if the RAF had been scrambled following reports of an “arcing ball of flame across the night sky”.
For “arcing ball of flame” read “petrol bomb”.
The reports did make me ponder one thing, though. When we catch a fish and put it back, does it think it’s been abducted by aliens?
I’ll admit the rash of reports from America have a ring of truth. Even Martians have to stop off for a toilet break.
The only remarkable thing about the reports – their ‘D Notices’ now deleted– is the diplomatic courtesy from government bods swamped by a plethora of ludicrous demands. Not once did their thorough responses sink into sarcasm.
They may have sniggered when one Coventry housewife, confronted by dancing orbs in her garden, asked: “What do they want? Am I and my springer spaniel contaminated?”
The resisted the urge to reply: “Yes, you’re contaminated. PS: they want your dog.”
I felt for the Cardiff camper who endured a Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Martians ignored him, but took his car, tent and dog. Rejection like that is hard to get over.
Thumbing through the dossiers only underlined fundamental flaws in the long-running flying saucer saga.
If there are beings out there bestowed with the intelligence to breach seemingly insurmountable barriers of time, light and sound why do they avoid making contact with world leaders, preferring the company of peasant farmers, neurotic housewives and dreamy teenagers.
“I am a Throll from Planet Zarg and I come with a warning of the perils facing your planet.”
“Sorry, Sir, this is the drive-thru at McDonald’s, Erdington. Would you like to see the manager?”
Studying the blurred images, I was struck by a further truth: Aliens only visit people with naff camcorders and shaky hands.
I would like to congratulate one Black Country wind-up merchant who wrote to the MoD, claiming: “Last night I was abducted by beings from another planet. They made me blow my nose and eat all my greens.
“I think I was on the mothership.”
What would aliens make of us, I wonder?
“Earth beings follow many religions.
“Almost every home has a book dedicated to a man performing miracles to ensure good triumphs over evil.
“This man has many names. Some call him Jesus, some call him Buddha.
“But most call him...Harry Potter.” - Birmingham Mail
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