Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Local Ghosts by Rail...

Back around 2004, I was trying to put together a ghost tour on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be; there were some issues raised by the fact that it was both true ghost stories and locations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I can't blame anyone for the plans being thwarted. There was (and still is) some threat of vandalism within the park system, and inviting people to start exploring the valley for ghosts late at night always carries with it the risk of unscrupulous individuals wreaking havoc on historic places.

But times have changed. Ghosts and hauntings have gained popularity and are seen as a possible source of revenue for many businesses. Slowly, the National Park Service has opened up to the idea of telling ghost stories. They may deny any possible existence of paranormal phenomena, but seeing how popular Gettysburg is with tourists looking for a few ghosts and scares can be an influential power. And now, even the scenic railroad has opened up to otherworldly possibilities.

For anyone looking for something spooky to do this weekend (or during a few other weekends this summer), one option is the new Train to the Paranormal on which visitors can leave Northside Station in Akron for a trip full of ghosts and psychics. On the journey south, guests are accompanied by two mediums—Anne Miller and Helen Mayor—who will offer personal readings to anyone interested. The train stops at North Canton where passengers disembark and board a bus for Canal Fulton. At the Warehouse on the Canal, they will have dinner and drinks in the style of a Victorian wake followed by a ghost walk of the old canal town. The 5 1/2 hour round-tour costs $80 per person and ends back at Northside around 11:00 PM.

Canal Fulton is a lovely (and spooky) little place, full of many ghostly tales. I have been there several times, both to investigate the Warehouse and take Sherri Brake's tour. I've been on a few investigations with Sherri over the past decade and highly recommend her Haunted Heartland Tours. I have also worked with Anne Miller and her daughter, Brenda Brand, on a few investigations (all four of us investigated a few places in the valley together back in September 2005 for the Akron Beacon Journal) and find them both delightful people. Undoubtedly, this is one railroad trip worth taking.

Hopefully, one of these days I'll give another go at an event tied in with Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. I have a few ideas kicking around inside my head as we speak, but they'll require plenty of planning and cooperation with a few businesses. But until that time, at least you can enjoy a few ghost hunts dreamed up by other creative people.


Cullan Hudson said...

I've had similar experiences. When writing my book, I attempted to interview staff at a historic home in Oklahoma City. They were very reluctant to go on record about anything having ever happened there. But as Ghost Hunters, et al took off....attitudes changed. While I often bristle at their methods (as you well know), I can appreciate what doors such exposure has opened. The paranormal--especially ghosts--enjoy a cache they've not see in quite some time. Take advantage while you can.

Ken Summers said...

Somewhere, I still have my first email response from the NPS when I asked about hauntings. Several rangers even told me to talk to one of their own who knew that an old cemetery was haunted. When I tracked him down, he blew it off saying, "Well, it's just a creepy place to walk past at night. I don't believe it's haunted" even though he flat refused to work at the building next door after dark.

In some ways, they've been the thorn in my side bursting every ghost tour bubble I've created in the past. They still have a disbelief stance, but maybe if I find some way around everything with how I phrase things... and have the ultimate destination outside park land. For now I'll have to wait on all the track repairs to be completed.