On the Trail of Gettysburg Ghosts

Back when I worked for Up with People, I spent a month in Gettysburg, PA.  I questioned this assignment, since Gettysburg is known as the most haunted city in America and I am known as the biggest chicken pot pie in America. In Gettysburg, it seemed like everyone either had a ghost in their house or knew someone who did. No big whoop. Even our sponsor, an influential business owner, talked about his daughter who used a Ouija board at Devil’s Den, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. According to him, the ghost of a soldier “followed” her home and took up residency in his house. He and his wife sometimes saw him standing next to their bed at night. At this point in the conversation, my teeth had practically chattered right out of my mouth and I was wishing I’d been assigned to Des Moines.

Fortunately, I stayed in one of the few allegedly ghost-free homes in Gettysburg, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I didn’t drink anything after 7 pm, so I wouldn’t risk running into any wayward souls en route to the loo in the middle of the night. My inner six-year old came out at bedtime, and when I turned out my light, I’d take a flying leap into my bed, squeezing my eyes shut and not opening them until morning.

While my hyperactive imagination called the shots at night, I was much braver in the light of day. As often as I could, I went running on the trails that crossed the battlefields, drinking in the landscape steeped in so much history. Often, I was alone on the tranquil paths. Dense trees, lush grass and the first flowers of spring created a park-like atmosphere, but then I’d stumble across a moss covered statue of a Civil war soldier, a stark reminder that more than a century ago, nearly 50,000 men lost their lives during the three-day blood bath on those very fields.

Maybe it was the power of suggestion, but I felt something there on those battlefields. A quiet energy, unlike any other place I’ve visited. For anyone who has experienced Gettysburg, you probably know what I mean.

During my four weeks in Gettysburg, I never saw one sign of the supernatural. Not on the trail, not in our office, which of course was in a haunted bank, and not in my room at night. But maybe that’s because I never really opened my eyes.

The video below is one of my favorites. While this car ad wasn’t filmed in Gettysburg, there is footage of what appears to be a ghost, but you have to watch carefully. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!


On the Trail

As a writer, inspiration strikes hardest when I’m running or hiking . . . hence the name of this blog. Ideas also occur when my mind drifts during monotonous tasks, but calling this blog “In the Shower” would be misleading and probably inappropriate.

Weird things happen on the trail. One time a dead prairie dog fell from the sky and landed with a thud just a few feet in front of me. I guess the natural thing to do when such a thing happens is to look up to see if it’s raining prairie dogs. There, circling above was a bald eagle wondering what to do about his lost breakfast. I backed away and sat down, wanting to see what was going to happen next. The eagle landed on a fencepost and we watched each other for a while. Finally, he cocked his head as if to say, “You want it? I’m not that hungry.” But I’d already had breakfast, so off I went.

On lucky days, I find exactly what I need on the trail. Once, when I was in a particularly sour mood, I came across five bluebirds sitting on a barbed wire fence. Tiny as chickadees, their vibrant blue forms shone like DayGlo paint against the sagebrush and yellow grass of November. I stopped mid-run to admire them, half wondering if some talking field mice would appear and together they would whip up a dress for Cinderella. Rationally, I know that birds migrate in the fall and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. But still, it felt like a sign. I left those birds feeling all zip-a-dee-doo-dah in my soul.

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen on this blog. I’ll write about things I like: books, music, nature, quirk, serendipity, and living in the West. I have a soft spot for relics from the past, which is why I love my husband. KIDDING, Darrick! My two wild children might spark a post or two. And I’ll definitely write about writing! Thanks for stopping by!