Ghostly legends and lore haunt Philly and beyond

By Carol Dwyer
October 19, 2011

Throughout Philadelphia and surrounding areas, there are many places believed to be haunted by the ghosts of long-ago residents.  From old mansions, inns, forts to battlefields and ships, locals and tourists alike are sure to hear a frightful tale.

Creepy, old, abandoned homes and other buildings sit in decay for decades often with no historic marker to tell their stories.  In their lonely state, is it any wonder that they may give off that haunted vibe to passers-by?

Laurie Hull, a Cabrini alumna (class of ’07) and author of books on haunted locales, discussed via email the realm of ghosts.

“I think that the most common experience is unexplained noises or a feeling like someone unseen is there, watching you,” Hull said.

Cabrini College was featured also in one of her books, “Philly’s Main Line Haunts,” with stories of ghosts roaming Woodcrest.

Many times, there are historic and factual details to support a possible haunting.  Given Philly’s rich history, many well-known names can be found in the area’s ghost stories.  One particular historic place in Philly seems to have the most paranormal activity.

“I think Fort Mifflin,” Hull said.  “We have experienced everything from disembodied voices to apparitions and poltergeist activity there.”  Hull said also that at Fort Mifflin, there are a lot of ghosts from the Civil War ear, a time when they had a large number of prisoners there and even an execution.

“There are also ghosts from the late 1700 and early 1800s – from the yellow fever epidemics,” Hull said.

In other creepy tales, talk of a place being haunted or even cursed have more of an urban legend feel.  Such legends and lore passed down from one generation to the next aren’t limited to an old house or other structure.  A late-night drive down certain roads in the region is said to give way to scary encounters.

According to the Delaware Valley Paranormal Association, Cossart Road in the Chadds Ford area is one local road with terrifying tales.  There are beliefs of spectral vehicles scaring away those driving through.

In “Most Terrifying Places in America: Haunted Travels,” the Travel Channel featured a segment on another dark, creepy drive along Clinton Road in New Jersey.  Located in West Milford, the stories associated with Clinton Road are similar to that of Cossart Road.


There are probably many more places that are haunted than I know of,” Hull said.  That’s something to ponder next time you pass that mysterious, old house sitting unused for decades or longer.


Hull said that every time she is at a public event, people approach her with their accounts of activity in their homes.  These incidents would range from the time of Native Americans up to nearly the present day.


“Historic time periods are varied, I don’t think there is one time period that stands out in particular,” Hull said, regarding the era associated with ghost stories.  “It depends on the area you are in.”


So wherever you go, you might just stumble upon a local legend that brings on the chills; the Philadelphia area is packed with such lore.



Hull also wrote “Brandywine Valley Ghosts” and another book out now is “Supernatural Pennsylvania.” Coming up next for Hull is a book entitled, “Supernatural Mid Atlantic,” which Hull said is due out next year.


Along with her published works on the haunted side of Philly and beyond, Hull had some tips for anyone seeking proof of ghosts.


“My best advice for would-be explorers is to get permission to investigate or explore a property before you go there,” Hull said.  “The most important piece of equipment to bring is your open mind.  There is no piece of equipment that can tell you that there is or is not a ghost there.  You are the one who will know if you feel a presence or experience  a phantom touch or an unexplained cold spot.”


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Carol Dwyer

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