Even though there is a lot to do and see, St. Augustine can be one of the scariest places in the country. It is the oldest city in America, and it had wars, battles, epidemics and pirates. That means it has lots and lots of ghosts!
We went on two ghost tours that left me shaking for a week, maybe longer. The first was the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Ghost Train. Before the tour, we were given electromagnetic meters that can detect the presence of electrical forces, like ghosts.
The first stop on the tour was the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, where there had been lots reported ghost activity.On one wall on the outside of the Castillo there were lots of holes that looked by it was hit by bullets. But it couldn’t have been bullets fired from ships trying to take the fort because the wall was facing inland. Ghost experts believe that the holes in the wall came from the bullets of firing squads when criminals or other bad guys were executed. They say that there are ghosts that walk around the grounds of the fort at night.
Next we went to the French Huguenot Cemetery which was built just outside the original city gates and was where many people were buried after a yellow fever outbreak. There we got off the train and standing near these very old graves, heard even creepier ghost stories about the former residents of the town who still walk around. We were also advised not to climb over the wall into the cemetery–not because the ghosts would get us, but because if you get caught it’s a $250 fine!
But things got really interesting when we went back to the Ripley’s Museum to look for ghosts. The building is like an old castle, it was totally dark, and we were alone in the museum. When the guides told a story about a fire in the building in 1944 when the building was a hotel; two women died. Then, when the guides called out to a ghost they had seen there before, my electromagnetic meter started buzzing and all the lights were flashing. The guides said that the ghost was communicating through ME! It was fun being in the museum at night, but be careful, don’t let the pirates get you!
The next ghost tour we took was at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. This tour, called the Dark of the Moon tour, was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters on the Syfy Channel. On this tour you get to climb in the dark to the top of the lighthouse, all 219 steps. We were given electromagnetic meters and you can feel the ghosts all around you. My sister was a little afraid so she didn’t climb the stairs. Instead she sat by herself in the dark and waited for us to come back, but she was sure that she wasn’t alone and that scared her even more. At the top of the lighthouse you go outside on the deck and you can see the whole city of St. Augustine and the three beams of light as that circle every thirty seconds. Be sure to go last so you can hug the wall–it’s scary that high up!
After climbing to the top and coming back down, we got to tour the lighthouse keeper’s house. In the dark, of course! There they told the story of the Pity girls, the daughters of the lighthouse builder who were in an accident while the lighthouse was being built and were killed. Now, even people who live in the neighborhood report seeing small children walking around at night, and once there were muddy footprints where there used to be stairs up to the children’s rooms. The tour guides even showed us pictures of the footprints on their phones.
Ending the night with a ghost story is great; but a ghost tour is even better. You’ll never doubt ghosts again. Happy hunting!