Let’s just say that if I rolled my eyes any harder tonight, they would have gotten stuck facing the inside of my head. I knew I was going to find nothing while on this “ghost hunt” operating out of the Farnsworth House. I also knew that we were not going to be on the battlefield at all, because, well, that would be illegal. What I did not know was that this was going to be one of the biggest wastes of money I have ever been a part of, something that made watching paint dry seem like an Olympic sport, or I should say, taking pictures of watching paint dry. The 8:45 tour began at 8:55 all because the guide was waiting for two customers who were on the list that had not paid yet. Well, that would mean they aren’t customers then, correct? They ended up not even coming. Alright, no big deal. We moseyed on down to the “haunted” cellar of the old building where the guide went over the array of paranormal detecting equipment we would be using, which was actually a very nice spread, including a K-2/EMF detector, nightvision, laser thermometer, dowsing rods, and a tape recorder—each “investigator” received a bag containing these items, which was cool. We then spent the next 45 minutes talking about the equipment (including what seemed like a 20 minute lecture on the thermometer alone, all to kill time, no doubt) as well as hearsay stories other customers had experienced (“…last week, a guy said he saw…”). While the guide was pleasant, slightly funny, and mildly entertaining, he could not save this evening from being called anything but a scam.
Several times during the course of the cellar conversation we were told we were going to investigate that very room. However, after he was done talking and we did a quick equipment check, off we were, out of the house and on to the hunting ground. But that was okay, because the bar and dining room crowd roaring above us would have made investigating and audio recording impossible. The area outside which we were allowed to waste our time on was called “The Grove”. It is currently property of the Gettysburg Area Middle School, which is why we were allowed there. Basically, what this spot consisted of was a football field, bleachers, a concession stand, a few trees, and one monument. Literally, we spent the rest of the investigation walking around a patch of grass above a football field. We were led to hot-spots, again in a he-said, she-said manner, where all sorts of ghostly activity was reported, conveniently all within the last month. It just so happens that none of the spirits seen so recently were willing to show tonight, and the cicadas buzzing in the trees made EVP recording very difficult.
Nearly all of the pictures I took contained orbs, leading me to believe it was just pollen or dew drops in the air. There were a few nice ones, containing nuclei, so it will need a closer look when I get home tomorrow. However, there was one picture that got the guide’s attention, and I was told it was definitely “ectoplasm” (Bill Murray watch out!). It was such a spectacular photo that he made me show everyone in the group, where I was met with ooh’s and ah’s. Immersed in the trees to an orange glow was a strange mist full of orbs–it was the best, if not only piece of evidence we got all night. Not to be a spoilsport, I just went along with it, saying I had never seen such a thing in all my investigations as part of my job at a haunted museum and my experiences at various sites in New Jersey. Well, I wasn’t lying. I really have never seen such a phenomenon. I also have never snapped a picture a split-second after someone next to me did as well, with their flash still present in the air, meeting with mine and causing a weird reflection and burst of light in front of my lens. That was the ectoplasm. Oh well, at least those people got a thrill. I wonder if I will be mentioned in the next tour? (UPDATE: See the “ecotplasm” here.)
So, what can I take from this evening? I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to investigate a parking lot and football field! The “No One Under 12 Allowed” disclaimer is something that I now agree with; after all, someone at that age might have fallen asleep before we left the basement. All was not lost, though, as I did pick up some fascinating information on the location of former mass-graves, and how there is no way all of the bodies were recovered like most tour guides say. In fact, I learned that there still are un-excavated mass graves on the battlefield, with the locations only known by a very few within the National Park Service. Now you know why relic hunting is strictly forbidden. You go digging for a bullet and may end up with something very different.
If I was to rate this evening on a scale of 1-10, I would give it a very generous 3. The equipment was nice, and if you have never done this before, you might find it worthwhile, but for anyone with common sense, it was a total waste of time. The dowsing rods he demonstrated were a real nice touch. Whenever he asked if there was a spirit nearby, or asked them a question, the rods crossed for a “yes” answer. I wonder if his finger and right shoulder twitching slightly at the same time was just a coincidence…
My advice: spend a little bit of money and buy this equipment for yourself—many of the items can be found in a hardware store. Then, go out on the battlefield with a small group and have some fun. You’ll be isolated and actually have a chance to find something…and it will be free. Just make sure your brain is working and you are out by 10pm, and you’ll be fine.