Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Dark Side Of Beautiful Places

Yellowstone National Park
  Millions of people enjoy national parks each year. These people are typically looking for an opportunity to trade the hustle and bustle of home for a more remote and quiet place to unwind away from computers and Facebook. It's easy to get lost in the breathtaking vistas, clean fresh air, and incredible wildlife. I imagine that this is why the parks have been around for so long. But have you ever wondered what happens when there aren't any noisy crowds and bumper to bumper traffic? Have you ever thought of what goes on inside the park when the lights go out and the stars come out? Have you ever thought that you heard something strange or maybe felt like you were being watched while visiting a park? If so there just might be some validity to what you've experienced. In our continuing saga of the strange and spooky for the month of October we're exploring some of the haunted locations that reside under the National Parks Service's umbrella. That's right, some national parks have claims of hauntings and we're going to tell you about some of them. So let's get to it.

Yellowstone National Park- The Old Faithful Inn will always come up when you mention ghost stories in Yellowstone. Some stories have explanations, some have claims of being made up, while others still can't be explained. Claims here range from floating apparitions, doors opening and closing by themselves, to rotating fire extinguishers which I would very much like to see for myself. Of course there are many more strange stories from Yellowstone that don't involve the Old Faithful Inn. Some of these stories speak of hitchhikers that vanish into thin air and even a ghost bear that guards his former stomping grounds. I guess you're never really alone when you visit Yellowstone. It's a beloved place for the living and the dead.

USS Arizona- Tragedy is a common theme when one investigates the paranormal. One common thought about why spirits hang around is because their lives were ended in some tragic or unexpected way. I think that just about sums up what happened on the morning of December 7, 1941 when Japan surprised the United States' Pacific Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack and the damage to the fleet was devastating. Despite the damages nearly all of the the US battle ships would return to service and fight on. The USS Arizona would not, however. A bomb crashed into the ship's powder magazine and detonated creating devastating and irreparable destruction which resulted in the sinking of the ship. 1,177 officers and crewmen perished in the attack. Witnesses claim to hear bells or alarms coming from the memorial constructed above the wreckage while even more claim that you can hear screams echoing from the area. What may be the saddest of all are the sightings of crew men still walking the deck as if they were still on the job.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park- The Grand Canyon is known for it's awe inspiring vistas and it's massive size. But it has a ghost story of it's own. The story of the "Wailing Woman" is another tragic story that could have happened to any one of us, after all, accidents happen  and this story is no exception.
  There are a few variances of the story but the most popular version tells of a man and his son dying during a hike which having experienced Arizona's heat in person I can believe. But upon hearing of the incident the man's wife was heartbroken and committed suicide along the Transept Trail. Since then she has been seen hanging around the trail and the nearby Grand Canyon Lodge where she is rumored to slam doors and cause minor disruptions throughout the building. I suppose grief has no time frame.

Gettysburg National Military Park- Perhaps the most haunted place on our list, Gettysburg's bloody wounds still run deep for everyone in the United States. I had mentioned tragic events have a close relationship with haunted locations and Gettysburg is a perfect example. For the first three days of July, 1863 soldiers from the Confederate and Union armies faced off in what would be the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Friend battled friend and families were torn apart. Imaging the sound of non stop gun fire popping off in every direction, booming canons sending deadly balls of lead bounding through the fields and the smell of burning gun powder seeping into your nose. The man on the left of you falling dead, the man next to you lay dying and all you can do is question when your moment will come. It would have been difficult to push through the thoughts of one's mortality and keep fighting but that's what happened until finally the canons were silenced and the battle ended.
  These hollowed grounds are preserved as they were back in 1863 but some say that the battle is far from over for some of these soldiers. Often their voices are heard calling out to one other barking orders and some even scream. The hauntings aren't limited to just the battle field either. Many of the houses here were used as make shift hospitals where soldiers were treated for injuries while others were made comfortable while they waited to die. There are countless stories of tourists running in to uniformed soldiers that vanish into thin air and some hear distant bangs that sound eerily similar to canon fire. There are many battlefields related to the American Civil War but I think if you would have to concede that Gettysburg was the most tragic. This place is very high on our list of places to see strictly because of it's historical importance but I admit that I'm a sucker for a ghost story.

Yosemite National Park
    Yosemite- Known for it's beautiful granite cliffs and flowing water falls, Yosemite is another place on the list that most people wouldn't associate with ghosts but you would be wrong. Yosemite is proof that you don't need buildings to have ghosts.
  The Miwok Indians inhabited this area long before it was a national treasure and throughout this time a legend has been passed down. This legend is of Po-ho-no, or an evil wind as it is described. Po-ho-no will lure the innocent near toward the waters edge and once in position will blow you into the water which swiftly carries you away. With fast waters and countless waterfalls the likely hood of survival isn't in your favor.
  Grouse Lake also has a way of luring you into it's waters but it comes in the form of a crying boy. The first story reporting the crying boy came from a ranger in 1857. He heard the voice of a child calling out but as he went to investigate he was told by the local Native Americans that he was looking for a ghost. A young boy had drown in the lake a few years prior and now calls to those passing by in hopes of luring them into the water to drown. Legend or not I think I'll keep my distance if I hear disembodied voices calling out to go for a swim.
  And finally the Ahwahanee Hotel located in the park is said to be haunted by a former caretaker, Mary Curry Tresidder. She is known to float through the hallways checking in on guests and employees and some say that she likes to relax in a rocking chair in a suite on the fourth floor. However to despite people seeing the rocking chair it actually isn't really there. That's right, the suite does not contain a rocking chair for anyone's use. I suppose that as long as she's just overseeing things she's alright by me.

 There are many more locations in the parks system that have claims of paranormal activity, some more well known than others. Just like any ghost story some people like to talk about it while others do not and whether you believe these stories is completely up to you. For me the thought of an afterlife intrigues me and it has since I was young. If it's something you're interested in then I urge you to take advantage of your parks and take in a little more than just the scenery. Delve into the history and learn about the people that looked after these places before it was our turn. For those of you who don't believe then by all means head out to the parks and enjoy their beauty and don't forget that when you see a woman resting in her rocking chair staring at you while you sleep, remind her that she isn't real and go back to sleep. Sweet dreams.

Brandan

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