Parma, Ohio's Gas Station GhostThis surveillance video from a Parma, Ohio, gas station shows a strange, other-wordly "blue fog" that appears to be hovering amongst the gas pumps. Perhaps most disturbing about the "ghost" is the way that it appears to remain dormant for a while before suddenly flying off in random directions. What could it be doing there? Most of the obvious theories - that it was some sort of chemical or residue in the air that was catching the light and appearing on video, that it was a bag or some other real-world material that just looks fuzzy on camera, and so forth - seemed to be contradicted. No official explanation was ever offered for the Gas Station Ghost, and after a few minutes of being caught on surveillance footage, it disappeared.
Boring Rational Explanation: According to the website Skeptical Analysis, the blue fog ghost of Parma is actually... a bug that crawled on the actual camera lens. Rewatching the video, this does seem to make some measure of sense. It would explain the erratic movements, and why the bug looks fuzzy while the rest of the image remains distinct. Skeptical Analysis considers this "case closed" on the Parma ghost.
And the following video at least appears to bear our their claims:
This is a separate bit of surveillance footage, featuring a San Antonio man who has accidentally caught fire at a gas station. Look at around 20 seconds in (caution: the video itself is a bit disturbing) and you'll once again see what looks like a blue fog ghost dancing around the frame. Either the Parma Ghost has traveled a good distance to get in on some of the exciting gas station action in Texas... or this really is just a case of bugs landing on gas station surveillance camera lenses and freaking people out.
Honest, Undead AbeThere are a number of strange, eerie circumstances surrounding the Lincoln assassination. In particular, the president seemed to have a premonition about his own death in a dream. He told friend Ward Hill Lamon about a strange dream in which he wandered unknowingly into a funeral being held in the White House's East Room. Unable to make out the face of the corpse, he asks a nearby guard who has died:
"'Who is dead in the White House' say I. 'The President,' is his answer, 'he was killed by an assassin.'"
Only a few days after, Lincoln himself was dead, felled by an assassin's bullet. His funeral was, in fact, held in the East Room of the White House. It's said that Mary Todd Lincoln's first audible words following the assassination were amazement at how the President had foreseen what would happen.
In the years after 1865, numerous witnesses - including several f*ture presidents - have claimed to see or interact with Lincoln's ghost, who apparently has set up permanent residence in the White House. They include:
- Eleanor Roosevelt, who kept her study in Lincoln's former bedroom. Roosevelt said that, though she never actually SAW Lincoln's ghost, she felt his presence many times and believed him to be occasionally in the room with her.
- During the Roosevelt presidency, a number of other sightings occurred. A young clerk claimed to have seen Lincoln sitting on a bed removing a pair of boots. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was spending the night in the White House and claimed Lincoln woke her up by knocking at her door.
- First lady Grace Goodhue (wife of Calvin Coolidge) reportedly saw Lincoln standing with his arms clasped behind his back, lost in thought and staring at the Potomac.
- Winston Churchill and Lyndon Johnson both joked about having had conversations with the undead Lincoln, though both also had outsized personalities and were prone to such flights of fancy.
- A number of other presidents - including Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman - have reported spooky or inexplicable goings-on within the White House, claiming they were the work of Lincoln. It's unclear, however, whether any of the men actually saw Lincoln's spirit with their own eyes.
No Lincoln's ghost sightings have been reported from the White House since the Truman administration. (Hillary Clinton, however, told Rosie O'Donnell that she sometimes felt creeped out in the White House: "It's neat. It can be a little creepy. You know, they think there's a ghost there. It is a big old house, and when the lights are out it is dark and quiet and any movement at all catches your attention.")
Post-Truman, there were also numerous renovations being made to the property. Perhaps Lincoln finally moved on? He has, however, also been spotted in Ford's Theater, where he was shot, and in the burial ground in Illinois that houses his remains.
Boring Rational Explanation: It's not Abe Lincoln, it's just a bug! No, kidding. This one seems fairly open and shut. People aren't REALLY seeing Lincoln. It's just an old house that makes lots of weird noises, and it's sort of fun to imagine that it's a beloved dead president wandering the halls at night, still thinking about the Civil War and reworking all of the mistakes of his era in his head. (Calvin Coolidge's wife says this explicitly, that she thinks he was gazing at the Potomac and considering the carnage that played out there during the Civil War.)
If people kept seeing a lame, forgettable president, that might be more believable than Lincoln. But I haven't heard about any Chester A. Arthur sightings recently.
The Winchester Mystery HouseThe Winchester Mystery House, a popular tourist attraction, is a mansion in San Jose, California, located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. It once as the home of Sarah Winchester, the window of WIlliam Wirt Winchester and heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune. Work began on the house under Sarah's direct supervision in 1884 and continued until her death in 1922. Because work on the home was constantly ongoing, the result is a chaotic building with no master floor plan, and a number of eccentric touches. (This includes stairways that don't lead anywhere, and doors with no rooms behind them.)
Sarah's life was interrupted by two tragedies from which she never really recovered. The first was the loss of her daughter, Annie Pardee Winchester, when the child was only a few weeks old, from the disease marasmus. The second was the death of her husband William 15 years later of tuberculosis. This left Sarah a broken woman, but also fantastically rich, inheriting an income of $1000 each day. (Equivalent to about $22,000 per day today.)
According to the most popular retellings, following her husband's death, Sarah feared that she and the Winchester family were cursed. She consulted a psychic either in Boston or near her home in New Haven, Connecticut, who told her to move West and build a home for herself that would also house the spirits of those who had been killed with Winchester rifles. The medium is alleged to have also told Sarah that if construction on the house ever stopped, the spirits would grow restless and kill her.
Thus, for 38 years, Sarah lived in the home and ensured that construction continued constantly, even attempting to have work done on the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She also integrated the number 13 into the home whenever possible - there are 13 bathrooms, each window has 13 panes, the house has a total of 13 chandeliers, and so forth. Following the 1906 earthquake, she refused to have damaged portions of the home fixed up, assuming the damage was the work of angry spirits who might be further enraged by repairs.
Ghostly sightings are quite common in the Winchester Mystery House. In addition to the spirits of those killed by Winchesters - whom Sarah believed lived there - some have sighted spirits they believe were staff who once worked in the home. Still others report seeing a woman fitting Sarah Winchester's description, dressed in Victorian garb, wandering the stairs and hanging out in the kitchen.
Boring Rational Explanation: Sarah Winchester made no mention of the house in her will, and it was eventually sold for $135,000 to a local investor, who opened it up to the public. Harry Houdini is said to have toured the mansion and gave it the name "Mystery House." Today, the 160-room Winchester Mystery House has become a popular tourist destination in San Jose. (It also hosts special events each year on Friday the 13th.) If there really are any spirits there, they're obviously not camera shy. (It stands to reason as well that, with all those people walking through the house all day, any lingering undead would have been discovered and caught on tape by now.)
The official website also includes testimonials from visitors who have felt a ghostly presence, but unless you know "papa smurf:)" and find him particularly trustworthy, there's no reason to think any of these are genuine reports.
Asheville High School GhostAsheville High in Asheville, North Carolina, is one of those schools with motion-activated surveillance cameras. On Friday, August 1, at 2:51 a.m., the cameras turned on in time to catch a shadowy blob appears in front of an elevator and them darts around a bit before ending up in the hallway.
Some teachers from the school and paranormal enthusiasts from around Ashevile were quick to label the inexplicable apparition a ghost. Teacher Martha Geitner offered this theory to the local CBS affiliate: "It's a ghost. Of course it's a ghost. It's the ghost of some former student who is really angry with his teacher and has come back to get back with the teacher, and he's just making himself known at this time."
She seems to have a lot of information about this angry dead student... Did Asheville PD ever look into this further?
Other more skeptical local residents have done their best to debunk the ghost theory, without great success. What's clear is (1) SOMETHING must have been there to set off the motion detector, and (2) that thing appears to be able to change its shape. Most eerily, if it's a shadow being cast by something not seen on the video, how is it so rapidly changing shape, at one point morphing into what almost looks like the form of a small child.
Boring Rational Explanation: What if it's another bug! An big enough insect (maybe a moth?) could theoretically have set off the motion sensor, and as we've seen in the Ohio gas station example, sometimes a bug on the lens of a camera can sort of look like an insane revenge-crazed demon from Hell to the untrained eye. Anyway, Asheville... think about it... and check out Martha Geitner. She seems to have a dirty little secret of some kind.
Ghosts of AlcatrazAlcatraz island was first used as a military prison in the late 1850s, and later served as a federal prison until 1963. It's probably the most famous prison in the United States. The prison claimed that, despite 36 prisoners making a total of 14 escape attempts, no prisoner had ever successfully made it off the island. (The most violent escape attempt was made in 1946, when six prisoners attempted to flee the island, resulting eventually in the deaths of three inmates and two guards.)
Famous convicts held in Alcatraz included Al Capone, "Machine Gun" Kelly, James "Whitey" Bulger, Mickey Cohen and Bumpy Johnson. [While incarcerated in Alcatraz, Capone took to playing the banjo. Years after Capone's death and long after Alcatraz officially shut down, visitors and workers report hearing banjo music in the old shower rooms and in Capone's former cell.]
Because of the celebrity outlaws who have been held there, as well as the relative isolation of "The Rock" from the rest of society, it naturally lent itself to a number of rumors, urban legends and modern myths about what actually happened there.
Cell 14D, an isolation cell, is also believed to be haunted by a ghostly figure. It's been said that, in the 1940s, a prisoner locked in 14D screamed to guards that he was being attacked by a creature with glowing eyes - and that this prisoner was found dead in his cell the next morning.
Perhaps most compelling, however, is the testimony of Alcatraz guards, many of whom claim to have experienced unexplainable things while working on The Rock. Many reports of guards investigating the sounds of sobbing or moaning, only to find no one there, were filed. Even a noted skeptic, Warden Johnston, noted that he once believed he heard sobbing from within the building's walls.
Additionally, many have claimed to have stumbled upon inexplicable smells on the island, or certain spots that are notably colder than their surroundings. Visitors and currently employees at Alcatraz have also reported hearing strange noises or voices and feeling cold rushes of air, particularly in Cell Block C, the site of that deadly standoff between several prisoners and guards.
Boring Rational Explanation: Over the years, a number of ghost hunters, authors, curiosity-seekers and others have come to the island, hoping to gather evidence of the spirits. No compelling evidence of a spirit has yet been produced. The majority of park rangers and other staff working the site - though many claim to have experienced something odd in their time on the island - claim not to believe that it's actually haunted.
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