Dear Sherlock Holmes – There’s A New Game Afoot in North America – Geocaching with a Haunted Twist!

What do you get when you combine a GPS receiver and online coordinates with a bit of treasure hunting and camping, hiking, walking, trekking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing activities? A new sport, founded in 2000, dear fellow – as thrilling and adrenaline-racing as any one of Sherlock Holmes unsolved mysteries. Only the whereabouts of arch-nemesis, James Moriarty, has been replaced with a hidden waterproof container that conceals a logbook, code name, pencil, stamp, and perhaps a token coin and dog tag. Indeed this detective-like game of “Geek and Seek” is an outdoor sporting activity that the whole family can enjoy – not only in state parks and luxurious resorts – but in some of the most haunted places in North America! Let’s look then at some of the spookiest geocaching spots in Canada and the USA.

1-Canada – Newfoundland – City of St. John’s – Gibbet Hill Note: St. John’s is the oldest English-founded City in North America. Gibbet Hill was the “site of the gallows during colonial times – located on a rocky cliff that has a clear view of the entire downtown…so anyone in the old city could see the gallows to deter criminal activity.”

2-Canada – New Brunswick – St. Andrews by-the-Sea The Algonquin Resort Built in 1889, this Tudor-style “Castle-by-the-sea” overlooks the Passamaquody Bay and has welcomed famous leaders, royalty, and upper class families from around the world. ”It is also a haven for the afterlife. On many occasions guests report seeing a brokenhearted bride, walking the halls of the second floor. It is not uncommon for guests to have their luggage delivered to their room only to see the young bell boy vanish into thin air.”

3- Canada – Nova Scotia – Cape Breton Island – Fortress Louisburg Constructed around a fishing port between 1720 and 1740, the Fortress of Louisburg was one of France’s key centers of trade and military strength in the New World – being the third busiest harbor behind Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA. The fort was also built to protect France’s control on one of the richest fishing grounds in the world – the Grand Banks. Today the Fortress of Louisburg is known to house four ghosts. “One is a sea captain who is very helpful indeed. He warns people of impending danger, greets guests, and sometimes just walks by just to disappear. A nurse is said to also roam the grounds. She is said to weep. There is also a poltergeist located in this place. He is said to be violent, moves three hundred pound equipment, and damages property. He is said to haunt the King Bastion Bakery. The last known ghost on the fortress is a child screaming for his mother. Along with his screams comes the sound of cannon and gun fire with screams of a group of men.”

4-USA – Michigan – Mackinac Island Located in Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a resort area that was formerly a giant Indian burial ground. Today there are about 100 caches hidden all over the island. Every spring there is a large gathering of folks who geocache at “The Grand Hotel”. Ghosts are most notable at nearby Fort Mackinac built in 1779. “The children of the post commander are supposed to haunt the officer’s hill quarters. The hospitals in the fort are undoubtedly haunted and are surrounded by an air of sickness to this day. A skeleton was found in the “Black Hole” of the guardhouse and now people get the usual chills along their spines in the reconstructed guardhouse. There is supposedly a phantom piper that walks on the stonework above the North Sally Port. He is only sighted on misty mornings and his music can be heard faintly.”

5-USA – Pennsylvania – Philadelphia – Fairmount Park – Laurel Hill Cemetery The Fairmount Park is the largest landscaped park in the USA occupying 10 percent of all the land in Philadelphia. Ten active geocaches are hidden throughout its 4,180 acre park system. One of them is concealed in the Laurel Hill Cemetery which features graves dating back to the 1830’s including Thomas McKean, signer of the Declaration of Independence and David Rittenhouse, a renowned 18th century American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official. Note: Laurel Hill Cemetery has the distinction of being one of the few cemeteries in America designated as a National Historic Landmark.

6-USA – Colorado – Saint Elmo – Historic Ghost Town Built in 1878 in a heavily forested area, Saint Elmo is the best preserved ghost town in Colorado with far more ghosts than its actual 8 year-round residents. All of the 24 original buildings are privately owned and a few are occupied by active businesses. The General Store now operates between May to October. This is a far cry from its heydays in the 1890’s when this small mining town had 2000 year-round residents and a telegraph office, a town hall, five hotels, saloons, dancing halls, a newspaper office and a school house. It was a time when the discovery of gold and silver brought miners from far and wide to the area with the help of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad which ran through the town. Once, however, the last mine shut down in 1922, the business district in St. Elmo was closed down as well. But the pioneering Stark family in particular tried to keep the town alive. Today, it is the ghost of Annabelle Stark who watches over the town. Her mother, Anna, ran the general store and a small hotel that served the railroad. Visitors report that the doors to this hotel shut on their own and several have noticed a young woman in one of the windows along the second floor of the hotel. And located just before the entrance to the town is the Saint Elmo cache – hidden in a pocket of boulders and upgraded to a large container and new logbook due to its immense popularity.

7-USA – West Virginia – All of West Virginia – A State-Wide Geocaching & Ghost Hunting Treasure Trove There are so many haunted places to consider when hunting for caches in West Virginia – places made famous by its phantom creatures such as the “Flatwoods Monster” (aka the Braxton County Monster) and the “Mothman” in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. But here are five lesser known favorites :

a) Cole Mountain near Moorefield, West Virginia – An offshoot of the Appalachian mountain range, orange and red lights have been seen on the slopes of Cole Mountain ever since the 1850’s.  The strange lights are believed by local folk to be that of a ghostly lantern of a young slave looking for his master, Charles Jones, who had disappeared one year before whilst coon-hunting.

b) Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, West Virginia – Located in the Greenbrier River Valley, this site marks West Virginia’s bloodiest Civil War battle – said to be haunted by soldiers and old souls who never left the battlefield in 1863. “Among these ghostly inhabitants are a poltergeist who supposedly throws rocks at you, a headless ghost that seems to have ties to a certain local family, and an entire phantom cavalry that emits horse, buggy, and firing sounds that can be heard all over the wooded area. There are even reports of a ghostly gray horse with bright yellow eyes.”

c) Flinderation Tunnel near Salem, West Virginia – Completed in 1857, this old railroad tunnel is a popular place for ghost hunters and multi-stage geocaches because of the strange apparitions, noises, and EVP’s that have been reported over the years. According to local folklore, repairs were being made on the tunnel in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s when a high speed locomotive unexpectedly came through killing two of the three workers working on the track – one of whom was trapped under the train causing it to derail. Later on, it is said, the tunnel was used by the KKK as a lynching spot. Soon after the railroad was officially shut down and the tracks torn up in the 1990’s because of its paranormal activities that continue even to this day – phantom train whistles, phantom mists, mysterious footsteps, orbs, sobbing, screaming, train wheels screeching, metal scraping on metal, and the lights of an invisible ghost train coming thru the tunnel.

d) Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Princeton, West Virginia – First opened in 1926, Lake Shawnee is a closed amusement park that last operated in the 1970’s. Some of the abandoned rides still standing include a small roller coaster, bumper boats, paddle boats, rotating swings, and a Ferris wheel. It is now private property but the owner gives private paranormal tours year-round. Around 1783, this site was also the terrifying scene of a bloody Indian massacre in which Native Americans scalped two Clay family children and a third burned at the stake. To this day, Native American chanting and the voices of children can be heard on summer nights. Eerie sightings include the apparition of a young girl, silhouettes on the Ferris Wheel, and long forgotten carnival rides moving on their own.

d) Wine Cellar Park in Dunbar, West Virginia
Before the Civil War, many areas in West Virginia tried their hand at the wine-making business. But by 1870, nearly all of the wine companies in West Virginia were gone. The three restored walk-in wine cellars at Dunbar were originally built to store local wine made on the premises. “After wine production stopped, it is rumored that the cellars were used as a stop on the Underground Railroad and today, all that is left are three of the rumored six stone cellars. But, something (or someone?) else remained. Witnesses have said that the Wine Cellar Park is haunted and misty figures and abnormalities commonly show up on film and pictures taken of the cellars.”

8-USA – New Mexico – Santa Fe Established in 1607 and built on an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe is the second oldest city in America founded by European colonists – second only to St. Augustine in Florida. And it is home to about 70 caches and many “ghost tour walks”. It’s ghostly legends cover a ten block historic area which includes a Headless Cowboy, the “Crying Witch of the Ditch”, and the Poker-Playing Ghost who threw himself down a well for losing the company money!

So Sherlock Holmes and the Sherlock Holmes’s of the World – Your Next GPS Coordinate is N 47degrees 36.371 W 122degrees 17.303– Happy Hunting!


Have you any green ideas, insights, experiences of your own to add or share?