By Kris Kelly, Community Affairs Manager for CBS 62/CW50
I don’t know what I enjoyed more…the little bit of history, the paranormal stories, or my own close encounters of the ghostly kind…but my recent Ghost Walk at Historic Fort Wayne (HFW) was a fascinating trip into Detroit’s past.
It all started on a pleasant evening in June. I took the tour with my best friend who also happens to be a little bit sensitive to all things otherworldly. We joined a group of about 50 people and got ready to go on our hunt.
A Little Bit Of History
Before we left the Visitor Center, Tom Berlucchi, the Chairman of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, gave us background on the Fort and the buildings we would be touring. I learned all kinds of fascinating facts about Indian burial mounds, how and why the fort was built, who has lived and died there, and how long it was in use.
Then he got into what we were all waiting for…the ghost stories. Berlucchi told the group that in all the years he’s volunteered there, he’s never actually seen a ghost. However, he has had several unexplainable encounters of his own. He’s seen photos (some of them he showed us) and heard EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings taken at the Fort. He’s also met some big name television ghost hunters who have their share of Historic Fort Wayne supernatural stories.
The Paranormal Stories
After the introduction, the group headed out for a walking tour of the fort. At each stop we heard about the strange happenings that had been reported there. Voices in the Gymnasium. Footsteps in the tunnel. Ghostly figures in the window of one home. Black mist in the Headquarters. Our guide also shared stories about things she has experienced and what happened when the television ghost hunters came to investigate.
After returning to the Visitor Center, the group was broken into smaller groups of six for individual tours. Every group set off in a different direction, but we were able to return to several of the most active spots. Our guide brought an EMF meter which picks up disturbances in the electromagnetic field. It lights up from green to yellow to red when it detects strong disturbances.
Close Encounters Of The Ghostly Kind
I will admit that most of the time the ghost hunt was pretty uneventful. However, there were several places where the EMF meter was flashing red and a few other incidents that were just plain weird. But before I tell these stories, you have to understand one thing: on ghost-hunting trips, nothing ever happens to me. I’m not the one that the ghosts talk to. I’m not the one that photographs orbs. I’m not the one that hears voices. I don’t get chills or see lights. I’m the boring sidekick to my much more psychic-sensitive friend.
So, here goes…
We were in the headquarters in the room where the black mist had been seen. I was tired so I sat down on a chair in the corner. My friend sat next to me as we watched the other women in the group try to get the ghosts to set off the EMF meter lights. All of a sudden I felt something brush against my bare ankle. As I leaned over to tell my friend, she turned to me and said “Something just pushed my chair!”
I tried to explain away my “touch,” but couldn’t. There was no breeze, no fabric on the chair, no clothing that could have slipped across my skin. Plus, I was sitting in the corner against two walls, so there was no way someone could have come up behind me. Since my friend experienced the same sort of thing at the same time, I’m pretty convinced we had an otherworldly visitor.
The next experience was the most dramatic, but was it ghostly? I don’t know. We were in one of the casemates, a heavily fortified area at the corners of the fort where guns can be fired at the enemy. It was pitch black, lit only by flashlights. My team was deep into the casemate, but I stayed back. It was too crowded for me. As I stood there in the dark, I felt something soft gently brush against my neck and the side of my face. I was startled and gasped a little. Our guide heard me and asked if I was okay. I told her I was fine and something like a bug or a bat must have brushed against me.
Just as she shined her flashlight in my direction, a bat flew out of the darkness and into the crowd of women in the dark casemate. One of the women saw the bat, screamed at the top of her lungs, and dropped to her feet. Every other woman in my group started screaming…except me. I told them, “It’s only a bat. They won’t hurt you. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”
We all calmed down and went on to the next casement. One of the areas in this one was extremely cold…often a sign of otherworldly visitors. Another team member swore she saw a white mist in that room and my friend felt something grab her foot. We were all pretty creeped out by this time. No one was willing to venture further in, so we headed back to the Visitor Center, all satisfied with our night of ghost hunting.
After The End
Later, I was telling the bat story to another friend. Because I am a huge “BatFan,” I was explaining how acute bat sonar is and how they would never intentionally run into a person. Then it hit me…bats wouldn’t intentionally touch anyone. So what exactly touched my cheek in that dark casement? Was it a bat? Or was it something else? I may never know.
If you’re interested in your own Ghost Tour at Historic Fort Wayne, there are a couple things you need to know. All guests must be at least 18 years of age and agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the tour. While these events are guided tours, they are not “ghost hunts” as such, although cameras and recording devices are permitted.
There are still a few dates available. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Online reservations are available for all 2016 dates at www.historicfortwaynecoalition.com/TAD.html. All online reservations must indicate the specific date they wish to reserve.