It's the time of year for haunted forests, the dark nights come
alive with ghostly figures, haunted houses vow to give visitors
("those that dare to enter") a genuine fright and tales of
paranormal activity stream from the movie theaters.
Some are brave and enjoy being scared while others behave more
like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz who, terrified by the
"haunted forest" closes his eyes, clutches his tail, and repeats:
"I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do!" just for the chance
that he may be sacrificed from the perceived impending doom.
Like it or not, Halloween is more than candy and cute kid
costumes. It's the only time of year that, publicly, we 'looks
behind the curtain' to see some of the dark realities lurking, and
we celebrate them! Looking into these dark corners on Halloween,
Oct. 31 is celebrated worldwide and has been for centuries. The
origin of the word Halloween is Christian (it's contraction of "All
Hallows' Evening,") but the holiday is commonly thought to have
Historian Nicholas Rogers notes that Halloween is typically
linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of
the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the 'darker half'
of the year.
Samhain was seen as a time when the 'door' to the Otherworld
opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as
fairies to come into our world. In the Celtic tradition, the souls
of dead kin were beckoned to attend family feasts and places were
even set at the table for them.
But harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to come up
from the Otherworld and, therefore, it was important to take steps
to allay or ward-off these harmful spirits/fairies, which is
thought to have influenced today's Halloween customs.
In central Vermont, Halloween ranks among the largest
celebrations of the year, with Rutland's Halloween Parade being the
largest and longest continuously running Halloween parade in the
country and enough ghost stories to fill many books. Hearing a
friend or neighbor relay their own encounter with a local ghost may
just make you wonder about the darker side, regardless if you
believe in spooks.
In Central Vermont, Chittenden is commonly thought to have the
most haunting history. The Chittenden Historic Society confirms
this describing the town on their website as "The Spirit Capital of
the Universe" from the activities of the Eddy brothers.
William and Horatio Eddy (aka the Eddy Brothers) were two
spiritual mediums that lived in Chittenden in the 1870s. The Eddy
brothers are said to have had psychic powers and held séances at
their home in Chittenden claiming to materialize spirits of the
dead including drowned sailors, Native Americans, and soldiers who
died in the American Civil War.
Their powers were evident from an early age. They were said to
randomly lapse into strange trances from which even the whippings
of their abusive father couldn't rouse them. According to Joseph A.
Citro, Vermont horror writer and folklorist, their father
eventually sold his boys to a traveling showman, whose audiences
tried futilely to awaken the brothers from their spirit-channeling
reveries by punching, stoning and shooting at them.
Shockingly, the Eddy Brothers were not mortally wounded on the
road and returned home to Chittenden when their father died. Not
long after, they opened a rustic inn called the Green Tavern, and
began to perform séances every night except Sunday.
All sorts of strange phenomena are said to have occurred at the
house including, automatic writing, levitation and teleportation.
The inn's guests, who came from all over the world, were free to
inspect the premises during their stay for evidence of trickery,
but none could be found, even by the famous journalist, attorney,
and military officer Henry Steel Olcott, who wrote "People from the
Other World" in 1875 about his visit to Chittenden.
The Eddy house stands at 127 Chittenden Road. It is now a lodge
owned by the High Life Ski Club of New Jersey. Ghostly reports
occasionally surface still from that location, but they are a far
cry from what the Eddys experienced. Perhaps the ghosts prefer to
reside where the Eddys now rest, at the Horton Cemetery on Mountain
In nearby Pittsford, there is a former sanatorium that once was
used for tuberculosis patients. In 1971, the building was converted
into the Vermont Police Academy. Today, cadets still experience
visits from a phantasmal nurse named Mary, who caught TB at the old
sanatorium and died there. All of the old call buttons are still in
the recruits rooms, and it is said that if pushed, the friendly
ghost of the nurse, Mary, will pay a visit during the night.
The shadowy Whipple Hollow Road south toward West Rutland, lies
the vanished community of Whipple Hollow, where you may encounter
one of its former residents: a beautiful, veil-clad woman in white
who still wanders the road at midnight. Vermont writer, Joseph
Citro, relays the account of a driver who "stopped to offer her a
ride one snowy night, but when he reached to open the passenger
door, she vanished."
A few miles west, beside Lake Bomoseen, there lies another ghost
town: West Castleton. The village was populated by slate workers
from the 1850s until the Great Depression. Three of these workers
once vanished while rowing across the lake one murky night; no
corpses were found, only the empty rowboat. When the moon is full,
the same rowboat is often spotted on the water, traveling
mysteriously from shore to shore.
Alongside Buffalo Brook
in Plymouth, there was a miner in the 1800s who strangled a fellow
gold-seeker in order to pinch his claim and deposited the body in
an abandoned shaft. The victim's ghost, still blue from oxygen
deprivation (why he can't breathe now - or why he even needs to
breathe - is unclear), now haunts the area.
CASTLETON STATE COLLEGE
One of the more notorious spots for paranormal activity in Rutland
County is Castleton State College, which once was the Castleton
Medical Academy. Here, a paucity of cadavers forced the students to
engage in grave-robbing (though they preferred the term
"resurrection.") The headless ghost of a partially dissected girl
now roams Castleton's Old Chapel on South Street, searching for her
In addition, at the college's Ellis Hall, there is a bathroom
on the second floor where toilets flush inexplicably and faucets
and showers turn on and off without anyone's touch; it's said to be
the work of a girl who killed herself in this dorm years ago.
Pretty feeble haunting, but you have to remember that she's still
just in college.
Finally, about 200 yards from the college there is an abandoned
building. Inside you can see what look like old museum pieces.
Although there is no way to enter the building, the objects inside
seem to get tossed around.
An even spookier place is Hartford, Vt., the site of the worst rail
accident in the history of Vermont. At about two a.m. on a frigid
February night in 1887, a train headed to Montreal derailed while
crossing the White River, fell to the ice below, and caught fire,
killing more than 30 people. There is a story of a boy whose
father, pinned beneath the wreckage, died as he attempted to free
him; the mourning child remains at the site of the disaster,
floating a few feet above the river. He's said to be walking atop
the sheet of ice that overlaid the water on the night of his