Road Trip III

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Odds & Ends from Road Trip 2002
A Most Excellent Odyssey!
By Jon McClintock
AMG Investigator

Members of Allegheny Mountain Ghosthunters put quite a few miles on their cars this recent summer. A map studded with pins shows we snooped in nine counties west of the Susquehanna River, but it can't begin to express how much fun we had meeting people, making friends and learning a lot of history!

The preceding two narratives boast a unifying theme, whereas this one is more akin to making the family sit down and endure your home videos and slides.

But fear not! Some of the better orbs and more moving experiences fall into this eclectic group, and no one's going to yell at you if you get up and leave.

HOLLIDAYSBURG

For instance, check out what we found lurking in a Hollidaysburg attic one midnight in June. This is a site referenced in the Story section about coincidences - and is tied-in with gravestones in Photo Album II.

A professional photographer by the name of Mary Jane started her business out of the Hickory Street home and thought the attic a good place to put a portrait studio.

Someone didn't agree - possibly the prominent 19th century physician who built the Victorian-style home.

Mary Jane is a fan of outrageous pop culture, and tried putting a movie poster from "Hairspray" (starring the cross-dressing "Divine" and Rikki Lake) over the exposed chimney. MJ found it on the floor at least twice, no matter how she secured the paper. She planned on forging ahead anyhow, but then something began turning off the lights in the attic when no one else was in the house. That's when she started thinking: "Who you gonna call….?" And we toured the place.

With none of the background above and no orbs showing at the time, Al felt he had to sit down for lack of energy - atop the flattened poster. He reported the sensation of a man having been hanged nearby.

We decided to put the poster in a different location and allow an IR camcorder to roll without human presence.

I'd later find nothing on the camcorder, but was stunned to find two shots that showed some phenomenal anomalies. (Or anomalous phenomenon?)

JOHNSTOWN-SHANKSVILLE

Departed souls, not visiting spirits, were on our minds in mid July.

In preparation for welcoming out-of-town ghosters in September, the Al-Jon-Jo-Marty quartet paid homage to those who perished in the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889, as well as a return visit to Shanksville and the Flight 93 crash site.

Johnstown's downtown is a must-visit for everyone interested in the calamity that took 2,209 lives on May 31, 1889.

But two other places are as poignant today as the high-water marks on City Hall.

It was, as most know, a dam failure that caused most deaths in the formerly booming steel town. The dam site upstream is associated with the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, that counted among its members the wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

You can still walk for free on the very dam that unleashed millions of gallons of water, sweeping a path of death and detritus down the narrow valley of the Conemaugh to Johnstown. (Route 219 runs directly by the failed breastwork and affords a quick glance to those not inclined to walk.) The National Park Service oversees restored buildings and multimedia exhibits, which are also fitting memorials to this phase of the disaster.

The flood, examined in the form of a timeline, started in this bucolic and humble valley of the Alleghenies. The amazing and horrific tales of "The Flood City" are played out in the middle parts of the saga.

If there is an ending point upon which most agree, it's the aptly-named Grandview Cemetery, commissioned just before the flood, in Upper Yoder Township. There's no describing the feeling when one sees "Drowned" listed as the cause of death on tombstone after tombstone…all in one horrific day.

Whole generations of families rest with one another for the ages across acres of safe, hilltop land.

There's a site nearby that drives home even more powerfully the immensity of the worst natural disaster in the nation's history, and the toll it took from a tight-knit, unsuspecting community.

This is the "Unknown Plot." Here, known only to God, are the remains of 777 people.

The rows of unmarked headstones are thought-provoking, especially in light of the two major floods (1936 and 1977) that have occurred since. At least two people remain missing from the more recent calamity.

In all, Grandview's 279 acres contained the graves of 63,272 people when we visited on July 12, 2002. That ever-increasing count far exceeds the living in the once-bustling community nearby. The economic downturn of the steel industry, coupled with the floods, will always remind residents they should stay vigilant in every direction.

What more can be said about Shanksville? All of Somerset County (just south of Johnstown) has become a kind of disaster center of the East after the Quecreek mining saga and the crash of Flight 93, just ten miles apart.

It was a second visit for Al and I (See flight 93 story, elsewhere here), and at no time was there a chance we would be alone, as in December. The number of homemade tributes to September 11th has doubled - at least - and town's residents take turns at the site telling visitors about that awful autumn day here in the middle of nowhere.

Our own emotion aside, there was nothing of paranormal interest to report after the winter visit. Things were different this time.

We parked across the road in a newer lot, bracing ourselves for the solemnity so thick you felt like you were walking through it. I'm not certain when we "lost" Al, but after viewing the memorial and gazing from afar at the mound that is really a cemetery, I noticed my paranormal "canary" was missing.

Al was back at the car, and in my camera viewfinder I saw him in a familiar posture, looking as tired and drained as anyone can be. He later said he was overwhelmed by the sensation of being touched by many invisible, outreached hands - and a voice from a man, in an urgent tone, pleading "Can't you see??!!" repeatedly.

Al paid the price for not "smudging" himself with Sage before visiting the site. For whatever reason, the spirit energy is now very loud, perhaps in response to the emotion of the living, who weep openly. Sage, as recommended by psychic friend Kelly Weaver, ended a series of scary times when Al was literally knocked to the floor during an investigation (see Antique Shop). None of us was prepared, but Al got his strength back after time and we motored on for the day.

End part 3.

Continue on with us to Roxbury in Somerset County and visiting friends at Camphill in "Road Trip IV".



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