With all of the talk on this blog in recent weeks about ghosts and hauntings, I thought I would relay to you one of my own paranormal experiences. It took place in a town we have talked about quite a bit, in a building whose sad story has already been told on the American Public House Review. It was my first trip inside the Carbon County Jail in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
Now let me begin by saying that I am not a self proclaimed medium. I am not at all sensitive to so-called spirit activity. I have never once walked into a place and felt a “presence” and I am somewhat suspicious of those who do. And to the credit of the people giving us a tour of this historic site, there wasn’t really much talk of ghosts and haunting. This was instead mostly an important local history lesson, and a compelling one. Outside of the famous handprint on the wall, very little was said about the supernatural.
The jail is a fascinating place. It does have an amazingly macabre feel right down to the architecture and simple details. But as we toured through the main part of the jail, nothing seemed at all disturbing to me outside the incredibly disturbing details of what happened within these thick walls. Then we made our way downstairs into the basement or the “dungeon” as they used to call it. This was where people were kept in an incredibly harsh solitary confinement. As we descended the staircase, the air began to feel heavier to me.
I was at the end of the line, lagging behind as usually happens to me on these types of tours. I always end up reading or looking at something for too long. So I hurried to catch up. As I moved down the stairs, I could feel my nerves building, though I was not at all aware of why. I could hear the tour guide speaking about the dungeon, but didn’t comprehend much of it at all. As I crossed into the dungeon a feeling of fear hit me. I looked around the place, as the group listened in very dim lighting to tales of human suffering. For a brief moment, in a cell behind the tour group to my left, I thought I saw a man, mostly cast in shadow, kneeling on the ground. There was no doubt it was a man, but I couldn’t make out a face. I knew it was not a fellow tourist. But who was it?
Within an instant, I flinched to my right, putting my hand to my face as if to block something or someone from hitting me. But nothing was there. For some unforeseen reason, I felt as if I had to guard my face from an assault. Now I was just downright intimidated. Tour or no tour, I was getting out of there.
I walked quickly out of the dungeon and back up the stairs. I could hear the tour guide asking my friends if there was a problem, but I was not going back no matter what. As soon as I made it back up the stairs, the feelings stopped. And then I went through all the ways I could think of to rationalize the experience. Was that just a shadow reflecting on the wall in the cell? Was I feeling some kind of claustrophobia down there? Was that just a bug I saw out of the corner of my right eye? I had no idea. All I did know was that it was time for a drink…
by Dave McBride