Ghost walk spooks Scranton

 

Aquinas Photo / Joe Evans THE MEMORIAL statue of actor and playwright Jason Miller in Downtown Square. The bust is hollow and contains Miller’s ashes. The memorial statue is Miller’s final resting place.

AQUINAS PHOTO / JOE EVAN /
THE MEMORIAL statue of actor and playwright Jason Miller in Downtown Square. The bust is hollow and contains Miller’s ashes. The memorial statue is Miller’s final resting place.

Published: October 30, 2015

JOE EVANS
Historian

If people are looking for a spooky time, they can look no further than the Walking Ghost Walk through Downtown Scranton.

Dave Jaye, the guide for the tour also known as The Man in Black, will meet people who reserve their time with the tour wearing a tall black top hat and suit to match. He carries a candle lit lantern, which he uses to guide those on the tour through each of the haunted locations around Downtown Scranton.

At each stop, Jaye places down his lantern and gives background and history of the location, the spirits that still haunt it and sighting of the ghosts by multiple sources.

Courthouse Square is one of the many stops along the tour. Jaye told the group some of the background and history of Courthouse Square in the early days of the city.

“Before the courthouse was here, this area was bog land. In the winters, it would freeze over. So naturally, children would come and try to play on the ice,” Jaye said.

This activity would prove deadly for many kids.

“Since the ice was weak in some spots, they would fall through. Hypothermia would set in, many would drown and because of the conditions of the water and the weather, their bodies were never recovered,”Jaye said that people still see the ghosts of children gliding along the square like they were still on skates. Some still report seeing the faint glowing of their lanterns. Many have noted that they see a young girl doing figure eights, as if she were still practicing for a competition.

Jaye said when people see ghosts, there is often symbolism attached to the way they physically appear.

“When a ghost manifests itself, you see a literal representation. In many cases, the way they appear may involve symbolism,” Jaye said.

Jaye said many have reported seeing the ghosts of women in the side alleys along Courthouse Square, Dicks Court in particular.

“These ghosts are the spirits of prostitutes murdered right here in downtown Scranton. Often, when they were found dead in

Aquinas Photo / Joe Evans THE LANTERN that is carried by Dave Jaye, tour guide of Walking Ghost Walk downtown. When Jaye reaches a spot he wants to inform the group about he puts the lantern down.

AQUINAS PHOTO / JOE EVAN /
THE LANTERN that is carried by Dave Jaye, tour guide of Walking Ghost Walk downtown. When Jaye reaches a spot he wants to inform the group about he puts the lantern down.

the brothels there would not even be an investigation into who killed them. The men who took their lives walked away scot free,” Jaye said.

The ghosts of these women are often seen walking with their heads down, eyes cast to the ground and with some sort of scarf or hood covering their heads. Jaye said the ghosts appear this way for a reason.

“These women were often forced into working in this profession. It was not the life they imagined for themselves and it brought them a great amount of shame,” Jaye said. “But they often had children and needed to put food on the table.”

Jaye said one of the reasons these women would have needed to provide food for their families themselves was due to the death of their husbands in the coal mines that made Scranton famous.

“Working in the coal mines was a dangerous job. Many of the deaths in the coal mine were due to faulty beams, which led to collapses. Many miners would get trapped under the debris and killed. In most cases, their bodies were never even recovered from the collapsed mine underground,” Jaye said.

Because of the prevalence of death in mining accidents, many women lost their husbands. At the time, the husband was commonly the only source of income for a family. Left with no other option, women often turned to prostitution to provide, Jaye said.

Jaye said that due to the countless number of mine shafts underneath the city were still filled with the unrecovered bodies of miners, the city was like a massive grave.

“The whole of Downtown is hallowed ground. It has been the burial site of countless men who died in those shafts. Keep that in mind as we walk about the city tonight,” Jaye said.

Jaye uses dowsing robs to communicate with the ghosts along the tour.These are thin, metal poles that are held in each hand and then respond to the ghosts energy around you.

“If the rods cross in front of you, a ghost is trying to contact you. If they stay apart or just keep spinning, that means the ghosts have no desire to speak with you,” Jaye said.

Jaye said in downtown Scranton, the rods respond to women most often.

“These women were murdered by men. They fear them and won’t try and contact men who have the rods,” Jaye said.

The rods are used in multiple places on the tour.

Another stop along the tour is The Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel.

Jaye said the building has been the site of plenty of strange happenings and events go on.

“I could spend the whole evening talking about things that happened at the Radisson,” Jaye said.

Jaye told stories of people who have died there and those who have taken their own lives. Two notable stories were of two people who Jaye said are reported to haunt the building to this day.

“W.B. Hixon, the superintendent of bridges and building of the railroad, shot himself in the head with his revolver and died in his office in the basement,” Jaye said.

Another incident occurred when a young woman named Liz who leapt from the sixth floor of the hotel and fell to her death in the lobby below. Jaye said that many people have even seen her ghost and even some people on the tour have been able to contact the spirit through the dowsing rods.

Jaye said that the stories he told during the tour are not the only ghosts stories the Radisson holds.

“The stories I have told you are just the tip of the iceberg,” Jaye said.

Another stop along the tour was on the Courthouse Square. The site was the memorial for Jason Miller.

Miller was an American actor and playwright who was a native of Scranton. He was famous for playing Father Damien Karras in “The Exorcist” and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the play That Championship Season.

Miller lived in the Brooks Building right off of Courthouse Square. Miller was at Farley’s, a corner bar off the corner of Courthouse Square and died in the building of a massive heart attack. That building is currently Corner Market Cafe.

Jaye said many still experience strange events around Miller’s memorial.

Jaye touched on the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, a sickness that killed between 20 and 40 million people around the world.

In Pennsylvania, Scranton was the city hit second hardest by the Spanish Flu after Pittsburg. Jaye said the disease killed rapidly.

“They called it the three day flu. You got sick on Friday, you were dead by Sunday,” Jaye said.

Due to the death of so many people, effective burial became impossible. The city now has a ton of bodies to take care of. So the city decided to go and collect up the dead and store them to wait for burial. Eventfully, mass graves were dug.

Jaye said with no records of what body was taken or buried, many people were left not knowing where their loved ones or friends were being stored or buried.

“A man could go to work in the morning and come home to an empty house. The tragedy was that he had no idea where to find them,” Jaye said.

The Scranton Ghost Walk is a spooky good time for anyone who wants to learn about the history of Scranton.

The tours are held every night at 7:45 p.m. and will be held rain or shine. For more information, visit their website Scrantonghostwalk.com.

Contact the writer: joseph.evans2@scranton.edu

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