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    Urban Phantoms

    It was the night of Saturday, October 7. I had gathered at Penn Square by the Soldiers and Sailors monument shortly before 8:00, a single soul amidst a pack of two dozen or so strangers. We were all there for a mutual reason: to attend a storytelling event hosted by Ghost Tour of Lancaster. I had never done this before, and judging from the collective body language of some of my fellow tourgoers, I was not alone in that sentiment.

    We gathered at Penn Square before our journey. (Photos by Jed Wright)

    We were told by Randy Beck, one half of the delightful lantern-toting guides of the evening (and an all-around good sport), that the event had just sold out. The weather was also agreeable, though the unseasonably spring-like temperatures were definitely a far cry from the chilly autumn nights most in this area have grown accustomed to.

     

    The tour commenced once we were dissolved into two smaller subgroups. We went in separate directions only to intersect at the halfway point. It was a well-paced and well-structured walk with several of the stops seemingly separated by no more than a block, possibly two.

     

    Each location featured a unique tale of courtly love, wartime tragedy, a deceased former president, and the paranormal elements that bind them. And yet, one of the more interesting facets of the entire night was the historical significance of these sites. The Fulton Opera House, the alley that snakes through Central Market, St. James Episcopal Church, and the outermost structure of the Lancaster Marriot—real, tangible places that most of us have traversed at some point in our lives. It was as much a lesson in local architecture as it was a haven of oral supernatural histories.

    Each location we visited had a unique story.

    The ghost tour is open year-round, with the schedule varying by season, but this is understandably its busiest time of year as it offers nightly 8:00 tours throughout the entire month of October.

     

    For information on tour schedules, ticket prices, general contact information, and reviews, please be sure to visit Ghost Tour of Lancaster’s website.