Do you believe in ghosts? Haunting tales from Lancaster County

Lancaster

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Lancaster County is home to a lot of history, and, according to those who believe in the supernatural, it is home to several haunted historical sites, too. For those looking for a spook around Halloween, here are some ghost stories from around the county.

The White Angel at Shenks Ferry

Shenks Ferry tunnel (Credit: Adam Zurn)

“It should come as no surprise that an area with so much history and tragedy as what you find in Shenks Ferry, that it wouldn’t also have its fair share of haunted tales,” Adam Zurn, founder of Uncharted Lancaster, said.

Of those tales, one of the most well-known stories is of the “White Angel” who people say haunts the enormous tunnel at the entrance to the Shenks Ferry nature preserve parking lot.

The “White Angel” is a woman dressed in white who died near the tunnel, people say, and who continues to appear near the place of her demise.

In one version of the story, the woman was murdered at the tunnel, possibly by her husband. In another version, she hung herself at the tunnel’s entrance, heartbroken after being left at the altar, Zurn explained.

Another local history buff told Zurn that in fact the woman did not die in the tunnel, but on the train tracks above it. He told Zurn that in 1974, a woman who was around 18 years old and wearing a hospital gown and moccasins was struck and killed by an eastbound train traveling over the top of the tunnel.

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He said she had wandered off from a mental institution a few days before her death. Whether her death was accidental or intentional, no one could say, but apparently, after she died, the number of people claiming to see a ghost in the area spiked.

“Regardless of the version that you subscribe to, summoning her ghost is the same,” Zurn said. “You park your car in the middle of the tunnel (the closer to midnight the better because that’s always spooky time), and you turn your car off and the headlights off, and you get out of the vehicle, and you place the keys on the roof, and you walk around your car one…two…three times, and then you get back inside, and you wait.”

The White Angel may show up, or she may not. And if she does appear, she may not be happy to see guests, Zurn said.

For anyone who wants to learn more about Lancaster County ghost stories, Zurn will be participating in a virtual Nature Hour with the Lancaster Conservancy on Oct. 27 during which he will share some more stories of Lancaster County hauntings.

Hauntings at the Columbia Historic Preservation Society museum

Columbia Historic Preservation Society

The Columbia Historic Preservation Society museum is located in an old English Evangelical Lutheran Church on N. 2nd Street. The museum displays artifacts and research materials pertaining to the history of Columbia, Pennsylvania, as well as a notable model train.

“The big train display on the second floor is one of the most amazing train displays you’ll ever see. It’s a piece of art,” Chris Vera, director of the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, said.

Most of the pieces in the display are handmade, Vera said. It depicts Columbia from the time period of 1920-1940 and spans over 2,000 square feet with the train weaving around miniature buildings, fenced roadways, tiny trees, and minute vehicles.

The train display attracts living visitors and, according to Vera, maybe some non-living visitors, too.

“I always hear a woman pacing back and forth with a cane,” Vera said. He said he asked an old parishioner about who might have frequented the former church and learned that one of the church caretakers used to walk with a cane.

“You can hear the thud of the cane and the little steps,” Vera said.

Vera said he has had other ghostly experiences in the museum — more than 50 of them in his tenure as director, from disembodied heads to unexplained sounds to a shadow of a rocking veiled woman — and other people have mentioned similar supernatural experiences there, as well.

“We believe it’s like one of the most haunted places,” Vera said. “You see all these shows on TV, I mean, you watch ‘Ghost Hunters’ — 15 years, and they probably only saw one ghost ever. You come in this museum and spend the night, you’ll see as many as you want.”

For those hoping to learn more about the spooky history of Columbia, Vera offers Columbia Market House dungeon tours on Saturdays at 1 p.m. through the month of October. The Columbia Historic Preservation Society museum is open on weekends from 1-4 p.m. until January, and the trains run every fourth Sunday.

Ghosts at Bube’s Brewery

A bar in Bube’s Brewery

Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy was a hotel and brewery created by German immigrant Alois Bube in 1876. It was one of many breweries around the country built in the 1800s, but it is the only one left that is still in its original condition, Bube’s general manager and owner Samuel Allen said.

“I’m very pleased that we are basically doing essentially what Mr. Bube did here back in 1880, 1890 — we’re making beer, we’re making food, and we’re providing lodging,” Allen said. And according to ghost researchers, the ghosts of some of the people who visited the establishment decades ago may still be lingering there, too.

Allen said some people simply cannot see ghosts, and he may be one of them, but he does believe Bube’s Brewery is haunted, possibly by Alois Bube’s granddaughter among others.

Although Allen has never personally seen a ghost at the brewery, he said that dozens of ghost researchers and other people have, and often they see the exact same thing: a young woman in a long whitish dress with her hair tied up who is believed to be Bube’s granddaughter.

“She became schizophrenic when she was in her 20s, and they kept her here. Instead of institutionalizing her, they let her run around this big complex of a building, and it just sort of seems like she’s still doing that,” Allen said.

Back when Bube’s granddaughter was still alive, she enjoyed scaring people in the neighborhood, which contributed to the establishment’s reputation as a spooky place.

“It was like Mount Joy’s haunted house basically, the one that all the kids were scared of. I mean, people that grew up here, like in their 70s, told me that back then…when they were a 12-year-old kid, they would cross the street and not even walk down this side of the street they were so scared of all the stories they heard here,” Allen said.

The building still looks eerie today, although it is often full of happy activity. It has steep stairways, old ballrooms, rooms where barrels tower over people’s heads, and dimly lit catacombs where the alcohol used to be aged.

The hotel is the most haunted part of the brewery, Allen said, probably because that has historically been the most occupied part of the building. The Bube family even lived there at one point.

Today, Bube’s Brewery offers ghost tours that teach guests about the history of the brewery and some of the spirits that may still reside there as well as opportunities for guests to engage in their own paranormal investigations of the site.

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If you’re still looking for more haunted places to visit in Lancaster County, abc27 media partner LNP/LancasterOnline has a list here.

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