Ghostbusters visit Maine’s largest historic fort


PERSPECTIVE – As a college teacher outside of Bangor, Kate Hudson wanted a more in-depth understanding of 150-year-old Fort Knox to share with her students when they visited Maine’s largest historic fort. So Hudson made a night tour of the fort, looking for ghosts with 35 other people.

“If I’m here with the students and they’re not careful, I can tell them, ‘Hey, I got this cool paranormal story,'” said Hudson as she stood in the field. the parade one evening last weekend.

For the others who paid $ 28 to attend the five-hour “Ghosts of Fort Knox” tour which still sells out, the draw was about the same. Even for the skeptics of the group, the nocturnal wandering above and through the brick and black granite fort along the Penobscot River was not your normal Saturday night – if not quite paranormal.

“It’s great that the state allows this. I am skeptical. But even for a skeptic it’s a unique experience to walk around an old fort at night, ”said Cody Brackett of Patten, who came with his wife and two daughters – all true believers who faithfully watch tTravel Channel’s “Destination Fear” show about paranormal explorers.

Maine is home to more than a dozen forts built along the coast or along rivers to serve as deterrents during several wars, including the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the First World War. Most haven’t seen a fight, including Fort Knox. Legend has it that many can be haunted – like Fort Baldwin in Phippsburg, Fort Preble in South Portland which was built in 1808, and Fort O’Brien at Machias, built in 1775 and active in three wars.

However, only Fort Knox holds ghost tours led by paranormal researchers late at night – sometimes camping inside the fort’s parade ground.

“I grew up in Phippsburg and heard stories about the haunting Fort Baldwin. But we never got in at night to investigate, ”said Paul Wolfe, a member of 207 Paranormal, the Bangor research team leading the visits.

The unique relationship between the state, owner of Fort Knox, and the Friends of Fort Knox – who lease the fort, maintain it, and organize fundraisers to preserve it – make “Ghost of Fort Knox” tours possible. Sseveral times a year, the group of friends hands over the fort to 207 Paranormal, which uses special equipment to detect spirits for small groups. This is a major fundraiser for the fort.

Because, let’s face it, ghosts sell.

“To this day, three groups asked about paranormal activity, including one from Ohio,” Friends executive director Dean Martin said last weekend.

Admission to Fort Knox Historic Site, Maine’s largest historic fort. Photo by Deirdre Fleming

The 207 Paranormal team donates all profits to the fort, as nightly access to an ancient fort is a rare opportunity.

“In the paranormal world, most teams have a home base. Our playground is a fort in Maine. It is very special. To have the experience of hunting this fort as regularly as we do is unique, ”said Wolfe.

At 8 p.m. on a cloudy fall night, the Fort Knox parade ground was pitch black as visitors stood side by side. They were unable to see their neighbor’s face in the dark, but few turned on the flashlights they were encouraged to bring.

Paranormal investigators divided the crowd into small groups of 10 to 12 and took them to three different parts of the fort considered to be “hot spots,” where paranormal activity has already been detected and where they used multiple instruments to detect them. spirits. One was a small portable meter that reads electromagnetic energy, which ghost hunters say is present when a spirit is near. Pparticipants were asked to put their cell phones in airplane mode, to avoid tripping the meters which passed out.

Wolfe said it is believed a man who died while working on the fort could haunt him. On September 26, 1844, the year construction of the fort began, a worker took a break with a cigar while sitting on a keg of gunpowder, the Prospect Historical Society reported from an article in in the Portland Weekly Advertiser Oct. 1. , 1844.

Sgt. Leopold Hegyi was the keeper of Fort Knox at the end of the 19th century. He died on July 17, 1900, in a house on the corner of the parade ground where he resided, according to the Prospect Historical Society. Some believe his spirit haunts the fort as he continues to make his rounds. Harding Family Collection

“In a sort of daring bravado,” the company reports, “he declared that there was no danger and applied the tip of his cigar to a few grains of loose powder. The cannon ignited and in an instant it was blown out a great distance and killed instantly.

The keeper of the fort in the late 19th century also died on his deathbed in the fort, according to the Prospect Historical Society.

Leopold Hegyi, who immigrated from Hungary, enlisted in the United States Army and was transferred in 1889 to Fort Knox where he became the keeper of the fort, according to the Company. It is believed to still haunt the fort.

In July 1900, a local fisherman noticed that the flag was not flying above the fort, which was unusual. Hegyi was found ill at his residence in the fort and later died.

“His widow recovered her personal effects, but refused to take her body back to New York for burial,” reported the Prospect Historical Society. “He was buried on Fort Street, Narrows Cemetery, Sandy Point, Maine.”

“Leopold is always doing his rounds,” Wolfe said. “It was his job to make sure the fort was secure. There was a lot of evidence, like audible footsteps. “

The Paranormal Research Team stops in the hallways and small openings, having a friendly chat with the Spirits, asking if they can say hello – and greet this new group of strangers.

Ghostbusters explore Fort Knox late on the night of October 2. Photo by Deirdre Fleming

“Who is it? What are you trying to say? What’s your name?” Wolfe asked in the dark of a hallway they call Two-Step Alley.

In a room believed to be regularly visited by the mind of a man whom Team 207 calls “Mike,” several of the K2 meters light up – one held by a woman has passed the green to yellow to orange, a strong indication of a spiritual presence, said Amanda Curry, a veteran of Team 207.

“It makes sense. You have long hair. And Mike loves women,” Curry said.

But Curry, who led the tours for 10 years, stressed to the group that he couldn’t guarantee a spirits experience.

“It’s not like a circus. We can’t make them do things, ”Curry said.

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