Gettysburg--more people got killed here than in any battle during the Civil War. So, there must be lots of ghosts here too, right? Apprently, someone thought so and capitalized on the idea. It took off...2 years ago, there was one primary leader of "candlelight ghost walks" throughout town, now they are EVERYWHERE.
Well, after seeing these tours pass by for a couple years, we decided, as a family, we would go on one around Halloween one year. I think they are $5-8.00 a person and wow, they are pretty poor. Some of the lore and is good, but these guides need to get their basic facts straight. Dressed in period clothing, they leading you through town at dusk into nightfall and tell you of alleged ghost sitings.
Unique Suggestions: Don't go with locals! Even though it's funny, it might ruin what you think should be a good tour. I think the guides depend on only tourists going, so they tell stories about what places used to be. My father and his brother--my uncle, were the hecklers of the group. It was embarassing, but admittedly, the delivery was flawed.
Fun Alternatives: Read some books. OR go out to the battlefield in the dark. That's scarier. It closes at 10, so in the spring, you have a good hour and a half to believe what you want to out there!
There are three or four Ghost tours in Gettysburg now. My husband and I thought it would be fun to go on one this year. So we picked the one managed by the Farnsworth Inn. It was lead by two storytellers in period costume. The female storyteller was a bit overdramatic and cheesy. But the male was really cool and he made it feel more like a conversation than forced-fright drama.
You are walked through a small segment of town and they tell you of supposed hauntings.
Unique Suggestions: It would have been cooler if there wasn't so much traffic on the road. It was hard to get into the mood with cars wizzing by and the occupants staring. It was fun. Not something I would have to do again. It just felt a bit lame. From what I gathered form other people I talked to who took the other tours ( and a couple who did ALL of them), the are pretty much the same. So I would either go with the cheapest at 6.00 or with the one latest at night( which is what we did) for 7.00.
Fun Alternatives: Maybe an alternative would be to get a book on hauntings in Gettysburg(there are quite a few) and tramping around town yourself. It may not be as dramatic, but it could be pretty cool with you and a few friends.
Believer or not, it is fact that Gettysburg is home to one of the bloodiest and most horrifying events to occur on American soil. So why wouldn't there be ghosts? My family and I took a week long vacation to the DC area just this past August and Gettysburg was one of our stops. Before leaving for our trip, I used this very website to plan activities and the advice and tips I found on here well paid off.
My sisters and I (4 of us all together) are really into ghost hunting and what not. We are from Rhode Island, the home of TAPS and Ghost Hunters on SciFi... so we take our ghosties very seriously. We range from 16 to 23 years old. Our parents are the exact opposite and agreed to come to humor us. Keeping in mind the information I found on here as well as hours of googling, we also asked locals what they thought about the ghost tours. Each person referred us to the Farnsworth House Inn - which had turned out to be the best rated ghost tour I had found on the internet.
In Gettysburg they have people that stand along the sidewalks outside shops that promote these "Ghost Tours". After walking by the shops by our third time, the women promoting were actually huffing at us and rolling their eyes bc we had refused to book a tour with them. One actually made a comment (I am confident I was not meant to hear it) "Could you stop walking around already, your taking up space."
At a different storefront there was a young girl advertising another tour and listening to her describe it literally had me in stitches. Her voice was as monotone as they come, but at the same time had hints of forced excitement and said "You will be amazed by our knowledge of history and shocked by our stories." Really? Bc the only thing that seemed amazing to me was the fact that she still had a job. Anyway...
The Inn we chose has a variety of tours, we decided to go with the "Mature" tour which did not allow children under the age of 11 to join. It started at 11pm and ran approx. for an hour and a half. Our guide Mike was an incredible story teller, very informative and entertaining as hell. Our tour took place in the basement and then across the street and down the valley to the location of the mass gravesite. We experienced a multitude of phenomena from voices, footsteps overhead to actually being touched by unseen hands. My entire family had a wonderful time and when it ended, were a little mystified... I don't think any of us were expecting anything to happen!
We had such a good time that we (My twin sister and I) are actually going back this upcoming weekend with a friend of ours and are planning on doing two more ghost tours and also spending a night in the haunted inn!
Unique Suggestions: Farnsworth House Inn - Ghost Walks and Mourning Theater
If you are planning to make the trip out to see General Lee's headquaters you should know that the General himself would be mortified to know his name is on this place!
The people who run this sham ought to be charge with defacing a national treasure. OF COURSE THE ONLY WAY IN OR OUT IS THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP.
Although only a $2 admission, once inside you see very little of the room as it may have been during the Gettysburg battle. It is more of a museum for someone's civil war collection in a barrage of glass cases. OH.... and General Lee makes an appearance .. in the form of a life size cardboard (almost cartoonish) cut out.
Unique Suggestions: STAY OUTSIDE AND TAKE YOUR PICTURES THERE IS NOTHING WORTH SEEING INSIDE!!!
If you want to see old guns go to the National Parks Service Visitor's Center at the battlefield and get your fill for free.
Fun Alternatives: Go on the Ghosts of Gettysburg walk that goes to Seminary Ridge at least you'll hear some good stories about the Headquaters and the surrounding area.
Don't get yourself cought up in the ambiance of an authentic Civil War Hospital disguised as a resturant/brewery. The beer is flat, the food is microwaved and the service is lousy to say the least. Do yourself a favor and ask the locals where to find the best food and brew are.
Fun Alternatives: I would suggest going to the Resturant & Pub in the square or to the Gettysburg brewery just off the square.
As many other people have said these ghost tours are on just about every conner now. They all try their own spin on ghost story telling, may it be having a guide in period garb or bringing you into "haunted" buildings.
If you believe in ghosts or not is not at question, just keep in mind that most people are trying to turn a buck. Though it did seem that the average price for a ticket was $7 for an adult.
Unique Suggestions: I have been on these tours in the past and if you really want to go on one I would suggest the Ghostly Images Jennie Wade tour. It's like getting two for the price of one. Not only do you get to go through the Jennie Wade house and learn some of its history you also get ghost stories along with it.
Fun Alternatives: If you are really into ghosts and such but want to avoid the tours just pick up some books in a shop. Like the Ghosts of Gettysburg series by Mark Nesbitt. He was a park ranger that started to collect ghost stories and then published them into books. These books have maps to all the locations of the stories and are not expensive. So pick up a few books and go out ghost hunting on your own after dark.
They are everywhere! There are now 14 from which to choose, a ridiculous number for so small a town, all making a mint on tourists desperate for a ghostly encounter. What they get are a bunch of "someone said" stories told on the sidewalks in front of houses they aren't permitted to enter.
Unique Suggestions: Make the best of it - consider it an hour of exercise and enjoy the historical aspects of the places you pass.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to look for ghosts (and Gettysburg claims many, if you believe in that sort of thing), save your money and take off into the darkness of the military park at night on your own. If anything's going to make an appearance, that when it will happen.
On the evening of Saturday, July 26, 2008, my wife, my two daughters, and I went on the Pioneer Lines "Haunted Ghost Train". We had purchased the tickets in advance, on line, and picked them up at the train station. The price was $22.00 per person,($88.00 total) and for an additional $7.00 per person you can purchase the "Conductor's Lunch", which we did not elect to do. It consists of a hot dog, or sandwich, a bag of chips and a can of soda. All that for a mere $7.00 additional per person, (probably worth about $1.50 per person). We boarded the train and departed into the battlefield at 7:00 PM as schedueled. The narrator that evening was a female in period costume. Just a minute or two after we left the station we were directly across from the Gettysburg College, where there was a supposed incident in the basement of one of the buildings. The narrator missed her que, and we were well passed the building before she could point it out. She stated that she would show it to us on the way back (NOT). The train proceeds a total of approximately 3/4 of a mile into the battlefield, then stops. During this time you listen to tales of "ghostly activity"in the Gettysburg area. However there are never any names used. It is always "they saw", "two women saw", "a security guard was called" not one name was used to authenticate these stories. In addition the narrator's delivery was impromptu at best. Then for the climactic finish. The train reverses on it's was back the way it came, and is driven into the "Haunted Engine House". This is a building that is supposidly haunted. I will say this. It reeks of diesel fuel! OSHA should be notified. You are at this point encouraged to take lots of photographs. Guess what immediately upon entering the "Haunted Engine House" almost everyone that takes a photo gets an "orb". Well of course, the dust has been stirred up when the train comes into the old building. The train sits in the building for at least 30 minutes, probably longer,(you are not allowed to get off the train) while you get to listen to a Mark Nesbitt E.V.P. (Electronic Voice Phenomena) CD. Then the train backs out of the engine house, and then proceeds into the station, still listening to the CD, and you guessed it, the narrator forgot to point out the building at Gettysburg College on the way in also. On the bottom of the ticket it states "NO REFUNDS" I now understand the necessity for that statement. If you feel the need to remove $22.00 per person from your budget, I suggest flushing it down the comode in your hotel. It will be more entertaining, and at least the Haunted Train people won't get it.
Pioneer Lines Scenic Railway
106 N. Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Unique Suggestions: DON'T GO!!! I am a believer in the existence of ghosts and ghostly activity. I have talked to quite a number of people who have done the "Haunted Train", and some of the many walking ghost tours, and they all agree that the whole Ghost tour thing in Gettysburg is a rip off.
Fun Alternatives: I suggest that you go to the Visitors Center. Purchase the "Gettysburg Field Guide, Travel Brains Battlefield Audio Tour"($19.99). It consists of two CD's that you put into the CD player in your car. It is timed to the speed limit on the roads in the battlefield area. It guides you through the battlefield and all the points of interest. It also has a booklet that gives details of the battle, and maps of troop placement, artillery etc.. For those interested in ghosts, if you have a GPS unit you can set each place that interests you in the GPS, and come back to it later. The battlefield is open to the public until 10:00 PM every day. In late July and early August you will have a good hour of total darkness. Some of the more active ghostly points of interest are: Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Spangler's Spring, and The Wheatfield.
Okay, don't get me wrong...the ghost walks can be fun. Especially if you are able to tag along with Johlene "Spooky" Riley and her crew. They are entertaining and present a historic look at the ghost stories that are family-friendly. Be aware, though, there are a few other groups that have tried to ride the coattails of that group. Don't be discouraged, though...some are quite entertaining. The audio driving tours are a must, as most guided tours are very pricey, especially if you're in a semi-large to large group. If you're thinking about attending the reenactment, bring a full pocketbook or wallet, as there is a fee to get in. They don't always have them on the actual days either, such as the upcoming anniversary.
Unique Suggestions: Personally, I would recommend taking one walk with Gettysburg Ghost Tours if you're traveling with kiddos, or if you're alone, go on an extreme ghost hunt with them. Otherwise, grab a few books, do a little googling and wander around on your own until the park closes, that is. If you head out to the battlefield at night, you're more likely to meet up with a park ranger or local cop and WILL get ticketed at the very least.
Fun Alternatives: Check out the free bus that takes you all around the outer edges of town. It's a great way to get from point A to point B and saves you a little cash (it even runs to the Outlet). General Pickett's Buffets is a great place to nab a home-style meal, and if you are a fan of fried pickles, The Avenue Restaurant has the best I've had this side of the Mason-Dixon. If you are a hot sauce person, stop in at Wilderness Lodge Leather & Hat Shop, they have a decent selection. There are a few little ice cream shops in a small area. All are great, prices vary. Most expensive? Kilwin's Fudge and Ice Cream BUT they have great selections and offer fresh fudge and candies. Mr. G's is another great ice cream shop to visit. Be mindful, just like Disney, Gettysburg is a tourist location... Locals are generally friendly and helpful to tourists. Good thing to keep in mind: most make their living from tourist season and visits. So, while I don't generally encourage overspending on some tourist-y things, helping out the local shops is very good for the community. While the reenactment isn't free, there are things to do that are. Driving and walking around the battlefield is free, but keep in mind that it closes at night. There are a few free museums, such as the Rupp house, which is open only on weekends. Often on weekends, also, there are random "encampments" set up that give tourists a little look at what life was like. Freebies are hard to find, but do exist if you look around. In addition, there is a great little outlet strip mall on the outskirts of town that has stores like Bath and Body Works, Tommy Hilfiger, Old Navy, and Harry and David, just to name a few. Finally, if you get the chance, The Gettysburg Day Spa is a great place to grab a massage, cut and color, or even a full day of pampering!