This post-Halloween edition of NewtonIdeas is devoted to an undervalued, under-appreciated way for communities (cities and small towns) to boost their tourism revenue, especially during the month of October — ghost tours. The best of these walking/talking/yarn-spinning excursions are wonderful mixes of architectural visits, local history lessons, and occult experiences. Because they are walking tours, the group gets to soak in local culture and atmosphere, often winding past main street restaurants and retailers. They attract all ages, and often, entire families. They spark the interest of participants to learn more about the people and places they hear about on the tour.
Our reason for attending Ghost Tours of Phoenixville was to find something different for a birthday party outing for a small group of middle schoolers. We were rewarded with a fun night out, listening to some intriguing, not-too-scary stories about haunted goings-on around an old steel mill town that is having a gentrified resurgence otherwise through fine dining, arts, music, and a very walkable downtown. And we all had a few genuinely spooky moments. Not the same frights as you’d get from a haunted house full of movie monsters. But the tour yielded its share of ghostly accounts.
Of all places, the Phoenixville Library has made a list of most haunted sites. It even led the cable show “Scared” to devote an entire show to investigating paranormal weirdness in and around the stacks, the attic, the children’s library, and the front lawn of the library.
Local legends can be fun and take on a life of their own, especially through popular culture. Anyone who has ever read Greyfriars Bobby will appreciate this version of the shaggy dog story and how a local legend can pay big dividends for an entire community.
I like all that Phoenixville has to offer enough that I didn’t need another reason to return (the town also collaborates with the historical Colonial Theater to stage an annual “Blob Fest” every summer, since the famous scene from 50s Horror Classic, “The Blob”, where the crowd runs screaming from the theater, actually took place at the Colonial.
However, now, my curiosity about the spiritual energy at the Phoenxiville Library has been piqued. Here is a photo taken by iPhone, without flash, that captures the presence of orbs outside this reportedly haunted facility. Whether astral projections from a paranormal presence on the site or some other other-worldly phenomena, there is definitely something in the air in Phoenixville.