‘Ruh-row, Raggy': Gettysburg ghost hunters find no trespassing signs

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A Gettysburg tour guide acts out part of a ghost story in the summer of 2006. National Park Service and Gettysburg officials are addressing the growth of the ghost tour industry on or near hallowed ground. Background posts: If you want to see the Murals of York up close … and Could York bus drivers also point out historic sites? and ‘… A shadowy figure of a hoop-skirted woman…’

Those capitalizing on the Gettysburg paranormal trade are running into tough embargoes.
Real history isn’t enough for some in Gettysburg. They invent ghost stories and then sell it on and around one of the nation’s most honored places … .


And this ghost story craze has bled to history-rich York as well, as reputable historical organizations foster such events.
A recent York Daily Record/Sunday News editorial puts this tourism-at-all-cost industry into perspective:

Note to Scooby-Doo and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang: No ghost hunting in Gettysburg – or at least not on the battlefield.
Same to Bill Murray and the rest of the “Ghost Busters” crew.
The National Park Service doesn’t want any of your silliness on the battlefield, the solemn site of one of America’s most horrific and bloody battles.
Unfortunately, the town and the battlefield have garnered a reputation among the superstitious as a good place to hear creepy stories involving the ghosts of soldiers killed in the Civil War.
Ghost tours are regularly scheduled in the town – and October has become one of the most popular times for tourists who come looking for a Halloween scare.
Recently, ghost tour operators clashed with the borough over rules about how many people could be included in the tours, which some say have become disruptive.
The whole ghost tour phenomenon has become an embarrassment – a sleazy exploitation of a solemn, dark moment in our nation’s history.
So it’s good to see that at least the National Park Service is not playing along.
Officials have basically banned the ghost tours from the battlefield, leaving tour operators to traipse around town peddling their ghoulish yarns.
It was also good to hear that the park service will not allow ghost hunting on the battlefield come June – Friday the 13th and 14th – when a paranormal summit comes to town.
The G4 Summit is expected to attract more than 500 paranormal investigators to town to, well, do whatever it is ghost hunters do. Set up their electronic contraptions and infrared thingamajigs to capture some “evidence” of spirits.
Well, they’ll have to do it in town, too, because the park service says no ghost hunting on the battlefield – though the organizer of the conference says he suspects many ghost hunters will go searching on the battlefield.
And he won’t discourage them.
Well, maybe some extra patrols on the battlefield those nights would.
It would be far better if conference attendees came and experienced the tremendous history the site has to offer – of a time and conflict that could have exorcised The United States of America. That was the real fright of the Civil War, that our nation could have been destroyed.
Besides, there’s no such thing as ghosts – just human beings dressed up in creepy masks.
Zoiks, even a cartoon great Dane could tell you that.

For a score of posts on a York County superstition – powwow healing – click here.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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4 Responses to ‘Ruh-row, Raggy': Gettysburg ghost hunters find no trespassing signs

  1. The only difference is that the G4 summit is completely free. We do not have to pay for anything accept hotel rooms. Unlike the “ghost tours” in the town we are not out to make money. I personally will respect the request of the park services.
    I have been to Gettysburg 4 times. I went not to “hunt Ghosts”….I went because I respect the sacrifices made and the impact it had on our great nation. I think you underestimate our respect for the battlefield and it’s integrity.
    I do not try to convince people that the paranormal is real but if they ask I will tell them how I feel and my experiences. However, we are being denied certain freedoms which indirectly impedes our beliefs.
    I hope that one day skeptics will realize that we do not want to impose our beliefs on others but to explore them for ourselves and to prove or disprove the paranormal………Many, like myself, were skeptics and know how hard it is to be convinced of the paranormal.
    Ghosts or no Ghosts, Gettysburg is one of my favorite places to visit on the planet and that will never change, regardless of this situation.

  2. deborah says:

    While you are so certain that “ghost hunting” is silly.Plenty of ghost hunters foot the bill to get into some of these otherwise “forgotten” locations.You couldn’t beg a younger person to go to many of these locations AND I constantly hear the whining of how these places need funds for restoration. So poo poo the ghost hunters CASH and see if the general public gives a who if that old location turns into another Starbuck’s.And one more thing to stick in your hat, You will never find a more respectful bunch to enter the property than those who BELIEVE that those old souls hang around !
    Come see me spending MY money at places who are in the know!
    Deborah of moonlightparanormal on youtube

  3. Amanda says:

    Have you ever been on one of the ghost tours in town? The majority of the tours that I have been on are filled with mainly facts from the battle that occurred in town with a little thrill at the end. The tour guides also give accounts of what life was like for the civillian citizens in the town of Gettysburg during this horrific battle. Maybe next time, before you are quick to judge, you should be a true skeptic and research ffrom all angles.

  4. TOM RENUS says:

    I think selling fake swords and confederate hats is exploitation. I think grown men wearing other mens names on their football jersey is stupid. I think paying $40 dollars to go to a movie is exploitation. I think playing Wii as a grown-up is stupid. But it’s all a form of human entertainment. I don’t believe in ghosts but so what. Leave the ghost hunters alone unless they go to areas on the park not authorized or are destructive. I hate it when people form an opinion and then use their pen to make others feel bad about what they like to do or spend money on. ’nuff said.

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