Delaware’s rich history has led many to believe that several of its buildings and landmarks may be haunted. Below, paranormal investigators dish on some local supernatural encounters.
Fort Delaware, Delaware City
Fort Delaware dates back to the Civil War, when it served as a prison camp that held about 30,000 prisoners. About 2,500 of them died there. Gina Dunham of Diamond State Ghost Investigators (DSGI) says she has experienced several paranormal happenings at the fort. She reports shadows sinking into walls, faint voices and unexplained footsteps, especially in the Endicott section, the old officers’ quarters, and Battery Torbert, in which DSGI has seen a lot of activity, Dunham says.
Frightland, named one of the top scariest haunted attractions by the Travel Channel, is celebrating its 20th season scaring guests this year. The property was originally a farm, where a past owner is said to have committed suicide in the woods, Dunham says. As the story goes, within a year of his suicide, the servants’ quarters burned down for an unknown reason, and the owner’s daughter hanged herself in a barn that still exists. DSGI examined the barn and found evidence of paranormal activity. Dunham says the original family eventually sold the property “to get away from a land that held so much pain for them.” When Frightland opened its doors in 1996, other eerie occurrences were reported. Dunham says several people reported visions of a young girl, while staff members complained of someone watching them. “Some would run out of the barn, refusing to ever step foot in it again,” Dunham says. “To this day, the property owner himself will not go into the barn alone.”
Amstel House, New Castle
There’s a ghost of a little girl named Anna who loves to play with flashlights, says Jenn Dalgarn, a lead investigator for Delmarva Historic Haunts (DHH). Dalgarn believes Anna was about five years old when she died, possibly from the flu. The DHH team has experienced its equipment turning on when someone says, “Hey, Anna, are you here?” A woman sitting in the window of the house has also been reported.
The Dutch House, New Castle
The first time that DHH investigated the house, each team member asked the spirits if it was OK for them to be there. Everyone received a ‘yes’ except Dalgarn, who was pregnant at the time. The group later found out that one of the spirits had been unable to conceive when she was alive. “I don’t know if it was jealousy or animosity—it wasn’t being mad,” she says. “It was just, ‘I don’t like you because you have something that I can’t have.’”
The Cape May—Lewes Ferry, Lewes
DHH received reports that security was called to the ferry terminal’s sunroom because someone had been seen lurking there. The team set up cameras and locked the sunroom so no one could enter. In the empty room, a clear figure was caught on camera.
Smyrna Public Library, Smyrna
Before it was a library, it was a foundry in the 17- and 1800s. Delaware City Ghost Hunters (DCGH) reports several types of paranormal activity here: voices on electronic voice phenomena recorders, and unexplained cold spots in the stairwell and the basement. One of the library’s ghosts is known as a boy named Andy who hangs around with a dog called Max. In one of its investigations, the DCGH team left a ball in the middle of the floor and asked Andy to play with it. The ball rolled right on cue. A series of attempts to debunk the phantom toy failed. You can watch a video of the encounter on DCGH’s Facebook page.
Diamond State Ghost Investigators
Fort Delaware Paranormal Adventure
45 Clinton Street, Delaware City
Go: Oct. 28–29 at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Price: $40 (participants must be 13 years and older)
Delmarva Historic Haunts
Marvel D. Nutter Museum, Georgetown
Go: Oct. 29 at 7 and 10 p.m.
Delaware City Ghost Hunters in Middletown does home investigations. In addition to specialized equipment, their team has trained psychics to communicate with spirits.