My stepdaughter has a friend who takes people on ghost tours. One of his favorite locations is, of all places, a county park. But the park’s history is what gives it its mystique. Before it was a park it was first a military fort built in the 1850’s. The fort was disbanded a few years after the end of the civil war, and the buildings and grounds were given over to the Territory Of Washington to do with as seen fit. The territorial government chose to make it a home for the insane. Eventually a large hospital was built on a hill overlooking what is today’s park. The only reminder of the original asylum is a cemetary for those who died while institutionalized there. Sadly, their headstones are nothing more than iron stakes with a number on each. The rest is now a beautiful park filled with sports fields, hiking trails and playgrounds for the kids. But it is at night when the area can become interesting.
Though Jeff, the tour guide, has several interesting stories about his night tours of the park, here is one of my favorites.
On the park grounds there is a lake of about 20 acres in size. It is at the base of the hill where the old sanitarium once stood. Around the lake is a concrete walkway. Though surrounded by thick brush, there are several cleared location where fishermen can walk down to the water to try their luck. On this particular night Jeff, along with two of his male friends were walking around the lake, hoping to see or hear something out of the ordinary. Jeff always carries a camera to snap photos as he walks. For whatever “paranormal” reason, he doesn’t trust digital cameras to take accurate spiritual photographs, so he uses the old-style camera and developes his own film. They had walked almost three quarters of the way around the lake when they came to an opening in the brush leading down to the water.
Walking down the bank, Jeff shined his flashlight out across the lake that was now blanketed in the thick fog. As he shined it down the lake, he was suddenly startled when an weather old barn loomed out of the fog. Its location was not far from where they had first walked to the lake. All of them saw it, but it was only Jeff who knew that there had not been a structure of any kind there before. He said it was large, it walls unpainted and darkly weathered. There were four glassless windows along its side.
The human mind always attempts to first rationalize something unexplainable, Jeff being no exception. Did he somehow not notice the old building before? Jeff snapped a half dozen photos of it before walking back to the trail. The thick brush along the path back to the main trail took the building out of their sight. After walking the hundred yards or so to where they saw the building, they all slowed as they scanned the area. “Where the hell is the barn?” one of them said. There was nothing there.
Jeff shined the flashlight around the area. There was no building of any kind. Finally the flashlight’s beam stopped. There, partially hidden in the thick brush, was a moss-covered foundation of a large building. Jeff developed his photos of the building to have proof of what they saw. But much to his surprise, there was no building in any of the pictures; just a brush covered bank shrouded in fog. What did they see? Your guess is as good as mine.