Tuesday, 12 July 2011

HAUNTED NIAGARA - URBAN MYTHS OR HOTBED OF PARANORMAL?

I've always been fascinated by the unknown, whether it's the mysteries of outer space or the unexplained phenomena of our own world.
Niagara has been called the most haunted region in Canada and I decided to learn more about the folklore of this area.
I did a little research first, through the library and various websites.
I had already visited the Olde Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the- Lake a few times (great food, very friendly staff, but no ghostly sightings), and the Drummond Hill Cemetery (a poignant historical site, so many brave soldiers, but no apparitions appeared here either).
I made a wish list of additional places I'd like to investigate and enlisted the help of my friend, Tracey. We set out in her van armed with my notes and her extensive knowledge of the region and a steady supply of Tim Horton's coffee.
I approached our adventure with open-minded skepticism, wanting to believe, but somewhat doubtful.
Our first stop was the Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls.
Various stories exist about this location, all involving the tragic death of a young girl. If you light a wooden match at midnight, so the legend goes, the match will go out and screams can be heard.
The tunnel didn't feel at all scary, not even after dark, and the only thing we saw were fireflies. A return trip later that night proved fruitless as well.
Our second stop was the Blue Ghost Tunnel. This tunnel has supposedly been bricked up, but there is a wrought-iron door that isn't locked.
After parking the van, we met a friendly young man named Kolton who guided us down the nearly hidden path to the tunnel and shared his flashlight with us.
The Blue Ghost Tunnel had a creepy, otherworldly ambience that I dismissed at first as my desire to experience that chill of fear and excitement or perhaps even just hoping for a more interesting story.
We could see our breath inside the tunnel although we were only wearing shorts and light tops and the tunnel didn't feel cold.
Water along the length of the left side of the uneven boards appeared to be about a foot deep and was utterly still. When we turned the flashlight off, the atmosphere of the tunnel grew even more unsettling. Beyond the dim light from the semi-distant door and a higher pane-less window, shadows were cast that somehow seemed "off," the entire vibe of the place seemed "off."
Kolton told us that on a previous visit, his cellphone had stopped working altogether. I actually felt a strong urge to leave the place, though it had been my idea in the first place and I'm not easily unnerved.
We also visited Old Fort Erie, a cemetery dating back to the 1700s, the Lighthouse restaurant, and the Doll's Museum, the latter two only from the outside as they were both closed.
Only the Doll's Museum invoked any sense of eeriness and I made a mental note to revisit it in the near future when we can hopefully gain access.
Despite the fact that only the Blue Ghost Tunnel lived up to the hype, I don't completely dismiss the possibility that the other legends may have an element of the paranormal to them, only that in our own experiences we didn't encounter anything unusual.
As for the Blue Ghost Tunnel, back to the unpredictable cellphone behaviour -- mine "lost" the time we spent at the site and ever since leaving the tunnel my cellphone display is a backwards mirror image.
Report by: Laurie Collins-Koehn (Niagara Falls Review)

                        HAUNTED BACKGROUND  TO THE SCREAMING TUNNEL:

Legend has it that a girl burned to death in the middle of the tunnel, after her house caught fire and she was trying to put herself out.

It is said that the girl is still in this tunnel, haunting it. The urban legend has it that if you stand in the middle of the tunnel and light a wooden match stick, she will blow it out immediately and you will be able to hear her screams.


                         HAUNTED BACKGROUND TO THE BLUE GHOST TUNNEL:
The entrance to the `Blue Ghost Tunnel`


"The Blue Ghost Tunnel", also known as "The Merritton Tunnel" due to its proximity to Merritton (now a part of St. Catharines),  was constructed in the mid - 1870's as a part of the 3rd Welland Canal. Also known as "The Great Western Railway Tunnel", it provided passage for the Great Western Railway under the 3rd canal just south of the old lock 18 which is located about 3/4 of a mile east of the "flight locks" of the present 4th canal.       The Great Western Railway was absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1882 and the tunnel became known as "The Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel".  The tunnel continued in use until around the time of the First World War when it was replaced by a swing bridge just south of the old lock 17.

This ecto-image was captured in this tunnel.
      There was a train wreck adjacent to the tunnel in the early 20th century and the ghost(s) of the person(s) killed are alleged for some reason to have chosen to haunt the tunnel. Images of wispy fog and mist are said to provide evidence of this haunting; and the tunnel became known as "The Blue Ghost Tunnel."  Large, dark abandoned structures such as this certainly have a spectral atmosphere about them. 
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