CLEVELAND - It's that time of year -- tricks or treats, goblins and spooks are everywhere. But is Cleveland home to some real-life spooks that reside in this city by the lake year-round?
One Cleveland native has set out to see what real ghosts may exist right here in our own backyard. Chuck Gove, founder of the Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours, started his tour company in 1999 in order to give Northeast Ohioans a chance to learn some interesting things about the city and some of the "spooky" history that goes with it. Gove, a lifelong resident of the West Park neighborhood, has a fascination with ghosts and spooks that began at an early age.
"As many other kids in Cleveland I grew up watching Scooby Doo. Hearing about ghost stories and being scared reminds me of my childhood. I have always been fascinated with history, especially when it is about Cleveland. This is a great city and it has so many stories to be told about it," Gove said.
This author has taken a few of the haunted tours herself, and while I haven't seen any actual spooks in person (yet), there have been plenty of fun stories that others have shared along the way.
Ghosts caught on camera:
What any good ghost hunter will tell you: what the eyes cannot see, sometime the digital camera can. One of the most fascinating things that I've learned about from my haunted tours?
Orbs are those relatively unexplained, unexpected round transparent balls of light that appear in digital photographs taken at night or at dusk. Many believe that these orbs are actually visual proof of the presence of spiritual energy. While my camera did not pick up any at this year's tour, they have certainly surfaced in the past. Check out the photos in my gallery from the 2008 tour and see if you can find the orbs!
The places where my camera has detected the most "spirit activity?" I've had experiences with two places.
- Wendy Park -- Cleveland's Whiskey Island
Hidden on a peninsula at the end of Whiskey Island near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, lies Wendy Park. The park, named for the daughter of Dan and Marge Moore who died in tragic a skiing accident, is said to be haunted.
That said, the ghost of Wendy is not the only spook that is rumored to reside here. The island has been home to many faces of the past including a Cleveland hospital which housed many of the sick and dying during the Cholera epidemic of 1832. The ghosts of some of those who have died there are said to still walk in the park today.
The U.S. Coast Guard built its Cleveland station at the end of a pier north of Whiskey Island and operated there until 1976, when it relocated to its current station at the East 9th Street pier. The old station and lighthouse still sit on the premise at Whiskey Island -- an eerie facade that is still awaiting rehabilitation.
I stopped here during a Haunted Cleveland tour 2 years ago and picked up some of the strongest orbs that my camera has ever seen. Just walking around the property at night left us all with a bone chilling feeling that we tour-goers were not the only ones walking around there that night. My dad (a non-spook believer until this point) managed to get separated from our group that night and upon his walk through Wendy Park back to the tour bus, he heard a voice cry, "help me," as clear as day. He turned to see if there was anyone walking near him, only to find that he was alone. Needless to say, he started walking back to the bus a little faster!
- Franklin Castle -- 4308 Franklin Boulevard, Cleveland
If you've ever driven down Franklin Boulevard near West 45th Street, you've seen it -- a larger than life mansion of a home, with a stone, castle-like outward appearance that seems out of place among the other old Victorian era homes. It's easy to assume that Franklin Castle is haunted just based on appearances alone.
What you may not know about this dark, looming structure is that it was once home to the Tiedemann family (yes, like the street in Brooklyn off of I-480 -- also named after the same guy). The house was originally built in 1865 for Hannes Tiedemann, a German immigrant and wealthy businessman. There are plenty rumors about Tiedemann himself -- accusations of murder and infidelity, but aside from the rumors, one thing that is certain about the house is that many who resided there also died there. Tiedemann's teenage daughter died there in 1881 after suffering from diabetes. Years later, Tiedemann's mother also died in the house as well as three more children and finally Tiedemann's wife, before he sold the house in 1895.
The haunted Franklin Castle rumors do not end with Tiedemann. After changing hands to a couple of other families, the house was home to the German Socialist Party from 1913 until the 1960s. Rumor has it that during that time period, there was a massive political assassination in the house and that