11 March 2007

Does History Haunt You?

This weekend, DH and I took a trip back in time. We traveled north to St. Augustine, Florida. The trip was to visit an old friend, but we also took in the city's sights. Established in 1565, it's the oldest city in the United States, with influences from the Spanish, French and British.

Last night we took a carriage ride. The clip-clop of horses' hooves contrasted with the grim history our guide revealed. The old French Huguenot cemetery is haunted by yellow fever victims when a plague wiped out almost the entire population of the city. The fort is haunted after munitions exploded. The old city gates are haunted. The oldest drugstore is haunted. This bed & breakfast is haunted by a woman who hung someone on a tree. Around the city we went, it seemed as if every block had a haunted structure on it.

Today we climbed the St. Augustine lighthouse, featured recently in the Sci-Fi Channel's special, TAPS. The lighthouse too, is haunted. The oil room is haunted by the ghost of the lighthouse keeper's 12-year-old little girl who drowned at sea and the rest of the lighthouse is haunted by a former keeper.

Listening to ghostly tales is fun, and makes me wonder if certain historic places that witnessed tragic and violent events have a certain energy that resonates with people who are haunted not by ghosts, but their history. Have you ever visited an historic place that fascinated you or made you feel haunted by the tragic events of its past?


carrie_lofty said...

Visiting Fort Meigs in Maumee, Ohio gave me goosebumps. We stood on the fortifications and looked across the river to where Tecumseh's warriors would have waited. I don't know why, because I've been to a number of more important and impressive historical sites (I even spent the night in King George III's tower in Windsor Castle), but that place gave the creeps. Filled with ghosts from both sides of the conflict.

Delia DeLeest said...

Visiting the Alamo definitely gave me something to think about. When I was in the small room where the women and children were during the battle, I could feel myself there, the fear, hopelessness and uncertainty flowing through me. A very unsettling experience.

Michelle Styles said...

Yes. I find battlefield, particularly those when no one is around to have their atmosphere. Bosworth Field for example. Gettysburg is another one.
Little Big Horn scared me when I was a girl as did Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde at sunset, with no one else around gave me nightmares for weeks afterwards.

But sometimes it can depend on the day and the time. But I would agree that sometimes there is just a feeling about a place.

Kim Iverson Headlee said...

The best-kept secret (to tourists, anyway :) in London is the conducting of Sunday morning worship services at the Tower's White Chapel -- anyone can enter the Tower for free, and linger reasonably long after the service's conclusion to snap some great, unpopulated photos of the grounds. My husband & I did this once, years ago, and the thing that has stuck with me is that I could feel a kinship with the centuries-dead kings and queens who had done the very same thing, some of whom were buried beneath my feet . . . and some who had attended worship as their final conscious choice prior to execution.

Tess said...

Yep - several castles in England, including Kenilworth. I totally believe in ghosts as energy left behind, imprinted on the general area. I know there have been other instances too, I just can't put my finger on them right now. The old jail in Ottawa is reputed to be haunted - I never did visit it in all the years I lived there.

St. Augustine is somewhere I'd like to visit one day :)

Cindy Vallar said...

On my last trip to Scotland, I walked around Achnacarry, the estate of the Cameron chief. When I climbed to the top of the Falls of Cai'aig, I had the eeriest feeling come over me because this is where my characters had walked, as did Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, the chief at the time of my story. I had a similar experience when I went to Culloden, where the last battle of the '45 was fought.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Carrie, that sounds like a fascinating trip. And kudos to you for spending the night in the tower. You're braver than I am!

Delia, I've always wanted to visit the Alamo.

MIchelle, I also find battlefields very much filled with tragic energy. My mom and I used to visit Civil War battlefields and I swear some were haunted.

Kim, if I ever get to London, I'll remember your travel tip, thanks!

Tess, St. Augustine is fascinating. There's so much to do, and see and the beach is great. If you ever get there, be sure to visit the old fort, and the country's oldest graveyard that is supposed to be haunted by nuns. :-)

Cindy, what an inspiring experience that must have been for you, to walk where your characters did!