Saturday, October 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH: AMERICA'S MOST HAUNTED CITY ???




Wow, wow and wow! Just when you think you know a lot about a city, you go ahead and start researching a story about ghosts in Pittsburgh and find out that there are tons of paranormal activities going on in the "City of Ghosts" right under our noses!!! I dug deep and found some "molten lava" or was it a fourth river of ectoplasma?

The more I dug into this story, the more I realized that it was like hitting a vein of gold in a mine, or coming up with three sevens at the Rivers Casino slots. The stories are amazing, plentiful and somewhat bizarre to say the least.

I also learned that we have our own division of the "Ghostbusters" right here, the "Steel City Ghostbusters" who were founded by Brad Bosshart, "Chief Paranormal Expert". Their website even has an "ectoplasma cleaner" available with a guy on the label who looks a lot like the late Billy Mays.

I never knew that Pittsburgh was the place where the first generally-recognized haunted house was located, the no-longer-existing Congelier house on Ridge Avenue of the North Side. This place's history reads like a who's who of hauntings. It starts off with Charles Congelier getting caught having an affair with his French maid, Essie, by his wife, Lyda. OOPS! The enraged Lyda then proceeded to stab Charles in the chest, killing him, and then cuts off Essie's head! This happened in 1871.

ABOVE LEFT: "Steel City Ghostbusters" RIGHT: Brad Bosshart, founder and local "Dr. Peter Venkman". He ain't fraid a no ghosts.

The Congelier house sat empty for twenty years until Equitable Gas Co. purchased it to supply housing for replacement employees (their own happened to be on strike). Supposedly two of these men then suffered horrible deaths there and a  woman (presumably the ghost of Lyda Congelier) was often heard sobbing and screaming through the house. She apparently had developed this man hatred over the years.

The place sat empty again for another twenty-some years until 1927 when an explosion occured at the Equitable Gas Storage facility, then the country's largest,  on November 15th of that year. The Equitable tank was located on the spot where the Carnegie Science Center now stands. Along with destroying the Congelier house, the blast was so enormous that it shattered windows all over the city and in Mt. Washington! The best thing that came out of this was the destruction of the Congelier house although a great potential tourist attraction was lost forever in the process.

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries in Pittsburgh history involves a Mitchell B-25 that crashed into the Monongahela River. There were six people who survived this crash into the icy waters on the Mon on January 31, 1956. However, two of them died due to hypothermia.



This plane had taken off from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and was headed for Olmstead A.F.B. in Harrisburg. It was never found, so they say. Apparently there are witnesses who say that the military removed the plane on a barge and may have cut it up and had it melted down at a nearby mill. Speculation has ranged on there being either a nuclear warhead or nerve gas on this plane when it went down. While stories like this often take on a life of their own, it remains, nevertheless, one of the enduring unsolved mysteries in the history of the Burgh.


ABOVE LEFT:  The filming of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" moves to the LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington.

There have even been books written on the things that go bump in the night here in Pittsburgh. One is titled "Pittsburgh Ghosts, Steel City Supernatural by author Heather Frazier. Another is, Ghost Stories of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County" by Beth E. Trapani. There was also a movie made in 2008 starring Sienna Miller and a cast of thousands entitled, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." Miller, if you may recall, made headlines during the filming calling Pittsburgh, "Sh**sburgh". She reportedly told "Rolling Stone" in an interview, "Can you believe this is my life?"


After a storm of criticism, Miller backpedaled saying that she had been misquoted and apologized to the city. This movie has been described as, "Awful."

But we're only getting started!

Below, here are just a few of the many supposedly-haunted places in and around the city along with a brief explanation of what seems to be the "problem" at each location (the list is in alphabetical order for your added convenience). I recommend that you experience as many of these as possible to get the full flavor of the city during this Halloween season. Early trick-or-treating, however, is strictly prohibited by Mayor Halloweenstahl.

Allegheny Center (North Side) Building 7: Poltergeist activity and a general "bad vibe" in this building creates a constant turnover of residents.

Allegheny General Hospital (North Side): Ghosts are often reported in the old (tower) section of the hospital.



ABOVE: "The Cathedral of Learning" at Pitt looks like "ghost central" to me. Those storm clouds are constantly hovering over it as is lightning and a giant "Sta Puft Marshmallow man" who Pitt Coach Dave Wannstedt keeps trying to recruit.

Cathedral of Learning (Oakland): Sightings are reported on the top floor of this building.

Carnegie Library (Oakland): Reportedly was built over a cemetery. Many sightings reported (call the Steel City Ghostbusters next time).

Dixmont State Mental Hospital: Had been a tuberculosis sanitarium prior to becoming a mental hospital. There were many deaths that occured there and presumably now, many ghosts roam this closed facility.

Duquesne University St Anne's Learning Center Rm. 409: A young boy will walk into this room, has a temper tantrum and then begins throwing things around.

Frick Mansion (Squirrel Hill): Reportedly haunted by the ghost of Sarah Frick.



ABOVE: The Fort Pitt Blockhouse has a shoplifting ghost.

Fort Pitt Museum (The Point): Things in the museum "disappear" (shoplifters possibly?) Indians, soldiers, even George Washington appear here.

ICM School of Business (Dahntahn) A secretary who worked there for 20 years and was passed over for a promotion haunts the place (serves them right).

John Heinz History Museum: Ghosts populate the fifth floor which is used  primarily for storage of exhibits. The building had been an ice house years earlier and an explosion killed several workers there.

Leech Farm State Mental Hospital: Supposedly, 2,000 people died here from dubious surgical procedures. Guess what they do now?



Mellon Arena: Reportedly residents from the '20s are seen roaming the corridors, presumably on nights when the Pens are off. However, #66 has seen some of these apparitions himself, so they must be true!

ABOVE: Mario is so sick of the ghosts at Mellon Arena that he finally decided to build a new arena. It's about time, Mario! 

Mercy Hospital: A long-deceased nun, Sister Mary Loretta has been seen by many on the 6th floor. Mercy no longer has nuns working there.

Mifflin Elementary: A green "floating man" has been seen there in a classroom and also appeared in a girl's restroom...pervert.

National Aviary (North Side): Apparently there was a jail located there for p.o.w.'s of the Civil war. Many confederate soldiers have been observed there presumably now, bird-watching.

North Side Child Care: This former old Giant Eagle store had a woman shot in the head during the '80s. Now a headless woman has been seen there presumably searching for her "Advantage Card".

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School (Coraopolis): A faceless nun has been seen there numerous times. Don't you just hate when that happens?

Pittsburgh Playhouse (Oakland): The ghost of longtime Pittsburgh actor, John Johns apparently haunts the facilty. Johns had a heart attack and died there.

Point Park University (my alma mater, by the way): The story goes that a student died in a room on the tenth floor of Lawrence Hall after falling asleep with a lit cigarette. After repainting the room, the walls keep reverting back to their charred appearance. The school has reportedly now closed off this room, being sick and tired of continually repainting it.

William Penn Hotel (Dahntahn): Ghosts pushing serving carts full of food (I made that part up) have haunted the 22nd and 23rd floors. Supposedly the hotel no longer uses these two floors (they really should call Steel City Ghostbusters if this is true).

While this is certainly not the definitive list of every place in and around the Burgh that has a ghost problem, it only goes to show that along with being the "City of Champions" and "America's Most Livable City," Pittsburgh is also apparently very popular among the dead and departed here as well. This is perfectly understandable, what with a SuperBowl and Stanley Cup champions both currently residing here. How true these sightings are is anyone's guess, but you know the old saying:

..."Where there's smoke, there's fire!"

TUESDAY:A SPECIAL "PITTSBURGH THRU: THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA; "SOUTHPOINTE GHOST HUNT". Don't Miss It!