After a night of sporting excitement, it was time to bid farewell to Baltimore and head to Pennsylvania. Our first location would be the Eastern State Penitentiary and what a day and night of excitement awaited us! TravelShopGirl and I had arranged with some friends to do a paranormal investigation in the prison that evening, but first we had a daytime tour arranged, so we could get a feel for the layout and what would await us once the lights went out.
Eastern State Penitentiary was the world’s first true penitentiary, a building designed to inspire penitence – or true regret – in the hearts of prisoners. The original seven cell blocks had running water and central heat before the White House and it held many notorious prisoners over the years, including Al Capone and bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton. I’d also like to point out that our group was the FIRST all female team to investigate the prison – we were all surprised and quite pleased about that.
We spent around 2 hours in the prison during the day, it was a very different place in daylight, that’s for sure! We stopped by Al Capone’s cell – he had it made during his time in ESP. I’ve added a photo below of what his cell would have looked like during his incarceration, it definitely looks full of home comforts and a far cry from what the majority of other prisoners would have had to contend with.
Once the daytime tour was complete, we made our way back to the Airbnb property to freshen up and grab the equipment we needed for the night. We then enjoyed a pre-investigation dinner and drinks at Frankford Hall – the food there was so good (I do like a good bratwurst) and we all agreed that we would visit there again. The minutes soon ran away from us and it was time to head back to the Penitentiary and get the evening investigation started.
We arrived at the noted time and were met outside by 2 guides, they showed us back into the building and into what they call the Recharge Room (formerly the warden’s office), where we were given some basic safety instructions before beginning our investigation.
It felt quite strange to be back at ESP and in the dark, however some of the lights inside the building were still on. The guide said that they are all on timer, once they go out, that’s it. Eventually, they went out and each cell block was so dark, you couldn’t see a hand in front of your face – good job we had a few torches!
The investigation would last until 1am the following morning and we all, in one way or another, had experiences in there. We had the most interesting response from the dowsing rods, they were literally going wild at one point, but we also picked up a few audio encounters here and there, and one or two photographs we have seem to show some abnormalities. I’ll have to share the audio clips etc. with you in a future post as TravelShopGirl is still editing everything – they make it look so quick and easy on TV, but trust me, it’s not! There’s a lot of sound enhancing and image enhancing to be done in order to be almost sure that what you have is something paranormal and not just a trick of the light or ear. There will be an entirely separate blog post for ESP in the next few weeks, so ghost hunters…watch this space!
I didn’t feel like the atmosphere in the prison was over powering, which is what I had expected if I am honest, but there were a few moments when I felt incredibly uncomfortable and at one point, I refused to walk down a cell block that an hour earlier I’d walked down without a care in the world – it was so odd! But I just didn’t get a good feeling from it anymore, I felt like something had changed and I really didn’t want to find out what that something was.
Throughout the night we’d heard things, we’d had lots of communication through the dowsing rods, some of us had even had interesting results from the spirit box and so on, but as we brought the investigation to a close myself and 1 of the other girls had the most incredible experience of the entire evening, well, it certainly was for me! We were all in the Recharge Room (with the exception of the 2 female guides who were sitting just outside the door) gathering up our things and chatting about general life. We all reached a point where we were just about ready to leave and as we made the first move toward the door I heard on my left side, without any doubt in my mind at all, a man give what I can only describe as a sinister and smug “hmmhhh” under his breath. The kind of breathy response you would give someone that had argued they were right about something only for you to then go and prove them wrong. I was paralysed with fear and if my eyes had widened any further I’m sure my eyeballs would have probably fallen out. All I could do was stare at Lisa who was standing to my right. I knew instantly by the look on her face and the size of her pupils that she had also heard it, but none of the other ladies did. We just stood there, staring at each other for what felt like eternity but in actual fact was only a few seconds. I eventually opened my mouth and some words along the lines of “what was that?” came out. I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck…I felt so uncomfortable and I wanted to get out of there that second. I was so glad I had that experience at the end and not the beginning!
The overall experience was something that I would love to do again, it’s unnerving and definitely pushes you way out of your comfort zone, but it’s also incredibly interesting and you really don’t know what to expect. I am a believer in something more than the physical body, I think a part of us does stay behind once we die, but I still want that undoubted proof and I want to obtain it myself. I’ve no doubt that if I did actually see something, I’d be a nervous wreck, but I suppose that kind of comes with the territory in this case!
Finally, and much to my delight, we left and made our way back to the house to get some much needed sleep – we had a journey to Lancaster the following morning.
We bid farewell to the lovely ladies that had joined us on the investigation and we once again hit the road. Lancaster was absolutely beautiful and it is certainly a place I would love to go back to for a few days. The weather was perfect, there was such a great variety of things to see and do, and the homemade pretzels and whoopie pies being sold roadside by local Amish families were delicious. This was the BEST pretzel I have ever tasted!!!
We stayed at the Lancaster Arts Hotel for the evening and again, it was another ideal hotel choice. There was ample free parking available, the lobby was totally unique and the rooms were of a good size. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar, so if you’re feeling tired you can get everything you need right there. One thing that I really liked about the hotel, well, two, really, the first one being that they leave a note pad and pencil in your room and encourage you to “doodle”, those doodles then get a spot in the elevator for a while so everyone can enjoy them. The second thing was the piano that was placed outside of the lobby entrance…so you could basically just sit down and play the piano right outside the hotel. I thought that was a unique touch.
Thanks to Discover Lancaster, we had the best time in Lancaster County and got to see and do a whole array of wonderful things. We grabbed a smorgasbord lunch at Millers, which was very impressive and the golden fried chicken was out of this world – huge pieces and so juicy! The corn was also tasty and naturally sweeter than it is at home. It was busy from the moment we got there and it just kept getting busier. They also have a large gift shop selling everything from locally produced jam to wall signs for the home.
In the early evening, we hopped aboard the Strasburg Railroad for a steam train journey to Paradise and back – that’s not a joke, the place is actually called Paradise. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it and again it is something that I would definitely recommend. The views were incredible and it was nice to be sat aboard a steam train, riding through the countryside at dusk. TravelShopGirl and I went for the last train of the evening, so we couldn’t take advantage of the stops that are on the route, but should you go earlier in the day, then I would recommend you get off at Groff’s Grove or Leaman Place Grove where you can enjoy old-fashioned fun.
We ended the night with a stop at the Lancaster Brewing Company for a light bite to eat and a drink.
Between Millers and the Strasburg Railway we took a drive through the area, looking out for covered bridges as we went and we found 2 beautiful ones. I’ve always wanted to see a covered bridge, don’t ask me why, and this trip offered me several! My favourite was Siegrist’s Mill Bridge which was built in 1885 at a cost of $1,872.
The following morning, we would leave for Bear Mountain State Park in New York, but first we had a breakfast reservation at Hershey Farm and a bus ride through the Lancaster countryside with the Amish Farm and House.
Breakfast at Hershey Farm was delicious, I even tried some of the shoo-fly pie which was actually better than I thought it would. We had a reservation for 8am and I am so glad that we did as within a few minutes of us arriving it became very busy, it’s obviously a popular choice! They also serve lunch and dinner, and there’s a small hotel should you wish to stay for an evening, or two. It’s located right in the heart of Lancaster County (a place called Ronks), so everything is within easy reach. Hershey Farm is also home to the Whoopie Pie Festival!
We left Hershey Farm and made our way towards the Amish Farm and House. If you visit Lancaster, then you absolutely MUST do a tour with these guys! The full package includes a 90-minute countryside bus ride – stopping at several Amish businesses along the way – a short tour of the Amish House and then free time to explore the large farm, which is home to all sorts of animals. Our driver and guide was absolutely superb, I left the tour feeling like I knew so much about the Amish people and their way of life. It was definitely one of the overall highlights of the trip for me. If I visit Lancaster again, I’ll probably do this trip again, that’s how much I enjoyed it. The Lancaster countryside is absolutely beautiful, I’d go again for that alone, but we didn’t have time to explore all of the farm properly, so of course, I’d go and see the animals, too!
Amish Farm and House Facts
- The Amish Farm and House was the first Amish attraction in the United States
- The farmhouse was built in 1805 and served as a home for over seven generations, including Quaker, Mennonite and Amish
- The property is one of the oldest, continuously operated farms in Lancaster County
- The farm dates from 1715 and opened to the public in 1955
Just as we were about to leave Lancaster, the heavens opened and it began raining heavily. Little did we know that the rain would then stay with us for several days and cause some severe flooding and damage in the states we had just visited. Conditions weren’t ideal, but we began the long journey to Bear Mountain…