Spinoff: National Park Service and Ghosts

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Mar 19, 2019
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I'm just trying to start this up as a "lighthearted" thread because it's my lunch break.

I grew up reading books from the "Ghosts of Gettysburg" series by Mark Nesbitt. From what I understand, Nesbitt used to be an NPS employee at the Gettysburg battlefield. He started collecting Gettysburg ghost stories. Nesbitt no longer works for the NPS. Nesbitt now has his own business interests surrounding his "Ghosts of Gettysburg" "brand," which includes but is not limited to his book series.

I passed the books to my little sister. However, I only owned a few of Nesbitt's books, and I didn't have any other books about the Gettysburg books. My parents and my little sister when to visit the Gettysburg battlefield a few years ago. They ended up inside a gift shop on the NPS property. They asked an NPS employee if the store sold any ghost story books. The store employee told my parents that the NPS no longer sold ghost story books there.

Based on another recent thread, I started to think about my experiences at NPS sites. There is a non-Civil War-related historic site in Western PA called "Friendship Hill," which is run by the NPS. This was an estate owned by Albert Gallatin, who was a Jefferson political appointee and one of the earliest U.S. Treasury Secretaries. I think that he was a political rival of Alexander Hamiltion. Anyway, Albert Gallatin's first wife, Sophia, died young at Friendship Hill under "unclear" circumstances. Gallatin's second wife pressured Gallatin to sell the estate. A series of owners after Gallatin suffered their own family tragedies and setbacks at Friendship Hill. The local folklore states that Sophia Gallatin's ghost haunts the place (her original grave was possibly disturbed) and that a curse caused the other families to have tragedies there.

The NPS acquired Friendship Hill in the 1970's.

It used to be that around Halloween time, our local Pittsburgh-area newspapers used to publish stories about local ghost stories. They would usually mention Friendship Hill, and include quotes from NPS staff at Friendship Hill about the local ghost stories and lore surrounding the estate. The NPS would also have Halloween-related programming about the "lore" of Friendship Hill. Once, I visited Friendship Hill, and I spoke to an NPS staff member who even told me a Friendship Hill-related ghost story.

In the past few years, there have been no stories in the local news about ghosts at Friendship Hill, and the links that used to exist on the internet to these news stories no longer exist. In fact, I was pretty sure that the NPS website for Friendship Hill used to have a page about Friendship Hill ghosts, and now I can no longer find this section on the website! There is no longer any "ghost" programming at Friendship Hill at Halloween.

Has anybody noticed such a change at other NPS properties?

General Casey

Jan 26, 2016
My understanding is the official NPS policy is that there are no ghosts. That doesn't mean that rangers don't have experiences but I am sure they are told to neither confirm nor deny.

I used to work at a historic house museum and we did ghost tours in October and actually had a haunted house many times. We even had Mark himself visit with a ghost hunting group. Then new management took over and said no more ghosts.
Aug 2, 2019
I think that they worry about people wondering in after hours to "hunt" for ghosts and maybe damaging the property or getting hurt themselves. Both are legitimate concerns.

At one reportedly haunted National Historic Site, I was surprised by how many of the pictures I took came out completely black. I commented to a ranger that I seemed to have snapped more "pocket pics" than I had ever taken before. She said that it wasn't just me, pictures turning out completely black was apparently a common occurrence at the park. Also worth mentioning that my cell phone went from full to uncharged in about 15-20 minutes (because it was constantly searching for a signal, perhaps?) and my Kindle did the same, and wouldn't open any books at all while we were there.

Interesting stuff.