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By ROBERT VILLANUEVA firstname.lastname@example.org
HARDIN COUNTY — Ghosts stories and tales of hauntings are not hard to find in Hardin County, and with only enough Fridays in October to tell of five specific locations, many others had to be passed up.
But, in the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to mention some of the stories and locations that friends, co-workers or others told me about that I didn’t have the privilege of visiting. Keep in mind, I’m sure there are plenty of other locations — both businesses and private residences — that I haven’t heard about.
Several people have told me that numerous buildings in downtown Elizabethtown house a variety of ghosts, including a man with a handlebar mustache who walks through offices in broad daylight. I’ve had someone tell me the Masonic Lodge building on Mulberry Street is haunted as well as the Lincoln Heritage House at Freeman Lake Park.
In West Point, Fort Duffield and Tioga Falls hold claim to sightings of ghosts of Civil War soldiers. At Rhonda’s Country Kitchen Restaurant, a ghost referred to as “Mabel” reputedly leaves plates on the concrete kitchen floor without breaking them whenever construction is taking place in the area. The Ditto House also has been the focus of reports of ghostly figures being sighted. Some reports say the ghost or ghosts there have even touched visitors.
At www.myufo.com, some local reputedly haunted locations listed include Saunders Springs Nature Preserve, a Radcliff park that was the site of a mill in the 1800s. Reports of the feeling of being watched and a “wrongness” near the reservoir are mentioned in the post. The Web site also lists the Brown Street Education Center in Vine Grove as being haunted by the ghost of a student who hanged himself in a downstairs bathroom. Those who visit the building alone about 9 p.m. are advised they will notice the light on in his favorite upstairs classroom, see the front door close and feel someone standing right next to them. Then they will hear something breathing close to them, the Web site post says.
Of course there’s also the infamous Gates of Hell, a Hardin County cemetery that has been investigated for ghosts as well as reputedly being the site of Satanic rituals.
Then there’s Bethlehem Academy, probably one of the best known — if not the best known — local reputedly haunted location. The early 1800s building, which was a Catholic girls’ boarding school at one time, is the focus of any number of ghost stories.
The one I heard in the mid- to late-1970s was that one of the nuns at Bethlehem Academy hanged herself on the second floor of the building in front of a window. Supposedly you would be able to see the silhouette of her hanging from a noose if you drove by at midnight.
Another story is that, when the academy was being used by nuns after it was no longer a boarding school, several of the women were downstairs studying or reading scripture when one of them went to the second floor to play the piano. Shortly after the nun began playing piano, the nuns downstairs heard her scream. When they ran upstairs they found her murdered. In one version of the story she was discovered decapitated.
Yet another version of the haunting of Bethlehem Academy has a nun being gored and killed by a bull. Her ghost is said to roam the premises.
During the run of my Friday ghost-hunting expeditions, I heard from a retired police officer who, during his tenure on the force, had responded to three or four calls at local residences only to learn the disturbances were of a paranormal nature. He said fellow officers witnessed the incidents.
Another person sent me photos taken when The Crow’s Nest in Glendale was first being renovated. The photos show smoky mists that swirl around the empty room. One of the photos also shows an orb near a patron from when the business first opened.
Orbs are a source of debate among ghost hunters and skeptics as are EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena. Specks of dust and road noise are explanations some find for orbs and EVPs.
In my ghost-hunting escapades, I’ve had some strange experiences. While some things I’ve experienced I can’t accept as “normal,” I don’t know how much of it I would classify as “paranormal.”
Still, I do believe more is going on at some locations than many are ready to admit. But that’s the intriguing thing about ghosts and hauntings. They walk that fine line between reality and mythology.
The interesting thing is when something crosses from one side to the other. And that’s scary enough.
FOR MORE: To see a slideshow from some of these haunted locations, go to our Web site at www.thenewsenterprise.com Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.