Whether its by the shore or in the woods, several locations throughout South Jersey are known for paranormal happenings. Sometimes, a paranormal investigator or a medium can be called in to find out why a spirit is hanging onto a place.
Craig McManus, a psychic medium who has extensively investigated Cape May and has written numerous books, is interested in the "human interest," side to hauntings.
"That’s important to me, behind every haunted house is a ghost and behind every ghost is a story. That is what I try to find. Who is haunting, and why are they haunting?” he said. "Why is this earth bound soul here and what caused them to be here, and what was it like when they were here?”
Some experts say large bodies of water, such as an ocean or lake, manifest spirits. Others say, South Jersey's paranormal activity is amplified by the Native American land and railroad tracks.
For some spirits, it could be simply a love of the shore and returning back to the place that made them happy in life.
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Below is a round up of some places that are said to have high paranormal activity.
Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City
Lynn Sparks, a researcher with NJ Researchers of Paranormal Evidence (Rope) and volunteer with the lighthouse, said the historic location is rife with paranormal activity.
Although her group often tries to “debunk” the evidence they get from an investigation, their last investigation provided surprising video and photo evidence.
“We caught feet on the lighthouse steps coming down the steps,” she said. “It kind of got to the bottom level; we think it maybe realized there’s people down there and you see the feet go back up the steps. We spent a long time trying to debunk that, try to make sure it wasn’t any of us up there.”
Some spirits she said could be those who liked visiting the lighthouse, or others who lived in the area who died.
From September to June, the lighthouse is opened Thursdays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The lighthouse is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Punch this into your GPS: 31 S Rhode Island Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
Another haunted lighthouse, is the Cape May Lighthouse, according to McManus. The lighthouse offers various tours, including some haunted ones, through the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278
Punch this into your GPS: 215 Light House Ave, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
Atlantic County Park, Maple Lake, Estellville Methodist Church
Atlantic County Paranormal Director Dave Larcombe, Paranormal Underground Project Director James Maitland and medium Stephen Edwards have investigated the Estell Manor area together on multiple occasions. There is activity along Maple Avenue, as well as near the lake and the church, according to Larcombe.
“Orb activity like crazy, (recordings) from screams to people talking right there by the church,” said Larcombe.
All three men also said they’ve spotted “shadow people” there as well.
“In the paranormal community, no one knows how to explain them,” said Larcombe, who has helped investigate over 25 private residences in Atlantic County and assisted in resolutions, which the group does free of charge.
Edwards explained it as a mass who “shows up as a person and has no distinctive form,” and appears like a silhouette.
“That whole area, Estell Manor, has all kinds of activity,” Larcombe said, also noting that Atlantic County Park was the site of the old Bethlehem Loading Company, which built ammunition for World War I.
“If you can get them to let you into Atlantic County Park at night — you’re going to see some stuff,” he said.
Why not take a drive around the area? Punch into your GPS: Start at Atlantic County Park to see remains of the Bethlehem Loading Company 109 NJ-50, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. After that, drive down Route 50 where Maple Avenue and Walkers Forge Road intersect. Down Walkers Forge Road, Larcombe said you will be able to see the Estellville Church with a cemetery. However, the church only opens once a year for worship. Back down Maple Avenue is Maple Lake, which also has activity.
The Gibbon House, Greenwich
The town of Greenwich in Cumberland County has several notable historic sites along Ye Greate Street, such as the monument of the town’s participation in the burning of British tea during the Revolutionary War and the Quaker Meeting House.
Gregg Jones’ family has lived in Greenwich since the 1800s and does haunted tours of the town.
“An awful lot happened here people don’t even realize,” he said. “Living here all my life, I’m a kook but I’m not a kook. I’ve seen some things, I have heard some things, I have heard some things from very reputable people. I’ve been with very reputable people when occurrences have happened.”
One haunted site is the Gibbon House, which was built in 1730 by wealthy merchant Nicholas Gibbon and is now its own museum.
“This one is very haunted,” Jones said on the tour. “There was a lover’s quarrel, back in the 1800s, someone was murdered.”
Despite the house being locked up tight at night, Jones said when the workers do a walk through in the morning they sometimes find indentations as if someone had been lying in the bed.
The Gibbons house is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. but is closed January, February and March. For more information, call 856-455-4055.
Punch this into your GPS: 960 Ye Greate St. Greenwich NJ 08323
The Abbott House, Mays Landing
During one investigation of the bed and breakfast, Larcombe said they didn’t catch spirits on their recordings but he did see out of the corner of his eye a little girl and the sound of a bouncing call.
“Come to find out, the local legend is there is a little girl that haunts that top floor of that house, bouncing a ball at all hours of the night,” he said.
Punch this into your GPS: 6056 Main St, Mays Landing, NJ
Leeds Point and Moss Mill Road, Galloway Township
Few people growing up in the Garden State haven’t heard of the Jersey Devil — the legendary, creature with hooves and wings that is said to be in the Pine Barrens.
Although Larcombe said he’s not sure if the ruins of the Leeds House remain, Leeds Point is where the story of the Jersey Devil originates and is supposedly where he was born before turning into a demon.
Punch this into your GPS: Leeds Point and Moss Mill Road.
The Flanders Hotel and City Hall, Ocean City
Two prominent buildings in Ocean City are also thought to be haunted.
Ocean City Ghost Tour manager, Eileen Reeser, said the Flanders Hotel has been pretty active over the years. The spirit in question is believed to be a woman who was given the nickname “Emily.” Though Reeser said some believe she’s looking for a lost wedding ring, others believe she could be waiting for her solider to come home who may have died in Flanders Field during World War I. Reeser notes, it’s “always a guess.”
Punch this into your GPS: 719 E 11th St, Ocean City, NJ 08226
“City Hall is haunted by the spirit of a man. Some think it’s the former mayor,” Reeser said. “He died his last day in office and some feel he’s never left.”
Punch this into your GPS: 861 Asbury Ave, Ocean City, NJ 08226
Cape May Fish Market, Cape May
The Cape May Fish Market on Washington Street, which has security cameras, has caught some strange happenings.
“In one instance, there was a grouping of brooms all together next to one table and they looked like on one video they were hopping up and down,” McManus said. “In another instance, a picture falls right off the wall for no reason at all.”
He added: “When physical objects can move themselves, that’s a strong presence.”
When he went to investigate, McManus said he found the building itself was formerly a hotel called the American House. Many spirits, he explained, can be dormant for years until a new owner takes over.
“I would sense a woman’s presence, and a man’s. I attribute those as going back to the days of the hotel,” he said. Downstairs, he said he felt the strongest energy of a young man in the kitchen.
Punch this into your GPS: 408 Washington St, Cape May, NJ 08204
The Hotel Macomber, Cape May
McManus said they believe the Hotel Macomber, which celebrates its 100 year anniversary this year,has about five resident ghosts who have been there for many years.
“The main one is Sarah Davis, the lady who built the hotel,” he said.
Davis, who lost her young daughter Cannell to encephalitis from a mosquito bite, continued to run her hotel after her daughter’s death in the 1920s, said McManus. The hotel was then known as the New Stockton Villa, he said.
Ten years later, McManus said Davis committed suicide in her room after lunch and her afternoon swim.
“She seemed to be okay but what her nieces told me was she never recovered from the loss of her daughter and suffered from depression from that,” he said.
“People see a woman standing on the stairs, they’ve seen a woman down by the front desk,” he said. “When they start to talk about her, the lights start to flicker.”
Punch this into your GPS: 727 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204
At the hotel, McManus said there’s been reports of hearing children playing in the halls. During one investigation in October, as he was setting up his equipment, he noticed something peculiar.
“I hear this man and woman, like husband and wife, arguing with each other. I look and the light is on in one of the rooms,” he said. McManus quickly packed up his microphones and crept down the stairs.
“I went to the front desk and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me there were people up there? I almost embarrassed myself,” he said, only to be informed there was no one on the floor.
“That’s the type of things that happen during a haunting people don’t realize — when you see a ghost or apparition, it may seem like a regular person and you don’t think anything of it until you look back and they’re gone,” he said. “A lot of hauntings are very subtle.”
Punch this into your GPS: 7 Ocean St, Cape May, NJ 08204
Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May
McManus said they believe the spirits of three of the four original family members, Dr. Emlen Physick himself, his mother, and two maiden aunts inhabit the grounds. One such aunt, Isabella, had epilepsy and was confined to a wheelchair for much of her life on the upper floors, he said.
“I think she stayed in spirit because her two sisters were there and her nephew, who she loved,” he said. “When the others were dying, they may have seen her spirit and thought, ‘we can stay here.’”
He also thinks they may have stayed around because they saw the property wasn’t being well cared for. Now a museum, the family has a different reason to stay.
“They don’t have to move, because now it’s a beautifully resorted home,” he said, noting some spirits have a material attachment to their houses.
The Physick Estate offers various tours, including some haunted ones through the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278. Books written by McManus on the ghosts of Cape May can all be purchased at the Carriage House Gallery Shop at the estate.
Punch this into your GPS: 1048 Washington St, Cape May, NJ 08204