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Rotary club’s Ghost Walks are as popular as ever

Have you ever wondered about the rumors of haunted history in the old town of Mauch Chunk? If so buy your tickets for the 1-mile walk through the century-old district and keep close to your guide to ensure your safety from what may or may not go bump in the night.

The Jim Thorpe Rotary Club has been conducting the infamous Ghost Walks for nearly 20 years and has plenty of spooky and well-documented stories of the three-block radius that walkers are guided through.

“Kathy Ruff created the script,” said Dr. Clem McGinley.

“A medium was brought in and taken to the rumored haunts. The medium picked up on vibes at certain spots and then some research was done,” he said.

Originally started in 1999 by former Rotary member Patrick Reilly, the walks have become a mainstay event for fall foliage and Halloween enthusiasts alike.

“Pat went to Gettysburg and saw the ghost walks and brought the idea back with him.”

McGinley and his wife, Sophie, took over the operation for the Rotary in 2015, organizing ticket sales and scheduling the walk’s seven guides.

“All the guides have a unique delivery,” he said.

“The original research was done by Kathy and Allie Harpster, but sometimes guides have done research of their own or talk about things that might have happened to them,” he said.

This is the case with newest guide and Jim Thorpe Area High School student Christian Gould. On his first walk, he stopped the group at the Mauch Chunk Museum and told a tale of when the museum was once a Methodist church and a premonition his own great-great grandmother had about the building.

According to McGinley the walks are as much about “history as they are tales of the eerie.”

Sophie said sometimes ghost walkers come back with photographs of orbs or tricks of light in the background of their pictures and are unable to explain what they are.

“It’s happened,” she said.

“You have to take the ghost walk,” she said. “There’s a lot of energy in the mountains with the river running under it.”

McGinley can’t pinpoint his favorite tale, but says his Irish heritage makes him especially interested in the Molly Maguires story.

The walk begins on Broadway at the Jim Thorpe Inn, which was known as the American Hotel in 1849, with a story of lost love continuing well into the afterlife. Perhaps it’s room 311 or 211 that sightings have taken place. Moving down the historic district to what is now the Treasure Shop but formally the home of a carpenter who created the coffins for the hanged men of the Molly Maguires group.

According to Gould, “two human leg bones were found by the new owners.”

Moving along to the Albright Mansion where Civil War Gen. Charles Albright, the prosecutor of the Mollies’ trial, lived. Several dinners in the mansion, which is now a restaurant, have spotted a man in full uniform disappearing into a closet only to find no one there after staff investigates.

The Mauch Chunk Opera House has its own haunted tale of ghost construction noises taking place that quickly ceased after investigation.

No ghost walk could be complete without a stop at the historically haunted jail.

A story of a widow wailing, “Too late” was told to the engaged crowed of 15 gathered for a recent walk.

A stretch down Race Street included the story of the Rex House haunting and of course, Mary Packer’s postmortem maiden voyage on the elevator she commissioned in the stone St. Mark’s Church. Rumor has it that the elevator will run without an operator.

The walk takes participants through Josiah White Park and comes to a stop just in front of the train, facing the Packer mansions.

A brief history lesson of the once third wealthiest man in America is told along with the history of the railroad.

“It was a great introduction to the town,” said first-time visitor Betsy Back.

“Our guide was amazing,” she said.

“I love this town,” said Steve Stapleton.

“Taking time to hear the history and connect to it, we just got into town 15 minutes before the walk and this was great,” he said.

“It gave a spooky vibe. It’s definitely haunted,” said Back.

“For fall we do extra walks Friday, Saturday and Sunday. October is our busiest time,” said McGinley.

“The Inn at Jim Thorpe has been wonderful about accommodating us for years and years,” she said. “The desk staff and Dave Drury are wonderful to us,” she said.

For ticket reservations call 484-629-3698. Reservations are recommend as the tour has a 30-person limit and fills up quickly.

<p>Jim Thorpe Rotary’s Ghost Walk guide Christian Gould tells the tale of the coffin carpenter for the Molly Maguires on the steps of the Treasure Shop on Broadway.</p>
Ghost walkers listen to guide Christian Gould describe the bones found by new building owners after purchase of the property on Broadway. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS
Christian Gould enthralls his group with tales of ghosts and old Mauch Chunk.