Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Haunted Newport

Do you believe in ghosts? I totally do and am a complete sucker for a good ghost story. As a kid, I always loved the ghost stories Robert Stack would tell on Unsolved Mysteries - even though the theme song alone was enough to make me crap my pants. Needless to say, when I’m in a city with a rich history like Newport, RI, ghost tours are my favorite way to learn about some of the local legends.

The Ghosts of Newport tour started in the lobby of the Newport Marriot Hotel. After a short introduction, our tour guide took us to our first location right by the water. It was on the coast that the Princess Augusta ran aground on December 27, 1738. Under the command of Captain Andrew Brook, the ship had just returned from a voyage across the Atlantic and was carrying passengers from the area that would become Germany. A sickness broke out on ship, leaving passengers very ill with many dying before arrival in Rhode Island. Contrary to the popular legend and fueled by the poem, the Wreck of the Palatine by John Greenleaf Whittier, the ship did not burst into flames. Yet, on moonless nights between Christmas and New Years, a fiery vessel has been reported on the water, right around where the Princess Augusta met its tragic fate.

The harbor during daylight - far less spooky
Another stop on the tour is the aptly named Blood Alley. This spot was the site of an unspeakable tragedy involving a young drummer boy. The story says that two sailors noticed an opening in the shoreline during low tide. Thinking that it was manmade, they were convinced there was treasure to be found. Since they couldn’t fit through the opening, they sent in a young boy equipped with a drum. He was to walk down the alley, beating his drum rhythmically to indicate his path and frantically beat it only when he found treasure. The men followed the drumbeat to Blood Alley, where the sound suddenly stopped. They retraced there steps and were horrified to see that the tide had risen, trapping the boy in the flooding tunnel. Today, the sound of drumming can still be heard in Blood Alley.

Blood Alley = SCARY!

The White Horse Tavern is the oldest bar in America, so of course, there are reported hauntings there. The most seen specter is a man dressed in shabby clothes, hanging around the right side of the fireplace in one of the dining rooms. This ghost is reported to be a man who died in the 1720’s when Tavern owners Robert and Mary Nichols opened the White Horse to overnight guests. The story goes that two men slept at the White Horse after coming to Newport by ship.  When morning broke, one of the men was nowhere to be found and the other died during the night as he slept near the fireplace. Fearing the man died of smallpox, he was quickly buried in a pauper’s grave. His identity still remains a mystery.

After a few more stops and a bunch of scary stories, the tour ended in the Trinity Church cemetery. A pretty spooky place to be at night, especially when you realize that the picture you just took was filled with mysterious orbs!

Tickets can be purchased here.


Maggie said...

I don't think I'll be going to Blood Alley anytime soon. Too scary!

Stephanie said...

It was really creepy there. And it didn't help that our tour guide showed us photographs taken in the Alley with possible ghosts in them.