Monday, October 31, 2005

Ripples of the past

Strange things that appear in the night in places with dusty histories have filled the imaginations of Beaver County residents for centuries. Unexplained occurrences still make some residents squirm a bit.

In Baden, some say Captain Calvin Blazier's house on State Street is haunted with echoes from its past. Located at State and Bryan, the house was built by in the 1870s and sold in about 1890 to Blazier, a riverboat captain. For the past 20 years, the house has been home to Old Economie Financial, a financial planning firm owned by Rick Katterson and John Toth. Gaylin Katterson, who has worked at the office for many years, says many eerie things have happened there.

Thirteen years ago, Gaylin was doing some filing late one night at the house, while simultaneously watching her children, who ranged in age from twelve to six. The children were running around the big house, playing and chasing each other. Finally, the horseplay got to Gaylin, and she put down her work and stood up from the desk and snapped: “Would you please stop!” to the child who was skipping by. To her surprise, the child looked like he was from the turn of the century, wearing a stiff white collar and knickerbockers, his hair parted down the middle.

“There was shock on his face, as there probably was on mine. He was about as old as my oldest… The picture of him was almost etched as he came through the door,” she says.

People in New Brighton talk about the doughboy soldier ghost that is occasionally seen on the steps of the borough building. At the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton, at least one member saw the portrait of the museum’s founder smile during a concert, gallery director Cynthia Kundar says. In such charmed locales, historic incidents sometimes are replayed, like ripples in a pond going back inward, after going outward.

Many of those contacted about hauntings wouldn’t be quoted for this story. Given the creepiness of some of the local folklore, it may be that they’re just too spooked.

Many local creepy tales often involve tragedy, and the tragedy that befell a woman on Summer Cut Bridge in Beaver Falls is the type that befits a ghost story. Legend has it that a woman's car went off the bridge one rainy night, killing her. It is said that if you go late on a rainy night down onto the train tracks where her car landed, you can see her walking the tracks in a white dress, according to an account submitted to Dave Juliano, Director of South Jersey Ghost Research and Founder of The Shadowlands, a web site dedicated to ghosts and hauntings.

This story previously was published in Pittsburgh Magazine's Beaver County magzine.

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