Down East 2013 ©
Image: Jason P. Smith
Entering Fort Knox through heavy iron gates under a massive stone pediment feels as if you are heading into a labyrinth. The stone is smothered with years of rust and dripping lime. Mold paints the monotonous gray in a greenish pallor. This high above the Penobscot River there is always a breeze, the wind reinforcing the mournful mood of the fort. Footsteps echo on the perfectly pointed red brick and immediately the temperature drops.
There are “hot spots” of paranormal energy in this cavernous building and you need only rely on the hair on the back of your neck to know where those places are: Two-Step Alley and Long Alley; the officers’ quarters; the casemates, where cannons once stood; and various storage rooms. Hundreds of visitors have felt this energy and experienced strange things while walking through the fort.
What is it about the fort that makes it a veritable ghost chamber? Only three confirmed deaths have been reported, but dying at a location is not prerequisite to haunting it. Many experts in the field of paranormal research assert that there are conditions that make some places better for haunting than others. Certain geomagnetic forces converge to make a place susceptible to spiritual activity. Fort Knox stands at the confluence of swirling waters, vast stores of granite, and a generally cold climate, all triggers for hauntings. Other spiritual practitioners, called geomancers, claim the earth has “ley lines” that carry energy in a grid formation. According to practitioner David Yarrow, ley lines are “long-wave, extremely low frequency beams of earth energy that connect regional points of power.” According to geomancers, Maine has a ley line running directly through the state and ending at the Canadian island of Campobello. All of these elements together could make the fort a “warp.” Joshua Warren says that a warp is a sort of “paranormal catchall.” Warps defy space and time and may create “portals through which an entity might be able to materialize, or gain some kind of access more easily and with more strength due to the thinned veil.”
For the past several years on blustery autumn nights, The East Coast Ghost Trackers (ECGT) have gathered in the Fort Knox Visitor Center. Clad in camouflage pants, black shirts, and tactical vests, they set up their command center for the throngs of people signed up to partake in their guided ghost hunts. Their vests are filled with valuable ghost hunting equipment — EMF meters, which detect electro-magnetic fields, full-spectrum cameras, laser flashlights that set green webbed traps for ghosts to walk through, and various ghost boxes that ride the radio bands searching for the white noise that allows ghosts to communicate.
The excitement and eagerness is palpable as the group prepares for the evening’s exploits. Early guests filter in, unsure of what to expect — some have seen ghosts before, some are looking for a ghost story to share at the bar later that evening, and some are desperate for a connection with a spirit to confirm their growing sense of extra-sensory-perception. It is this building energy that co-founder Jamie Dube relies on as he takes his place as leader of the hunt. According to Dube:
There is a lot that goes on when conducting a ghost tour. A lot of getting paranormal results/evidence is what I like to call ‘energy manipulation.’ We have done so many ghost tours that I know what types of energies/people the entities want to interact with. When I pass out equipment to certain people there are reasons. I’m somewhat of a conductor with the energy and entities. On a ghost tour I place people in certain spots. Even my spot is crucial. Spirits are attracted to certain energy vibrations and auras. I make it easier for them to want to cooperate. Concentration in the group is another huge factor. That’s where I come in with energy manipulation. I get everyone focused and placed. I work closely with the energy that I know the entities are attracted to. Higher energy is easier to work with than lower energy. Also on tours, everyone who comes in has a different level of energy, and I have to get a balance so the entities can communicate. I also have to read people and try to get everyone to let go of any negatives or doubts before I start a tour. I’m strict on a ghost tour because of this, and very quick to keep the focus with all those people during a tour. The manipulation is the people’s concentrated energy focus on the act at hand. Once I get all this leveled off, then it’s all about trust and cooperation on the entity’s part. Not all entities are nice, but the spirits at Fort Knox are content, it seems, for now, and eager for the contact. It’s definitely a lot deeper than most know.
Excerpted from Haunted Fort by Liza Gardner Walsh (Down East Books, Rockport, Maine; hardcover, 100 pages, $15.99).
IF YOU GO:
Fright at the Fort takes place on October 18, 19, 25, and 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the fort in Prospect. $10, $5 for twelve and under. For more information visit fortknox.maineguide.com