PROSPECT, Maine — A recent photograph that purports to show a family of ghosts at Fort Knox is generating interest in otherworldly matters just in time for Halloween and the annual Fright at the Fort event.
The photo was taken two weeks ago by paranormal investigator Hannah Baird from the East Coast Ghost Trackers, according to the group’s co-founder, Jamie Dube of Orrington. Tinted a lurid green, the picture was snapped at about 3 a.m. in the entryway to the 19th century granite fort.
Dube said the image shows a little girl with a bonnet, a caped figure and a little boy, among others who are clustered at the photo’s left-hand side.
“This is a big find for us,” he said Wednesday. “It just validates what we already know … We want to show people here that there is life after death.”
He said that scientific skepticism notwithstanding, and despite the fact that the fort never had a shot fired at it in anger, he and the other eight ghost trackers believe that the fort is haunted. Dube has been giving ghost tours this fall at the fort and every time he led a group through its cold corridors and dimly-lit rooms, he has noticed a “lot of action” from the resident specters.
“There were half a dozen people physically touched at the fort,” he said. “It blew their mind.”
Among those people, he said, was a little girl named Molly who felt something grab her elbow as she was leaving the officers’ quarters to try to pull her back in. She turned, thinking it was her mother. But there was no one there.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on [at the fort],” Dube said. “Not to mention the poltergeist activity.”
He and the other ghost trackers know of some of this ghostly activity because of their forays into Fort Knox armed not with weapons but with an arsenal of 21st century tools. Among those are special cameras, detectors that measure electromagnetic fields and even something called the “Ovilus PX” — a device with a built-in dictionary that purportedly allows ghosts to talk. But it’s not to be confused with Ouija boards of seance and sleepover fame.
“Everything we use is all electronic equipment from today’s world,” Dube said, adding that the ghosts they detect are not scary or evil. “They’re very cooperative with everything we’ve done.”
Leon Seymour of the Friends of Fort Knox, the nonprofit group that staffs the fort, called the photograph “interesting” and the ghost trackers “wonderful.”
Ghosts, he said, have become very hot in terms of popular culture.
“You can’t turn a channel without stumbling into a ghost show,” Seymour said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “Many people are interested in this.”
He called the paranormal a market niche for the fort, which also hosts a summertime psychic fair that brings in more ghost hunters, tarot card readers and other believers. But he also jokingly said that he had nothing to do with the picture, even though it was snapped just a few weeks before the annual Fright at the Fort event.
As Seymour spoke, the sounds of screaming could be faintly heard in the background. That’s from the commercial for the Halloween event, which this year will feature a pig room, a special appearance from the Pirates of the Dark Rose and such old standbys as the terrifying clowns.
It will be the last time that people will be able to be frightened so economically, Seymour warned. The ticket prices will double next year from $5 to $10.
“We think we have a very good product this year, but next year will be an increasingly horrifying experience,” he said.
Last year, 9,000 people attended Fright at the Fort and he is hoping that this year’s visitors will meet or beat the record of 10,000 people.
It is the biggest special event fundraiser for the Friends of Fort Knox, with proceeds being spent on special projects at the fort. It grossed more than $45,000 last year and is such an important source of revenue that for the first time officials have taken out rain insurance.
Although, Seymour reflected, the event pulls in die-hard fans from all over. In 2006, despite the governor having declared a state of emergency because of heavy rains and high winds, 600 people showed up. And he has already sold advance tickets to someone from Quebec.
“If we were in a really solid population center, I’d be running this the entire month of October,” Seymour said. “But we do very well.”
This year, fright-lovers are invited to the fort’s dark passageways from 5:30 – 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, Saturday, Oct. 22, Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29. Visitors are asked to arrive no later than 8:30 p.m., and additional information is available at the website: www.fortknox.maineguide.com.
The East Coast Ghost Trackers will be sharing spooky stories about their investigations at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Milo Town Hall. They also will be presenting the group’s pilot television show at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.