By David M. Fitzpatrick
Of The Weekly Staff
If you’re into ghost stories and you’re a fan of Fort Knox, “Haunted Fort: The Spooky Side of Maine’s Fort Knox” by Liza Gardner Walsh (Down East Books, 100 pp., $15.99) might be just the thing for you.
And if you’re a skeptic of the supernatural, you’ll still likely enjoy the book, which is as much a history of the fort and the people connected to it as it is about the paranormal.
The full-color, photo-loaded book is in two parts. The first part covers everything from the original vision for a fort during the Revolutionary War, when the British captured Castine, to the War of 1812, when further British destruction in the region spurred the need for a fort on the Penobscot River.
Walsh covers everything historical about the area where the fort sits, the process of its construction from May 1844 until its post-Civil War completion, and beyond.
Throughout this first half, Walsh introduces us to many people associated with the fort and speculates whether their restless spirits might still be hanging around. This nicely sets up the second part of the book, when she delves into the evidence of ghosts at Fort Knox.
“Evidence” comes in the form of accounts by people who claim to have had supernatural encounters at the fort. These include tourists, visitors at the annual Halloween Fright at the Fort event, and even a pair of psychic sisters who make many ghostly claims. It also includes the East Coast Ghost Trackers, a group of gadget-wielding, tactical-vest-wearing ghost hunters with a pile of supernatural Fort Knox tales. (Despite the obvious Ghostbusters feel, there doesn’t seem to be a single proton pack among them.)
Typically for the “true ghost story” genre, the supernatural accounts include such things as people who felt chills and touches, heard sounds, or saw apparitions and balls of light — nothing verifiable, easy to blame on ghosts, and more fun that those pesky scientific explanations. But a lack of witnesses, evidence, or logic won’t matter a whit to ghost fans; they’re going to love every one of these fun tales.
And don’t worry, skeptics; you’ll like it, too, and for reasons beyond any sort of amusement factor. The book works well thanks to the efforts of its author. Walsh did her homework, and she presents such a nice overview of Fort Knox’s history — from the minutiae to the big picture — that the book will keep you turning the pages. She knows how to craft her tale, so it doesn’t read like a weakly written blog post by an excited ghost hunter.
Ultimately, anyone can enjoy this book — believers for the support of their ghostly beliefs, and nonbelievers for Walsh’s rich history, vivid accounts, nicely crafted tales, and perhaps a chuckle or two.
Read this book, and consider it the perfect excuse for a visit to Fort Knox. Bring the book, absorb the history, educate the family — and, who knows, maybe you’ll see a ghost. And if you don’t, your friends might believe you did anyway.
You can find or order the book anywhere books are sold, including Down East Books at DownEast.com.