Haunted Cape May, New Jersey; Ghosts, Buried Treasure, Hell Hounds & More
With Halloween quick approaching in Cape May it's that time of the year where all things paranormal, from ghosts to cryptids, are on our minds. Things that go bump in the night make our hair stand on end and we begin to wonder if it's a real phenomenon or just a complex idea that stems from the wild hallucinations of a demented mind. It's a matter of opinion whether the dearly departed exist as ghosts at all. Some are adamant in their denial while others hold firm to their belief. Yet there exists a group in-between that seems unsure, unconvinced despite experiences with the unusual and unexplainable. Whatever side you choose to die...ahh I mean lie on, at some point, everyone's up for a good scare and you may just find it in New Jerseys' oldest seaside town, Cape May.
History Of Cape May
Cape May is the oldest seaside town in the country and is situated on the southernmost tip of New Jersey on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. I have dubbed it "the end of the world" for this reason. Cape May was founded by one Cornelius Jacobsen Mey and first began as a whaling community before it reprise to tourist city stardom in the 19th century. It is surrounded by three bodies of water and dates back to 1620 with over 600 examples of prime Victorian error houses, gothic-style inns and mansions. But lurking behind ornate steeples and old merry time paned windows unseen shadows lurk in dark corners causing this town to be tagged one of the most haunted towns in the United States.
The enchanted seaside resort town was not always the beautiful place it is today. Cape May has had a very violent history full of tragedy and dispair. Mostly compromised of marshes, creeks and bogs it was mainly visited frequently by privateers and wreckers looking for land (of which many a murders were committed). Pirates came in search of fresh water bringing with them plight and plunder taking at will and leaving destruction behind. Significant amounts of grief were also caused by floods, fires, prohibition and the civil war. Tourism had all but ceased during these times and many business owners were down and out. The hopeless were engulfed in fear. And fear, my friends, makes us do unspeakable things.
Cape May Haunts
The following stories — and I include some of my own personal experiences, for some are well-known in Cape May, and others not-so. All are, of course, open for discussion. Should you get the chance to vacation here make sure to check out these locations. For the paranomal buffs its sure to impress.
The Captains' Quarters And Pirate Treasure
The Inn On Ocean, formerly known as the Captains' Quarters, was in my family for almost a decade. That's a long time, for some, to experience ghostly goings on. They say a treasure (40,000 British pounds to be exact) was buried there beneath the land on which the Inn stands. Given the history of looting pirates like captain Kidd and Blackbeard touching down on the shores of this prominent town it is a sure fire possibility that the story is true. They say the treasure was hid at SeaGrove Port, now Cape May Point, was then dig up by Kidd himself and re-hid somewhere further inland. (An actual portion of this treasure, 10000 pounds of gold coins, was discovered on Gardiners Island off of Long Island, New YorK.) Tis all speculation really as the story differs from town to town and shore to shore but whatever lay hidden at the Inn was being protected by an unseen force. That I can attest to.
The story goes that a seafaring Captain (A relation to Kidd ?, possibly) looted British vessels taking something close to a small fortune and returned home where he entrusted it to his mistress to protect until further notice. He returned to sea once more but never made it back. He ship was crushed and sunk by a raging storm. In distress after several weeks of no word his lover feared the worst. Months passed by until one day, from a broken heart, she hung herself, taking the secret of where the treasure lies to her grave. They say she stills wonders the halls protecting what was rightfully hers until the day her love comes home.
This haunted location is associated with phantom foot steps, wispers, moving objects and doors and cabinets that open and close (more like bang) on their own. Be wary of the attic for it has a tendency to lock on its own, from the inside. Try what you may but once it locks hope you are not on the inside as it might not re-open for days. No worries though, if the lock smiths is called, by the time he shows up, the door will mysteriously unlock on its own raport. Charlene, at least that's what we called her, wont hold you for long. Make no haste though because as quickly as it unlocks it may lock again.
Hell Hounds & Higbee Beach
Higbee Beach, a pristine spot bordering the Deleware Bay, was the destiontation for every beach goer. Once the only nudist beach in New Jersey, people flocked from all over the country to visit. Now the beach is used as a Wildlife Management Area and is rarely ever over populated with people. Which just adds to the mysticism of this rural area. Thousands of pieces of Quartzs, known as Cape May diamonds, litter the beach creating a mystical aura perfect for entertaining the idea of ghostly appirations.
Hundreds of years ago Higbee Beach was used as a type of encampment by Native Americans used primarily for ocean resources and as a type of resting place before making the long journey up river. Even today, the area surrounding it, is considered sacred land and could be a reason why it is so highly populated with paranormal phenomenom.
Higbee Beach is said to be inhabitated by a phantom black dog, possibly a hell hound, and is said to carry the curse of the land. For those who see it beware. It is said to be a harbringer of doom and omen of death and bad luck. Often times it is accompianed by a figure in a black cloak. Both the cloaked figure and the dog are said to have eyes that glow fiery red and the air is said to permenate with the smell of sulfur. Where the legend comes from no one knows. Is it based in reality? Maybe. But no one knows for sure where the legend gets its roots from. However, it is said that hell hounds are often times assigned to guard the entrances to the world of the dead, such as indian burial grounds( possibly 1 or 2 graves can be located there) and cemetaries. Places located near stretches of water are also a breeding ground for this phenomena. They are said to hunt down lost souls (sailors lost at sea, drowning victims?) and guard supernatural treasure (Kidds' treasure?).
Hell Hounds and supernatural black cloaked men are not the only entities that haunt this beach. It is said that the original owner, Higbee himself, is often times seen wondering the deserted shoreline. Obviously, his love for this land was an obsession even after death. A pirate, as well, is said to haunt the dunes looking for his treasure.
Should you take care not to miss this paranormal hot spot make sure to stop and ponder the Voodoo Tree. Rituals of the occult? Who knows. But it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up! Take what you will from it just nothing that you shouldn't for who knows what you will be bringing home.
The Emlen Physic Estate
The Emlen Physic Estate, ran by The Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts (MAC), of which I was employed for some time, is also another very haunted location in Cape May. The estate is a southern style mansion turned museum after MAC saved it (and her ghosts) from the wrecking ball in 1970. Should you ever be in town make sure not to miss the world renowned ghost tour featuring Cape Mays' own personal ghost hunter/ psychic Craig McManus presented by MAC.
The Emlen Physic Estate is haunted, for sure. Who is haunting it? More than one ghost. During the period in which I worked there numerious stories about personal experiences surfaced frequently from phantom foot steps walking around the bedrooms above you to wispering voices to cold hands grabbing your arm.
So I will leave you with one of my own personal experiences I had. Working late one night in the mansions upstairs offices I had gotten the distinct feeling that a radio was on. It sounded like someone talking but It wasn't clear just sorta a bunch of muffled sounds. So I got up to figure out whose office it was coming from. Appearantly everyone shut down for the night and was gone. Just a little spooked I decided to pack up and leave, quickly. As I desended the stairs and cut through the second story bedroom to get to the back staircase I realized that it wasn't voices at all that I was hearing. It was the muffled sound of a rocking chair swaying back and forth in the corner of the room. The hair on the back of my neck rose and I made no haste in making a swift exit. Least to say, my experience had freaked me out enough, that was the last time I worked alone.
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