Why do legend and lore fascinate us? Be they tales of ghosts that haunt our towns, myths of creatures that roam our forests or sightings of the unexplained in our skies, these stories have the power to both unite and enthrall people around the world. Listen with the Lights On is a deep dive into the mysterious, the occult and the unknown, and how it connects us.
The Rose Ghost
Stories of ghosts and the afterlife were a popular obsession during the Victorian Era. This was particularly true for the residents of New York's Hudson Valley. On this episode of Listen with the Lights On, we sat down with Gardiner Town Historian A.J. Shenkman, author of Wicked Ulster County, to discuss another supernatural Victorian Era legend from Ulster County.
An Orange County Christmas
Every year, during the first weekend in December, a small Hudson Valley town carries out an old tradition. We traveled to Rhinebeck, New York, to see it unfold. The annual Sinterklaas festival is a celebration that's based the Dutch celebration of St. Nicholas Day. Dutch settlers brought it to the region over 300 years ago. Today it's a colorful parade featuring costumes and puppets and paper lantern stars that draws crowds of thousands.
After dodging roving Grumpuses and decorating crowns and branches along the quaint streets of Rhinebeck- the branches are a modern day twist on the birch rod St Nicholas used to carry - we ran into Master Storyteller Jonathan Kruk. And he was kind enough to bestow us with another seasonal tale.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the lumber industry spanned the continental United States, and lumber camps dotted the countryside.
When they weren't harvesting timber to feed the booming post-Civil War industrialization, working lumberjacks could often be found sitting around campfires together, telling tall tales of creatures that supposedly lurk in the dark woods.
Lumberjack folklore has produced all manner of fantastical beasts and fearsome critters that supposedly stalk the forests of the American frontier.
From hodags to hugags, squonks and whintossers, author Hal Johnson has collected tales of the fantastical beasts of lumberjack lore in his new book "Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness."
We talked to him recently to learn more about these legends of the wild.
Terror Behind The Walls
With more than one hundred thousand guests each year, the 27-year-old tradition of Terror Behind The Walls is scarier than ever. It is a fundraiser for Eastern State Penitentiary, located in the Fairmount neighborhood, in the historic city of Philadelphia, for the nation’s first penitentiary.
Eastern State was founded by three men, Dr. Benjamin Rush, who some call the father of American Psychiatry, THE Benjamin Franklin who had his hand in anything and everything Philadelphia, and Bishop William White, director of Christ Church and one of the founders of the Episcopal faith in Philadelphia. They came together with the idea of making prisons less miserable and more productive. Thus, the idea of Eastern State Penitentiary became real.
Now, the penitentiary serves as an educational facility seeking to educate the public about the prison’s history and the current epidemic of mass incarceration in the United States.
The facility had reports of mysterious visions and eerie experiences that date back to the 1940s. More than 60 paranormal teams a year take the time to visit the grounds.
We took some time to visit the allegedly haunted property onsite in Philadelphia. Just how did Terror Behind The Walls become such an attraction that people travel from far distances just to see?
We sat down with Amy Holloman. She’s the Creative Director of the Terror Behind The Walls experience and holds quite a few titles.
Listen With The Lights On is produced by WAMC Northeast Public Radio with assistance from Kristin Gilbert and Ashleigh Kinsey. Special thanks to Liz Hill, who produced an episode of her podcast, Postcards From The Road, in conjunction with this one. Go check it out, especially if you want a more on Eastern State and its history. Also we want to thank Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary for the use of sound and music. As always we want to remind you to subscribe and leave a review because like everyone else in the “pod-realm” will tell you, it helps us to make more podcasts like this one. And finally, we your hosts would like to thank you, the listener. As for us, I’m Patrick Garrett, and I’m Jessica Bloustein Marshall.
For additional information on Eastern State, but more from a more history oriented perspective, give our sister podcast Postcards From The Road's episode on the Penitentiary a listen.
Theatre Ghosts: Proctors
Every theater has a story to tell. And not just onstage. Theater legends abound worldwide, from ghosts in the wings to phantoms of the opera. In this episode of Listen with the Lights On, we step into the historic Proctors Theater in Schenectady, New York.
Tales From The Tavern: Live From The Olde English Pub
The Original Albany Ghost Tour founders Maeve McEneny Johnson and Paul Nooney join us at the Olde English Pub in Albany for a seasonally appropriate discussion of Albany legends and lore. We touch on the Shadow People of the Lincoln Park Gully, the ghosts of area theaters and get a surprise story from an audience member who grew up in a certain legendary local house that has been featured on a previous episode of Listen with the Lights On.
I enjoy this podcast tremendously! It’s entertaining and educational, and I so enjoy hearing both the folklore and the stories of the paranormal from the Hudson Valley. I wish WAMC would bring this show back into production!
Like the local stories
It’s nice to hear the local legends of the Hudson/Mohawk region of New York State. I hope they plan on putting out more stories.
Local lore buff
I so enjoy local stories, especially ghost stories!