The trolley continued to the old jail, well known to ghost-hunters familiar with St. Augustine. Another fellow in prison stripes welcomed us inside and explained the reputation of the jail and the story of one particularly harsh sheriff. We moved to another part of the building where our guide closed us inside a dimly lit cell block, which made my skin crawl.
My final ghost adventure was a tour called "A Ghostly Experience Walking Tour." The guide wore Civil War period clothing and carried an old-time lantern, a nice touch. After the introduction, we walked down St. George Street to hear about a mystery woman seen washing and hanging laundry on a line. After nightfall, the area takes on a wonderfully eerie atmosphere.
Since ghosts are not limited to humans, another historic building on St. George Street houses the tail-wagging spirits of two Standard poodles, or so we were told. We turned down a side street and walked toward the water. Older, multistory houses still line the street, and one is known to have three female ghosts often heard having tea and laughing on the second-floor balcony. At least they are having fun in the afterlife, unlike the poor laundry lady.
We continued toward the Castillo de San Marcos, a much-loved attraction in St. Augustine. Our guide knew fellow ghost-hunters who found evidence of both human and animal spirits at the fortification. The grassy "moat" surrounding the fortress was a protected place, so the residents would move their livestock there in times of siege or trouble, and ghost chickens are said to have been sighted.
We crossed the street for another short walk to a cemetery to hear more stories. Then it was on to the old city gates. In the narrow space between stone gates, once again tourists and spirits collide. Visitors have been known to call law enforcement late at night believing they've seen a lost girl standing at the gates. She is familiar to the local residents as the spirit of a teenager called Elizabeth who passed away in a yellow fever epidemic in 1821.
WHEN YOU GO
There is no shortage of ghost stories in this Florida city. For more information, visit www.floridashistoriccoast.com.
Kathryn Lemmon is a freelance travel writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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