From Fred, the Missing Strange Traveler

The following is cut and pasted from an abandoned site, on Tripod. I would have reposted more newsletters, but I only found two.


Hi. I’m Fred, the Robin Leach of haunted castles, alien landing fields, mystical monoliths and really cool bars. You have just stumbled into the only travel Website on the Internet that takes a “Twilight Zone” approach to vacation planning.

This is how it works: First, dim the lights.

Stare deeply into your computer screen.

Then imagine you are in the black-and-white world of early 1960s television, sitting in a AAA travel office filled with happy brochures on Disneyland, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

Suddenly, you realize that the terse, thin-lipped agent marking up your TripTik is actually Rod Serling, host of “The Twilight Zone” and one of modern society’s first supernatural tour guides.

In your head, you hear his clipped, dramatically inflected words offering guidance in your search for vacation ideas that don’t center on theme parks, relatives or all-inclusive resorts:

“You’re traveling through another dimension – a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop …Alton, Illinois.”

Or Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Or Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Paris, Roswell, Loch Ness, the Nazca Plain, Stonehenge, Area 51, The Queen Mary or that spooky old house everyone whispered about in the neighborhood you grew up in.

The Strange Traveler thinks vacations should be more than sunscreen and lengthy discussions about where to eat dinner. Your travel tales should make jaws drop around the office water cooler, and widen the eyes of fellow parents on the T-ball sidelines.

You see, the world is filled with Strange Travel possibilities: destinations reputed to be haunted, cursed, charmed, visited by aliens, inhabited by monsters, worshiped by strange cults, or infested by vampires, faeries and zombies. Some of these places are the doorways to true mysteries. Others are heavily hyped tourist traps. Most have overnight accommodations, lots of local color, and at least one decent bar.

That’s where The Strange Traveler comes in.

This Website and its newsletter are your tour guides to bizarre, out-of-the-way destinations. This e-zine both guides readers to strange places they can visit, and advises them of the supernatural undercurrents flowing beneath traditional getaways.

Travel Advisories


Strange Travel Advisories … Strange Travel Advisories …Strange Travel Advisories …


July 10. Mummified monk has red lacquer day

Modern science can’t figure out why the body of Vu Khac Minh, a 17th century Buddhist Monk, hasn’t rotted in the jungle heat of Vietnam.

Minh sits in a lotus position inside a glass case in the Dau Pagoda about 30 miles south of Hanoi. Unlike mummies elsewhere in the world, this one still has all his internal organs, according to a BBC News report.

Legend has it that when Minh felt death closing in on him in 1639, he locked himself in his pagoda and asked to be left alone.

One hundred days later, his disciples opened the door and found his body perfectly preserved. They figured he had reached nirvana and decided to preserve his body in red lacquer. The original coating, however, is starting to crack around Minh’s head and legs. The Vietnamese government recently gave scientists permission to slap on another coat.


July 7. Romanians plan “Dracula Land” theme park

Romanian officials hoping to immortalize the countries infamous, bloody hero as a tourist attraction hope to begin construction of “Dracula Land” this year near the medieval city of Sighisoara in Central Romania.

The 148-acre amusement park will celebrate the Romanian national hero Vlad Tepes, better known as “Vlad the Impaler,” Agence France-Presse reported. Tepes is thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s thirsty undead count in his novel, “Dracula.”

The project will cost about $32 million and is expected to draw a million tourists a year. Organizers are counting on attracting a large number of Germans, Tourism Minister Matei Dan said.


July 6. Is psychic fare fair?

The city council in Pueblo, Colo., is debating a measure that would end its long-time ban on psychics who charge for their services in exchange for a $25 annual license fee and a criminal background check.

The proposal has rankled some psychics who make a living giving others advice about lottery numbers, cheating spouses and job promotions, according to an article in The Pueblo Chieftan.

“Why should people with this gift have to pay a business license fee to the city?”

asked Patty Artichoker, an ally of the psychics.  Local police fear dropping the ban will lead to many residents paying large sums of money to unscrupulous pseudo psychics.


July 4. Sewer lizards terrorize Big Apple

New York City’s most prevalent urban legend got a boost this week from some enterprising hoaxers who plastered the city’s manhole covers with official-looking stickers reading: “Stay clear. Sewer lizard fumigation in progress.”

Pranksters have handed out cards in busy areas informing people of the spraying and directing residents to a website ( The site describes the fumigation as an effort to kill 10-foot, 200-pound mutated lizards that evolved from reptile pets flushed down city toilets in the 1960s, according to New York Daily News.

The myth began 40 years ago after a trend of people keeping lizards and baby alligators as pets resulted in many or the animals getting flushed down city toilets when they got too big.


June 29. Canadian Bigfoot makes an impression

Residents of a Native American reservation about 1,000 miles north of Toronto recently discovered 14-inch footprints they think may have been left by a mysterious ape man that elders have talked about for generations.

“It’s definitely not a bear,” Abraham Hunter, chief of the 260-member band, told Toronto’s National Post. The tribe, however, has reportedly not ruled out Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti or Shaquille O’Neil.


June 27. Loch Ness believers shaken, not stirred

Persistant sightings of a lake monster in Scotland’s most famous body of water are likely caused by the combination of an active geologic fault and a very imaginative regional culture, according to an Italian scientist.

The same mix of earthquake activity and primal fear could account for Greece’s Oracle at Delphi and other sites the ancient world associated with dragons or supernatural forces, Luigi Piccardi, a Florence researcher, told World Reporter.

Beneath Loch Ness runs the Great Glen fault, one of the few active fault lines in Great Britain, Piccardi said. Its rumblings could cause a churning on the surface of the lake. A regional culture predisposed toward making and preserving myths could do the rest, he said.

Hmmm. This could explain a lot of the things I’ve seen in Los Angeles….


June 25. The cave conversationalist

Ghostly voices from a cave in a remote village in Dubai have driven 50 families from their homes, according to World Reporter.

Every night, residents of the Village of Al Jeer gather at the mouth of the cave to listen for what sounds like a man’s heavy breathing. Fear, however, has kept anyone from actually entering the cave, World Reporter wrote.

Travel advisory: Dubai would NOT be a good place for an asthma attack.


June 24. Hundreds pack cover-up conference

More than 600 people crowded a 500-seat University of Colorado auditorium to watch two hours of video testimony from former government and military workers about extraterrestrial beings and our government’s efforts to monitor them.

The screening was part of “The Disclosure Project”, a North Carolina physician’s attempt to get Congress to hold hearings on the government’s alleged interaction with alien life forms. The physician, Dr. Steven Greer, told those gathered that he believes people from another planet are monitoring the earth.

Fascinating. Who would’ve thought reality TV would catch on outside the solar system?


June 21. Witch trials a bad acid trip.

It wasn’t witchcraft that caused eight teenage girls to have convulsive fits, prickly skin and hallucinations in Salem, Mass., in 1691. It was an LSD-like fungus, according to a PBS program, “Secrets of the Dead II”.

The symptoms shown by the girls who were allegedly “hexed” by Salem’s witches could by explained by the effects of a fungus that infected the village’s rye crop, according to D. Linda Caporael, a behavioral psychologist.

Caporael, who grew up in San Francisco during the psychedelic `60s, noticed the similarit


June 17. Bats swarm Vegas hotel

The Luxor Casino is one of the most bizarre hotels in the world, even by over-the-top Las Vegas standards. This gigantic, pyramid-shaped hotel stuffed with King Tut-themed craps tables and slot machines is also haunted by an ancient curse, some unlucky ghosts and the occasional flying saucer.

Now, the hotel’s “sky beam,” a column of light pouring from the top of the pyramid that’s so bright you can see it from 250 miles away, has created a new Strange attraction.

Bats have discovered the smorgasbord of bugs attracted to the light, and swarm there by the thousands, according to The Los Angeles Times. Motorists have started pulling over to watch the frenetically flapping clouds of winged rodents. Most of the bats are common, Brazilian free-tailed bats. None are the bloodthirsty vampire kind, although that doesn’t mean you won’t find any suckers in Las Vegas.


June 15. Salem may officially tell “witches” it made boo boo

Three centuries after the good people of Salem, Mass., executed 20 people accused of practicing witchcraft, the descendents of five of the women put to death by the infamous witch trials are lobbying to have their ancestors exonerated.

In 1957, the Massachusetts Legislature approved a resolution specifically clearing the name of one of the accused, but identifying others worthy of exoneration only as “certain other persons,” according to

The hysteria that claimed 20 people’s lives and led to the arrest of about 180 more, has been a lucrative legacy for Salem, which bills itself as “The Witch City”. The town draws thousands of tourists – and real, practicing witches – to see its witch museums, witch statures and witch shops filled with potions, spells and commemorative T-shirts.


June 13. Plans underway to clone Dracula

A group of U.S. businessmen wants to dig up the remains of Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s original vampire novel, and scrape out the genetic material needed to clone the infamous count.

“I am sure he was not as bad as people have made out,” Nicolae Padararu, president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, told World Reporter. “If we could meet him in the flesh, I am sure we would clear up some of the more negative images that have grown up about him.”

Yeah. That bit about publicly impaling all his enemies was probably just media spin.

The group has talked with the creators of Dolly the Sheep, who basically rolled their eyes and said, “We’ll get back to you.” Romanian newspapers, however, report that the group is serious and is actively pursuing the idea.


June 11. Room service, get me … oh thanks.

Wouldn’t it be great if the staff of your next hotel knew exactly what you wanted, when you wanted it, without you ever having to deal with that condescending little guy at the front desk?

Well, Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego may be working on that kind of psychic service. The hotel recently hired a Iris Carlton, a so-called psychic “intuit”, to work with its 18-member management team, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times.

The one-hour sessions were offered as a way to motivate managers and move them “to the next step,” said Kathleen Cochran, general manager of the hotel. Can Miss Cleo’s room service or Sylvia Browne’s valet parking be far behind?


June 9. Ghost gator moves to Midwest

An 8-foot-long ghost alligator is haunting the Milwaukee County Zoo this summer.

Although the pale reptile with the white, leathery skin avoids the sun, preys at night and comes from the mysterious bayou country outside New Orleans, zoo officials say there is nothing supernatural about him.

Archbishop Antoine Blanc – even reptiles get funny names in N’awlins – isn’t even an albino. He’s something rarer: a leucistic. Instead of lacking the dark pigment of melanin like albinos, this alligator has two recessive genes that produce their white color, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

The archbishop has 13 surviving siblings, all of which suffer from the same problem. They are the only known alligators of their kind, and  live together at an alligator farm in Golden Meadow, La., that’s owned by an oil and gas company.

The ghost gator arrived in Milwaukee several weeks ago. He will be on display through Sept. 3.


June 5. Short, flying man spotted in Turkey

Authorities sealed off a field near the village of Narli in the Usak province of Turkey, and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area

Ayhan Cevik, governor of the province, told the Associated Press that he doubted the claim, but had ordered the area cordoned off to be safe.

A man and two women apparently spotted the alien while riding a tractor to a tobacco field. They said they threw stones at the creature, which was wearing a shiny, yellow-gray outfit with an amber light on the front. The alleged alien was about two feet tall with a wide, round head and wide eyes.

“It didn’t have wings or propellers, but it could fly upward,” witness Fevzi Cam said. Two other villagers said they saw strange lights in the area.


uthorities sealed off a field near Narli village in the Usak province of Turkey and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area.


June 4. Irish wart-curing well in trouble

A well used since pagan times to cure ills ranging from warts to backache is threatened by a new highway, residents of County Meath told Reuters News Service.

St. Ciaran’s well near Kells is on a pilgrimage route used for centuries. It would be made almost inaccessible under a plan to upgrade a busy nearby highway, said Oliver Usher, who gives guided tours of the area.

The well has its cherished rituals. The cure for warts, for example, requires that the sufferer not speak to anyone on the way home after obtaining a sample of water. Once a day for three weeks water must be sprinkled on the wart. At the end of three weeks it will be gone.

Legend says it does the same thing for the common cold after a week to 10 days.


June 1. UN moves to protect sacred sites

The extremist whackos who run Afghanistan stone women to death for infidelity and force Hindus to wear identification patches similar to the Stars of David Hitler required during the Holocaust’s warm-up. But it took the dynamiting of two ancient religious statues to provoke a global outcry.

The United Nations this week passed its first-ever resolution protecting religious sites, primarily in response to the Taliban’s destruction of  the world’s tallest standing Bhudda statues at the historic site of Bamiyan.

The resolution calls on all countries to pass laws against threats of violence against religious sites and to promote respect of them. That could be good news for Strange Travelers – as long as they include Druid megaliths, mystical vortexes and chapels made from skeletons on the list of religious sites.

It COULD be good news, that is, until somebody calls them on it. Somehow, I can’t see the baby-blue helmeted forces of the UN storming a beach to save a saint’s mummified jawbone or a sacred Wiccan tree.


orities sealed off a field near Narli village in the Usak province of Turkey and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area.

May 31. Couch potatoes want to believe

A recently published study by a Purdue University professor found that heavy television watchers are more likely to believe in supernatural phenomena like ESP, UFOs, reincarnation, haunted houses, angels, devils and the abominable snowman than normal human beings.

The survey, by communications professor Glenn Sparks, found that TV habits had more to do with folks’ willingness to believe than their religious practices did. Trekkies binging on late-night “Deep Space Nine” reruns, for example, are more likely to see space aliens. “Buffy” fans might be more inclined to get hickies from vampires, and “Touched by an Angel” devotees are more likely to believe that they have been.

To me, the implications are clear … I’ve got to watch more “Xena Warrior Princess”.


May 30. SETI finds life in cyberspace

Several hundred of the millions of computer users enlisted in the search for intelligent life in outer space had a close encounter over the Memorial Day weekend that had them reaching for their dictionaries.

Computer geeks with time on their hands attacked the Berkeley, Calif. servers of the SETI@home project and harvested information on as many as 50,000 volunteers, according to an article posted by MSNBC. More than three million people around the world participate in SETI@home, using their home computers to analyze radio signals collected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

SETI@home is a screen saver that uses the computing power of PCs to search “units” of information from Arecibo for anomalies. Those anomalies could indicate someone out there is trying to communicate with us.

But, instead of hearing from E.T., hundreds of volunteers this weekend received disturbing e-mail messages from the “UFCF Team 2001,” alerting them that security had been breached and SETI’s “intire” user database had been stolen.

Repeated e-mail requests for the hackers to spell “Mississippi” went unanswered.


May 29. Mars creates red light district in London

Astronomers in Great Britain are bracing for a flood of UFO sightings this month, as the planet Mars gets closer to the earth than it has been in two years.

Mars will appear as a bright red circle hanging low in the horizon, according to an article in London’s Daily Mail. Because it is so low, it is likely to appear to many motorists as though something strange is keeping pace with their car just above the treetops, experts with the Royal Astronomical Society said.

The red planet will be at its closest to earth on June 13. It should remain visible as an unusually bright object in the sky for about two months.


May 28. Close encounters of the herd kind

Ranchers in Burleson County, Texas are getting frustrated with local authorities’ failure to get to the bottom of a decade-long string of mysterious cattle deaths and mutilations.

The deaths, which UFO followers in this and other parts of the country often attribute to extraterrestrial experimentation, are most likely the work of some kind of cult, ranchers told the Abilene Reporter-News.

Once or twice a year, a rancher in this rural area about 100 miles from Houston find a dead bull with his abdomen sliced open and his genitals missing. Sometime, the tongues and internal organs are gone as well. Always, the prime cuts of beef are left to rot in the sun.

Local authorities have found no tire tracks, shoe prints, cigarette butts or shell casings near the carcasses, so have concluded the animals died of natural causes. So, why the selective dissection? Officially, it is attributed to skunks, possums and other scavengers who experts say tend to go after the softest tissue first

Throughout cyberspace, male visitors to this website just convulsed in a silent, but unanimous, crotch check.


May 28. Bruce Springsteen: Rock ‘n Roll Shaman

Plenty of people in New Jersey think Bruce Springsteen is God. In fact, the owner of an Asbury Park Park nightclub recently credited him with having supernatural powers. In Newark’s Star-Ledger, the owner of the Stone Pony said an impromptu appearance by The Boss at his club chased away dark clouds that had threatened to drown out the Pony’s anniversary celebration.

That normally wouldn’t be worth mentioning, except that I saw him do the exact same thing.  I was sitting in the rain at an outdoor concert in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in 1985, when Springsteen walked out on stage about 40 minutes early. He was alone, and carried an acoustic guitar.

When the cheering died down, he sat down on a stool. With no backup, The Boss played his version of “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”

The clouds parted. The rain stopped. Honest.

And no, I wasn’t smoking anything.


May 27. Nazca Lines Threatened by Progress

The enigmatic Nazca Lines – giant figures of animals and geometric shapes carved into the rock and sand of Peru’s coastal desert 2,000 years ago – are being erased.

These are the lines that “Chariots of the Gods” author Erich von Daniken claimed were actually landing instructions for ancient astronauts. New Agers the world over travel here because it is one of the supposed “power places” where lines of invisible mystical energy converge.

Unfortuneatly, those aren’t the only folks drawn here.

Over the last decade, trucks from nearby copper and gold mines, floods and mudslides from El Nino weather patterns, and infrastructure construction by utility companies are defacing the shapes, which have baffled archeologists for decades, according to an article in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.  Advertisers and political campaigns have carved modern messages between the designs, which are popular tourist attractions.

“If we do not act quickly to perserve these sites, the world may lose out on an oportunity to understand some of the earliest known and greatest secrets of ancient human civilization,” said Alberto Urbano of Peru’s National Institute of Culture.


May 26. Werewolves and Monkeys and Bears, Oh My

Villagers in India’s remote Assam state have reported a spate of attacks by man-like furry creatures similar to the “Monkey Man” whose alleged rampage has caused hysteria in New Delhi, the nation’s capital, this spring, according to a May 26 report posted on

Some accounts say the new creature, which roars loudly and disappears whenever it is confronted by light, resembles a bear. Other reports say it is more wolf-like, and is able to enter homes even when the door is locked, according to an article in The Indian Express.

Reuters news service reported more than 20 people have been injured in the attacks. Villagers have organized all-night patrols and performed rituals against evil spirits.

Indian officials who investigated are dismissing the attacks as “figments of people’s imagination” and mass hysteria.


List Name
Strange Traveler (Strange Traveler)

This is a travel guide to paranormal vacation destinations that are haunted, mystical, visted by ufos or space aliens, inhabited by monsters, infested with vampires or just plain bizarre.

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Jun 04, 2001

Frederic Pierce

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the S T R A N G E T R A V E L E R
The Best Vacation Ideas This Side of The Other Side
Tuesday, July 31, 2001
Fellow Travelers,
Welcome, to the only travel newsletter on the Internet that
defines a "necktie" as two vampires reaching the same victim
Today's visitations include:
Everybody - from my preschool son to the barely functional
glue head sleeping under the downtown bridge - knows that
Count Dracula, the world's most infamous vampire, lived in
Transylvania. It's a tenant of American culture; a nugget of
knowledge as universal as the pledge of allegiance and the
sexy parts of the Starr report.
Romania, the former Eastern bloc country that counts
Transylvania as one of its poverty-stricken provinces, has
begun taking advantage of this. Its tourism board has
sponsored Dracula forums for academics, created Dracula
tours for travelers and churned out reams of historic
literature about Vlad Tepes, the bloody Romanian folk hero
who inspired "Dracula" author Bram Stoker. Plans are on the
drawing board for a Draculaland theme park. (No, that's not
a joke. Just imagine your Mickey Mouse beanie replaced by
Nosferatu ears.)
But Romania isn't the only country trying to cash in on
people's lasting fascination with fangs. Both England and
Scotland have laid claim to parts of the Dracula legend and
are courting travelers who may be curious about the count.
The English town of Whitby has the most obvious connection,
and the one we're going to focus on today. Whitby was the
first of the two to develop its fictional vampire heritage
into a marketing tool. Located about 50 miles northeast of
York on the North Sea, this community of 14,000 served as
the setting for several chapters in Stoker's novel.
The city of Aberdeen, Scotland, however, claims to have
inspired Stoker before the Irish writer stumbled upon
Whitby. The Aberdeen tourist board has revamped its tourism
campaign and is promoting the ruins of a 16th century castle
and the steep cliffs and rocky shore of Cruden Bay as the
true source of Stoker's imagination.
The heads of the two tourist boards slugged it out on BBC
television early this spring, according to a recent article
in the Scottish Daily Record.
Which group is right? Maybe both. Maybe neither.
My money, however, is on Whitby.
There's a bench on the west cliff overlooking Whitby Harbor
that all Strange Travelers should visit at least once. Bring
a breakfast thermos of bloody Marys and your tattered copy
of "Dracula." Read chapters six through eight while sitting
on the bench, and watch the novel come to life before you.
Gaze across the harbor to the east cliff where the
red-roofed houses seem to pile up on top of each other
against the hillside, just like Stoker's character Mina
Harker described. At the top of the cliff are St. Mary's
Church and its graveyard of limestone markers, worn blank by
the North Sea wind. This is the graveyard where Stoker's
ill-fated character Lucy is first seduced by the count.
Towering above it all are the ruins of Whitby Abbey and the
199 stone steps described by Stoker that lead down the cliff
face. Below are the cold sand beaches that welcomed the
Russian schooner "Demeter," the ship that brought Dracula to
England from Transylvania. In the book, the ship's captain
is dead and lashed to the wheel. The crew is missing. The
only sign of life on board is a huge, black, dog-like
creature that dives from the ship and disappears into the
narrow alleys of Whitby's east side.
A real Russian schooner called "Demitrius" washed ashore on
those sands in 1885, about a decade before Stoker visited
Whitby for a holiday weekend. He knew the story that he
wanted to write, but needed inspiration for a setting,
according to "A Walk in Whitby", a guidebook.
The inspiration allegedly came during a visit to Whitby in
1890, just after he'd started putting his ideas for his
vampire novel to paper. Stoker allegedly spent hours gazing
across the harbor from a vantage point on the west cliff.
You can look at the view and read Mina Harker's description
of Whitby at
The Bram Stoker Memorial Seat was erected on the southern
end of the West Cliff by the Scarborough Borough Council and
the local Dracula Society in 1980.
This might be a good time to refresh your memory of the
Dracula story. If you've never read the book or seen one of
the movie or television adaptations (They're more common
than "Police Academy" sequels.) there's a good abridged
version at the Whitby website:
Whitby has gone out of its way to mark and memorialize every
possible sight in the town that had a place in the novel.
You can pick up a Whitby Dracula Trail guide at the tourist
information center, and spend the day walking in Stoker's
footsteps. The lawyer who arranged Dracula's passage to
Whitby, for example, lived at No. 7, The Crescent, a
location that's clearly marked.
The colorful "Dracula Experience" at 9 Marine Parade in
Whitby, (call 01947 601923 ) offers an interactive journey
through the novel. With the help of live actors, animation,
special lighting and sound effects, this well-designed house
of horror tells the story of the most famous vampire of them
all. The museum is one of the biggest tourist draws in the
town and spawned The Whitby Dracula Society, a group that
sponsors events and concerts in the same vein as Dracula.
The society has a new Website up at
It sponsors Gothic Holiday weekends featuring head-slamming
bands with names like Intra-Venus, Slimelight and Killing
Miranda, as well as special "Tramps and Vamps" entertainment
nights at local pubs or hotels. Check the society's website
to find out what's going on.
If you'd rather go looking for strangeness with a genuine
Man in Black, contact Harry Collett; story walker, tour
guide, singer, broadcaster, writer, author and raconteur.
(At least that's what his business card says.)
Harry runs a variety of historic and supernatural walking
tours of Whitby, including "In Search of Dracula", a stroll
that dares participants to "Walk and talk where Dracula
stalked ... follow the trail and linger in the streets where
vampires still abound."
Harry dresses in funeral-parlor-black top hat and tails and
wears heavy, blues-singer sunglasses. His knowledge of
Whitby is said to be bottomless, and his story-telling
technique apparently includes bursting out into spontaneous
song. Show tunes, black spirituals, ancient seafaring
ditties - it doesn't matter: Harry's got it covered.
When he's not out walking and talking, Harry Collett is
helping run his family's inn, the Ashford Guest House, 8
Royal Crescent in Whitby.
This is where I recommend you stay in Whitby. As far as I
know, it's not haunted, but it does have a nice view of the
sea and the royal crescent gardens. Besides, you're with
Harry. He knows so many haunted places in Whitby that he
created "Whitby Ghost Walks" to point them all out.
One of those haunted places is Whitby Abbey. The majestic
ruins were first built on the cliff's edge in Whitby around
657 A.D. It was sacked by Vikings about 200 years later, and
rebuilt by conquering Normans in 1067.
It was founded by St. Hilda, who saw the 199-step climb up
the cliff face from Whitby as a test of faith.
( St.
Hilda died in 680 AD, but many people think she still
wanders the abbey. Her ghost, wrapped in a shroud,
frequently appears in one of the abbey's highest windows,
according to the Ghosts of England website.
Sightings were numerous enough a century ago to lead Stoker
to include the tale of the apparition in "Dracula."
St. Hilda is also thought to be responsible for one of the
most bizarre apparitions I've ever heard of. Visitors to the
abbey have reported a large, hearse-like coach, guided by a
headless driver and four headless horses, racing along the
cliff's edge. Its mad dash always ends with a plunge off the
Hilda gets the blame because of her peculiar - but effective
- method of ridding the area of snakes. Armed like Indiana
Jones with a long, nasty whip, the no-nonsense nun would
drive the reptiles to the cliff's edge and crack their heads
off with the lash. Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up if I
Back then, nuns didn't have much use for tolerance.
Constance de Beverley, a rather pitiful spirit said to haunt
the abbey ruins, found that out the hard way.
De Beverly was a young nun who broke her vows after falling
for a gallant knight. The wayward girl wasn't advised to say
a few thousand Hail Marys or told to pack up and go back to
the farm.
No, back then, they knew how to deal with fornicators. They
bricked her up alive in a dungeon wall, where she died
screaming like the unlucky sot in Poe's "Cask of
To this day, people say they've seen her on the winding
stairway leading from the dungeon, cowering and begging to
be set free.
And then there are some entities hanging around the abbey's
stone carcass that defy explanation.
Tony Spera, a former police officer, wrote about an early
morning visit to the abbey and his subsequent run-in with a
miniature black cyclone that pulsed and spun but made no
sound. Spera identified it as "evil itself," and said one
of his companions chased it away with liberal splashes of
holy water. You can read the account for yourself at
The abbey is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day during
the warm months. It closes two hours earlier during the
winter. Call ahead before you go: 01947 603568.
Those of you who have checked, know that I've been having
some serious technical difficulties with my website. I
suppose it's only fitting that a site dedicated to
paranormal vacations should be filled with gremlins and
unexplained phenomena, but it sure is annoying.
So annoying, in fact, that I've given up trying to fix the
Travel Advisories page that many of you found difficult to
read. That page will be scrapped, but I plan to continue
with the concept - via e-mail.
In between your regular Strange Traveler newsletters, you
should soon start receiving a Strange Traveler mailing
focusing on travel advisories. These are paranormal or
bizarre news events from all over the world that could
affect your travel plans.
Past advisories have updated readers on miraculous
Vietnamese mummies, bat swarms in Las Vegas, UFO cover-ups
in Washington DC, Canadian Bigfoot sightings, Romanian
efforts to clone Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes, and much more.
For a taste, go to the Travel Advisories page on my website.
It should be there until I figure out how to fix the site.
Anyway, let me know what you think. As always, you can
contact me at:
<a href=" "</a>
Well, the sun is rising ...
P.S. - Chances are, you are NOT the strangest person you know.
Do you have any friends, co-workers, relatives, cellmates or
members of your coven who might enjoy this weekly walk on the
weird side? If so, just forward this e-mail to them. They can
sign up by using the links below.
Send an email to:
<a href=" "</a>
OR: Go through the Topica website at
<a href=" "</a>
The travel destinations and events that appear in this
newsletter have been selected by me, largely on whims
determined by the phase of the moon and what I ate for lunch.
Apart from those offers clearly set apart from the text, none
of the links presented here are paid promotions for any
company or organization.
Feel free to forward this, in its entirety, to others. If you
just use pieces of it, please give me writer's credits and
list The Strange Traveler URL.
Or pay me. That would be good too.
(c)2001 The Strange Traveler. All rights reserved.

Welcome to ...
The S T R A N G E T R A V E L E R
The Best Vacation Ideas This Side of The Other Side!
Monday, Nov. 19, 2001
Fellow Travelers,
Welcome, to the only travel newsletter on the Internet that dares you to
toilet paper and egg your motel next Halloween.
Today's visitations include:
I was ready to press the “send” button for this newsletter early last
Tuesday morning, but accidentally deleted a portion of it instead. I bit
my tongue, counted to 50 and went to bed.
I woke up a few hours later to CNN reports that an airplane had fallen
from the sky and hit New York City again.
Deja vu.
Evil-looking black smoke. People running, screaming, crying. Rudy
Giuliani wearing his somber face.
Once again, I felt like a pawn in a chess game I never agreed to play.
Suddenly, delivering an Internet newsletter about visiting the gateway
to Hell seemed redundant. Mailing out stories about restless spirits
felt wrong. It felt cruel. It felt ... pointless.
Who wants to read about scary places to travel to when the basic act of
traveling itself is terrifying?
That’s one of many philosophical questions I’ve begun asking myself
since Sept. 11. The world has changed over the last two months. People
everywhere view travel differently than they did on Sept. 10. Goals,
values and lifestyles are being privately evaluated and altered as folks
cancel vacation plans in light of the War on Terror.
Boredom is no longer a concern. People’s desire for the different, the
offbeat and the disturbing are suddenly being filled by the unbelievable
events warping our reality daily.
During good times, people yearn for the excitement of the dark corners
of their lives. In times like these, folks yearn for the light.
What does that mean for The Strange Traveler?
I am seriously thinking about temporarily suspending the newsletter.
With all that’s going on in the world, I sometimes feel guilty tossing
this newsletter into cyberspace. It feels like I’m throwing confetti at
a funeral.
What do you think? Has the time for The Strange Traveler come and gone?
Or are there ways I can make it more relevant to the “new normal” our
leaders have described?
Should I offer guides to Strange destinations that offer hope and
spiritual enlightenment?
Or do these times call for dark, yet campy, escapism? You know, Alice
Cooper, Elvira, the Addams Family; making fun of Miss Cleo.
Or does this new normal mean I stay the course? Are haunted houses,
monster-infested lakes and alien landing sites immune to the threat of
global terrorism?
I don’t know. I’m at a crossroads. You can help.
Let me know your thoughts about this newsletter in light of recent
events. Let me know what kind of stuff you want to read. Let me know how
I’m relevant.
My email address, as always, is <a href=" "</a>
I look forward to hearing from you, and I promise anyone who writes will
get an answer.
Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy.
In the meantime, here’s the newsletter I was going to send you before
American Airlines Flight 587 nose-dived into Rockaway. With Thanksgiving
on the horizon, the Halloween references are a bit out of date, but,
then again, in this newsletter, Halloween is always relevant.
Last year, I spent Halloween with my oldest son, checking out the local
legend of the Ghost of 13 Curves near Syracuse, NY.
We found a handful of people who’d seen the apparition, a scouting crew
from Fox Family’s “Scariest Places on Earth” and lots of teenagers
jumping out of bushes and giggling.
I wrote about it last year in my “Strange Destinations” newsletter. If
you missed it, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you a copy - revised just
enough to avoid copyright problems. My address, as always, is <a href="
mailto: "</a>
Bobby is away at college now, so I decided this year’s Halloween
adventure would involve my youngest son, Joey.
Problem is, he’s 5.
My wife and I dressed him like the kid in that “Little Vampire” movie
and I took him out begging for candy. Then, after tucking him in, it was
a couple of glasses of cabernet, about 40 leftover Twix bars, and an
hour or so scrolling the internet newswires for indications that the
Great Pumpkin had indeed found that sincere plot of farmland.
That, you might recall, had been my idea for a terrorism-free Halloween:
A tailgate party in a supposedly haunted pumpkin patch. A stakeout for
the legendary apparition that ruined so many Halloweens for Linus Van
Pelt. An excuse for staying up all night washing down all those
perfectly good candies my kids thought were “yucky” with some kind of
holiday-themed spirits. (I suggest Black Magic Stout, Hobgoblin ale or
Old Nick barley wine. See the Beer Hunter website for more suggestions:
The concept was good. All I needed was a location.
After hours of Internet searching, e-mails to my normally helpful
paranormal sources and deafening silence from my Strange Traveler
readers, I can reach only one conclusion: There are no more sincere
pumpkin patches left in North America.
Apparently, every pumpkin patch now includes an array of gourds painted
and propped to resemble the cast of “The Wizard of Oz”. Every patch now
offers “haunted” hayrides and pawns off bundles of dead corn stalks to
suburbanites as Halloween decorations.
It doesn’t matter. I’ve changed my mind about the whole thing.
Why waste an evening waiting for a spirit whose roots go no deeper than
the panels of a comic strip?
Why wait for a supernatural vegetable, when you can use the same magic
night to stalk something much, much bigger and darker?
Why not stake out the Prince of Darkness?
There are more players starting for the Kansas City Royals than there
are houses in Stull, Kansas, a forgotten town off Route 70 between
Lawrence and Topeka.
Nevertheless, next Halloween, Stull could be a great vacation
Think about it: No one is going to plant a bomb there.
No suicidal hijacker is going to smash a 747 into a barely inhabited
Midwestern hamlet.
And no one within miles of the place is going to worry about opening an
envelope full of mysterious powder: Stull’s post office closed about a
century ago.
But I won’t guarantee your safety next Halloween if you spend it in the
old cemetery that anchors this nearly extinct Kansas town.
Satan is expected to drop by.
A combination of local lore, urban legend, gothic imagination and cool
web sites maintains that Stull Cemetery is one of the legendary seven
gates of hell.
It’s one of two places the devil is said to appear simultaneously on
earth after midnight on Halloween night, according to a 1980 article in
the Kansas City Times. The other place is somewhere in rural India.
Why Stull? Rumor has it Satan’s son is buried in the cemetery. According
to local legend, the Devil consorted with a Stull woman who practiced
witchcraft and gave birth to a son who was so deformed he couldn’t
survive. Both he and the witch are allegedly buried in the cemetery.
Some say the ghost of the demon boy still haunts the cemetery. A few
years ago, some photos surfaced of a werewolf-like boy peering out from
behind a tree, according to Troy Taylor, one of the most reliable ghost
experts in the business. A gravestone marked “Wiitch” is said to be the
resting-place of the wolf boy’s mother; Beelzebub's consort.
The cemetery acquired a cult following in the early 1990s when the
alternative rock band Urge Overkill released a CD titled “Stull”. The
cover featured a photo of the cemetery and the church and one of the
songs included references to the town, hell and evil.
There’s a lot of information about Stull’s supernatural connections, and
some photographs that really give you a feel for what it’s like to visit
available at Ghost Source
also has some decent information and photos at
In 1998, the caretakers of the cemetery cut down a pine tree that was
said to have been used to hang a suspected witch. In modern times,
Wiccans are said to have congregated around the tree during the spring
equinox. When the tree came down, folks interested in the supernatural
began to smell a cover-up. You can read about that legend at the Haunted
Kansas website:
Among the legends swirling about Stull:
- Neither rain nor sleet nor nuclear fallout will enter the ruins of the
church, even though it no longer has a roof. The ghostly parish, in
other words, is precipitation proof.
- In 1993, when the Pope was flying to Colorado, he asked that the pilot
fly around Kansas, into Nebraska, because the area around eastern
Kansas, where Stull is located, was unholy. The source of this legend is
supposed to have been Time magazine, but nobody has yet been able to
come up with an issue that carries that reference.
- A secret set of stairs in or near the church leads to the bowels of
Hell itself. The doorway is hidden, and once you find it, a mysterious
force is said to beckon you downward. People have supposedly ventured
down those stairs for just a few minutes and returned to find a couple
of weeks have passed. If that’s true, no one ever filed a missing
person’s report.
Troy Taylor, editor of (,
is skeptical of the alleged supernatural activity in Stull. He notes
that, although strange occurrences are said to have happened here for
more than a century, the first published account of weirdness appeared
in the University of Kansas student newspaper in 1974.
The article featured interviews with students who said they’d learned of
the legend from their grandparents. One student claimed to have been
grabbed by the arm by an invisible assailant. Others talked about
unexplained memory loss while visiting the place.
I don’t know about you, but when I was in college, memory loss was part
of every weekend.
And the residents of Stull, the supposed grandparents of the students
who started the story, say they’ve never heard of anything like that.
Well then. Dismiss it. Unless of course, you think they’re lying.
Remember “The Stepford Wives?” How about “The Wicker Man”? In both
movies, the whole town was in on the dirty secret. Stull is a tiny
place, easily organized, easily intimidated. How do you know they’re not
covering something up?
I covered a lot of small towns and villages when I worked for a
newspaper in northern New York. They routinely hid instances of
substance abuse, domestic violence, nepotism and politically creative
snow plowing. Once, during a meeting of the village of Evans Mills, the
mayor cut a fart and tried to blame it on the village clerk.
So yeah, Stull seems suspicious.
Every year, on Halloween night, they post sheriff’s deputies around the
cemetery. (OK, there’s been quite a bit of in year’s past)
And every year, on Halloween, right before midnight, just when the
unholy one is scheduled to arrive, they kick all the media out. (The
official line is, they didn’t want to encourage trespassers; and they do
get a lot of trespassers.)
One story tells of two young men who visited Stull and got scared when
wind began blowing out of nowhere. They ran back to their car, only to
find it on the other side of the road from where they’d parked it,
facing the opposite direction. (OK, this is familiar too. Hey, it was
the 70s.)
Daytime visits to Stull aren’t a problem. Nighttime visits could cost
you as much as $100.
That’s the fine for trespassing. Build it into your vacation budget.
But don’t plan to stay overnight in Stull. You’ll end up sleeping in
your car.
Your best bet is probably Lawrence, Ka. Stull is about 15 miles west on
Route 44.
Directions and a map are posted at a Stull web site created by a former
Kansas State University student who made a few uneventful visits there
in his cranky yellow car, “the Flying Dog Turd.” The site’s also got
some photos. Check it out at
Lawrence has a thriving arts community and a well-established blues
scene. You can check it out at
It also has the Eldridge Hotel. (
This historic building, once known as the Free State Hotel in the slave
state of Kansas, has had its share of legendary hauntings.
In the latter part of the 19th century, this building burned several
times. In 1863, it was the focus of Quantrill’s raiders, a rampaging
unit of 300 to 400 pro-slavery thugs whose orders were to “kill every
man and burn every house” in Lawrence.
The Elbridge Hotel that stands today contains an original cornerstone
used in its rebuilding after Quantrill’s raid. During Quantrill’s
sacking of Lawrence, many hotel guests died in the smoke and flames.
Their tortured spirits are said to remain.
There are numerous cold-spots throughout the home, doors open and close
inexplicably, and lights flash on and off without explanation, according
to The Shadowlands web page:
If you stay there, ask for Room 506 and you may not have to trek all the
way out to Stull.
The room, while not a rumored gateway to Hell, has a reputation as a
“portal to the spirit world,” according to The Shadowlands.
Lights flicker there for no apparent reason and breath marks have
appeared on recently cleaned mirrors.
So, what do you think?
Is there a place for The Strange Traveler in this not-so-brave new
As always, you can contact me at <a href=""</a>
Well, the sun is rising ...
P.S. - Chances are, you are NOT the strangest person you know.
Do you have any friends, co-workers, relatives, cellmates or
members of your coven who might enjoy this weekly walk on the
weird side? If so, just forward this e-mail to them. They can
sign up by using the links below.
Send an email to:
<a href=" "</a>
OR: Go through the Topica website at
<a href=" "</a>
The travel destinations and events that appear in this
newsletter have been selected by me, largely on whims
determined by the phase of the moon and what I ate for lunch.
Apart from those offers clearly set apart from the text, none
of the links presented here are paid promotions for any
company or organization.
Feel free to forward this, in its entirety, to others. If you
just use pieces of it, please give me writer's credits and
list The Strange Traveler URL.
Or pay me. That would be good too.
(c)2001 The Strange Traveler. All rights reserved.



I expect I did track down something of Fred. I’m not sure, 100%.

Strange CNY –


About the Author

I’m Frederic Pierce, your tour guide to all that is offbeat and unbelievable in Central New York. From haunted bathrooms and telepathic cats to bizarre yard ornaments and alien abductions, this is the place to share the kind of tales that make people look at you funny.

Every day, I’ll update you on the latest strange happenings in the Syracuse region and beyond. And I’ll use this blog as a bulletin board for readers just dying to share their own unusual stories and sightings.

My qualifications? After spending more than two decades as a newspaper reporter – much of it covering politics – I tend to be skeptical about EVERYTHING.

That same experience, however, has taught me that just about anything is possible. I’ve learned not to ever say, “Well, now I’ve seen it all.” Because that’s when life will throw me an oddball, just to prove me wrong.

When I’m not pulling together Central New York’s version of “The X-Files,” I’m a general assignment reporter for The Post-Standard’s Onondaga County team, focusing on Syracuse’s Eastern suburbs. I also teach journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

When I’m not working, I’m with my family in Camillus, a short walk from the allegedly haunted Split Rock explosion site, living in a house where sink faucets turn on by themselves. Some blame spirits. I blame old plumbing.

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