St. Augustine is a must-see destination for ghost hunters, history buffs, and those who just like a scary story. As the oldest city in America, it's certainly been around long enough to attract a few spooks, but is it really haunted? The list of ghostly encounters that have been attested to in this city is enough to make even a skeptic wonder.
The City Gate Ghost
Stories of ghosts start right at the city gates. In 1821 a teenage girl named Elizabeth died during a yellow fever epidemic, and was buried near the city gates. Since her untimely death she has been seen haunting those gates, and people claim to see a teenage girl in early nineteenth century clothing there still.
The Ghosts of Huguenot Cemetery
So many people besides Elizabeth perished of the yellow fever in that year that the city had to build a new cemetery for them, the Huguenot Cemetery. After the epidemic passed the cemetery was used to house the mortal remains of those who were not Catholic. This is now reportedly one of the most haunted cemeteries in the country. Child ghosts are regularly seen playing and sitting on the tombstones. A deathly judge is seen sometimes making the rounds of the graves. A number of pranksters who perished at the same time were buried together, and supposedly continue their pranks to this day.
Hauntings at The Old Fort
The center of ghostly sightings in St Augustine, or at least the location where most have been reported, is the Castillo de San Marco, known to locals as The Old Fort. This 17th century fortress has seen more than its fair share of battles over the years, although it was never breached by invaders. Some of these stalwart defenders have been seen standing guard over it still. A richly dressed Spanish soldier is regularly seen by visitors, standing on the battlements and looking out to sea. Although he is most often seen at sunrise or sunset, other ghosts have been seen at all hours, such as a woman in white walking the grounds. Pictures of spirit orbs and strange mists have been taken all over the fort. Visitors to the dungeon report strange chills and nausea. On stormy nights many people have seen a light in the watchtower closest to the road. While this is not in itself unusual, there is no power connected to that tower. No ghost hunter can afford to miss The Old Fort, and no history buff should either.
The Ghost Who Wouldn't Leave
In 1763 the British took control of St. Augustine from the Spanish. Among the refugees fleeing the invading British army was 10 year old Catalina, who had to move to Cuba with her family. She had so loved her St. Augustine home, however, that she moved back there as an adult as soon as she was able. A few short years later death took her away from her beloved home again. Although her house has long since burned down, people see her wandering the grounds that it stood on to this day, unwilling to leave the place she loved so much.
The Lighthouse Children
The St. Augustine Lighthouse was the site of a tragedy while it was under construction. Five children were drowned when the supply cart that they were riding on broke and sent them plunging into the water. Since their untimely deaths people have seen ghost children playing around the lighthouse. From that bad beginning tragedy struck the lighthouse again and again, both in the lighthouse and around it. A multitude of ghostly encounters and other unexplained phenomena drew the ghost hunters from the TV show Ghost Hunters to investigate it. The report recording video footage of ghosts and making audio recordings of a woman's voice, and describe the lighthouse as "definitely haunted."
Anyone interested in seeing a haunting for themselves could do a lot worse than plan a trip to St. Augustine. It seems to offer better odds of a spirit encounter than almost anywhere else in the country. Many of these haunted places can be entered by any member of the public, and regular ghost tours show the rest to any interested tourists.
Jennifer Allen, A Floridian living in St Augustine, who loves fishing and travelling.