A historic covered bridge in Gettysburg has been the target of increased vandalism as unfounded rumors of it being haunted have proliferated on the Internet and TV in the past decade. Some local community groups have banded together to buy cameras and lighting for the bridge. Adams County Commissioner Randy Phiel spearheaded the effort.
“The recent popularity of the spiritual (ghost) phenomena, with digital cameras and recorders, has put additional pressure on this historic resource, especially after dark,” Phiel stated.
Sachs Covered Bridge, built in 1854, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was used by armies during the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, but there was no fighting there. One legend is that Confederate spies were hanged at the bridge. This is unsubstantiated and implausible. The idea that it is haunted was propagated during the modern 21st-century ghost hunting craze. Several years ago, fellow investigator Kenny Biddle and I visited the bridge and caught a couple trying to make a connection with a soldier’s spirit who liked to smoke cigarettes. (Modern cigarettes were only developed well after the Civil War – soldiers would have smoked pipes or cigars. – Thanks, Mark!) You place the lit cigarette on the edge of the wood and call to the soldier to have a drag. Kenny explains why this is ridiculous here. People often capture strange anomalies on their photos taken at night at the bridge, likely because of the environmental conditions at the location. (It gets foggy around a creek at night and the humidity is captured by the bridge structure. Not to mention all the friggin’ cigarette smoke!) The claims of hearing cannon fire or screams are psychological suggestion or priming. People hear what they think they should hear. There is no conclusive evidence of any “ghosts” at the bridge but a veritable parade of BS hoaxes and mistaken interpretations.
The location of the bridge, on a dirt road off the main road, is conducive to people hanging out. They carve letters and symbols into the historic wood and litter the stream bank with trash. It’s sad that people care so little about a lovely stream and architectural structure.
Let me be very clear. There are NO GHOSTS at the Sachs bridge. These are dramatic tales fed by peoples’ imagination that lead them to think they have experienced something paranormal. There is nothing demonstrably paranormal going on there. It’s all hype. The result of this manufactured pop paranormal promotion is that a historic structure, which has value far beyond the ghost tales, is compromised for the rest of society. We owe appreciation to those who donated to protect the bridge. Hell, if I lived closer, I’d volunteer to patrol it and kick that rabble off the property after dark. So if you are looking for ghosts here, take a hike.
The Doubtful News crew visited the site in 2011.
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