Paranormal Expo at Fort Mifflin

Paracon Expo 2019

It\’s Paracon Expo time at Fort Mifflin, PA!   On a muggy June day, we enjoyed the Paracon Expo 2019 on the grounds of historic Fort Mifflin.  Tents and tables were erected with organizations, retailers, and paranormal investigators available for Expo guests.  I found several creative items on sale, including a hand-made spirit box with Ouija art decorations.

Several local haunted location representatives were available to share other interesting sites that paranormal searchers/investigators can also explore.  I was already planning to ghost-hunt at the Fort, but suddenly found myself with a longer list of other sites we could explore in the future. I think I made more work for myself. 😉

Fort by the Airport

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Fort Mifflin has a special place in my heart.  It is a critical part of our region’s history, and yet it is lost in the bowels of the Philadelphia International Airport.  It is a forgotten fort. Personally, I\’ve always believed that Philadelphia has completely failed honoring and maintaining our nautical history. Shame on us.  And part of that lost-heritage is the forgotten and little-known Fort Mifflin.

It doesn\’t help that Fort Mifflin is located on an airport access road, next to an Industrial business, with a small, poorly lit driveway.  But once found, Fort Mifflin is a unique place to explore and experience.

Paracon and Airplanes

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The Fort hosted its second annual Paracon Expo in early June of 2019.  During the day the fort hosts vendors and ghost hunting teams for those interested in the paranormal. Vendors and paranormal groups are on site and available for your shopping and research pleasures.

And while you are shopping, airplanes will roar overhead on a regular schedule.  It is a unique experience you won\’t get anywhere else. 🙂

And although it sounds impossible, after a while, you tune-out the airplane sounds. Which even as I type this phrase, I\’m amazed that I couldn\’t tell you how many planes I heard because I stopped hearing them.  It is hard to imagine that you \’become deaf\’ to the roars of jet engines. But after a while, it does become normal background noise.

Casemates

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One of my favorite parts of Fort Mifflin is the underground casemates. These bomb-proof structures are solid, dark, and some were buried underground.  I mean, where else should you look for ghosts? They were used for everything from bakeries, prisons, storage, barracks, and anything else that came to mind.  When you visit, you get to explore several casemates on the fort\’s grounds.  Some of these feel like you are entering a large, dank tomb. Other\’s casemates are larger and manage to have fresh air circulating.  Each one is a different experience, and will certainly leave you with a unique sensation.

Paranormal Investigation

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While at the Expo, we explored one of the casemates and found a paranormal investigation underway.  We were sitting in a dark casemate despite the blazing June sunshine outside, with three ladies using a small flashlight as a mechanism to communicate with the spirits.

We quietly sat down across from the group and watched their efforts. Despite my normal skepticism, I watched as she asked anyone present to let their presence be known by flashing the small flashlight. At first, nothing immediately happened. But after several long seconds – that tiny flashlight blinked on and off.  And I could easily see the flashlight sitting by itself on its own bench far from any human\’s reach.

Did that just happen? The women were shocked as well. They all looked around and murmured amongst themselves.  I was curious now – what was causing that light to blink?

The lead woman asked again; if the spirit could flash the light once more to confirm their presence.  And on cue, that flashlight blinked again!  Now I\’m paying very close attention.

I need to remove all human-causes from this inexplicable experience. Was there something in her hand that she used to control the flashlight? Nothing in her hands. Were the other women doing something? I couldn\’t see any evidence of anything suspicious. I mean, it is possible. But in retelling my experience, I have to say I didn\’t see a single clue or behavior that indicated fraud.

Plus – these women were alone with conducting their investigation with just each other. They weren\’t performing for any crowd, despite the two uninvited visitors (us!) who were watching this experiment.  They knew we were three, but we were silent and they politely ignored us.

This flashlight experiment was unnerving. The lady was getting the most unsettling and consistent responses with her tiny flashlight. She would ask questions and the light would respond in a timely fashion. There were not weird delays or non-responses. Plus the light did not flash at inappropriate times, such as in the middle of her speaking.  This was a very polite and responsive flashlight.

I\’m fixated on this entire experience.  My friend Tom is also fixated. I\’m looking for fraud and Tom\’s convinced we\’re in the presence of a military ghost who is retelling his life story through the blinking of a flashlight.  The lady ups the ante and starts asking Yes/No questions and the light blinks accordingly. She even asks the same questions more than once to make sure the answers are consistent. What is happening?!

I tried to find ways this could be a trick. The light wasn\’t on a timer, I couldn\’t see any other item that would be used to trigger the response, and I couldn\’t see any human behavior that would betray someone intentionally triggering that flashlight. No one was even close to the flashlight, which was sitting by itself on it\’s own bench far away from the women.  I have no explanation other than what my friend firmly believes: that we witnessed a legitimate paranormal experience conducted in the casemate of Fort Mifflin.

We left to proceed to our own isolated spot and try to get voice recordings and left the women to continue their experiment. Later we returned to the same spot and tried to repeat the experiment with our own flashlights and we didn\’t get a single light flicker.  ::sigh::

After spending a few hours at the fort and spending money on items I absolutely did not need – we headed to dinner and to rest before we returned for the VIP Night (ghost) Hunt.

VIP Night Hunt

My group of adventurous ghost-hunters purchased the VIP ticket to explore the fort at night.  I mean, it’s the thing you do. Right?

Saturday proved to be a hot and muggy day. Since the fort is located so close to the river, it felt extra steamy.  Despite the muggy weather, we were grateful for the sun and roamed around the fort and the Paracon vendors for several hours.  After the day activities, we took a break and waited for the night ghost hunt to begin.

Ghost Hunt!

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Fort Mifflin has a rich history of paranormal activities.  Sensitive people claim to see Hessian Solders near the river\’s side casemate. Other\’s have claimed to have had their hair pulled. And the infamous screaming lady, which has a tale of a lost child and endless grief.  The fort\’s complex history has plenty of room for dramatic story telling.

Our group was primed for an adventurous exploration of the old fort.  We arrived after the last of the day-visitors had already left and the vendors were packed up.  I found the fort restored to its normal state of emptiness and isolation.  And ideal atmosphere for ghost-hunting.

Hunting Tools

Other ghost hunting teams had gathered and were sporting an impressive collection of ghost-hunting gear.  Teams had meters, sensors, and a wild assortment of gadgetry to capture any unexplained phenomena.  I arrived with my cell phone, battery pack (for phone), a spare kitchen flashlight, and bug spray.  I was a bit jealous of all the fun toys and gadgets everyone possessed.

Here’s a tip for anyone planning a night visit at Fort Mifflin: the fort is located immediately next to the PHL airport.  There is enough ambient light to allow for night-vision exploration without a flashlight. The only time you’ll need a flashlight is when you go underground.  If you DO bring a light, bring a red/green light to prevent the bugs from attacking.

There will be bugs. 

Ghost Hunting Rules

On this weekend, our group gathered in the courtyard of the fort and listened to the ghost-guide share the rules of the evening:

  • No provoking the spirits
  • Respect the space and the place – it is historic
  • Respect each other. There’s a lot of time to explore and everyone will have a chance at every location
  • Stay off the fort walls after sunset

Nesting Swallows

As soon as we were free to explore, I lead our group directly to one of the more interesting casemates located up a hill next to the Torpedo Casemate.

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Tommy and I had explored the underground structure earlier in the day, and I knew this would be a creepy place to explore in the dusk. Plus there\’s a bonus surprise: swallows were nesting in the casemate and they take flight as soon as you try to enter.  I saved that knowledge for later.

While the sun was setting and our ghost hunting team was preparing to enter the casemate, I stepped back and let the other ladies lead the way.  As expected, when people started entering the casemate, a frustrated swallow tried to escape through the tiny, narrow doorway and ran straight into Sandy.

Sandy freaked out and her hands started flailing. The tiny bird couldn\’t find a clear line of escape and continued to flap around her head looking for an escape route. The two of them twitched and flitted for several long seconds, before the bird finally escaped.

Sandy turned and screamed, \”BAT!!\” and tried to run away. Sandy was leaving the fort right then and there. We eventually calmed her down and convinced her it was a bird, which was enough for her to return to exploring the casemate.  But everyone had some serious belly laughs to start the night!

Mission Accomplished! 🙂

It isn\’t a ghost hunt without screams

Our evening was off to a good start: A pinch of screaming, a dab of squealing, and a bunch of running-away started our evening perfectly.

It took a few minutes to convince Sandy that it wasn’t a bat. To their credit, Sandy and Cathy descended into the underground structure again, and entered the dark space after the shocking start.  And now it is really pitch-black darkness. The floors and walls are slick with moisture, and you have to be very careful when navigating the underground structure.  These places were not built for easy access.

Once in the small rooms, Erin took out her ghost meter and started to watch for any ghostly activity. We gathered around the meter and watched the lights gently blinked.  I didn’t have any detection device, so I gathered around Erin’s meter and watched.  We had just started to ask if any spirit was present when Tommy unexpectedly lunged through a tiny hole in the wall and roared at us  Everyone screamed.

Tommy had slipped down an incredibly narrow hallway which trailed along side the larger rooms. He waited until we were settled down and then lurched out at us.  It was perfectly timed.  And if the room wasn’t so difficult to get in and out of, I know everyone would have run out. But instead, the entire group ran in circles.  We laughed.
It was a great scare.  Then the cursing started.  Tommy was in trouble!  Haha. Tonight is going to be awesome.

Neglectful Ghosts

We spent the next several hours exploring the fort and fort grounds.  Individuals were trying to capture images, voices, or anything of paranormal experience. Some members of our group claimed to be sensitive to the ghostly presence of unknown origins, and they get sensations and very cold spots that don’t feel normal on such a warm evening.  Other ghost hunters reported spotting ghostly images and moving shadows.

Sadly, I can’t claim to have any abnormal experience.  I’m growing more convinced I can be rented out to haunted places as a way to calm the ghostly activity for a period of time.  Because nothing happens while I’m present. I\’m feeling very neglected and unloved by the ghostly community.

I was promised hair pulling!

The Fort at Night

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I tried to capture some atmospheric images of a historic location.  And we all tried to capture the noisy descent of the airplanes coming into PHL.  It was a fun evening with friends and exploration. We roamed the fort until a brief storm passed overhead and started raining, bringing the evening to a quick end.

Photos