June 2004 - Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine, Florida


Owen
Christyn
Karen
Dennis
Greg
Ellen
Eddie
Gretchen

Special Guests:
Charlie Carlson
Dan Lehr
Katie Lehr
Marji Howell
Matt Bunker
Jan Bunker
Carol

Legend:

  1. The night watchman of the fort has witnessed a young woman in a white dress wandering about the fort grounds and vanishing behind trees and walls.


  2. A young Spanish soldier has also been spotted looking for a ring on the outer grounds of the fort. History tells of him being killed by a cannon ball while searching for this ring.


  3. Some of the most unusual occurrences include the "Battle Echoes" heard by visitors. By placing an ear to the wall, it is said you can hear the echoes of cannon fire and yelling. There is also telling of a young soldier that can be seen leaning on the outside wall facing the bay after sundown.


  4. In 1784 Colonel Garcia Marti assumed command of the fort. He was inundated with his duties, and his young beautiful wife, Delores, started looking elsewhere for affection. The man she found was her husband’s chief officer, Captain Manuel Abela. As legend has it, one day the Colonel and Captain were studying maps together, the Colonel noticed the scent of his wife’s perfume on Captain Abela. Captain Abela and Delores both disappeared immediately. The Colonel explained that Captain Abela was reassigned to Spain, and Delores got sick and went back to stay with family in Mexico. However, 50 years later a room was rediscovered with in a wall of the dungeon. In side this room was found ashes and bones.

History:

St. Augustine's most historically significant structure is the Castillo de San Marcos, a fort constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695.

The need to fortify the tiny garrison town was understood as early as 1586, when it was attacked by Sir Francis Drake, an English corsair whose fleet of twenty ships and two thousand men attacked and burned the town.

Later, in 1668, the English pirate Robert Searles assaulted and plundered the settlement. At the same time the threat of English colonization in the north had significantly increased, and Queen Mariana of Spain authorized the construction of a stone fortification.

The fort was built of coquina, a type of shellstone indigenous to the area and quarried from Anastasia Island.

The Castillo has never been conquered despite attacks by English General James Oglethorpe who attempted to subdue the town in 1740. Firing from the tip of Anastasia Island, he found his cannonballs were no match for the unusual consistency of coquina which absorbed the blast rather than crumbling.

Shortly after Florida became a territory of the United States, the fort was renamed Fort Marion in honor of Revolutionary War General Francis Marion. It retained that name from 1825 to 1942, when the Castillo appellation was restored.

In the 1870s and 1880s, the fort housed Indians detained by the U.S. Government. The Castillo and Fort Matanzas have been under the auspices of the National Park Service since 1933.

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Saturday June 26, 2004:

Being somewhat of an adventurer at heart, I was excited about visiting the Castillo de San Marcos. The last time I was there was in 3rd grade on a field trip. I was eight, and I don't remember much. So getting the opportunity to go again as an adult is interesting enough, but getting to go in after hours and stay until midnight with free reign of the place brought back the child with-in me. The night was wet, dark, and dreary. It had all the makings for a great horror flick, or a suspenseful ghostly thriller. I started SpookHunters because I wanted to experience a ghost, and with the tragic and violent history associated with the Castillo, mixed together with the ambiance of the weather, it seemed like the perfect recipe for a supernatural encounter.
VIDEO:

After reading this hunt, you'll see that I didn't come face to face with a ghost like I wanted, however the night was not with-out it's strange occurrences. We used the guard quarters as a staging area. From there the group split up to explore the fort in there own way. Before doing anything I went back to some offices and talked privately with one of the Park Rangers named Sue. I inquired if she believed the Castillo was haunted. She didn't say yes or no, but said that personally she had not experienced anything. However, she did believe in ghosts. I asked her a few other questions like where the 'hot spots' were, and where the most activity seems to be reported. She, and the rest of the Park Rangers for that matter, were very helpful and friendly throughout the night.

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Five areas that will be reviewed:

  1. Prison
  2. Indian Prison
  3. Storage Room
  4. EMF Readings
  5. Dungeon

After talking with Sue, the Park Ranger, I headed back to the Guard Quarters to pick up my cameras. As I walked back through the courtyard with lightning flashing and thunder booming overhead, it was exciting to see flashlights all around me as everyone explored the fort. The first place I went in, along with a few others was the old prison, adjacent to the guard quarters.

1. The prison was very warm. Very dark too. Some people got a feeling of extreme sorrow and fear when they entered it. I just got hot.

The prison is also the scene of our first unexplainable occurrence. Later on in the night Karen mention that she kept smelling a fragrance called Patchouli. At first she thought someone else was wearing it, and when she started asking around she realized no one was. Nobody else reported smelling anything strange.

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2. The next spot where something weird happened, was the Indian Prison. In this room hundreds of Seminole Indians were held captive. On November 29, 1837, Coacoochi, a Seminole leader, and 19 others escaped from the fort by starving themselves to the point they could squeeze their bodies through the bars on the window.

While nothing physical happened, some very strange orbs showed up in several pictures. Normally I am not the kind of guy to go crazy about an orb, but in my past experiences orbs are usually dust particles or a reflection off the shutter causing them to be perfectly round. In a couple of the pictures below they are not a perfect sphere, and almost look as if they are moving.

VIDEO:

3. The Indian Prison was not the only room to get an unusual orb in the photo. In a storage room, indicated in red to the left, a glowing orb can be seen. Again, this is something I have not previously encountered with orbs. Maybe some of you expert ghost hunters that read this site religiously could explain these to me.

4. About this time, Eddie came up to me and told me about a reading he was getting on one of the EMF detectors. I had bought two especially for this hunt. He had been on his own earlier in the night and followed something that was sending his readings into the yellow. He said he followed what ever it was as it went up the stairs to the Terreplein (the second level) and then slowly started to dissipate. You can see the path Eddie took by looking at the map above. We tried to re-create this reading but couldn't. We also looked for possible triggers such as motion detectors and power outlets, but could find nothing.

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5. Finally, as the night grew long, we made our way to what the legend calls the dungeon, and where the bones were found. The Park Rangers said they doubted that this room was ever actually used as a dungeon, however, bones were found. The bones were tested and found to be animal bones, not human.

This small little room was actually built for use as a powder magazine. It was buried under the mound of dirt that supports the Bastion above. This was done to protect the gunpowder from enemy fire. However, the dirt protected the room too well. Because no air reached it, the room stayed damp and caused problems with the gunpowder.

During the remodeling of the Castillo that began in 1738, a more suitable powder magazine was built, the gunpowder was moved, and this room was sealed up. Almost 50 years before Colonel Garcia Marti from, the legend above, assumed command of the fort.

The room remained hidden until 1833 when a cannon fell through the gun deck into the narrow room just outside this one.

VIDEO:

After we looked in the prisons, searched the store rooms, explored the powder magazine, and flirted with danger on the Terreplein in a lightning storm, we decided to try one last thing to get some spooks to come out. We went back to the Guard Quarters an got out the Ouija board. Karen and Gretchen worked it for a while. They seemed to make contact with someone named "Tomas" and it mentioned a date, "1593". Nothing else seemed to come of it. I'm still not sure about the Ouija board. I find it hard to believe that something I bought in a toy store can make contact with dead people.
VIDEO:

Now, I'm not going to be as ignorant as I have been in the past to say for sure that the Castillo de San Marcos is not haunted, however, I feel comfortable in saying it's not likely. The legends proved to be false, and the Park Rangers for the most part thought that it wasn't. Nothing seemed to show up on the video. Nothing dramatic, other than a few strange orbs, showed up on film. Nothing was found out of the ordinary on the digital recorders. If the Castillo is haunted I think we proved one thing. Ghosts do not like rain!

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Do you think this place is haunted?
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HAUNTEDMaybeWho CaresDoubtfulHell No!

Thank You!
Thank you for your support and making this hunt a success!

1. Owen

6. Eddie

11. Katie

2. Charlie Carlson

7. Gretchen

12. Marji Howell

3. Christyn

8. Dennis

13. Matt Bunker

4. Greg

9. Karen

14. Jan Bunker

5. Ellen

10. Dan

15. Carol