Mark Nesbitt Interview
(The Ghosts Of Gettysburg)
It’s been called the most haunted city in the United States.
That’s probably because of the Civil War Battle that raged on the fields of Gettysburg in 1863.
One man who knows more about the Gettysburg hauntings than anyone else is Mark Nesbitt.
He’s lived in Gettysburg since 1971.
He’s served as a Ranger/Historian for the National Park Service in Gettysburg, he’s written many books on the subject of paranormal goings on in Gettysburg and his Ghosts of Gettysburg stories have been seen on channels like the History Channel, The Travel Channel, The Discovery Channel, A and E, and Unsolved Mysteries.
In 1994, he founded the Ghosts Of Gettysburg Walking Tour which was named in 2009 as the Number One Ghost Tour in the World by readers of Haunted America Tours.
Mark Nesbitt spoke with us about Gettysburg and all things paranormal.
Q – “Unsolved Mysteries” once aired an episode about 2 secretaries who worked at Gettysburg College. They took an elevator to the basement and saw a scene from the past – a Civil War hospital. Do you remember that?
A – That was my story. I actually was on that episode.
Q – I didn’t realize that. Everyone is talking about the re-building of the Twin Towers in New York City. I guess its set to open September 11th 2011, on the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. The buildings will have office and retail space. Since hauntings occur in places where a lot of energy has been expended, I’m just wondering if one day someone will open a door and smell smoke, or hear someone coughing or hear someone scream. Is that possible?
A – I’m going to say it’s very, very possible, for a couple of reasons: Number One, when they’re doing the new construction on it, that’s when a lot of paranormal events happen. While they’re building it, there may be some things going on. Secondly, I’ve already talked to a woman who was with the First Responders. She was there 2 or 3 days after and she claimed that she heard a kind of wailing that came from the site. She said it sounded like the wailing that you heard in the one scene in the movie ‘Ghost’ with Patrick Swayze where the entities were wrapping up the one bad guy. She said that’s what it sounded like. So, it would not surprise me at all if during construction or afterwards someone would run into a situation like that. That particular situation, where the doors open and they got a vision into the past is called a Warp, like a Time Warp where the veil of time kind of splits. Those two women were not the only ones to have experienced that. I knew those two women and I interviewed the security officer that was involved. He confirmed all of that. Later on, I was doing an Autograph session at Gettysburg College and a couple came in and said they knew the woman it happened to. I said, ‘You know such and such?’ They said, ‘No. You must know such and such’. No. They gave me a third name. The same thing happened to her. I called her up. I interviewed her. She lived in Denver at the time. But, it was a little different situation. She was an accountant from a firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They were doing an audit at Gettysburg College. They were on the 3rd or 4th floor and they asked to go to their cars to get some paperwork. She got in the elevator. She went down, opened the door and described the exact same scene. Knowing what I know it could happen anytime again at Gettysburg College. It’s likely there will be something that will happen at the Ground Zero construction site.
Q – Would the construction workers know if they had experienced something strange or would they discount it?
A – It depends. A lot of people don’t realize when they’ve had an experience. For example, everybody wants to know if you’ve seen a ghost. That’s the way you detect ghosts, you see ‘em.
Q – That was one of the questions I was going to ask you.
A – Right. I’ve collected well over a thousand stories on Gettysburg. That’s only about 10%. Visuals are only about 10% of the stories I’ve collected. The most common is auditory. You’ll hear a ghost before you’ll see one. The most common auditory is footsteps. That having been said, another thing is all the senses, the human senses are involved. They may smell smoke. They may smell kerosene from fuel. They may be touched, grabbed on the ankle or tapped on the shoulder. They may have a visual. They’re not as likely as hearing something. They may hear somebody running up and down the stairs. At Gettysburg people have heard artillery going off, cannons. They’ve heard musketry from the woods. In other words, anything could happen.
Q – I know a Civil War re-enactor who’s seen campfires on the Gettysburg battlefields and when he asked who’s out there? He’s told no one is out there. So, that must be a familiar sighting.
A – Absolutely. I have several accounts of people seeing campfires, one from a park ranger who was driving home late one night. She looked out at the famous battlefield area called The Wheatfield and she saw a couple of campfires out there. At 2 in the morning she’s not going to wake up her boss. She’s said I’ll call him first thing tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock. He came over. They got in the patrol car figuring these people are camping there they’re still going to be there. They went over there and not only were there no people there but there weren’t any fires or any evidence of a fire right where she saw it. The Wheatfield is not that big, she could tell where it was.
Q – Back in 1981, I was driving through Gettysburg, and I didn’t know I was in Gettysburg until I saw the sign. Prior to that I felt like something of major importance had happened there.
A – You just felt it. You know a lot of people say that. I liken it to the fact it’s kind of like walking into a church. It’s just a building but, it feels different than another building. That’s what Gettysburg like. A friend of mine said you get on the battlefield and you can feel the great crush of souls. A pretty good way of putting it I thought.
Q – Why is it that only certain people see ghosts? Why can’t everyone see ghosts?
A – Well, there are probably a lot of different factors. One of them is we’re all different. We all have different sensibilities, in terms of sensitivities to the paranormal. I’m not sure why. It’s not suggestibility. For example: I’ve lived in Gettysburg for 30 years. I don’t consider myself sensitive to the paranormal. I’ve only had a couple experiences, until we (Mike and his wife) started doing investigations and seeking them out. On our tours for example you can have one person standing next to another one, their spouse or whatever. One will smell pipe tobacco or cigar smoke and no one is smoking. They’re looking around saying ‘Who’s smoking’? They can’t see it and the other one is saying, ‘What are you talking about? I don’t smell anything’. In other words, if someone lit up a tobacco product virtually everyone would smell it, the next one doesn’t. We’ll have a whole group like that. A couple of people will smell it. A couple of people won’t. We were on an investigation at the Cashtown Inn once and we walked into a room. There were six of us. The three women all looked at each other and said, ‘Do you smell that’? They all smelled cigarette smoke. All three women. All three men smelled nothing. It turned out that the entity we eventually contacted was a guy by the name of Sarge. He was a veteran from Korea and Vietnam and a biker and he used to visit The Cashtown Inn when it was a biker bar in the 60’s, 70’s. He was trying to impress the women. That’s the story we got.
Q – Go back to the Trade Towers in the future, someone could look out a window and see a jet plane headed for the building?
A – Yeah. I have an account of a fella who was driving; I have written up some accounts of ghost stories at the Twin Towers, especially Flight 93 that crashed near Gettysburg. One fella wrote to me and said it was the strangest thing; he and his wife were leaving Gettysburg. They were driving along the turnpike and were approaching Shanksville and we looked up and there was a huge jet airplane and he was coming in so low that were like there’s no way he’s gonna make it. They described it as kind of teetering and starting to flip over and they were expecting to see a crash and a big fireball, but, nothing ever happened, or read anything about it. This was a year or two after the crash, not necessarily on the anniversary. So I think that guy, he and his family got a glimpse into a warp.
Q – That’s so strange isn’t it?
A – Yeah.
Q – Have you heard about any strange paranormal activity at the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing?
A – I have not.
Q – Columbine High School?
A – I have not. I wouldn’t be surprised. You kind of put your finger on it in the beginning, places where there’s great human emotion and death, ’cause obviously you can’t get any more emotional than when you’re about to die. I think that leaves a mark in one area of the world or another either physically by, and I know this is going to sound crazy, by leaving an impression in the actual walls, stonework of a building. I’ll explain that is a second. Or, in this cosmic field, the Akashic Field, a term that Edgar Cayce used. I don’t know whether it’s that. Both of them can be tapped, we’re just not sure how. One fella thought in Gettysburg it was the huge amount of granite that was in the area. If you haven’t been to Gettysburg in awhile, you might remember a place called Devil’s Den, huge granite boulders. There those rock walls that are all over Gettysburg. Every building in Gettysburg is built on those granite foundations, fieldstone foundations. Many of the houses are built completely out of fieldstone. That fieldstone is just under plow level. I’ve thought about that. I’ve analyzed granite. I’ve looked it up and it’s got quartz in it. It’s infused with quartz. Quartz is considered the master crystal by many people. I’m thinking Mark, you’ve really stepped over the edge here. This is goofy. How could quartz, a crystal be affected by human emotion? Now, two things: Number One, when we die, we give off a burst of photons. It’s called a light shout. There’s a physicist from Poland who was working on the Shroud Of Turin and discovered this burst of energy by studying dying people. The other thing is, I looked at my quartz watch and I realized that a little teeny, tiny piece of quartz in my watch was being vibrated by little, teeny, tiny battery, We’ve had quartz watches for 50 years. So, indeed rock or crystal can be affected by electrical bursts. Is that electrical burst recorded? And, how do we get it to re-play? We don’t have a button to re-play that stuff in Gettysburg, but, somehow it does. What are the conditions? It’s a combination of probably the environmental conditions and the human conditions. You have to be turned into it too.
Q – Do you believe in Time Travel?
A – Wow! That’s a tough one. That’s probably a little out of my category. If you can go back, why can’t you go forward? If you can go back, and you alter something in the past, are you going to screw up your present time? You actually go back and bump into your grandfather and knock him down.
Q – Or, go back and bump into yourself 20 years ago.
A – Yeah. I don’t know enough about that. I’m fascinated by it, but, I haven’t really studied it all that much.
Q – Have you ever heard about hauntings at the home where Sharon Tate died?
A – Yes. They tore it down. I don’t think it exists anymore. I know the La Bianca house was haunted, but I can’t really tell you, ‘cause I don’t remember exactly what it was they experienced. It’s fairly common; the Manson murder areas are haunted.
Q – Gettysburg is the Number One haunted place in the world or the United States?
A – Well, I don’t know. I’ve collected well over a thousand stories just of Gettysburg. I know that some other places have a lot of stories. I don’t know how they collect theirs. You have to analyze a little bit. What is the methodology? Do they just take anybody’s story? What do they consider a ghost story? Gettysburg is certainly the most haunted place I have ever heard of. We go to a lot of different places like that.
Q – Would you go to a place like London? There are supposed to be many haunted buildings there.
A – I kind of lean toward the historical site particularly battlefields. There’s so much that is documented. London’s history has been documented, but not as well for example as the Battle of Britain, the bombing of London. All officers are required to write an after action report. That’s why battlefields I think; to me are some of the most interesting places. They’re like laboratories for the paranormal. You can gather EVP which is Electronic Voices Phenomena recordings of voices which you can’t hear. You can get photos of entities both at night and daylight. There’s a method to do that. And then compare them with the actual records, historical records. I kind of lean towards that. I’d like to investigate some of the World War 2 airfields in England. I understand they have a lot of stories. They’re abandoned basically now. There’s lots of stories of looking out there and seeing a 19 year old guy dressed in World War 2 airman outfit walking down the runway.
Q – Never heard that before.
A – Yeah. There are a lot of stories. I’d love to do some of the battlefields in Europe. I’d love to do some of the battlefields in the Pacific as well.
Q – I would imagine Normandy is haunted.
A – We were at Normandy. Honestly, I didn’t have a chance to talk to anybody about it. It was my first trip there. My impression is I was in awe. I had my recorder with me. I was at a German bunker, but, I didn’t feel right about trying to get any EVP there. I ended up talking with some veterans. It was near the anniversary. It was like the 5th of June when we were there or the 7th. The 1st time you go there you’re just kind of in awe. Same thing with Pearl Harbor. I was there. I was just real quiet and respectful, not that I’m not respectful of the Civil War soldiers, but, I’m a little more comfortable with that era. But, I really would like to do some other battlefields before I become a ghost. (Laughs).
Q – Do you think you’re going to become a ghost?
A – Well, I don’t. That’s a good question. I think there’s something that goes on after we die. I’ve always said death is an opening door rather than a closing one.
Q – One more place to go.
A – One more place to experience.
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