“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”


It’s summer-time, the season for sun, fun and ADVENTURE—which also means family vacation time. There is a growing trend in modern-day America: family vacations planned around “legend trips”.

That’s right….growing in popularity are family outings focused around a popular trend in modern culture known as
LEGEND TRIPPING—Seeking out paranormal experiences via historic sites and events.

Wikipedia defines the word PARANORMAL thusly: Paranormal is a general term that describes unusual phenomena or experiences that lack an obvious scientific explanation. In parapsychology, it is used to describe the potentially psychic phenomena of telepathy, extra-sensory perception, psychokinesis, ghosts, and more. The term is also applied to UFOs, some creatures that fall under the scope of cryptozoology, purported phenomena surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, and other non-psychical subjects. Stories relating to paranormal phenomena are widespread in popular culture and ancient folklore.

Also according to Wikipedia: “Legend Tripping, also known as ‘ostension’, is a name recently bestowed by folklorists and anthropologists onto a [most-often adolescent] practice in which a (usually nocturnal) pilgrimage is made to a site which is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific, and/or possibly supernatural event or haunting. The practice has been documented most thoroughly (to date) in the United States, though there can be little doubt that it occurs in many other countries and cultures.”

“I think that it is very good for people to talk about their paranormal experiences and share stories about things that they cannot explain.”

The concept of legend-tripping is at least as old as Mark Twain’s novel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, a story that includes several accounts of adolescents visiting allegedly haunted houses and caves said to be the lairs of criminals. Tom Sawyer is based on lore that was current in Twain’s own boyhood, and by Twain’s time the main features of the ritual were already in place.

The “legend trip” is a rite of passage for the young and curious, a journey into the UNKNOWN. Wearing their fear on their sleeve, they face the unknown with courage they didn’t know they possessed and, after watching the legend “awaken”, they find that the adventure has changed them, perhaps forever.

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

Legend-Tripping provides young adults with (mostly) harmless (perhaps even beneficial) recreation and entertainment. It allows young people to demonstrate their courage in places where the actual physical risk is (most likely) slight.

The primary “downside” aspects of legend-tripping involve trespassing and vandalism. This is a problem propagated by a selected few, an issue that affects the whole, including those innocent of such misdemeanor crimes.

Though the majority of legend-trippers tend to be adolescents, the activity isn’t limited to that age group. There are many older adults who find legend-tripping to be an exciting (and fun) enterprise—and this has lead to the popularity of legend-tripping themes for vacationing families.

Popular Legend-Tripping Sites include:
1) The Black Agnes statue, formerly in Baltimore, Maryland . . . now in Washington, D.C.
2) The grave of Captain Frances McHarry in Harrison County, Indiana
3) The Lake View Public School, also known as the Gore Orphanage, near Cleveland, Ohio
4) Mount Olive Cemetery in Butler, Ohio, home to the grave of a “Bloody Mary” type of character
5) The Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Medina County, Ohio
6) The Pope Lick Trestle in Jefferson County, Kentucky
7) Stepp Cemetery near Bloomington, Indiana
8) The Waverly Sanatorium, an abandoned hospital for tuberculosis victims, in Louisville, Kentucky

(The number of popular legend-trip destinations are too numerous to mention but are easily found with minimal Internet research.)

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon: that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”
Charles Dickens