By Mary Bigham, Dish-Works.com – When you grow up in a town that is rumored to be full of ghosts, you’re not always hunting for the paranormal … but sometimes things happen that just can’t be explained.
A few of my friends have shared stories with me about “visions on the battlefield” or have told me about things being amiss in their childhood homes. One of my favorite stories (food-related, of course) is about a ghost named Gus. Supposedly, the former county jail cook, who worked there many years ago, haunts the attic of a close friend’s home, and he still enjoys cooking in the afterlife. Gus will fry up eggs in the attic, but my friend isn’t sure why he chose to do it there.
Gettysburg is billed as one of the most haunted destinations in America, and ghost hunters visit regularly to document the paranormal. I’ve found that you either believe in ghosts or you don’t, and it makes me wonder: are some not looking hard enough, or are others looking too hard? It makes for an interesting, entertaining discussion.
In an effort to follow up on some of the stories that I’ve heard and to discover new ones, I set out to document haunted happenings at the restaurants of Gettysburg.
1 Lincoln Sq., Gettysburg
“I won’t go in that room anymore.”
Serving upscale comfort food in a recently renovated space, One Lincoln offers a sophisticated atmosphere and well-prepared drinks at its robust, wooden bar. But are there other “spirits” to be found here?
Ghost Finders documented some unusual activity and encountered the ghost of a little girl in their video of the basement of this oldest hotel in town (watch here). While there are no reports of otherworldly activity in the dining room or bar areas, guests oftentimes share interesting stories in the morning over breakfast in the banquet rooms.
On a recent visit, an employee told me that guests offer lively discussion about odd occurrences that happened in their rooms the previous night, including bumps or sounds and moving figures that they catch out of the corner of their eyes.
In addition to retelling guests’ ghostly tales, this staff member also reported that a fellow employee was using the women’s bathroom, when all of the stall doors opened and closed while she was in there alone. “I don’t know if that’s true,” she said, “but I won’t go in that room anymore.”
The Lincoln Diner
32 Carlisle St., Gettysburg
“No Mommy, it was a ghost man.”
The Lincoln Diner is a culinary landmark that most visitors and locals stop by for 24-hour diner classics. Breakfast is served all day in this bright and retro chrome-lined establishment. Below the dining room is a bakery (tip: try the cheesecake!) and prep space as well as the men’s and women’s restrooms. Anytime that I would visit after sunset, when the natural light had vanished, the journey down those stairs to the lower level to visit the bathroom left me with a weird gut feeling. I always brushed it off as the result of being in a windowless basement.
On a recent visit, I asked some servers if there had been any odd experiences that they’d be willing to share. One waitress told me that once during her shift, a little girl came upstairs from the bathroom to report that there was a man in the women’s bathroom. The mother looked (obviously) alarmed, but the little girl replied, “No mommy, it was a ghost man.”
89 Steinwehr Ave., Gettysburg
“My son saw a little girl in the window.”
As the oldest home in Gettysburg, The Dobbin House, now a colonial restaurant with a tavern, is a prime location for spirited dining.
The Dobbin family had 19 children, and the home has a unique history (watch a quick video here). Rumor has it that three spirits haunt this former residence, which also served as a Civil War hospital and Underground Railroad hideout.
Employees have reported that the trio of ghosts are friendly but like to pull pranks, like lighting fires in the historical fireplaces when no one is around.
The stories told include tales that one of the ghosts is a child who enjoys engaging with other children while they eat there. One recent visitor saw a blue light in the window of the tavern. In the same spot, “my son saw a little girl in the window,” she wrote.
217 Steinwehr Ave., Gettysburg
“Sounds like someone is in the room, but no one is there.”
I spoke with the friendly bar manager at Gettysburg Eddie’s about its rumored ghostly activity. “I’ve heard from previous employees that some odd ‘things’ have happened,” she told me. Staff members have witnessed glasses “flying” off of racks, and “when people open or close down, they have said that they hear sounds like someone is in the room, but no one is there,” she added.
“Do you want to tell her what happened to you?”
According to a recent article in the Examiner, there are some demanding customers in the afterlife. The owner of the Inn at Herr Ridge has experienced a door opening, footsteps walking toward him and a voice asking, “Can I order a beer?” Forks have been driven into the floorboards and sometimes forced into the old wooden tables. Chefs have heard trays crash with no mess (or person) to be found, and bartenders hurry to serve a large lifelike figure at the end of the bar, only to have it vanish.
When I talked to the staff at their bar across the parking lot, The Livery, there was clearly something else that was out of the ordinary for one of the employees. I was told that something had happened, but I never got the details. All I overheard was, “Do you want to tell her what happened to you? Tell her. She’s doing a story on haunted restaurants. Just tell her about it.” I never did get the details, but it goes to show that there are many untold stories.
35 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg
“We tried to contact the ghosts.”
I’ve heard multiple reports from locals about the basement of the Blue Parrot Bistro being haunted. Mark Nesbitt (author of Haunted America and the popular Ghosts of Gettysburg book series) has even named it one of his favorite haunts. This is a lovely restaurant and local hangout that doesn’t promote its paranormal side, but if you can ask a bartender or employee, you’ll get the full story.
When I inquired, I was told that the presence was so known in the basement that a seance was held to contact the spirits. “We tried contacting the spirits, but we never heard anything.” During the Battle of Gettysburg, the building was said to have housed “a good many surgeons,” so it may be that it was used as a field hospital and that an otherworldly guest has some unfinished business.
Other visitors, however, have found success reaching the spirits here. Photographic evidence and paranormal activity are documented in the image below, which is on display inside the restaurant.
A few other dining options with well-known spooky tales include:
Discover this restaurant’s connection to the only civilian killed in the battle of Gettysburg (she died while she was making bread) and read about a variety of hauntings at this location on the Haunted Houses website. My favorite tales include reports of a figure of an elderly female dressed in 1800s attire who walks the hallway between the tavern and the kitchen. She likes to look over the food items stored on the shelves there. At night, the staff has seen shadows moving through the dining room, and on two occasions in the restaurant, servers were turned completely around by an invisible presence who yanked hard on their apron strings.
1325 Old Route 30, Orrtanna
It’s said that there is a permanent guest at this inn who enjoys spooking the living. Read all about it on the Haunted Houses website.
If you dare, go on your own ghost tour of Gettysburg by browsing these tours and nightlife activities, and when dining in the diverse and plentiful restaurants in town, don’t be afraid to ask your server to share his or her favorite ghost stories.
About the Author
Currently residing in Chester County but born and raised in Gettysburg, Mary Bigham, a lover of food and hard cider, is hometown proud. When she’s not talking about Adams County, you can find her scouring her vintage cookbook collection, walking her four-legged friends or passionately backing her company, Dish LLC, which publishes and produces culinary content.