In 1989 our company swept 350 chimneys at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We ran into three ghosts that were rather uncooperative and apparently did not appreciate us disturbing them. The fort is a U.S. Army facility located in Leavenworth, Kansas. It was established in 1827 as a forward base protecting the Santa Fe Trail. It is the oldest active post west of Washington, D.C.
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the late 1890’s
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Fort Leavenworth has a long history of spirit activity. At least nine ghosts have been officially reported, but there are likely more. During our work, several highly unusual events occurred that can only be attributed to the paranormal. Unfortunately, we do not have photos of any fireplaces since photography is not allowed on the base. All of the chimneys are constructed with bricks and mortar.
House #1: This house was the oldest building and was originally a chapel. The chapel burned down in approximately 1827 and clergyman named Father Fred was killed in the fire. A new house was built on the same spot in the 1830’s, presumably using the same chimney. While we were sweeping the chimney, coal dust started coming through the entire masonry wall in the living room. There were no holes or cracks in the masonry! The entire lower level of the house was dusted with fine, grey coal dust and we had to go back and spend 8 hours vacuuming and cleaning up. What a mess! I was mortified, as nothing like that had ever happened to us. The colonel’s wife was not upset at all, and calmly explained to me that the problem must have been caused by their resident ghost! She told me that right after moving in to the house, they hosted a party for the officers and their wives.
During the party, a woman screamed when she saw a face of a man in the fire in the fireplace. Everyone saw the same thing and ran screaming out of the house. Evidently, it was quite a scene. After that, the family saw the apparition of a man floating on the landing next to the chimney on several occasions. He was wearing a clergy outfit, but his feet did not materialize when he appeared. He also appeared on may occasions in the fire, so the family quit using the fireplace.
House #2: Built in the later 1800’s, this is a large three-story home. The occupant (the wife of an officer) notified us upon arrival that the room we were going to be working in was haunted, and the ghost often closed the door. She noted that she was leaving the door open all the way, then left the room. I tarped off the fireplace, then sent a tech up to the top of the chimney to start sweeping. While standing alone in the room, the door suddenly slammed shut.
I quickly ran over to the door and opened it to see if anyone was around, but there was no one in the hall. I then heard strange noises and talking coming from the fireplace and called the sweep on the radio to see what was going on. She said she did not say anything, and of course there was no one else on the chimney with her.
When the lady of the house returned, she was not surprised to hear about the goings–on. She also told me that it was common knowledge among the residents at Fort Leavenworth that there is a lot of ghostly activity going on in the older houses. We packed up our gear and got out as quickly as possible.
House #3: Built around 1840, this is a two-story brick house with slate roof and brick chimney. I was outside by the van talking to the homeowner. One tech was inside at the fireplace, and another
tech was outside on top of the roof doing the sweeping. Suddenly the ladder fell over on it’s side—seemingly pushed by someone who wasn’t there. The occupant and I both saw it fall over.
The sweep walked over to the place where the ladder was but could not get down until we got the ladder back up again. This was a 40-foot heavy aluminum ladder that weighs 80 lbs! There was no wind that day and it was tied down to the gutter with a bungee cord! I had to call in another crew to get the ladder back up so the sweep could get down. The occupant of the home told me that they have a mischievous ghost who lives with them and causes havoc frequently. He said that the ghost hung around the fireplace most of the time.
There are books written about the subject that are available at the museum on the post, or on websites. From hauntedhouses.com I found the following information regarding the fireplace at 605 McClellan, located in the McClellan Officer's quarters, which is a large three-story home: Apparently when a family moved in this house in 1975, a spirit made itself known to them. While enjoying a warm fire in the fireplace, the family was “gripped with fearful fascination” when an apparition of a man with a mustache and goatee appeared in the middle of the flame. When the fire died out, the face of this ghostly man appeared and remained on the back of the fireplace.
We visited England in April of 2005 and stayed in a 10th century manor house for seven days. I felt the presence of several spirits inhabiting the hall right after we arrived. On the third evening of our stay, the activities director presented a tour of the building and told stories of the ghosts that choose to occupy several rooms in the home. Our guide showed a VCR tape in one room that had been occupied by a man who killed his wife in the 1700’s. The tape had been made by a film crew from British television who brought along a psychic to do research for a program on ghosts. Everyone in the room watching the tape gasped as hundreds of tiny white glowing orbs appeared. The orbs exited the fireplace into the room, then went through the walls in several directions. This continued for at least two full minutes.
One of the older fireplaces at Fort Riley, Kansas dating to the 1850’s where a foggy mist forms often. The mist was visible for several minutes during a routine chimney inspection in 2008 and the inspector captured this photo as it was forming to the right of the fireplace. The mist then moved across the room and through a wall.
Perhaps the fog and orbs are spirits of people who have passed on, or spirits that have never inhabited a human body. Or maybe they are life forms that we don’t yet understand, or beings from another dimension. I believe that spirits occupy the fifth dimension and sometimes enter our fourth dimensional space and time through a portal of some type. Perhaps chimney are portals.
Ghosts and orbs seem to like chimneys. Why? Here is my theory – in doing research on ghosts in the Kansas City area I talked with several ghost hunters including Chris Breathwaite, a local investigator and author. Chris and others have mentioned on a number of occasions that there seems to be more paranormal activity around rivers, streams, and railroad tracks.
I got to thinking about what those features have in common with chimneys. It is movement. There is a flow of energy in any river, stream, or railroad track. And the correlation with chimneys is DRAFT, the only difference being that chimneys are vertical.
|Unexplained fog exiting a window |
near a chimney
All chimneys are designed to create draft to remove toxic flue gasses and smoke from the fireplace or appliance such as a gas furnace, or gas or woodburning insert, without mechanical means. It is simply physics that makes a chimney work.
The temperature differential between the outside of the chimney and the inside of the house is basically what creates draft.
Draft is different at certain times of the year, being stronger in the cold winter months. That is also the time of year that people spend more time around the fireplace and fire up their gas furnace. Draft in a chimney occurs all of the time, even when it reverses because something is wrong with the system or house.
|1. Anomalous orb inside a chimney|
|1. Same orb moving closer|
The pictures we have taken of orbs and other anomalies around chimneys are from all seasons of the year.
If you have any ghostly activity around your fireplace or chimney we’d like to hear about it, and possibly do an investigation of the site. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margie Kay operates a chimney contracting and fire investigation business during the day, and hunts ghosts and other paranormal stuff at night. Reach her at www.margiekay.com.