I don’t go see scary movies, and I don’t ride roller coasters. My real life is frightening enough.
But when I came up with the idea to creep around downtown Mansfield scouting for ghosts, apprehensive reporter Coleen Daniell began to question my idea of a good time.
Always looking for entertaining and interesting things to do in Mansfield for our Let’s Try It! series, we learned that the Mansfield Historical Museum & Heritage Center plans to have ghost tours through the century-old downtown Friday, pointing out the scenes of murders and ghoulish sightings.
They can start in their own building. The beautiful old museum was once a grocery and pharmacy where a man ran in, shot his uncle and ran out the back door. He was later caught and sentenced to prison, but that wasn’t his first murder. He was also a suspect in his own father’s stabbing.
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We lurked around the back of the museum, but didn’t find anything even slightly eerie. Out front, though, with a street light casting shadows through tree branches, the busts of Mansfield’s namesakes Ralph Man and Julian Feild looked positively creepy watching over the site where their mill once stood.
Dressed all in black, Coleen and I may have startled some people ourselves. We wandered the back streets and Main Street, scouring all of the haunts where ghosts have been spotted.
After working in downtown for more than a decade, there aren’t too many places that I haven’t been -- and at all hours of the day and night. A specter has even been spotted in the old News-Mirror office. The building at 119 N. Main St. was a bank, a grocery and a pottery shop before the newspaper relocated in 1983. Evidently, one of the former proprietors never left.
One of our former sales representatives, Benny, saw someone peeking around the door from the back room. The man smiled at Benny, who managed to call out to our other sales rep, Kira, who looked up just in time to see the man smile and vanish. The same apparition was spotted by another sales rep when she was working late one night.
I never saw anything, which I think is completely unfair. I worked there until all hours of the night and the guy never showed up, although I did hear the player piano upstairs jingling at some odd hours.
The owner of Aspirations Boutique has not only seen things, she has one on video. During a routine fire code inspection, something came toppling off a shelf. While looking at the surveillance video, the fire marshal and owner were stunned to see a cloudy figure knock the items off the shelf.
One of the most picturesque spots in downtown is the old iron trestle on North Street, which is charming during the day, especially at sunrise, sunset and covered in snow. The site gets downright menacing after dark, though. There are absolutely no lights on that stretch of road -- at least not until the arms of the railroad crossing come down. Then it’s a strange orange glow.
The fact that more than 20 people drowned near the tracks makes it even more sinister. The migrant workers were sleeping in a railroad car in the early 1900s when torrential rains caused high waters that overtook the car and all inside were killed. They were buried in a mass grave at Mansfield Cemetery.
Just slipping around Main Street with more than 100 years of history is an interesting experience. Even Coleen was won over.
“I did not realize the extent of the spooky underbelly of scenic Mansfield - ghosts around every corner,” she said.
If you’re interested, the free half-hour walking tours were almost full when we talked to Julie Crisafulli from the museum. If you’re interested, go to the museum’s Facebook page and check to see if you can still get a spot. Or get the scoop from Julie at the historical museum and go looking for your own spirits.