A Ride Around the Haunted Town
A popular ghost tour in St. Augustine is the Ghosts and Gravestones tour. This ghost tour combines trolleys and walking to provide a haunting experience. The stories were authentic and the guides lively, bringing to life the deceased subjects of their deadly stories of St. Augustine.
Visitors met at the Old Town Trolley's Welcome Center on San Marco Avenue, confirmed their reservation, received a sticker, and waited for their trolley. (The tour was an hour and twenty minutes long and the welcome center had drinks for sale and restrooms while guests waited.)
The Ghosts and Gravestones Tour guides, Marsha and driver Joe, were in period dress. Joe was decked out in a jailhouse costume and Marsha in a colonial period dress. The outfits brought a lot of character to their storytelling.
We boarded and traveled downtown. The first stop was the Huguenot Cemetery which was built outside of the City Gates to bury the Protestants of St. Augustine.
Marsha shared the story of a young girl, Elizabeth, who is sometimes seen at the City Gates, waiting for her father to return. She told us that many visitors have caught sight of Elizabeth or seen her apparition in their pictures.
Next we drove by the Tolomato Cemetery where we heard the history of the hallowed grounds, and then the trolley moved down Cordova Street by Flagler College, previously known as the Hotel Ponce de Leon.
As we passed the Cathedral Basilica, visitors heard the creepy and surprising story of Bishop Augustin Verot. He was an honorable man dedicated to the nation's oldest city who helped found many Catholic schools and churches in the area, but it was at his funeral that his story took a turn for the gruesome. After seeing the sights downtown, the trolley headed to the St. Augustine Lighthouse over the Bridge of Lions.
Ghosts and Gravestones cannot get onto the Lighthouse grounds, but we stopped and got out at the Lighthouse Park which is across the street.
Marsha told us the story of Hezekiah Pittee and the loss of two of his children in a horrible accident involving a construction cart while Pittee was Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction in 1874. She told us that many visitors have heard young girls at the park, playing and running around.
The trolley tour moved from the lighthouse to our last stop, the Old Jail. Important to keep in mind - the Ghosts and Gravestones Tours is the ONLY tour in town that gets visitors into the Old Jail at night!
On the way to the Old Jail, Marsha provided more history and ghost stories about St. Augustine. She shared the story of the 200 Frenchmen whose plans to invade the settlement were thrown after their ship hit a tropical storm and only 200 were left of the original 1500 men. All 200 survivors were murdered by the Spanish settlers in St. Augustine because they would not convert to Catholicism. Their bodies were thrown into the Matanzas Bay, which is now named after the Frenchmen's murders, since matanzas means "massacre" or "slaughter" in Spanish.
Old Jail Stop
(If dark and tight spaces are not your thing, the tour does allow guests to remain outside of the Old Jail and watch a video detailing the highlights of the ghost tour.)
At the Old Jail, Marsha engaged the whole tour by playing an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recording caught by ghost hunters at the Old Jail. This device detects sounds in white noise that often resemble speech. The one that Marsha played for us seemed to say, among the static noise, "There were only eight.." She explained that these words may be referring to the eight hangings at the Old Jail during its history between 1891 and 1953.
With this in mind visitors entered the Old Jail where so many men had languished with lack of hygiene and nutrition. Many died at the Old Jail, either by the gallows or by disease. We heard the stories of some of the prisoners at the jail, their experiences with the warden, and their deaths. After that, the tour moved from the downstairs to the upstairs of the jail, where the death row section used to be. Besides all the history, the tour of the Old Jail was full of surprises that added to the tour experience.
The Ghosts and Gravestones Tour with Old Town Trolleys offers visitors an all-encompassing experience of the paranormal in St. Augustine. For a fully immersed ghost tour in the nation's oldest city, board the trolley and prepare for a wild ride.
Many More Ghost Tours in St. Augustine!
If you can brave it, check out the Paranormal Investigations Inside the Old Jail.
All aboard Ripley's Ghost Train Adventure for the ride of your life!
Or take a haunted pub crawl called Spirits with Spirits with the folks at St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours.
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