Gretchen's Lock is a beautiful place. You can fish and have a picnic. You can camp and ride horses. You can also ghost hunt and be successful because there are ghosts there. It is a huge mystery because there was nothing special about the village of Sprucevale. That we know of. So why are so many ghosts roaming the park?
One theory is the creek itself. Maybe it acts like a tape recorder and when we see or experience something it is because we somehow turned it on and it is playing the things that happened down here so long ago. (residual haunting) As far as I know there are no pictures of Sprucevale. I so wish there were. It is frustrating because we can't even find out where Sprucevale buried its dead. Where is Esther Hale buried? When was she born? Is there actual proof that she existed? The same is said for Gretchen. Edward Gil or John Gil or Hans Gil or whoever her father was may have been here, but if it is the man who built the locks, he never had any children. While the legend says that he had his daughter's body removed from the lock he had her buried in so he could take her to his home country to be buried, and they all ended up sinking in the ocean during a storm is not true. If you look him up, you will discover he is buried down in Virginia. So what does that mean? Who is Gretchen? She is down there, I know for sure. But, what is her real story.
Esther has never uttered a single word to me or my crew by the way. I have heard several names whispered on my recordings, but Esther's isn't one of them. My personal belief is that her story is an urban legend about the Lady in White that haunts a bridge because she has been left at the altar. Look it up on the Internet. Thousands of cities and towns have that same story, right down to if she touches you, you will die and she will be young and beautiful again. Gretchen is something to work with, but Esther I do not waste my time on. I do not believe she ever existed. But then, I am after the real truth. Not the popular belief. Update NOVEMBER 2012:According to the Sandy and Beaver Canal Association, Esther Hale was actually the Quaker Preacher herself. While she may not have starved to death, she did wait at the Grist Mill every day for 27 years, hoping her love would return. Out of the two stories, Gretchen, or Esther, Esther is believed to be the once existing person. Research is important and can be way different than you thought it would be. Remember, the only way to be sure is to do the research work and find out.
Hundreds of people are going down there every month. They stumble around in the woods looking to be scared or maybe to answer their questions about mortality. Some people just want to see something. Some people are down there destroying things, like the door on the grist mill for example. They have also written on the walls inside. How stupid. I don't care who you are and I don't want to know you were there. I can't preach enough about respecting both the area you are in and the entities you choose to interact with. I have had a lot of success at Gretchen's, I believe, because I respect the ghosts there.
I started giving tours at Gretchen's because a woman from the YMCA, Miss Wilson, called me and asked if I would take people on a walk of the area. That was in September of last year. It turned out great. I thought only about 20 people would be there but roughly 100 came. That was just the coolest day. I didn't realize there was so many people interested in the area until then. I gave four more tours in October. They were all an adventure. And while some might disagree, it is good family fun to be out there walking around and looking for what most believe isn't there. I would probably never have started tours at Gretchen's if it wasn't for the YMCA. I will always be grateful for them just because of that.
To that end, my team and I will be down at Gretchen's Lock on May 29 to show you where we encountered what. If you are interested, please come down. It starts at 7pm. It is a good walk with plenty of gorgeous scenery and spooky stories to keep you entertained. Rumor has it that activity is way down from what it used to be. I believe that. But there are those nights when you can go down and no one else is there. When it is just you, you might have a ghostly experience of your own. Maybe.