There are some things we’d all like to forget, yet they manage to hold on, like unwanted houseguests. And few places in American history have been more defined by the past than one east coast city. Whether serving as a stage for violent conflict or a deep well of creative expression, its legacy casts more than a few shadows along the way, and I want to take you there. But be warned, because in Baltimore that dark past has stayed remarkably close to the present.
Among the many things to appreciate about October is the fact that during this month, the Lore podcast shifts to a weekly schedule of releases. In this week’s episode, “Hold On,” our host and tour guide Aaron Mahnke leads us through the haunted history of the city of Baltimore. He starts with Fort McHenry, which is notable for more than the role it played in the composition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As a military prison during the Civil War, and a hospital during World War I and the subsequent influenza epidemic, Fort McHenry has seen more than its share of death, so it should be of no surprise that later visitors to the site have reported encounters with the paranormal. Mahnke shares a wealth of ghost stories about the fort, as well as about Hampton Manor, a country estate north of the city. In the final segment of the episode, Mahnke turns his attention to one of Baltimore’s favorite and most famous sons. None other than Edgar Allan Poe is spotlighted–his lifelong trials, his untimely demise on October 7, 1849 (a mystery that persists to this day), and his honoring by a strange visitor to his gravesite, the Poe Toaster.
October is the perfect time for ghost stories, as well as to invoke one of America’s founding fathers of macabre fiction and poetry. For anyone with interests in such subjects, “Hold On” is an episode to cherish this Halloween season.