I actually did the Boyertown Ghost walk a couple of years ago in 2014. For whatever reason, this event completely escaped my memory, but not due to any lack of interest or lack of enthusiasm. While obviously not in Philly, or even the nearby suburbs, this is a worthwhile trip on a summer night if you don’t have anything else going on. I thought it was good timing to post this tour as the “walk organizers” only operate during summer hours and their schedule kicks off late in May. It continues monthly through October (every 4th Saturday).
The event begins with a group sitdown in the Boyertown Historical Society building. The building is old, creepy and has all the character you need to set the mood for a haunted tour. Boyertown’s background is discussed, and some of the things that make it haunted. If you get in there a little early, the staff are happy to have some bonus ghostly conversation with you. Speaking of the staff, they are friendly, knowledgeable and genuinely interested in what they do. They will happily tell you that a noted “ghostologist” named Charles Adams III considers Boyertown “one the most haunted small towns in America”. I hadn’t heard of this guy prior to this tour, but I knew his name very well by the end, as every one of the staff brought it up several times.
After the 20 minute introduction, the actual walking tour begins in one of the busier parts of town. It was led by only one member of the staff–an older woman dressed very conservatively in black and white. Heavy traffic along one of the main streets (Philadelphia Ave) was a little distracting, but not terribly. The most memorable part of the tour is a stop at the site of the Rhodes Opera House which caught fire in 1908. A kerosene lamp was knocked over during a performance igniting a fire, and 170 people tragically lost their lives due to poorly constructed escape routes. This story was perhaps the most memorable/disturbing part of the 90 minute tour. At the event introduction in the historical building, one of the ghost-savvy staff mentioned that he cannot even walk past the site because he can still hear the screams of those people who desperately tried to escape that night. Its mentioned that this terrible incident with the significant amount of deaths is perhaps why the town is said to be haunted. It was an interesting story and it made me wonder how many small towns out there have similar tragic stories like this buried in the archives.
Towards the end of the tour, our guide stopped us at a local establishment–Durango’s Saloon. I recalled seeing this bar while first driving into Boyertown, and had my own premonition that I would find myself inside there at some point that night. As we stood outside, our guide told us that many haunted events occur here on a regular basis. A haunted bar?? She actually went inside and pulled the owner out to tell us all about some of the weird goings-on. Apparently, an old Philadelphia Flyers hockey mask up on the wall will routinely fall to the floor on its own. Other ghostly mischief include ghost cats meowing and staff of the bar getting their ears flicked by unseen troublemakers.
Right after the bar owner finished up his set of ghost stories and resumed his managerial responsibilities inside, something very bizarre happened. The tour guide began to sway and stagger back and forth and then slumped up against the outside bar wall. I think all attendees thought the same thing–was this part of the tour? Was she acting dramatic for some tour end finale? Nope…..she fainted. It was a hot night in late June but still….kind of surprising considering she would be used to giving the tour throughout the summer. Several of us rushed over to assist her and bring out some water from inside Durango’s. My girlfriend and I hung out for a little while in case any additional assistance was needed. Assuming the situation was well in control (and all things considered, the tour was probably nearly over)…..we abandoned the group and went inside the bar for a couple of drinks. Moments later, flashing lights from an arriving ambulance outside confirmed our hunch that the tour was officially complete…..at least that night’s unique version.
It was a fun way to spend a Saturday night. If there was one complaint, it would have been the tour guide’s use of a local lady in the group to tell of her haunted experiences. I guess it was relevant because this lady lived in a haunted house along the tour, but this person didn’t really seem like someone who was entirely “with it”. This lady looked as though she might have finished off a six-pack before she joined the tour and appeared to have a little trouble standing up straight. Her storytelling was all over the place and not necessarily coherent. I couldn’t tell what her connection was to the tour guide…..they may have been friends and apparently planned this ahead of time.