New England has more than its share of abandoned-yet-still-inhabited lighthouses, piers, wharfs and ships, but we tend to forget about our many forts, most dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil wars, when we think of haunted oceanside real estate. All were built along the shores of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island to help defend from attack by ship, and are amazingly active places to conduct a paranormal investigation. Locations such as the massive Fort Warren, located on Georges Island in Boston Harbor, said to be haunted by "The Lady in Black", Mrs. Andrew Lanier, wife of a Confederate soldier who was imprisoned there. As with many Civil War-era fortifications, many prisoners held there succumbed to disease and the extreme elements, and still roam its dark, underground corridors. Fort Constitution in Portsmouth, New Hampshire traces its history all the way back to the Revolutionary War, when it was in the hands of the British and known as Fort William and Mary. It's unique in that attached to the fort is an active U.S. Coast Guard base, and Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is also on the grounds. Is it haunted? Yes, very much so, and I have never failed to get something on audio and video when investigating the grounds.
We also have long-forgotten towers that dot our coastal landscape, such as the eight-story Pulpit Rock Battery 951. Built in the early 1940s as part of the Portsmouth Harbor Defense Command, it still stands as an eerie silent sentinel on the shore of North Rye, New Hampshire. The Brackett Massacre, a forgotten, tragic incident that occurred on September 29, 1691, is memorialized in a small, overgrown wooded area along the coast of Rye, New Hampshire. There you will find a series of primitive stones marking the graves of the victims; a very creepy location, and one of many that I have personally investigated. Add to all of this the seemingly endless supply of haunted public buildings and private residences, whether directly located on the shore or not, that have strong maritime connections, and you start to understand why New England's reputation is well-deserved.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which is an odd name because, due to a boundary dispute, it is actually located on Seavey Island which is now considered part of Kittery, Maine, can trace its ancestry back beyond 200 years. It was the last mainland stop for the crew of USS Escolar (SS-294) before their fateful voyage to the Pacific. There is an imposing, castle-like abandoned U.S. Naval Prison on the grounds, and I have attempted to gain permission for access. Unfortunately, due to structural safety concerns as well as asbestos-related issues, it is strictly, and understandably, off-limits. Still, the place is an awesome sight from a boat in Portsmouth Harbor.
Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts was the subject of my February 2012 edition of The Booo! Blog. Is it haunted? I'm not certain, but it does have all of the ingredients, and only further investigation will tell.