‘Round about Pittsburgh: Mysteries of the Unknown

Mike Funyak, Staff Writer

October means one thing to most people: Halloween is coming soon. Many people look forward to the various events that occur on or around Halloween. Whether it is preparing a costume for Halloween night, a party, decorating houses, or even visiting local haunted attractions such as Kennywood’s Phantom Fright Nights or The Scarehouse, humans enjoy being scared or dressing up as scary figures.

October and Halloween brings up one controversial topic: Do ghosts exist and are buildings actually haunted? In the Pittsburgh region, various sites have been claimed to have paranormal activity. This article of ‘Round about Pittsburgh will highlight some interesting stories that I have always been interested in.

Since a young age, I have been heavily interested in local history and with history comes urban legends. Toward my hometown is another little town called Level Green. In Level Green, there is a wooded ravine area called “The Shades” or “Shades of Death.” I have heard various stories about “The Shades” and the urban legend that surrounds the location. Some of the stories revolve around Native Americans, hangings, suicide, but most importantly death. If one were to when walk through “The Shades” at night, apparently moaning voices can be heard. Although I know the exact location of “The Shades,” I have never walked through the wooded area. Regardless of if the local urban legends are true or not, the stories are interesting. If the stories of the soldiers and Native Americans are true, “The Shades” may have played a role in the Battle of Bushy Run, which occurred seven miles away.

A widely known interesting story is of the World War II-era plane (B-25 Bomber) that apparently crashed and was never found in Pittsburgh’s Monongahela River. Of the six men aboard the plane, only four survived. Since the accident, numerous attempts to find pieces of the place have come up empty. Rumors and theories exist of what became of the plane, but the mystery is real. Where is the B-25 Bomber that disappeared on January 31, 1956? Was the plane removed from the Monongahela River or is the plane still in the waters waiting to be discovered? The answer may never be found.

The University of Pittsburgh has a colorful past of ghost stories. Martha Jane Poe apparently haunts the Early American Room (Room 328) at the Cathedral of Learning. Poe’s Granddaughter E. Maxine Bruhns donated some of her Grandmothers items to decorate the room. Shortly after their arrival, strange events occurred in the room. It is of interest to note that the room is one of only two rooms not used as a classroom in the building.

Bruce Hall, a residence dorm on campus is also reportedly haunted. The 12th floor is no longer used for dorm rooms but for catered events and storage. Urban legend has it that the wife of the former owner of the building killed herself after discovering her husband had a mistress. Students living in the building claim to have heard voices and sounds of a female in the building.

St. Vincent College in Latrobe is another local college is host to ghost stories.

The seventh floor of Aurelius, a residence dorm, is also apparently haunted. There have been countless stories of noises and sounds heard coming from the seventh floor. It is my understanding that no single individual lives on the floor. The building has also been claimed to be the home to a ghost or spirit who appears from time to time.

The graveyards and grounds of the college are said to be haunted as students over the years have claimed to witness ghosts appear and disappear from the site. Most of the ghosts who apparently appear on the grounds are monks who had a presence years ago at the college. Most notably is the ghost of Boniface Wimmer who was the founder of the institution.

All over the world, urban legends exist and it seems that during the month of October and around Halloween, various stories come to light. These types of stories have always interested me and sometimes I believe them and sometimes I do not. I do wonder if these types of stories interest humans because they are curious. Whatever the case is, they are always interesting to discuss.

Note of Interest for RMU Students: Is Massey Hall actually haunted?