Society looks for ghosts of the Constellation

October 25, 2003|By Aron Davidowitz | Aron Davidowitz,SUN STAFF

Since its restoration was completed in 1999, roughly 100,000 people per year have flocked to the Baltimore waterfront to tour the Constellation, the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy.

Security at the Inner Harbor site seems tight enough to prevent anyone from sneaking aboard the old Civil War vessel without paying admission. Yet three visitors, it seems, not only never paid, they've also never left.

That may sound abnormal. In fact, it's paranormal.

Tomorrow beginning at 5 p.m., members of the Baltimore Society for Paranormal Research will board the Constellation in hopes of finding the stowaways: the ghosts of sailors Neil Harvey, Carl Hansen and Capt. Thomas Truxton. The public will be able to watch from Pier 1 as the ghost hunters broadcast their quest.

Society co-founder Vincent Wilson, 29, a cook at Cafe 100 on South Charles Street when he's not seeking out spooks, is actually skeptical that his group will find the trio. The Constellation on display in the harbor, he says, is not the same ship that the three spirits had ties to, but merely its namesake.

The original Constellation was built in 1797, but was broken up in 1853. The Constellation's builders used eight pieces from the original in the construction of the newer ship, which first set sail on Aug. 26, 1854.

But they will be on board for as much as four hours with electromagnetic field detectors, digital thermometers, infrared video cameras and wireless video broadcasters to conduct their investigation.

The 12 active members of the society, Wilson says, "never assume anything is haunted" and "always look for natural explanations."

Still, Wilson says firmly, ghosts exist. Anyone saying otherwise is "ignorant."

"Most people who don't believe in ghosts have reached a certain level of seriousness in their lives where they think it is childish to believe," he says. "It's like how they stop believing in Santa Claus on Christmas, they stop believing in ghosts on Halloween."

The Constellation is at Pier 1, 301 Pratt St., and can be reached at 410-539-1797 or on the Web at www.constellation.org. For more on the Baltimore Society for Paranormal Research, visit http://BSPRnet.com.

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