I tell the story of a weird paranormal experience I had during a recent trip to Scranton, PA.
- my first sleep paralysis experience
- a strange roadside creek
- my thoughts about Scranton
Ghosts of Scranton - my trip
DISCLAIMER: I'm providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn't been proofread, so please excuse typos. (Especially because I use dictation software for a lot of my script writing!) There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script—some of this transcript may feel a bit incomplete. Please treat the episode audio as the final product.
- If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I recently went to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to attend a friend's wedding. You also might have noticed that I was posting a lot about it that first day, when I initially arrived there, and then got real quiet afterwards. And there is a reason for that. When I first planned this trip to Scranton, I was excited because the city has multiple train museums and is famously haunted, and I had all these plans about what I was going to do. Also, I just love a city that has fallen from glory and is full of the ruins of a better past. See my episodes about Beacon, New York, for more of that.
- But all of my plans got derailed, and the first night I was there, I found myself in maybe the most frightening paranormal experience that I have had.
- Before the trip, I had initially been disappointed, because I waited to the last minute to book my travel, and the hotel block that had been reserved for the wedding, which happened to be at the most famously haunted hotel in Scranton, was totally full. But apparently I had nothing to worry about, because my air B&B had plenty of creepy stuff waiting for me.
- This is the first of probably two or three episodes that I'm going to do about haunted Scranton. I'm gonna talk all about my own experiences in Scranton first, and then I will talk a little bit about some of the ghost stories about other locations in Scranton.
- But before I get into my own experiences in Scranton, I just want to give a really quick bit of background about Scranton.
- If you live in the United States, I think it's safe to say that you probably know Scranton from US version of The Office. I know that The Office was an incredibly popular show here in the US, but for anyone who hasn't seen it, who maybe lives elsewhere, the office was a workplace comedy that was based in the regional sales and admin office of a paper company. And a lot of the show is about the drudgery of work, good and bad coworkers, and one really crucial part of the show is the location where it is set, which is Scranton.
- In the show, Scranton is made out to be this kind of depressing place to live. It's the sort of place that the characters seem to feel stuck in or want to escape from. And there is a lot of local color in the show, so for example in the opening credits of the show, you see the Penn Paper building in Scranton, which is a real building that houses a real paper company. And there's a Scranton rap where they call out some of the sites that you can see in Scranton, including the Anthracite Museum. So I kind of feel like in the US, Scranton is almost like a joke, because it is so closely associated with the office and they don't exactly make it seem like a great place to be.
- So while The Office makes Scranton look like a depressing suburb, Scranton actually has a really interesting history and I feel like it's been unfairly maligned. In the 19th century, the area was very prosperous because of coal mining and the train industry, because there was a lot of iron ore there that you could make train tracks out of, etc. Scranton is nicknamed the Electric City, because it had the first electrified streetcar trolleys in the United States.
- It was large and prosperous city. by 1900, Scranton had about 100,000 people living there, and it was the third largest city in Pennsylvania, and the 38th largest city in the United States. I believe that the height of Scranton's population was in 1920, when 137,000 people lived there. For contrast, 76,000 people lived in Scranton in 2020.
- Scranton's story is similar to the story of many towns in the United States that were big industrial hubs, and then work dwindled and jobs went away and people moved away and things just kind of slipped into disarray and depression.
- Scranton is really interesting because it still has all these beautiful buildings and landmarks, but other aspects of its glory days have been dismantled.
- For example there isn't even a train that goes from Scranton to New York City anymore, even though I think that would only be a couple hour train ride, maybe 2 to 3 hours. So many of the things that Scranton was famous for, have been mothballed basically, or totally removed. So people like me, who can't drive, either have to take an unreliable bus to Scranton, or do what I did, which was to fly to Scranton. Scranton is only 100 miles away from New York City, so it is a 23 minute plane ride. The airplane — which held 50 people — was so small that it wasn't pulled up to the regular gate at Newark, so we had to take a shuttle bus to get from the gate to the airplane, and the process of taking the shuttle bus to the airplane took longer than the actual in air time of the flight. It's almost like someone sat down and was like, how can we cut off the city that was extremely connected to things, and make it really difficult to come here. I know that's not really how it works, but it is a good example of how inefficient a lot of our modern transportation systems are and how public transportation used to be much more comprehensive. (Again, see also my episode about Mount Beacon, where I talk about a lost tourist railway.)
- Also, one thing tangentially related thing that foiled some of my Scranton plans was that I had planned to walk around several different parts of Scranton. I'd had routes planned to walk between different things I wanted to see, but then I got there I discovered something that was truly baffling to me, which is that there are not sidewalks in a lot of Scranton. There seem to be some downtown, but then they just disappear. There were stretches of road that had crossing signs and walk signs at the intersections, but there was no sidewalk connecting those together. So there were some moments, especially on my first day there, when I found myself walking along the side of the road on what I thought was a sidewalk and then I realized it was a shoulder, and the shoulder went away, then I was just standing in a stranger's driveway but had no way of continuing on my walk. And I just had to call a lyft to pick me up from the side of the road. So if you, like me, do not drive, I guess don't assume that every city or suburb has sidewalks. It almost feels like there used to be sidewalks there, because there were the pedestrian lights for crossing intersections, but maybe the sidewalks went the way of the train and were removed at some point. So, yeah, some of the transportation infrastructure related to Scranton is baffling.
- So all of this brings us to my experience in Scranton. Even though it was only a 23 minute plane ride, it still took me hours to get to Newark from where I live in Queens, and I spent a decent amount time waiting for the flight, and Newark is a truly awful airport. I swear it gets worse every time I go there. So by the time I landed in Scranton, or Wilkes-Barre, I suppose, I was not in amazing shape. I've mentioned this before, but I am not neurotypical, and sometimes when I am particularly exhausted and have been exposed to overwhelming sensory stuff, I end up in very bad shape. I had a few hours to kill before I could check into my air B&B, so I walked around a couple parks, including Nay Aug park, which I'll talk about later. I don't think I realized how out of it I was until I got to the air B&B and I had to spend sort of a long time sitting in a dark room in complete silence, staring at the wall. But eventually I was in good enough shape to at least turn on some music and play a couple games of solitaire — because I always like to travel with a deck of cards — and kind of settle in. The reason why I'm giving all the detail is because I do think it's valuable to have this as context for some of the paranormal stuff that I experienced that night.
- Now I guess I should tell you about this air B&B. With the hotels in the area mostly booked, I didn't have a ton of options when it came to lodging. It seems like very few tourists go to Scranton; I was surprised to find that everyone I encountered while out and about thought I was from there; lyft drivers were asking me for directions, my preferred routes, etc. This made a pretty big contrast to what it's like visiting the suburban Texas town I grew up in, where everyone immediately makes it pretty obvious that they know I'm from out of town. I think that's because I have a buzzcut, dress all in black, and have a bunch of tattoos. But even though I didn't see anyone else who looked like me in Scranton, the automatic assumption was that I was from there. Which was kinda nice, actually. (And everyone I encountered was nice, like friendly in a PA way.) But I think it just speaks to how there's this assumption that no one from out of town would go to Scranton.
- but anyway, to get back the where I was staying: this place looked nice enough. And it was, to be clear. It was a nice apartment and for the most part it was a perfectly pleasant place to stay. It was an attic apartment, so that added a little bit to a creepy ambience, perhaps.
- But one of the weirdest things about this air B&B was that it was located on a street that was named after running water. I don't want to say more than that, because I don't give away the location of this air B&B. But I was very surprised to see, when I got out of the lyft to go into the air B&B, that the reason why the street was named after running water was because there was a small creek in between the street and the sidewalk. So basically to get from the street to the house, you had to cross a small bit of running water. I didn't think about that from a paranormal perspective until much later, after I was already home.
- But there are a lot of stories about people having paranormal experiences around running water, and there's something very symbolic about stepping over a small creek in order to get to a building, especially since the building ended up being haunted. It was almost like a crossing of the Rubicon or something.
- So here I am, staying alone in an attic apartment next to some running water. I go to sleep around 10 PM, But as I'm going to bed, I get this really weird feeling about the right side of the room, this corner of the room next to one of the closets. And kinda between the closet and the bed. It's also worth noting that that part of the room was far away from the radiator; it was on the other side of the room.
- I can't really describe the feeling I got except that it was a bad vibe. And it caused me a little bit of stress when I was trying to go to sleep. Because I'm one of those people who always likes to sleep facing towards the door. But if I faced towards the door I would have my back to this area on the other side of the room that I didn't feel good about. And I really had a lot of trouble deciding which way to lay. I finally decided to face towards the door, because that's what I always do, but I kept thinking about this other corner of the room.
- So went to sleep, and I woke up again maybe around 11:30 or so because the radiator was banging. This is an older building that was built about 100 years ago, so it has the trademark noisy radiators. But I will say that I've never been somewhere with radiators that were quite that loud. Some of the Fordham University radiators give it a run for its money, but I still think this air B&B has Fordham beat.
- I'm used to banging radiators though because I live in a building that is about 100 years old and has noisy radiators. But as I was lying awake, I got this feeling that was very similar to the feeling I got when I was staying in Salem at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel. I think I talked about this during the episodes that I did about the Hawthorne hotel, but it was the sense that someone was in the room with me — or something — but as long as I didn't open my eyes and look around to try to find it, I would be okay and it couldn't get me. I had my phone and headphones next to me in bed so I really quickly without looking around at all put them on so that way I would have something to block out the noise and also I just had this really uneasy feeling and I needed to feel comforted. So I put on the most comforting album that I could think of while half-asleep, which if you're curious, is Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin. So I put that album on repeat, closed my eyes again, and kind of drifted in and out of sleep.
- Eventually, even with my headphones in, I woke up and heard this weird noise, like someone shifting around on a leather couch--you know that almost squeaking sound you get when your bare legs move on a leather couch. But it was really loud.
- I tried to get up, but couldn't, and it was dark so I couldn't see anything. My body felt really heavy. I tried to lift my arms for a while, maybe a few minutes, but I couldn't.
- The noise was coming from the right side of the bed, from an area in front of one of the two closet doors, the area that I'd felt uneasy about earlier.
- But I really felt like there was something there in that corner of the room. It felt like there was someone or something in the room with me.
- Eventually, I felt like the thing left or backed off, and I was able to move and turn on the light.
- And that's when I realized that I had had my first experience of sleep paralysis. It's funny, because maybe a week before the Scranton trip, I was talking to Fen from the podcast Follow the Woo, and Fen asked me if I had ever experienced sleep paralysis and I was like nope! I've always been very glad to have never experienced sleep paralysis. So much for that.
- Anyway, I think that was maybe around midnight.
- I tried to get back to sleep and I just couldn't. (I did have the light on at this point, and I kept it on for the rest of the night.) For the most part, for reference, I am a pretty good sleeper. And if I wake up during the night it is always between the hours of 3 and 5 AM. I know that correlates to the lungs in the body clock, so I assume it has something to do with my asthma or allergies. Anyway, it was very unusual for me to wake up that early in the night, and I thought I would have no trouble getting back to sleep. But I was wrong. I tried really hard to get back to sleep, I did all my usual things to get to sleep, some meditation, etc., but no dice. And it's safe to say that I was feeling fairly scared, perhaps irrationally so. And that is also an unusual experience for me. I felt almost like whatever presence had been in the room had backed off but wasn't totally gone. I just felt like something was watching me, but it wasn't actively doing anything. It was just waiting to see what I was going to do. I was uneasy enough that I put off walking across the apartment to use the restroom, because I didn't even want to get out of bed and turn my back to that part of the room in order to walk out the door. Finally, I gave up on trying to sleep and just started reading, because a lot of time I fall asleep while reading.
- And just as I was finishing my book around 5 AM, I finally started dozing off. So at this point, I had been awake for hours and I was so relieved that is finally going to get to sleep a little bit before the day started.
- But just as my eyes were fluttering closed, I heard a voice. I would describe it as a mechanical voice, almost like someone speaking through a vocoder or some other weird mechanical voice like through a spirit box, though of course I was not using a spirit box. The sound seemed to come right from the place that I felt uneasy about.
- I have an auditory processing disorder so I often hear something, mishear it, and then a few seconds later — maybe 10 seconds or so later — I understand what was really said. I'm just pretty slow to process things. So initially, I thought that the voice said "so are we" but then once my brain had a chance to catch up to my ears, it very clearly had been "go away."
- Throughout all of this, I hadn't seen anything visual in that corner, though when I had sleep paralysis I wasn't able see anything because it was too dark. But I definitely got the sense that something was there and it had been speaking to me.
- After the sun came up, I was able to doze off for a little bit, though not very long. And once it was light again the apartment felt fine. I had noticed that to what I got there initially. During the daylight hours it had seemed fine, and then as soon as it got dark it started to feel bad.
- So that was my first night in Scranton. My first of two nights, I might add. I was definitely dreading the next night, for sure.
- I had planned to do some things in Scranton. Check out the train museums, for example. Walk around the sort of downtown area of Scranton see some of the cool buildings. But I just couldn't. I ended up going for a walk over by Lake Scranton and then just rested until my friend's wedding.
- So then after the wedding, I get back to the apartment and I am just completely exhausted. I just wanted to sleep. So I thought, okay, what can I do in order to deal with this issue. Because as much as I always think I want to encounter the paranormal, I don't want to at the expense of a good night's sleep. I also don't want to when it's really scary and I'm alone.
- so before I went to bed, I did two things:
- first, I appealed to the Virgin Mary for protection. I am not a practicing Catholic anymore but I definitely still have a lot of faith in the Catholic pantheon, in particular in the Virgin Mary, who I've been told via dreams that I should appeal to if I ever need help, or psychic protection, etc. I think the night before when I had been awake and freaked out, I was just too out of it to think to do this, but it's really what I should've done in the first place. I'm always a little bit cagey about talking about this sort of religious side of things, but I also feel like I can't tell this story honestly without mentioning this, and it also doesn't really feel right for me not to give her credit.
- And then after that, I just had a conversation with any entity that might be present in the room. I basically explained that I wanted to communicate and I apologized if I may have offended this entity, and I explained that I didn't mean any disrespect but I was just staying there for a couple days. I I said that I would be checking out by 11 AM the next morning and they wouldn't have to deal with me anymore after that. And I just asked that this entity let me have a good night sleep. I just explained that I was really really tired I just wanted to sleep. And then I thanked anything present listening to me and I went to bed.
- And even though the radiator was still extremely loud — so loud that I had to put in my headphones and put on a podcast in order for me to go to sleep at all, because the radiator was loud and the landlord's dog was barking continually until 11 pm — despite the racket, after I fell asleep, I stayed asleep. I also left the light on all night, but was able to sleep despite that. I didn't wake up even once throughout the entire night. I slept really well. I didn't get a bad vibe as I was drifting off to sleep or when I woke up or anything. It felt like a totally normal room, and it felt like a completely different room than the one I had spent the previous night in.
- So I don't know which of the two things that I did worked the most, or if doing both of those things together was what was so effective, but I guess somebody was listening to me, and I was very grateful for that. Oh, it's also worth mentioning that I did try to do the tower of light method of psychic self defense the first night. And it had a lot of luck with that working with people, like I use a version of the tower of light usually when someone you know walks up to me on the street I don't talk to them, and I've had people literally turn around and walk away, but I found it pretty ineffective in this instance. Or at least I think it was ineffective. Who knows, maybe I would've felt worse if I hadn't done that. But I found that I had a lot of trouble focusing on the visualization for the tower of light when I was in that space on that first night and feeling so uncomfortable, and I don't usually have problems with visualizations or anything. So it just felt like something was off there, and that feels worth mentioning.
- And then the next day I checked on the air B&B and killed a little bit of time at Nay Aug Park, the part that I had spent some time in my first got there, and which is supposedly haunted in which I'll talk about next time. It's a really cool park with a treehouse in a covered bridge and waterfall all kinds of cool stuff.
- And then I went to the airport and I can say that the Wilkes-Barre airport is the polar opposite of Newark. I think it had maybe eight flights coming in and out of it the whole day and it they were just quietly playing 80s music over the speakers and there were no loud TVs or crowds of people and then some people came by with therapy dogs to cheer people up because the airport sucks. So my trip back to New York was a lot better than my trip out, because I have a good fortune of waiting in a incredibly pleasant airport, so hats off to the Wilkes-Barre airport.
- That was my Scranton trip. It was a pretty quick turnaround, just a couple of days, and I had planned out a whole itinerary for myself that I really deviated from, but now that it's about a week later as I'm recording this, honestly I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I think I was overly ambitious with my plans in the first place, but also the paranormal aspect of all this is just so interesting to me. I still can't get over the fact that this attic apartment that I was staying in could only be reached by crossing over running water, for example. And while I'm not happy exactly to have experienced my first sleep paralysis, I can't say that it was a unique experience that I hope will not be repeated and was interesting. And now when people ask me if I have experienced sleep paralysis, I can say yeah, I have.
- So anyway, in my usual form I thought this was gonna be one episode, that I thought okay I can cover Scranton to episodes, but now I'm feeling like I probably need three episodes of talk about Scranton. Just because it is such an interesting place and I really enjoyed being there and doing the research for my trip. I just love a place that's kind of fallen from its prior glory, but which hold so much history and kind of tells us so much about a certain point in the not so distant past.
- In the next episode, and probably the episode after that, I'll talk about some of the famously haunted places in Scranton. I only went to a couple of them, but my general feeling about Scranton is that is probably way more haunted than anyone gives it credit for. That is, if my experience is in any way representative of the general vibe in Scranton.