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Three big ideas for ghost hunting fun

By Anita Bowser

As the crisp air and long nights of October seep into our collective consciousness, so many of us turn to fun diversions, filling idle hours with pumpkin carving, Halloween costumes, and tricks-or-treats. In this lighthearted way, we begin to steel ourselves for the long, dark winter to come.

Others come under the season’s somber spell, believing the curtain between our world and the next is the most passable at this time of year. From ghostly campfire tales to urban legends to creepy podcasts streaming on the car’s Bluetooth, stories of shadows and divination become hard to resist.

For the bravest among us, now is a great time to connect with the supernatural. But, where would someone find such hair-raising opportunities? And, what kind of adventures are available to beginners and dabblers? To help with these otherworldly questions, we asked two of Kittanning Library’s favorite paranormal investigators to share some tips and top-rated haunts.

Susan Barto and Janet Kellner cross paths with unexplained phenomenon on a regular basis. The Armstrong County residents have been investigating haunted places for years, sometimes independently and sometimes as part of local or regional paranormal organizations.

Susan says it’s a hobby, like any other. Some people scrapbook and some people hike. She and Janet just like to hang out in spooky places looking for ghosts. And, some of their favorite spots are within a few hours of Kittanning.

Here is their advice for some eerie investigations.

Stay local for quick, spirited fun

According to Susan, there are plenty of great local ghost tours, featuring real opportunities to experience the paranormal. Some good tours are available through Ghosts N’at Paranormal Adventures. They offer year-round tours within the greater Pittsburgh area.

An hour by car can also land you at Hill View Manor, New Castle, PA. The former Lawrence County poor house and county home features private and public ghost tours with special events, including child psychics and instructional sessions, such as an intro to ghost hunting. The facility was featured in a 2011 episode of Ghost Hunters (Syfi).

Also, many towns have ghost tours during the Halloween season. Local tours typically last one or two hours. There is generally some walking involved, and you may need a flashlight. Some tours might be inappropriate for children. It’s always best to carefully check the website or call ahead for specifics.

Find to-die-for haunted hotels & eateries

Susan and Janet sometimes look for haunted hotels and restaurants and a favorite is the Hotel Conneaut, Conneaut Lake, PA. The building has been around since the early 1900s and attracts ghost hunters year-round. Unexplained occurrences have been reported in certain rooms while guests throughout the hotel’s grounds have heard disembodied whispers. The hotel is about 1 ½ to 2 hours by car.

A Google search can help in finding haunted restaurants and hotels.

Historic places are for tourists & ghosts

An all-time favorite for Susan and Janet, is the historic town and surroundings of Gettysburg, PA. The town and battlefield are steeped in history and feature a number of ghost tours. Books about local folk lore and hauntings make self-guided tours easy. From Sachs Bridge to Devil’s Den to the nearby Cashtown Inn, the possibilities are endless. It’s about 3 ½ hours by car, but Susan says it’s well worth the trip.

Janet Kellner & Susan Barto, paranormal investigators from Armstrong County in Western Pennsylvania, enjoy hunting ghosts in the Kittanning, Ford City area.
Janet and Susan at a paranormal investigators' Halloween party in 2013

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV, is a national historic landmark that offers year-round tours and overnight stays. It’s billed as a place “not for the faint of heart” and has been featured on a 2014 episode of Ghost Hunters (Syfy) and a 2009 episode of the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures. It will take you about 3 hours to get there, but comes highly recommended by Susan and Janet.

Also featured in a 2019 episode of Ghost Hunters (A&E) was the Madison Seminary, Madison, OH. This one is a 2 ½ hour drive from Kittanning, but absolutely worth the trip according to our sources. It’s another location rich in history, dating from the mid-1800s. Susan said the institution is a fantastic place for paranormal investigation. She and Janet have had some chilling experiences there.

No expertise is necessary to explore these spine-tingling locales. We hope our suggestions help you in your search for Halloween fun. Good luck and happy ghost hunting!

We would love to hear from you about your favorite spooky spots. As always, we welcome your input. It helps us keep our readers well informed. And, please remember to be respectful of others in our forum.


Anita Bowser is a writer and blogger from Armstrong County. She’s a volunteer at Kittanning Library and has worked as a reporter, copy editor, content writer and a library director. Her favorite past times include reading, writing and avoiding arithmetic. Contact her at and find out more at

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