Following in the footsteps of ghosts along Germantown Avenue

It’s a busy Saturday night, in the middle of Germantown. On the lawn of Upsala Mansion, Rick Fink is teaching a group of 20 people the fine art of dowsing for ghosts. 

Fink holds the slim dowsing rods in his hand and demonstrates how the rods will move in the presence of paranormal activity.  “Since you are visiting one of the most haunted areas in Philadelphia, I would expect your dowsing rods to turn,” said Fink.

Detecting spirits is part of the Ghosts of the Great Road walking tour along Germantown Avenue–“the great road”–presented by the Museum of the Macabre in collaboration with the sites in Historic Germantown.

“We thought Halloween would be a great time to do ghost tours because around the Halloween time people are interested in the supernatural.” said Fink

A tour guide, dressed as the ghost owner of Germantown’s Kirk & Nice funeral home, narrates the history of a number of haunted sites including a public well where apparitions were reported, the  original site of Kirk & Nice, and the Upper Burying Ground where paranormal investigators have reported recent spirit sightings. 

As the group dodges around people waiting at bus stops, dragging home carts of groceries and picking up take out food, the tour mixes modern day Germantown with it’s historic past.

The last stop on the tour is Cliveden, home to the Chew family and the spot where soldiers died during the battle of Germantown. Whether you believe in ghosts, it’s hard not deny the spooky fun of wandering around a big, old, dark house that just might be haunted.

If you want to revel with the spirits this weekend, Historic Germantown has a number of events to help you get your scare on:

Ghosts of the Great Road

The 90-minute tour takes place on Saturday, Oct. 29. Tours leave promptly at 3 p.m. from Market Square, 5501 Germantown Avenue, or at 6 p.m. from the front of Upsala, 6430 Germantown Avenue. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance. For more information or ticket sales, visit

• A House Divided–Murder Mystery at Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, 200 West Tulpehocken Street

The fifth annual event borrows from the game of Clue with a focus on the Civil War in Germantown. It takes place on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 30, at 2:30 p.m. Tours begin every 20 minutes, and tickets are $16 per person. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 215-438-1861 or visit

Tours of the Haunted Mansion at Stenton, 4601 North 18th Street

On Saturday, Oct. 29, fill up with family-friendly fright on a tour of James Logan’s Stenton from noon to 4 p.m.  Enjoy fun for all ages with pumpkin painting, apple cider, and spice cookies. The event is free, and costumes are encouraged! For tickets or more information, call 215-329-7312, or visit

To learn more about the 15 cultural and historic sites that make up Historic Germantown and more special events, visit

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