By Adam McCully
Is there any place more perfectly suited to Halloween than the PA Great Outdoors? On any given autumn night in our area if the wind howling through the trees and fog rolling through the countryside doesn’t send a chill up your spine, the crisp fall air certainly will. The shadows cast by a harvest moon can play tricks on the mind, and appear as any number of haunting apparitions. The still quietness of our forests makes every tiny snap, hoot, and creak outside as loud as a thunderclap, and cause our frantic imaginations to run wild with thoughts of horrid abominations creeping up on us in the dark of night. With this kind of a stage set, it’s easy to see how so many ghost stories claim their origin in one of our five counties. The imagination runs wild at the thought of spirits roaming through the woods or haunting our homes, but is it just our imagination? Who’s to say what’s really there or just in our minds? It’s easy to say you don’t believe in ghosts if you’ve never seen one, but would you be willing to spend a night in a haunted house? For the guests of the Medix Hotel, the chance to spot an otherworldly visitor is part of the draw.
You can’t have a ghost story without an old building with lots and lots of history. The building that houses the historic Medix Hotel was built in 1896, and if these walls could talk they’d have more to say than the Hotel’s talkative owner, Peggy DeCarli, who was kind enough to share her own ghost stories with us.
The Medix Hotel started out as a boarding house for many of the loggers in the area around the turn of the century, including several residents who haven’t left yet. According to Peggy, the hotel is home to four different spirits, a man who lives (perhaps the wrong choice of words) in the attic, a woman named Victoria who frequents the bar downstairs, and a mother and child who stay in room number seven and are “quite happy” according to the staff accounts.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m a believer in ghosts,” remarked Peggy, “but I’ve seen so many things that it’s really hard to deny them either.” Peggy and her staff have been witness to more than their fair share of unexplainable events. Pictures have been taken off the wall and placed neatly on the floor, bedspreads have been removed if the ghosts “didn’t like them”, and according to many of the guests and staff there’s the undeniable feeling of being watched that permeates throughout the upstairs guest rooms.
Despite the eerie feeling that sharing your home with ghosts would undoubtedly create, Peggy claims that whatever presence is in the hotel, it’s not malicious. Rather, its main interest seems to be in protecting the hotel. While many of the businesses in the area have suffered some form of damage over the years, be it flood or fire, the Medix Hotel has remained virtually untouched, almost as if it’s under the influence of some sort of protective bubble. Peggy claims to have been woken up in the middle of the night by some unseen entity in order to warn her about a burst pipe on the other side of the hotel.
But even friendly ghosts can cause a bit of a shock. “One night, around 3 a.m., I was cleaning in the kitchen and noticed someone sitting at the bar. It was a woman, with white hair, dressed in a white, Victorian style dress. The bar was locked up at the time, and when I asked her how she got in, she smiled at me and vanished.”
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the Medix Hotel is worth the trip, especially if you’re in Pennsylvania’s wild elk country and looking for a good meal. The food is outstanding and the restaurant itself has a very laid back and comfortable atmosphere. And if you’re too beat after a day of elk viewing to drive home, they’ve got plenty of clean and comfortable rooms for weary travelers, as long as you don’t mind a supernatural roommate or two.
Find more information on visiting Pennsylvania’s Wild Elk Country at VisitPAGO.com or call the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau at (814) 849-5197.