Ghost Tour brings local history to life at Brackenridge Cemetery

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A leisurely stroll through Prospect Cemetery in Brackenridge on Thursday evening will see prominent figures from the past brought to life by local actors who revel in the history of Alle-Kiski Valley.

Henry Brackenridge will be among those pictured on the annual Cemetery Ghost Tour. The borough is named after the congressman, judge and author who lived there in the 1800s.

His story during the Halloween-themed event will join others buried there, including John Long, the borough’s first mayor, and Samuel Gardner, an Allegheny County district attorney.

Registration for a tour hour is suggested.

“There is so much history in this valley,” said organizer Cindy Homburg. “I love it and I love to share it with others.”

Among those buried in the cemetery‘s 13,000 graves are Civil War soldiers, teachers, judges, socialites, Independence War soldiers and lawmakers.

Elizabeth Harrison Bridge, the daughter of the man who founded the neighboring township of Harrison, is buried there, as are several early settlers, Homburg said.

Most of the graves are without markers.

During the ghost tour, about fifteen actors will be costumed in period clothes for a better effect.

“The man who plays Brackenridge will be wearing a black robe and a top hat, since he was a judge,” Homburg said. “We have a Civil War uniform and a decorated horseman. “

Henry Brackenridge is an audience favorite, she said, and is featured every year. He donated the land for the cemetery in the 1800s and is also the founder of Tarentum.

Some of the original cemetery documents were lost during the St. Patrick’s Day flood of 1936. The office was located on land below Taranto and was washed away.

The ghost tour, a tradition since 2010, was forced to take a hiatus last year due to the pandemic, but Homburg said she had received a slew of phone calls from disappointed customers.

“It’s very unique, fun and scary,” Homburg said.

Tour guides carry lanterns. Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight.

More than 200 people are expected, according to Homburg.

“I love the cemetery and have a special passion for it,” she said. “To see the pleasure that people get, that’s why we do it.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, [email protected] or via Twitter .



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