In New England: Haunted happenings on Boston island

Stephanie Schorow

Even if you don't believe in ghosts, you will definitely get a spooky vibe when exploring Fort Warren on Georges Island, one of the 34 islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area.

Maybe it's the way a costumed park guide tells with relish the story of "The Lady in Black," about a woman hanged as a Confederate accomplice on the island during the Civil War whose ghost now haunts the ramparts. OK, so there's no real evidence that such a woman was ever executed on Georges Island, but Confederate soldiers were, indeed, imprisoned there - the fort was active from 1833 through World War II (it was decommissioned in 1951).

When the guide insists that he has actually seen the ghostly Lady in Black, it's enough to make the hairs rise on the back of your neck.

It's true that even on bright sunny days, when visitors to Georges Island get spectacular views of Boston Light - the oldest lighthouse station in the country - from the fort's upper ramparts, sections of the interior bastions are always sheathed in shadows. Some corridors are almost completely dark.

Georges Island is one of the most accessible harbor islands, along with Spectacle, and a hub for ferry service. This makes it popular, and although the 39-acre island is often overrun with kids and adults, visitors still experience a sense of discovery walking through the fort entrance, scrambling over the various batteries, and peeking into the former powder magazine, bakery and hospital.

To enhance the spooky aspect, this year, for Halloween, the National Park Service and Boston Harbor Island Alliance - which oversee the park - are reviving an old custom of "Halloween on the Harbor" on Georges Island. On Oct. 25 and 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be special ferry service to the island. And the island itself will be prepared with an especially spooky Fort Warren, haunted with strange puppet creatures from the performance group Big Nazo. (Regular weekend ferry service to Georges Island ends for the season Oct. 13.)

Maybe the Lady in Black will hand out the candy corn. For more information, go to

Stephanie Schorow is a Boston-area writer and author of "East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Islands."

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