Historic Bethlehem on the North Side features descriptive signs with historical designations. Citizens have raised concerns over buildings proposed to be built in the city. (Han Jiang/B&W Staff)

Historic Bethlehem’s Mystery and History tour explores spooky sightings


The Mystery and History Tour features stories of unsolved murders, ghostly sightings and eerie premonitions sighted among numerous historic buildings in Bethlehem. Presented by the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center, the tour is running throughout the month of October. 

Currently in their second year of operation, the Mystery and History Tours are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m., running an hour-long and leaving from the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center.

Charlene Donchez Mowers, president of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, said she did the research and writing for the tour.

“I wanted to share interesting information about both historical insights of the colonial industrial quarter and talk about some of the history of the sights and some of the mysterious happenings that took place in that area,” Mowers said. “It is believed to be America’s earliest industrial park and the largest concentration of trades in the American colonies at that time.”

The tour itself is led by a costumed guide who tells historical and mysterious stories about the various individuals who might have died in the area. 

Buildings visited on the tour include those in the Colonial Industrial Quarter of Bethlehem, Smithy and the colonial blacksmith buildings, the Waterworks and the Tannery, as well as along the Monocacy Creek.

Examples of stories told to participants include the fire at Luckenbach Mill and the struggles faced by the Moravians.

“A couple of years ago we had paranormals come, and they said there are three spirits down there, however, they don’t identify them by name or character,” said Ted Moyer, a docent for Historic Bethlehem.

These identified spirits included one experienced on the second floor of the 1761 Tannery and a spirit of a young woman walking along the Monocacy Creek looking for a lost loved one, Moyer said. 

The third spirit was that of a young boy wandering around the 1756 butchery, however, it is not known what he is looking for. Moyer said the current theory is that he is looking for his lost cow that his mother said was taken to a nice farm, however, it actually went to the butcher.

Melina Cawley, ‘23, said she plans on going on the tour and is excited about it since she loves scary movies and has heard scary stories regarding the Bethlehem area. 

“It is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween,” Cawley said.

Last year, the tour was a part of a package for those staying at the Hotel Bethlehem. Although this package is not being offered this year, Moyer said turnout has been strong, especially with Halloween approaching.

In addition to the Mystery and History Tours, there are 10 other walking tours on the North Side of Bethlehem, one of which being the Death and Dying Tour. This tour touches on the Moravian funerary practices, as well as how they view death. Participants are even able to visit the cemetery to see where these spirits rest, Moyer said.

In addition to the Mystery and History Tour-specific programming, participants are able to experience other Halloween festivities occurring throughout Bethlehem on their tour, such as the Scarecrow Showdown on the North Side of Bethlehem.

Mowers encourages people to attend the tour in its last weekend, as well as check out Historic Bethlehem’s other events.

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