A retirement home on Rail Road street was the location of probably the most horrifying ghost reported in Keene. This story comes from a young woman, who heard it from her now deceased grandmother that lived in the retirement home.
She relates her grandmother often had trouble sleeping at night, but didn’t want to go out side for a walk. Her grandmother would wait until late at night and go for a walk inside the building. She said her grandmother was very aged, and would simply push her walker gently for a few steps to help deal with her insomnia.
The young woman shared that one day when she was a child, she stopped by with her mother to visit her grandmother. To their dismay they saw her grandmother’s walker just lying on it’s side in the hallway. The young woman remembers the panic her mother voice, as she quickly knocked on the door of the apartment where her grandmother resided and cried out “Mom are you alright?”
Her grandmother opened the door, shaking with fright. The young woman remembers her mother calming the grandmother and asking her why her walker was in the hallway. It was a very frightening experience for this then young child to hear the story her grandmother then told.
It seems her grandmother was doing her usual insomnia cure, a few steps up and down a hallway. She said she became upset when she thought she noticed white smoke coming from the other end, and was trying to hurry back to room to report a fire. She said it wasn’t like “real smoke” but “more of a mist”. Still, her grandmother then said she felt the building slightly shake, as if a large truck had traveled nearby.
At this point her grandmother stopped and peered at the mist, wondering what was to come next and trembling in great fear. She worried something had gone “terribly wrong” and fear of how the entire building of seniors would escape washed over her.
Her grandmother then saw coming down the hallway, “almost floating slightly above the mist” was a man that had been in a “horrible accident”. Even though it was dark, her grandmother claimed he “glowed from within” and she could see he was burned and bleeding. He reached out his hand to her, she noticed the other arm he did not raise seemed to be almost completely blown off. The man then gave a low moan. She then said she could begin to smell the stench of some explosion or fire, and she quickly dropped her walker and stumbled back into her room.
Her grandmother had sat there the rest of the night, with her back to the door, terribly afraid and shaking. The young woman, then a child, said her grandmother must have been very afraid as she would not have spoken in front of her about it. The young woman said she asked her grandmother “Why didn’t you call the firemen?”
Her grandmother just shook her head and said “He wasn’t real, he couldn’t have been real.” It was then the young woman’s mother realized she was there and sent her to another room.
When she later tried to ask her grandmother about this spectral victim of some horrible calamity, she said her grandmother would never speak of it again. Still the young woman said she could never forget what her grandmother had said, even though no one in the family would speak of it. She thought her mother believed it was just late night imagination, but she herself never felt convinced of this.
The story behind this frightening scene could lie in the former life of the building. The retirement home was built using some of the walled remains of the old Beaver Mill building. The Beaver Mill site would be a good candidate for a haunting or two.
There was a horrible boiler explosion at the Beaver Mill building on May 22nd 1893. While rare today, boiler explosions were a horrifying possibility at one time. Bricks from this explosion were found streets away. The explosion killed two instantly, and one man was burned. The sad part was that workman’s compensation meant those hurt were out of work. Even those that survived the blast would find themselves without a job in an era when there were few social welfare programs for the unemployed. It was truly a disaster to not only the men killed but those that had worked at the factory.
Perhaps the ghost was one of the poor victims, scalded by the great boiler explosion? Some say ghosts are nothing but a memory of a tragic event, forever imprinted on the location because of the great grief associated with the site. If any site in Keene would have such ghosts, this site would surely have them.
- A Haunting We Will Go (pamelamorrisbooks.wordpress.com)
- Have You Seen Them? (anuradha13.wordpress.com)
- Grandmother Weaver (quirkyascrow.wordpress.com)