By Elizabeth Perry
The former Haunted Carnegie Walking Tour is expanding and rebranding this Halloween season.
Founder Melanie Luke has struck out under a new name, Dark History PGH, and added a historic walking tour in Dormont. This is the group’s fourth year providing tours in Carnegie and the first year for Dormont.
Luke first organized the Carnegie ghost walk in 2016 as a shop event for her Carnegie toy store the Flying Squirrel.
The Main Street shop is now home to an ice cream shop.
Luke said her notion of putting together a ghost walk came from the spooky happenings that occurred in her old building. Every Sunday, a particular tin ceiling tile would fall down, usually when the person working the cash register was alone. There was nothing architecturally unsound about the ceiling causing the tile to fall, yet the problem persisted.
By chance, Luke met the daughter of the former owner of the building.
Through conversation, she found out that the family used to live above the retail space and would have big family dinners every Sunday. The woman’s father died inside the building. Luke thought the fact that she took the staircase out of her retail space had upset the ghost of the former owner and he was reminding everyone that he missed those Sunday dinners by dropping a ceiling tile.
The ghostly incident sent her down a historical rabbit hole.
With the cooperation of the Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Historical Society, Luke has been able to research and compile a chronicle of the chilling goings-on in the area.
The 80-minute tour is a one-mile loop through buildings, up and down stairs and along railroad tracks.
The tour culminates at Ross Colonial Cemetery, a small cemetery on Christie Street in Carnegie that was endowed by President George Washington.
The tiny cemetery is nestled in a neighborhood, with a view overlooking Carnegie.
“It turns out to be a hidden gem,” Luke said.
The cemetery was in use between 1851 and 1869, according to the Western Genealogical Society’s Cemetery Index, which also indicates the bodies that once were interred there had been moved to Chartiers Cemetery.
The first person buried in Ross Cemetery was Nimrod Ross, who died at the age of 7 in 1781. This child was the eldest son of Captain Phillip Ross who served with Washington and Luke said at times people who attend the walk swear they see a specter in colonial garb.
Others swear they see a “man in a black hat” when the tour stops at the Carnegie Music Hall which is taken to be Andrew Carnegie.
Though Luke wants to continue expanding her walking tours beyond Carnegie and Dormont, she has no intention of stepping on the “Haunted Pittsburgh” tour’s toes.
“I would love to continue working in smaller neighborhoods,” Luke said.
The suburbs are really where she sees a lot of potential to explore little-known real-life stories of the past. Luke describes the macabre as a “fun way to look into the history.”
To register for a Friday or Saturday walk in October or for more information on the Carnegie or Dormont tours, darkhistorypgh.com. Tickets are $25 and are suggested for those ages 12 and up. In Carnegie, tours gather at 7:45 p.m. to check in for the 8 p.m. start at the Northwest Savings Bank parking lot, 242 E. Main St.