The powder magazine was deliberately crafted with an entrance that twists and turns, to ensure that if the gunpowder kept inside it ignited, any subsequent explosion would be contained within the structure itself rather than directed outward toward the rest of the fort (and soldiers). Therefore, absolutely no natural light penetrates the interior; it is total darkness once you turn off your flashlight.
We situated ourselves and our equipment; our female colleague sat with her back to the rear wall, facing the entrance, and my male colleague and I stood against the side walls. We asked our standard EVP questions and then, about 15 minutes into the investigation, my male colleague and I both started to see pinpricks of green light sparkling near the back wall. Our female colleague didn’t see them, even though she was sitting basically next to where we thought the sparks were coming from. The flashes of light were tiny and seemed to appear in midair and instantly vanish, with no sound, smell, or detectable pattern. Then our female colleague started to see them near the entrance, toward the top of where the door would be. This went on randomly for about 30 minutes, until we eventually closed that session and moved on to a different part of the fort. But I’m still fascinated with a phenomenon I perceive to be truly inexplicable. It wasn’t caused by bugs or plants or moss, at least not that I could discern. Could it be something atmospheric or somehow related to the powder once stored there? Possible, I guess, but we didn’t see anything similar in any of the other structures at the fort, despite similar construction and the fact that gunpowder would be pretty ubiquitous throughout the buildings while the fort was in use. And then there’s the fact that my male colleague had seen the exact same green sparkles in the exact same location almost a decade earlier.
What really piqued my interest was when, a couple of weeks ago, I read a recent book by Richard Estep, Gacy’s Ghost: Hunting the Spirit of a Serial Killer, in which he mentions seeing a green flash of light while investigating the “Green Room” of an allegedly haunted theater. He reports that several members of his team all saw the light at the same time and were unable to debunk it. I immediately thought of the green sparks at Fort Mifflin and Googled madly, wondering if maybe this was a specific type of paranormal phenomenon that I just hadn’t heard about. Alas, nothing terribly helpful came up, so for now it remains an unexplained curiosity. I thought it was interesting enough to write about, though, in hopes perhaps other people have experienced it or have theories about possible causes or just think it’s as weirdly wonderful as I do. The green lights were pretty much the apex of our investigation, along with – I swear this is true – disembodied flatulence in the same casemate where Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters saw a ghostly face during their televised investigation of the fort many years ago. It came from thin air between me and my fellow investigators, all of us heard it and all of us adamantly denied responsibility. Luckily it was just the sound, with no accompanying phantom smell, and was the source of much amusement. My male colleague put it best when he summed up our investigation of Fort Mifflin as “Farts and Sparkles.” (Side note: the caretaker of the fort did actually later confirm that he too has heard disembodied flatulence in the grounds of the fort. Make of that what you will.)
On a more serious note, to read more about this important part of our nation’s past, please visit the fort’s official website at http://www.fortmifflin.us/. And when you’re finally able to get out and about again, it’s definitely worth a visit!