August 24, 2008

Jenny Lind Tower and Highland Light: Ghosts or Ticks?

I vacationed in Truro last week, and decided to visit Highland Light, a historic lighthouse on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. Nearby is the Jenny Lind Tower, which some people claim is haunted.

Jenny Lind was a famous opera singer in the 19th century. Her 1850 performance at the Boston Opera House was oversold by PT Barnum, and people who couldn't fit into the auditorium began a riot. To soothe them, Lind performed for the mob in the street from a nearby tower. Voila! Riot averted.

In 1927, a local businessman moved the tower from Boston to Truro. According to Thomas D'Agostino's Haunted Massachusetts, the tower is haunted by Jenny Lind's ghost - and she disapproves of modern music.

I visited Highland Light on a sunny, breezy morning. Nothing spooky was going on, but the setting and view are very dramatic. I couldn't get up into the tower because it was filled with other tourists, but I did stop by the Truro Historical Society's museum, which is adjacent to the lighthouse in an old hotel. I could see the Jenny Lind Tower in the distance (near a radar dome), but had no clue how to get there. Perhaps the museum could give me some more information?

I enjoyed visiting the museum, which features local artists, historic artifacts (Algonquian arrowheads, midden heaps, harpoons, etc.), numerous hotel rooms decorated in period style, and the Shipwreck Room, which would make a great name for a bar. There were some photos of Jenny Lind and her eponymous tower on the stairs.

After touring the museum, I asked the volunteers manning the desk if there was any way to get to the Jenny Lind Tower.

"I went there once on a tour," one staffer offered, "but it's on government land. There aren't any roads leading to it. You can't climb it anyway."

Another staffer said, "Well, you can go there if you want, if you don't mind getting covered with ticks."

I do mind getting covered in ticks. My fear of Lyme Disease outweighed my curiosity about Jenny Lind's possible ghost.

Even though I didn't get to see the tower, the trip was still fruitful. Highland Light is worth visiting, the museum was interesting, and I bought a copy of John Josselyn's New-Englands Rarities Discovered in the gift shop. It's a great source of early New England folklore first published in 1672. I'll share some of it's more interesting highlights in the future.


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