The Haunting of Boone Tavern

February 22, 2018

Boone Tavern is a historic inn for travelers in Berea, Kentucky, named for famous frontier explorer Daniel Boone. It is also, allegedly, a very haunted place, but you couldn’t prove it by me.

Ghosts are said to roam throughout the stately 110-year-old structure (see accompanying old postcard photo), and the spirit activity is especially potent in the basement, say Chuck and Patti Starr of Ghost Chasers International. They have organized profitable Ghost Hunting Classes and Weekends there. Such an event in 2012 drew 40 hopeful ghost hunters (according to reporter Bill Robinson in the April 2, 2012, Richmond Register).

My wife Diana and I had spent a pleasant night at the inn in 2006, but—although I looked especially in the basement—I did not find a whiff of a hint of a ghost there or anywhere. However, the Starrs insist, spirits can be detected more easily if one has psychic or mediumistic ability (I don’t), or if one uses special equipment that detects electromagnetic energy (again, I don’t).

Truth is, of course, if detecting electromagnetic energy was all that was required, scientists might have proved the existence of ghosts long ago. But science, it must be noted, has not authenticated a single ghost. That is not surprising, since any life energy that left a body at death would surely dissipate and, in any case, would be unable to function without a brain. (Think about it!) Indeed, ghost hunters should learn that electromagnetic fields are as ubiquitous as faulty electrical wiring, radio waves, microwave emissions, solar activity, and many other influences including their own electronic equipment!

And then there is the supposed ability of brainless ghosts to somehow vocalize. The Starrs set up in the lobby a “spirit detector” (a rebuilt Edison telephone) to supposedly yield “electronic voice phenomena” (or EVP). The gadget “crackled like a short-wave radio,” while the ghost hunters eagerly huddled around. Someone thought a noise sounded like a garbled “Hey.” Patti Starr asked the imagined entity, “Are you happy over there?” and received an imagined reply, interpreted as “Quiteabit.” Another question was asked but, according to the reporter, “Only static could be heard.”

Exposures of pseudoscience notwithstanding, and folklore being what it is, ghost stories are attaching themselves to Boone Tavern. One claims that the site was part of the Underground Railroad, perhaps explaining the apparition of an African-American boy allegedly seen there (see In fact, however, construction on the historic inn with its basement hideaway was not begun until 1907—far too late for the Underground Railroad, if one indeed cares about facts.