ONE OF THE first questions asked by new visitors to Trail End is, "Is it haunted?" While we can't give a definitive yes or no answer to that question - sometimes ghosts are in the eyes of the beholder - what we can do is refute a lot of the misinformation that is being bandied about on the Internet.
Surveillance Tapes - One internet site claims, "Surveillance cameras are said to pick up ghostly images in the rooms." How would they know? In the past thirty-three years, no one has ever asked to see our surveillance tapes.
Falling Books - Another site says that books have inexplicably fallen off the library shelves overnight. Since the mansion opened as a historic house museum in 1982, no books have ever been found on the library floor.
Whining Dogs - Some folks say that the house is haunted because dogs have whined and refused to go down the basement stairs in the dark. When the Sheridan Police Department came to Trail End to do some K-9 drills, we asked the K-9 training officer about this. He said even the most fearless of dogs will whine and refuse to go down dark stairs. It apparently has to do with the way canine eyes perceive a stairwell; it looks to them more like a dark hole than a staircase, and they are naturally afraid to jump into a dark hole.
Lights Turning On and Off - There have been reports of lights mysteriously turning on and off in the building. For many years, in order to dissuade the improperly curious, staff used light timers to simulate someone being in the building.
Cold Spots - Some visitors have reported "cold spots," which to them indicate the presence of ghosts. That may be, but due to its inadequate heating and ventilation systems, Trail End has a lot of cold spots, even in the summer.
Violent Death - Reports of a violent death at Trail End are wholly unfounded. Yes, one person died at Trail End: groundskeeper George Simmerman passed away in his basement room in 1929. But his death was not violent or mysterious; he died of heart failure in the company of his wife, longtime Trail End cook Anna Simmerman.
Empty Chairs Rocking - Again, not a phenomenon that has ever been witnessed by staff.
If Trail End is haunted - and we don't claim that it is or isn't - the ghosts must be shy and fairly content with their lot because they keep to themselves and cause no trouble. We prefer to think that Trail End is haunted by history, by ghosts from the past that come alive every time a visitor walks through the front door.
No officially-sanctioned paranormal investigations have taken place at Trail End.
Due to concerns regarding resource protection, the Trail End State Historic Site does not allow formal or informal investigations into paranormal activity at either the Kendrick Mansion or the Carriage House.
State Historic Site