Halloween Week Ghost Stories: Ghost & Maple Syrup


Haunted houses and Halloween go together like peanut butter and jelly. You rarely think of one that you don’t think of the other. Earlier this year I contacted Todd Chandler who owns the Columbia Manor house in Columbia, AL. The house is an operating haunted house attraction that runs from the first of October through Halloween night. It has been listed as one of the best haunted attractions in the nation, has been featured on the Bio’s Channel’s My Ghost Story, and it attracts over 8,000 visitors into a town of less than a 1,000 people each year.

In addition to being a haunted house attraction the house itself is actually haunted. Built in the mid 1920’s the home as been a private residence and a hospital in its history. I met with Todd one summer afternoon to talk him about the house and get some of his experiences. Todd told me the most prominent experience they have had is the smell of maple syrup. While this may sound like an unusual way to be haunted back in 1963 a woman who owned the home was being cared for in the front living room. Each morning they would serve her pancakes with hot maple syrup up to the day she died. Todd and his staff learned of this when they hired a paranormal investigation team to investigate the house and it was later confirmed by her grandchildren. In fact you can see the hospital bed she died in is part of the haunted attraction.

Todd also shared with me that he and his staff have seen orbs move through rooms and a full body apparition of a man in the front of the home they believe to be Dr. John Yarbough, a physician from the days the home was a hospital. As for his personal experiences Todd says he does not scare easy but on one night around midnight he was in the house alone. It was dark inside the house and Todd was making his way out locking it up before going home when he heard footsteps approaching him. He said he stopped and turned towards the sound when he felt a hand brush up his arm from his elbow to his neck. Todd described the sensation of chill bumps on his shoulders and upper arm, but his forearm and hand had gone numb. He freely admitted he left hurriedly and was more than willing to allow whoever to have the house to themselves for the night.

How I Took This Image

This looks like a simple image and technically it is.  A 24″ easy softbox is to camera left while flash with no modifier and CTO get is set a low power to camera right to fill in shadows.  The hidden lighting factor is a flash aiming into the ceiling behind the camera with a teal colored gel. This was light the walls that would appear in the mirror’s reflection. The challenge however was getting the lights to work. Despite the fact that I had placed fresh batteries in the lights and transmitters they kept not working. When I would reset and test everything worked fine, but go to take a picture and there would be no flash. Quirky electronics or supernatural interference, you decide….

Special Note

Todd and his staff put on a great Halloween show. They have been very generous and allowed me to come out and photograph on their property, share their stories, and been all around genuinely nice people. If you are looking for a special treat this Halloween season go visit these guys and be sure to tell them I sent you.