by VICTORIA HENLEY
Known for its storied, and undoubtedly grim, history St Augustine Florida attracts over six million tourists annually, who flock to the area not only for the breathtaking architecture and wondrous natural beaches , but also for the grisly ghost stories that have been passed down for generations.
Offering world class sightseeing tours and more spine tingling paranormal experiences than you’ll find in even the most haunted regions of the world, the Trolley Tours Team offers something to satisfy the adventure cravings of everyone in your party, with such offerings as the St. Augustine Old Town Trolley Tours, The Old Jail, The Oldest Store Museum Experience, Potter’s Wax Museum, the Old Drugstore, Ghosts & Gravestones and the Nights of Lights Tour (during the holiday season only).
Backstage Pass revisited the thrilling Trolley Tours attractions to scope out the best of the best tours you and your group absolutely must experience during your next trip to St Augustine!
OLD JAIL AFTER DARK
Following our bone -chilling and frightful excursion through The Old Jail After Dark in 2021, during which team member /photographer Lynn’s voice recorder mysteriously opened numerous times by itself and began recording, after which we listened to the recording and heard a scratchy, muffled voice saying, “Help Me,” my phone security code typed in by itself, after which the camera app opened and snapped a picture inside a darkened cell…two glowing eyes appeared on my camera roll and the word “soul” came over the EVP monitor, and many more inexplicable occurrences, we decided to return in 2022 for some insight into the otherworldly occurrences that had taken place during our prior visit.
We were ushered into the eclectic and a rather eerie portion of “Gator Bob’s” store and museum for an introduction by extremely experienced and knowledgeable paranormal investigator, Fran Rafferty.
During the opening introduction, Fran explained the equipment available for usage during the tour, including electronic voice phenomena monitors and electromagnetic field detectors.
Before we made our way into the jail, the breaker turned on and off by itself numerous times, and upon entry, the EMF detector was activated several times without any human or electronic contact.
My team- comprised of Lynn, Russ, and myself- made our way upstairs under the guidance of Colleen Loughlin (who has been featured on many paranormal investigation television programs) to the general population portion of the jail , during which we experienced several highly unusual happenings including humanoid figures and several inexplicably shaped beings on the video monitors.
Colleen was very calm, collected, and informative as several voices (one told us he was a blacksmith, the other repeated the word “Megan” several times, which was ironic as we had a young lady named Megan on our tour, who became so shaken by a “presence” she felt during the excursion that she became physically ill- appeared on the app, Ghost Tube .
The voices of several spirits requesting prayers also appeared over the monitors throughout our visit, after which we prayed for the release of, and peace for, these tortured souls.
One of the most filmed and notorious haunted destinations in the United States, The Old Jail’s violent hangings, unspeakably inhumane treatment of prisoners, and disturbing history of unscrupulous leadership under Sheriff Joe Perry, are undoubtedly a few of the many reasons this St Augustine landmark remains a hub for paranormal activity.
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 701-0083
GHOSTS N GRAVESTONES
Climb aboard the most thrilling and chilling tour bus in St Augustine for a one-of-a-kind expedition that explores some of the most notoriously haunted regions of St. Augustine, including the Huguenot Cemetery, Potter’s Wax Museum, The Tolomato Cemetery and The Old Jail. The tour, led by resident “Ghost Host” Aster and our grimly cryptic driver, Chuckles (both fully costumed and completely immersed in their respective characters), began at the Old Trolley Tours Visitor’s Center, which is complete with a miniature spooky museum featuring many artifacts, reading materials, costumes and a collection of death masks.
The Trolley of the Doomed soon makes its way into the dark abyss of the night, winding down the alleyways of the oldest and most historic cities in the U.S., nonchalantly passing iconic landmarks such as The Lightner Museum, Flagler College, and the Castillo de San Marcos.
The Tolomato Cemetery, the first official tour stop destination, is the last resting place of some 1,000 St. Augustinians, including many people important to the history of Florida and the United States. It is a distillation of St. Augustine history in less than one acre, starting with the First Spanish Period, when Tolomato was a Franciscan mission, and going through its use as a cemetery during the British Period and the Second Spanish Period and then on through Florida’s territorial and early statehood periods. The Tolomato Cemetery is an unwavering focal point in the haunted legends and lore of the St. Augustine community.
The second stop, Potter’s Wax Museum, included a personalized tour of the winding corridors of the world famous museum, into the “Chamber of Horrors”, which features some of the most hair raising horror movie villains throughout cinematic history (such as Freddy Krueger and the Creature from the Black Lagoon) , as well as some of St Augustine’s most notorious antagonists– including sadistic killer, Sim Jackson, and the pirate who famously survived public execution, Andrew Ranson.
A bone chilling, and completely unanticipated, surprise awaits all guests who visit the wax museum, and perhaps some of the most spine tingling and grisly true-life tales of all are unearthed at the tour’s final stop, The Old Jail. Guests are escorted up a winding staircase to the “Gen Pop” (General Population) portion of The Old Jail, where an escaped convict (portrayed with great aplomb by Fran, one of The Old Jail’s paranormal investigators) details horrific accounts of the outrageously inhumane treatment of the historic jail’s inmates by the infamous Sheriff Joe Perry.
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 826-3663
THE OLDEST STORE MUSEUM:
Step back in time through St Augustine’s vast, storied, and highly intriguing 500-year history at the Oldest Store Museum, a trove of historical memorabilia, including traditional vintage clothing, old time machinery and farming equipment, as well as a dizzying array of gadgets and gizmos from another era.
Fun, informative, and entertaining for all ages, The Oldest Store experience is led by an authentic “Snake Oil Salesman” (our tour guide, “Uncle Vince” was highly engaging with the tour group and very convincing as his character) who will lead you on a journey into the thrilling world of miracle tonics, record players, goat powered washing machines, and more time-saving novelties.
A living catalog of innovations from the early 1900s, The Oldest Store Museum building was purchased by Historic Tours of America, subsequently undergoing a rigorous renovation.
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 829-3800
POTTER’S WAX MUSEUM:
Housed in the iconic “Oldest Drugstore,” which still displays some authentic pill bottles, tonics, and other medicines in the front of the museum, Potter’s Wax Museum is the first and oldest established wax museum in America. Unlike some of the mainstream wax museums which primarily feature film, television, reality, and pop stars, Potter’s Wax Museum features an exceedingly wide range of well-known figures in the mediums of art, history, invention, country Western Culture, local St Augustine history, and of course, several modern pop culture personalities as well. Journey into a world of larger-than-life icons, and enjoy photo opportunities with political figures including Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George Washington, and more, then make your way to the gallery of artists, highlighting Leonardo DaVinci, Rembrandt, and more. Get up close and personal with the monarchs including the notoriously villainous Henry VIII
and his many wives, Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette. Learn more about the ingenious discoveries and inventions of Marie Curie and Thomas Edison, respectively.
The museum also pays homage to several local legends as well, perhaps most notably the museum’s founder and namesake, George Potter, who opened the museum in 1948 after a lifelong fixation on quality wax figures, a dream which began during his visits to London wax museums as a child.
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 829-9056
OLD TOWN TROLLEY TOURS:
The namesake of the company that operates the aforementioned attractions, Old Town Trolley Tours has built a solid reputation as the premiere way to experience the beautiful, historic city of St Augustine.
Featuring 100 percent live tours narrated by a host who has been intensively trained in the facts surrounding the history of the ancient city, Old Trolley Tours are also proud to offer unlimited “Hop On, Hop Off” privileges, free admission to the St. Augustine History Museum, and a free beach shuttle to the St. Augustine farm and the beach, and many more exclusive perks.
The ride, a comfortable, smooth excursion that offers 22 convenient stops and in-depth information about both landmark and modern St. Augustine buildings and attractions including Flagler College, The Castillo De San Marcos, San Sebastián Winery, The Old Forge Distillery, the Marina and Potter’s Wax Museum
Thanks to Dave Chatterton, Heather, Piper, and the entire Old Trolley Team for facilitating our spotlight feature.
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 829-6545
Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine
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Ghosts & Gravestones of St. Augustine
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Potters Wax Museum
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