When our group decided to do a series on ghost towns, I was all for it. Being American, the ghost towns I am acquainted with are mostly relics of mining boomtowns. They’re all over the country…despite popular expectations, comparatively few of these ghost towns are actually from the gold rush era. Many of these ghost towns were built around coal mines, or phosphate mines, etc…and quite a few of the towns were formed as farming villages that just didn’t pan out. When we were presented with the list of suggested towns about which to write our international ghost town blogs, I naturally “dibbed” Oradour-sur-Glane in France, as my mother was born in France. I thought the town would have as an innocuous an origin as the ghost towns in America.
Anyone who is familiar with London knows that the river Thames flows through it and empties out into the English Channel. In the early years of the second World War, the British government had army sea forts built in the Thames Estruary to provide anti-aircraft fire in the area. Designed and built by Guy Maunsell, for who they are named, the sea forts are a collection of 7 towers with walkways connecting each to the central control tower. The towers were fitted with two 3.75-inch guns and two 40 mm Bofors guns.
When you see the Don Cesar for the first time, whether from land or sea, the first thought that comes to mind is that this is a fairy castle…an edifice constructed of fantasy. The towering pink walls meet alabaster sand and turquoise seas while billowing clouds scuttle across an azure sky. It is the ultimate tropical getaway….a place where you could spend many happy hours recumbent on the beach, sipping piña coladas. Could it get any better than that? Yes! Because not only is this exotic destination perfect for a weekend of pampering, but it also has a mysterious, intriguing side that makes the hotel even more attractive.
In 1897 the beautiful Belleview Biltmore Hotel was erected overlooking Old Clearwater Bay by the famous Florida developer, Henry Plant. Mr. Plant’s influence is still felt throughout Florida; Plant City was named to honor him, the onion-domed, riverfront University of Tampa was originally built by Henry Plant as another grand hotel, and Morton Plant Hospital (named for Henry’s son) still provides state of the art healthcare for Florida residents. But of all Henry Plant’s contributions to Florida history, the one that holds a special place in my heart is the Belleview Biltmore.
The previous entry provided history pertaining directly to the Queen Mary as a whole. History can play an important factor in the stories of haunted locations, so it’s important to know history because it can give insight as to why a particular area is experiencing haunting. It also provides a great window into the past because you can understand what other things that might have been going on at that time which may have resulted in spooks and specters.
Unfortunately, some of the more tragic events that have happened aboard this stately ship have sparked questions as to whether the ship bears the scars of those who perished between her iron walls…