Story and Photography by Heidi Csernak
Some employees and visitors say they have seen apparitions and heard the echoes of souls at unrest.
It's the perfect location for ghost stories - and getting spooked-out. So is it any surprise that Fort Henry is a hub for paranormal activities and events such as Fort Fright?
When we had arrived, the lineups of cars and people waiting to enter were eerily similar to the throngs described in Dante's Inferno.
Everyone was headed in the same direction, through the gates to the Underworld.
The lineup in the fort was moving quickly, and soon we’d descended the rampway into the dry ditch. As we neared the entrance, we could hear constant screams and shouts coming from behind the door.
Thankfully, we only had six circles of hell to pass through.
Entering the Mindset Research Headquarters
A large group of us were brought into the first room. A man in a lab coat was impatiently trying to hustle us in - and he didn’t want anyone turning back.
The door closed and the semi-professional looking scientist started verifying his checklist. We milled around, stamping our feet to stay warm and watching with interest at what he was doing.
After a quick look at his questionable equipment and double-checking the gauges and pressure, he turned to us.
Now he was yelling for us to pipe down, it was time to begin and there was an important message that needed to be played.
‘Attention Test Subjects; you have officially entered into the Mindset Research Headquarters. We have designed the facility specifically aimed to trigger participants worst fears...’
Mike and I looked at each other, the voice continued on with the rules of entry, and warnings to those who strayed from marked route.
We were so focused on the voice that we’d stopped paying attention to the man in the white coat.
He had donned a gas mask and released a “mostly-harmless neurotoxin” designed to amplify our fears for their studies. NOW, we were allowed to proceed.
With his protective gear still on, he ushered us down the hall. As left, the unnamed lab assistant said ‘You need to survive in the name of science… barely science…’ We weren’t sure what he meant, but that might have been the 'toxins' starting to kick in.
Increasing the Scream Factor
As we all walked down the first long dark hallway, the large group started to split up into smaller groups, entering the first arena. They would disappear around the first corner and the next brave souls would step into the nightmare.
Then it was our turn.
Despite the crowd that was ahead of us, they were already out of our line of sight. We could hear them encountering scare tactics, but we were so isolated that the surprise was never ruined for us.
There were definitely no spoilers - we really couldn’t see what's coming - but we could hear the screams- and lots of them.
We knew that there was always going to be something just around the corner.
Even knowing this, we were caught off guard multiple times by scare actors, animatronics plus the clever use of air bursts and loud noises.
When we stopped at the next arena to calm our breathing (and snap photos) others caught up to us. Small groups of people were clinging for dear life to each other - some walked past, trying to act tough but I could sense a tremble in their steps.
We were all too happy to let them pass while we paused before the next adrenaline spike.
Funneling the Fear in Fort Fright
I'll admit that if I hadn't had my head on a swivel, I might have screamed more and come home with a few new fears.
I could never see more than twenty paces ahead, so being on high alert didn’t always help. This made the experience much more intense because I couldn’t see what was coming until it was right in front of.. or behind me!
At least I can now say that I walked through the living nightmare and conquered my fears in this freaky ‘Twisting Tunnels of Terror’ motif.
This year’s Fort Fright event had even more thrills and chills with surprises laid out like traps.
The characters played their parts very well, eliciting a yip of surprise followed by hysterical cackling from me. Mike would yell then throw around some colourful words.
The use of multiple turns throughout the course meant we were well separated from the groups ahead, and behind us so every scare was new to us.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Now that we’d escaped the experiment, and we were breathing the fresh air, it was time to get far away from the nightmares.
We were more than ready to move on to Fort Henry’s newest family-friendly event, The Otherworld, after Fort Fright.
Watch our Fort Fright 2018 video!
See The Otherworld video we created!