The Haunting of Fort Taylor is a true ghostly thrill. The organizers of the super popular haunted house play on the fort’s grim history and freak-quent reports of paranormal activity.

“There was a yellow-fever outbreak here in 1862. The fort was designed with cisterns and infected mosquitos bred in the water contaminating it,” said event organizer and magician Frank Everhart from behind his card table at Schooner Wharf. “The latrines are the most active place for paranormal activity because that is where the soldiers died, throwing up a black liquid including their organs. I get goose bumps just talking about it.”

Everhart and Jack Rule organize the Haunting of Fort Taylor every year and this one is unlucky number 13. Their mission is to preserve history, raise money to preserve the fort and, of course, create a few scares. Last year the duo and volunteers raked in $10,000 for the fort’s preservation fund.

The annual haunted house is so scary, it comes with certain precautions (bring young kids on the special kids day) … and endorsements. The original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Gunnar Hansen, a.k.a Leatherface, found the setting to perfectly unsettling.

“It is rough looking, dark and scary. There are small openings in the fort people go through where they do not get room to escape. I think it is the perfect place for a haunted house and look forward to seeing it again,” said Hansen, who was present for the inaugural Haunting of Fort Zach 13 years ago.

Dr. Sue Maurer helps work the event from outside, but refuses to enter having had her own paranormal experience.

“I have seen ghosts in the daytime. About 10 years ago I was walking my dog in there and he went spastic and jumped in an opening in the cistern,” said Maurer. “I don’t go in there anymore.”

Without volunteers there would not be a Haunting at Fort Taylor. Each year numerous Coast Guardsmen and people about town volunteer their time to paint, build and create the sets visitors go through.

“There has been a few times when I have been setting up and heard footsteps, even heard somebody say my name … but there was nobody there,” said Rule.

Some of the sets from past years have included “Robert the Doll” and an electric chair.

“People often say it is more scary than Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios,” Everhart said. “Come see for yourself.”

If you go:

Haunted Fort

  • Friday to Sunday, Oct. 17-19, 8 to 11 p.m.
  • Thursday to Sunday, Oct. 23-26, 8 to 11 p.m. (except Saturday, Oct. 25 when it is closed for the Fantasy Fest Parade)
  • Thursday and Friday, Oct. 30-31, 8 to 11 p.m.
  • Kids Day: Sunday, Oct. 20, 5 to 7 p.m. (free with park admission)
  • Prices: Adult: $13, military $10, kids 5-12 $8, Kids under 5 are free

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