A shadowy figure growls at pedestrians in Mount Washington, Pittsburgh. An old, wiry, demented figure can sneak up on you while you are enjoying Pittsburgh's view from Mt. Washington. A dark ghost mumbles gibberish at you, while sitting on a thin tree branch. Sounds too good to be true? Read on!
It is easier to spin an imaginary ghost story. However, this one is for real, or at least partly real. To learn the story, let us go back to 1877. It was May 20, 1877 and the Duquesne Incline had just opened for the public. It was the best means of transportation up and down Mt. Washington, or at least that's what the owners thought. It can take the workers up and down in 80 seconds and it cost a meager 5 cents. The alternative was taking over 1300 steps. This was especially dangerous during night time, as electric bulbs were not yet in use.
|Above: Over 1300 Steps at Mount Washington were used daily by coal workers before 1877|
|Above: Duquesne Incline was NOT preferred by workers, who walked up the steps to save 5 cents|
So they found a few people who were disabled, and hired them to act as ghosts hiding in the bushes near the steps. They were trained to growl and hiss at people, and were even given incentives if they managed to make unsuspecting pedestrians run or scream. One of their favorite actors was Michael, who had a history of mental illness and was too weak to work anywhere else. He was perfect as he would growl and hiss at people anyway. "Mad Mike", as he was called by the owners would sit on top of a tree branch and scare any pedestrian who took the steps.
|Above: Old Frankenstein Actor. Disabled workers were hired to scare pedestrians on Mt. Washington|
Little is known as to what happened after that. It is not certain that if the owners paid him off, but there has been periodic sightings of Mad Mike till date. In fact, it is rumored that Mad Mike started riding the Duquesne Incline itself, accompanying unfortunate lone riders at night. The story of Mad Mike riding the Duquesne Incline spread like wildfire in 1962, scaring the patrons away. People refused to board the Duquesne incline because of the ghost sightings and the Incline was forced to close in November 1962. It would later be reopened by a group of benevolent philanthropists.
|Above: Railings became useless as Duquesne Incline shut down in November 1962|
If you are walking in Mount Washington, you can still hear growls and hisses from the trees, and sometimes a loud thud. Is Mad Mike still jumping down from the trees to scare you? Even if you like going to "Haunted Houses" during Halloween, you don't want this type of scare!
|Above: Mad Mike may still lurk on tree branches of Mount Washington|
If you are alone on the observation deck of Mount Washington in the dark, he can sneak up on you and scare the hell out of you! At least a dozen ghost sightings have been reported in the last few years. Most sightings describe a wiry, shadowy figure growling. Some even thought it was a werewolf! Is Mad Mike still lurking in the dark, scaring Pittsburghers?