PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — Camp Helen State Park on the West End of Panama City Beach is known for its scenic landscapes and historic buildings, but according to several residents, visitors and park staff, it’s also home to spirits wandering the property.
“The park can definitely take on that kind of spooky presence,” said Scarlett Dunn, a Park Service Specialist at Camp Helen. While she says she’s never seen a ghost at the park, she can tell you all of the stories.
“All the ghost would say was ‘get out’ it wouldn’t say anything else to him,” she said. “Kind of had a menacing presence.”
She’s referring to Captain Phillips, who is said to live in the lodge on the property after his ship crashed ashore in the 1800s. The ghost scared out the home’s previous owners.
“They really did get out,” said Dunn. “Whenever they would come here and stay they would stay in the carriage house instead of the lodge.”
Then, there’s Rose; a girl on the ship who was killed in a raid, but residents say they still see her.
“Over the years, folks have said that you know they’ve watched the beach later in the evenings and they’ve seen a woman walking on the dunes,” said Dunn. She said they also have ‘heard’ her, even if that part of the story has been debunked.
“There was a resident panther that lived here on property,” she said. “If you’ve ever heard a panther scream, it sounds like a woman screaming.”
There’s one more story that continues to spook visitors; the tale of Gigi, a boy who lived on the property in the 1900’s and drowned. Dunn said concerned guests have called the visitor’s office to ask about a little boy walking on the shore alone.
“Most of the time, we’re like no, no one has come in and said their child is missing,” she said.
All three ghosts continue to haunt the grounds, but Dunn says not to worry; they’re friendly.
“No one’s ever had a bad experience here with any sort of encounters,” she said. “It’s a lovely place to visit.”
Next time you’re walking on the grounds, keep an eye out for the park’s permanent residents; they’re not going anywhere.