Here’s a timely post by ace AiP Intern Susie Trexler
We have finally stepped into October: autumn foliage is in full bloom across the hillsides, pumpkins decorate doorsteps and fill produce aisles, apples are sold in heavy bags, and Halloween is just around the corner. Leaves crunch underfoot and the old mansion at the end of the street has a larger presence in the crisp, fall air… Perhaps because it is no longer hiding behind trees thick with green summer leaves, or perhaps because Halloween is a time for imaginations to run wild.
When I first began investigating haunted mansions and ghost tours, I had drawn a distinct line between paranormal stories and actual history as though ghost stories were an elaborate (and eerie) side-story. As I wove my way through websites, imagining lantern-lit tours of the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, and dark strolls down the boardwalks in the Victorian Virginia City, Nevada, I realized supernatural stories are not the sole – or even the main – source of intrigue about these places. By letting our imaginations run wild – at Halloween and any time – we are connecting with the past.
NBC’s Syfy channel has named – by popular vote – the top three “most haunted” cities in America: Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Virginia City, Nevada. Sure, we may relish the thrill of a ghost story (and ghost stories are aplenty), but these cities have something else in common: they are all witness to vivid and important scenes in American history. They are witness to previous eras and societies.
There is something about people that extends across time and place: people like people-stories and gossip. People like things they can connect to, touch, and imagine. By some ironic twist, ghost stories bring history to light.
Are we preserving the ghosts, or are the ghosts preserving the history, themselves?
Use Halloween as an excuse to step into the past! Explore your local cemetery, or indulge in an eerie event at a historic house near you.
Here are a few we found:
- Ghost tour of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC
- Halloween events (kid-friendly) at New Hampshire’s Strawbery Banke
- “Fright Nights” at California’s famous Winchester Mystery House
- A wake for Emma Crawford at Manitou, Colorado’s Miramount Castle
- Lantern tours at The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson
- Haunted tours of Virginia City, Nevada
Add to the list, if you dare!