GHOST TOURS OF HARPERS FERRY operates year-round, with tours available Monday through Saturday.
The tour starts at 8 p.m. in front of St. Peter’s Roman
Catholic Church at 110 Church St. and ends at 9: 45.
Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to check in; allow time
to park, as parking in the historic downtown is limited. If
the weather is extremely cold or rainy, the guide tells the
same stories inside the historic church while showing
photos. Tickets are $14; $10 for ages 8 to 12; free for
ages 7 and younger. From April through September, no
reservations are needed for the nightly tour; just pay by
cash or check when you arrive. During other months,
reservations are required in advance by phone. This tour
doesn’t include a ton of walking but may not be suitable
for those who have trouble with steps. Call 304-725-
8019 or visit harpersferryghost.20m.com.
Laurie McClellan ( lauriemcclellan.com) loves
historic cemeteries and is writing a book about the
ones around Arlington, Virginia.
;e meeting place for this West Virginia ghost tour wins points for scenic
beauty. It begins at historic St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, perched
above some winding steps hand-carved into rock, and overlooking the
town’s rooftops and the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Harpers Ferry
may also be the most atmospheric location; its historic district consists
entirely of period buildings and is nearly empty at night. After dark, the
downtown feels like a time capsule, as if the place itself is haunted by its
According to tour guide Rick Garland, the Harpers Ferry ghost
tour is the oldest in the country. It was started by Shirley Dougherty,
who moved to the town in 1968 and opened a restaurant in a historic
building. After some unexplained events, she began collecting
paranormal lore from local bartenders, park rangers and homeowners.
She published the claims of spooky encounters in a book in 1978. ;e
ghost tours have been venturing out ever since.
Because Garland is both a musicologist and historian, the tour features
an account of John Brown’s raid, as well as some Civil War songs and even
an impromptu sing-along. If you’d like to do some serious ghost hunting,
you’ll also find out which storied Civil War tavern can now be rented out
for vacations—if you’re not put o; by the murder that took place there, and
ongoing sightings of the victim. ■
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