Ghosts and ghouls — oh my!
SHEPHERDSTOWN While many Americans enjoy a good scary story or horror movie, only a select few decide to invest their time, creativity, money and research skills into becoming part of the paranormal business world.
Within the last few years, Shepherdstown has gained two successful popular businesses — Shepherdstown Mystery Walks and Shepherdstown Ghost Tours. Although the two names indicate a similarity between the two businesses, their tours are uniquely different and, according to Shepherdstown Ghost Tours owner, Meredith Poffenberger Moore, seldom intersect during their evening excursions.
“We try not to compete with the other ghost tour in town, because it could get awkward if we ran into them at the same site. So we try to schedule our tour for a time to not compete with theirs,” Moore said, mentioning only one time did the two tours accidentally meet at a graveyard in town. “We were both in the graveyard at the same time, and took turns telling our stories to both of the tour groups. I don’t tell her own story on my tour, I tell my story, which a friend of mine told me. I think the groups thought that was cool, because they got got to hear the two stories at the same time.”
Moore, who is a Shepherd University alumni, runs the majority of her tours on Shepherd’s campus. While she was a student there, she had several paranormal experiences. Some of the ghosts she has seen on campus have been fairly modern, including one male hippy from the 1970s, whom she saw sitting at a campus bus stop.
Shepherdstown Mystery Walks, on the other hand, focuses on recounting older, historic stories in town that veer more on the unique side than the paranormal side. Although owner Janet VanDerlinden Hughes, like Moore, is a sensitive, she enjoys sharing the history of the town through the walks, entertaining her tour group with trivia in between tour stops.
One obvious sign of Hughes’ commitment to the towns’ early history, is through her dress.
“I wear a full colonial dress, with a hat, lantern and boots,” Hughes said, mentioning she has an outfit for every season, and her fall outfit is new this year.
According to Hughes, the most difficult part of creating her outfits, was finding a pair of boots that would appear authentic. To find them, she enlisted the help of former Shepherdstown Mystery Walks owner, Dana Mitchell.
“You don’t know how long it took me and Dana to collaborate on the boots, because it’s very hard to find authentic, period boots,” Hughes said. “I was able to find them, and the dress basically covers them, but they’re like a gray suede that goes with everything.”
Whether you choose to go on one or both tours, Shepherdstown Mystery Walks and Shepherdstown Ghost Tours promise their customers over an hour of uniquely different experiences in storytelling and sight seeing, at Halloween and throughout the year.