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Historic tours offered of town’s mysterious past

By Staff | Aug 4, 2017

On Sunday, a small group of history enthusiasts took a walk through Shepherdstown’s mysterious past with local resident and storyteller Dana Mitchell.

According to Mitchell, guests on the walk could expect to take a 90-minute guided walk through the backstreets of Shepherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia.

Mitchell said she likes to call it a mysteries walk rather than a ghost walk, because it’s about much more than Shepherdstown’s notorious paranormal reputation.

“Shepherdstown Mysteries Walk is more than just a ghost-tour – you will hear about forgotten history, unrequited love and murder, frontier days, Civil War lore, mysterious legends and, of course, ghostly tales,” Mitchell said.

This tour was different than usual, according to Mitchell.

“My friend Peggy McKowen has hired a horse-drawn carriage for this walk,” Mitchell said. “I have never been on a carriage ride, so this was really exciting and a special addition to my tour.”

Mitchell took the passengers on a tour of local historical spots, including the Shepherdstown Library, the Trinity Episcopal Church and various old homes that housed war veterans and their families, as well as notorious killers and supposed ghost sightings from the 1800s.

Mitchell said she grew up in D.C. and always wanted to be a guide of some sort. Mitchell would often give tours of the city to visiting family and friends. It wasn’t until she moved to Shepherdstown with her husband Bob that she decided to become a tour guide.

“Every time people would come to town, I would be their unofficial tour guide, and I never pursued it in D.C. because they are in connection with the souvenir stands and it’s a different kind of setup than I wanted,” Mitchell said. “I never thought it would be as good as it is. I thought in my mind maybe I will do a little walk and maybe a family will come to town and want a guided tour, but it turned into something bigger.”

Mitchell started the Shepherdstown Mysteries Walk in 2014 and said she has no plans of stopping.

“I love what I am doing right now. I love to dress up in the period clothing, I love history and I love meeting new people and sharing information with them – I just have a lot of fun doing this,” Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, she thoroughly researches the history of Shepherdstown and tries to provide the material in an entertaining way for her audience.

“Each tour I have an unusual story to tell, so I try to keep things interesting,” Mitchell said. “There are so many mysteries in Shepherdstown and the surrounding areas. I have a lot of favorites, and I really like telling complete stories. I do a lot of research on all of the things I talk about to confirm the back stories, so everything I talk about is the truth to the best of my knowledge and research on the topic.”

RoseMarie McKowen, participant in the mysteries walk, said she enjoyed learning the unique history of Shepherdstown.

“I have learned a lot and you really get a sense of peace visiting the churches,” McKowen said. “You just really get a sense of what they were feeling at the time and the history of this area is so unique.”

Mitchell said the response to the mysteries walk has been surprising and rewarding.

“I love to just talk about all the history of Shepherdstown. Some of it is unusual, some considered legends, but people that are interested in all that and the paranormal like to attend my tours,” Mitchell said. “I have always said a story can be told, but a mystery must be experienced.”

There will be regular tours every Friday and Saturday evening, starting at 7 p.m. and ending around 9 p.m.

To schedule a tour, call 240-593-2317 or visit www.shepherdstownmysterieswalk.com.