Monday, August 15, 2011
The Marietta Ghost Walk
It had been a long day, but we were ready for the ghost walk at 8:00 pm. Tour participants meet here:
Marietta, the place where the flatboats and stagecoaches carrying pioneers to the frontier would dock so people could stock up for their journey and store things they could not take with them.
Tour guide Jan Adams asked us where we were from and what we had done in Marietta during our visit. I had to admit that we had not stayed in town but had traveled out to Beverly to see the Buckeye Belle gravesite. She was surprised.
"How on earth did you know about the Buckeye Belle?" she wanted to know.
I explained that I was a storyteller and had been in Marietta to tell stories during the Inland Waterways Festival, and that was how I had happened on the story. I also told her that I wanted to observe how a ghost walk was conducted since I am working on the research for a similar type of tour for another small town. She told me about some ghost story books about Marietta and those are now on my to-buy list.
Clayton and Grace were pumped up and ready to go. The tour started by walking down Front Street, which borders the Ohio River, and past a little ice cream/sandwich shop that was sponsoring a bluegrass band because the Ales and Trails Festival was going on and lots of people were in town for that. The music was great! I wanted to listen but I also wanted to hear the ghost stories. So I walked determinedly past.
Our first stop was a place we had tried to go to for dinner last week, the Levee House Restaurant. They were closed when we got there last week but who knew the restaurant was next door to the scene of a gruesome murder? The story dated back to the early days of Marietta when the riverfront was teeming with bars, brothels and bad characters. It was a suitably gory beginning to the tour.
Next stop was the beautiful and historic Lafayette Hotel. We went inside and sat in the ornate lobby as our guide told us the history of the hotel and a few tales of strange things that had been reported there. Nothing gory or fantastic, just....weird.
We went to the lower level of the hotel and heard more stories, and I can tell you that place made the hair raise on my neck. There was nothing specific in the stories to cause such a reaction, but still...I would like to be down there late at night and alone to just listen and watch. That's all. The above photo, when enlarged, has faces in it. Creepy.
We moved on to several other buildings in the old town section of town. As we walked we were passed by a horse and buggy tour group and a trolley tour group.
Marietta is on to something good--the people there know their history, have preserved it and are basing part of their economic development on that history. Smart people.
The sun set and the evening grew darker as we continued on our way.
I have found that when I want to truly experience a place, I need to be alone...and quiet. So I often lingered behind the group to listen, watch and feel the area we were traveling. Some of the photos I took while I trailed the others were pretty interesting; nothing specific, but a sense of another time still busily moving about its business. The moon rode high as clouds moved in, setting a mood that fit the evening.
After the tour we walked back to the fountain and ate some excellent ice cream while we discussed the stories we had heard. The Ohio flowed quietly on as a train sounded its mournful whistle on the West Virginia side of the river.
Was the tour what we expected? Yes and no. The children and adults with "paranormal activity meters" on their iPhones were distracting; the stories were very good; there were few of actual ghost sightings, but quite a few odd occurrences. The town is charming, the energy is excellent and I know I want to go back and do some more exploring on my own. Overall, we gave this tour an A+ for information, history, entertainment and interest.