What Ghostly Encounters Might You Have in Harpers Ferry or Great Smoky Mountains?

What Civil War-era ghosts might you find in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park this weekend? NPS photo.

No doubt there are more than a few national park settings where the ghouls and ghosts might come out this Hallows' Eve.

As we previously mentioned, the folks at Voyageurs National Park are planning a flashlight tour with story-telling, and more scary stories are to unfold in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Friday evening at the Mountain Farm Museum.

The museum will serve as the backdrop for an Appalachian-style Halloween celebration at “Fireside Stories of Ghosts and Witches.” Halloween was a special night for the residents of Appalachia. People celebrated “All-Hallows-Eve” with scary stories meant to entertain and frighten.

Come Friday, you're welcome to join park staff and volunteers at Great Smoky as they celebrate an old-fashioned Halloween and learn how the people of Appalachia observed this holiday. The stories and thrills begin at 5:00 pm and will last about an hour.

Also at Great Smoky, the Davis/Queen farmhouse will also be open for visitors to walk through. The evening hour offers visitors the opportunity to sit and visit for awhile and see the Farm Museum when it’s cooler and less crowded. Hot apple cider and homemade molasses taffy will be served. Activities are free and open to the public.

(The Mountain Farm Museum is located on U.S. Highway 441 adjacent to the national park's Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For more information call the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center at (828) 497-1904.)

Now, one place where you might not need any formal celebration to mark Halloween is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. More than a few ghost stories swirl around this West Virginia town.

According to a booklet I picked up decades ago while working as a young Associated Press reporter in West Virginia, "the personality of Harpers Ferry is one of smoldering violence." That violence, goes the theory, is behind the ghostly phenomenon one just might encounter in Harpers Ferry and the historical park.

Some of the stories are rolled out in a Ghostly Tour of Harpers Ferry, a book by Shirley Dougherty that you might have a hard time finding, as it was published back in September 1982.

Some of these stories are about strange people that lived and died here and about some of the odd things they did. Others are stories for which we may find a natural explanation, but generations past were left puzzled and could only explain them as supernatural, she writes in the introduction. Other stories defy explanation even today. You will have to judge for yourself which of these stories have a reasonable explanation.

One of the stories dates to the Civil War. In it, the author tells of a group of "One-Hundred-Day" men from Ohio who, during a day of rain, scavenged to find kindling for a fire to cook their dinner on. As the story goes, the men used "several large ammunition shells" on which to build their fire. Well, as one might expect, the shells were not empty and, once a roaring fire was built, exploded, "sending nearly every One-Hundred-Day man from Ohio to his heavenly reward in a brief but brilliant flash of glory."

Might you encounter some of their souls haunting Harpers Ferry this weekend? You'll have to go and see for yourself.