Features

July 17, 2013

Have a spooky slumber party in Harpers Ferry

WASHINGTON — At the Town's Inn, in Harpers Ferry's Lower Town, I booked the one room with an en-suite bathroom. The trade-off: There was a possibility that I'd have to share my bed with a stranger.

My potential roommate was not from this world, which meant that she probably wouldn't hog the covers but just hover above them. Still, I hoped that she'd decide to visit a dead relative in another West Virginia town the night of my sleepover. I'd even pay her bus fare.

Lodgings with Tolstoyan histories (war, peace and love) often incorporate ghosts into their lore and decor, an interior design detail that complements the sepia-toned photos and heavy drapes. Yet the apparition in question wasn't some cuddly Casper that a pal of the mother of the housekeeper had seen one night after downing two glasses of sherry. This one had supposedly been spooking my room the morning of my stay, based on alleged sightings by paranormal experts (unfortunately not ghostbusters). While I was merrily driving to the historic stone inn built in 1840, the boo chasers were in my guest room, reportedly snapping photos of a female spirit and capturing audio of her saying, "Help me, Jeff."

Nervously settling into the Appalachian Room, I asked the co-manager and teller of the ghost story, "Who's Jeff?" He smiled and told me his name: Jeff.

And what did she need help with? I wondered. Perhaps her luggage or parking, both rational requests for a historic hotel with steep stairs and reserved spots near the train station. Or escaping a nightmarish incident from centuries ago that she was trying to communicate to the living? Lalalala - I can't hear you.

"Baby girl, you'll be fine," said Jeff, as he handed me the room key. "She's a nice ghost."

Then he went back to the kitchen to finish up dinner service at the restaurant downstairs, leaving me alone in my room. I looked around at the homey surroundings and furnishings inspired by Mrs. Stipes Boarding House, a museum in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The town, which sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, is known for its surrounding natural beauty and prominent role in Civil War history.

The Heritage House contains three guest rooms; my nesting space was the only one with an attached bathroom. The Potomac and Shenandoah rooms have separate private bathrooms off the second-floor hallway. Robe-wrapped guests must wander outside their rooms to brush, rinse, floss and flush.

By comparison, my journey to the privy involved a few paces around the full-size bed - avoiding the mirror above the fireplace, where the team had supposedly photographed the ghostly image - and a step down a small ledge to the toilet, sink and slate-tile bath and shower.

The inn is semi-unplugged: No TVs, but the Internet connection is strong and the gather-'round recreational activities are plentiful. The third-floor parlor is a rumpus room filled with books and games. I also discovered a convivial scene at the restaurant, where every bump-in with an employee resulted in a friendly exchange and, in one case, an order for a generous pour of pinot grigio.

The restaurant's front porch seats a tight squeeze of two - one night, an adoring couple; the next morning, a pair of biking buddies in Spandex catsuits. Indoors, the room to the left provides more tables and chairs, plus the Sundry, Snack, and Supply Shoppe, a stocked commissary catering to Appalachian Trail hikers with ramen noodles, blister aids, protein bars and other mega-trekking essentials. Of course, even if you're only ascending a flight of stairs to your bed, you still might need a juice box and a cookie.

Guests, diners and after-work drinkers also convene in the spacious back yard, beneath the star-spangled sky. As I gulped down some courage, I chatted with employees about their haunting experiences. They told me that a specter would ring the doorbell and run (how second-grade) or move items around (how mother-in-lawish). A male ghost soldier would lock the Potomac guest-room door and prevent the key from working. So don't forget any important items in your room; you might not be able to retrieve them immediately.

Eventually, the staff clocked out and I had no choice but to retreat to my room. I curled up on the bed, wrapped in blankets and a comforter. I made a cup of tea and waited for my roomie to materialize.

Throughout the night, I heard footsteps and banging doors. When I peered down the hallway, however, it was vacant. As the sky started to brighten, I finally fell asleep, the nightstand lamp still burning.

In the morning, I flung open my door with the enthusiasm of a coed survivor in a horror film. I came face-to-face with the family across the way. I asked whether they'd heard the mysterious sounds.

"No," said the mother. Then she looked at the two little gremlins who required frequent late-night bathroom runs and added, "We're the ghosts."

         

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Dalton Dulcimers to perform for Guild’s In Concert program

    The Creative Arts Guild will welcome the Dalton Dulcimers at its next In Concert program on Thursday.

    April 12, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: The truth of the resurrection

    April 11, 2014

  • Earl Brackin Band to perform at Dalton State

    The Olympic Games have historically been an effective way of bringing people from all corners of the world and all walks of life together.

    April 6, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Satan’s worldwide anti-Christ religion — now in our midst!

    Since my devotional last month, many claiming to be followers of Jesus have written the Forum of this newspaper, wrongfully proclaiming God doesn’t require followers of Jesus to obey the moral laws God gave to Moses and Israel — reputably known as the Ten Commandments. The author of our Bible (the Holy Spirit) responds with divine disgust and anger, “such isn’t so” (“God forbid” — Romans 6:15)!

    April 4, 2014

  • The Rapha House: Eating disorders

    Every year a week in February is designated as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week by The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The theme for 2014 was “I Had No Idea” stressing the need to address misconceptions about eating disorders.

    March 23, 2014

  • Final performance for senior dancers

    This year, 11 “sisters in dance” will perform together for the last time.

    March 22, 2014

  • Church news

    News and notes from area churches.

    March 21, 2014

  • The Rev. Rodney B. Weaver: Where is God

    How will this play out?
    A northern female (a native of Detroit, Mich.) comes to a small Southern town called Dalton. This female has now been arrested for the death of a convenience store worker. Known for being the Carpet Capital of the World, Dalton now has the distinction of being the location of a horrific murder.

    March 21, 2014

  • Chester V. Clark IIIThe miracle of life

    \With spring in the air and the dogwoods starting to bud, my reflections turn again to the miracle that we call life. Call me simple, easily impressed or perennially forgetful; but isn’t it amazing that dormant plants and trees can come to life again after the bitter cold of winter?

    March 14, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: Spring cleaning

    As this article is being written, the next day’s weather forecast is for that powerful polar vortex to once again dip down into our area, producing cold temperatures and maybe even a little frozen precipitation.

    March 7, 2014

AP Video