PARKERSBURG - Downtown Parkersburg was screaming with excitement and fear Friday night during the Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tour.
The tour was led by author and psychic Susan Sheppard and lasted several hours. The ghostly event was part of the Reflections of the Past schedule, sponsored by the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Sheppard said she has been doing the ghost tour for about 16 years, starting it because of her interests in the paranormal.
Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tour main guide Susan Sheppard and tour guide Mark Hernandez stand in front of the Peter G. Van Winkle House, a residence they say is one of the most haunted places in Parkersburg. (Photo by Mandi Cardosi)
"I was able to see spirits as a small child," said the Doddridge County native. "It's a lifestyle for me; something I'm good at."
Sheppard has written books on her experiences, some based on her encounters with spirits, she said. Her books include "Cry of the Banshee," based on West Virginia and some of the Mid-Ohio Valley's history, and "Goblin Songs," a collection of poems.
Sheppard is knowledgeable about the history of Parkersburg, giving away ghostly secrets at many intersections and houses with a story behind them. Sheppard told stories of the apparition of a man who, on several occasions, reportedly has been seen in a room on the third floor of the Blennerhassett Hotel.
Sheppard said a few weeks ago on one of the ghost tours a "creepy skull face" was seen in one of the windows of the Peter G. Van Winkle House in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.
Sheppard discussed the phenomena of hauntings. She said hauntings can be associated with experiences like unusual odors, foot steps, breaking glass and open or closed doors.
President of the visitors bureau Mark Lewis said the festival was off to a great start Friday.
The bureau received a lot of calls Friday in regard to the details of the weekend of historical events, Lewis said. The bureau will be open this weekend to accommodate visitors who have questions about the events.
Lewis said the schedule of historical activities was compiled for those coming in from out of town and for residents who wanted to get involved.
"So if people wanted to come in and make a weekend of it, they would have as much information as possible," he said. "We (the visitors bureau) are always working to create overnight stays at our area hotels."
Lewis said he has not been able to take part in one of the ghost tours yet, because he moved back to the area last spring, but hopes to experience it soon and encourages other residents and out-of-towners to do so as well.
Other activities planned as part of today's "Reflections" will be a Cincinnati Red Stockings' 1860 baseball exhibition game on the Parkersburg High School lawn and a parade of antique cars at Julia-Ann Square Historic District.
Sunday's events include Carlin's Battery D Drills at Fort Boreman Historical Park, guided tours of the Volcano Museum at Mountwood Park and the Mid-Ohio Valley Air Show at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.