New W.Va. ghost tour company kicks off spooky season early

By BILL LYNCH, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — While it might not look it, the spooky season is upon us.

The nights are getting longer. The days are getting cooler and there’s talk of ghosts again.

April Morgan said Charleston can count on that. She and her husband, Troy, with the help of a few others, have launched the Charleston Ghost Tour Company.

Morgan gave her first official tour Thursday, which may be the first of its kind in Charleston.

“I’ve never seen anything like this as long as I’ve lived here,” she said. “And I was born and raised here.”

Other cities, many cities in the south, she said, have regular ghost tours. Local historians and storytellers spin yarns about the local lore involving strange happenings, unexplained sights and the occasional unsolved murder.

“You see them everywhere down south,” Morgan said. “My husband and I went to some of these and got to thinking, you know, Charleston is just as historic, just as entertaining as any of those other southern cities, so why not do a tour here?”

Morgan thought she was the perfect person to do it.

“I am a ghost tour enthusiast,” she said. “I’ve been on a lot of ghost walks and ghost tours in other cities.”

And she loves spooky stories, particularly spooky West Virginia stories — and the state has plenty of them.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the folklore and the ‘paranormal’ anomalies,” Morgan said. “When I got older, I started dabbling in local history and learning about all the creepy occurrences.”

Almost everyone who’s lived in any area for any length of time will probably hear a few curious tales about a ghost or monster. Just about every town has one or the other or both, but Morgan said Charleston is different than some of the others.

She thinks many of the ghost stories in Charleston are related.

It all starts with the Kanawha River, Morgan said.

“Native Americans knew the Kanawha River as ‘the river of evil spirits,'” she said. “Before it was dammed and engineered to allow for coal barges and other big boats to pass on it, the river was full of whirlpools.”

The indigenous people, she said, seemed to believe the whirlpools drew in evil spirits and captured them under the water.

A petroglyph of a panther with a whirlpool tail, Morgan said, was found just up the road in Putnam County, near Buffalo.

The panther might have represented some sort of guardian.

“So, the whirlpools might have been a source of good — almost,” Morgan said.

The problem, she added, is that while the natives knew that the river was troubling, the European settlers didn’t, and weren’t prone to listening to warnings.

“The Native Americans tried to warn them that they shouldn’t settle here,” she said. “That’s kind of where the roots of my stories start.”

After working on setting up an internet presence and putting together the business for Charleston Ghost Tour Company, Morgan put a call out on social media in July.

The response was staggering.

“We booked 40 tours for the season with 36 spaces per tour and they started filling up fast,” she said.

Even with it being summer, people were hungry for a good ghost story in their own hometown.

Morgan said they’ve scheduled tours for Thursday through Saturday evenings well into the fall.

It’s a part-time job for Morgan, who works as a contract stenographer scanning heart and vascular patients.

Tours, she said, will take about an hour and will cover roughly 12 city blocks.

“Wear comfortable shoes.” Morgan laughed and added, “I’ll have on my sneakers under my dress.”

Tickets to the tour are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12 and free for those 5 and under.

“We wanted to keep prices affordable,” Morgan said. “We wanted to keep it where you could bring your whole family, if you wanted.”

The Charleston Ghost Tour Company is more than a Halloween season attraction. Morgan said she and her husband planned to host tours throughout the year.

“We want to do a special tour around Thanksgiving and another around the Christmas holiday,” she said.

Morgan expected to take off the cold months of January and February before coming back in the Spring.

For more information about the Charleston Ghost Tour Company, visit them online at charlestonghosttourcompany.com or find them on Facebook.