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Combine a dark, moonless night with some dry crackling fall leaves and a slight breeze to make the trees creak and moan. Toss in a little history lesson and maybe a ghost or two, and you have the makings of a haunted walking tour. These slightly spooky tours are scattered all over the state, hosted by city employees or just enterprising individuals with a leaning toward the paranormal.
America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood Tour
With more than 1,000 homes built between 1885 and 1905 and spread over 45 blocks, Old Louisville is one of the largest historic preservation districts in the country. By day, visitors can relish the gabled roofs, gingerbread covered porches and inviting turrets, and imagine what life was like during that era. By night … well … your imagination can get the best of you. A bus tour led by David Dominé, author of America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood—a compilation of ghost stories and eerie tales of Old Louisville—takes visitors to homes, churches and romantic walking paths throughout the neighborhood and incorporates some of the not-so-pretty history that has taken place there in the last 100 years.
“Its gas-lit walking courts and beautiful Victorian architecture make it the perfect setting for ghost tours all year long,” Dominé said. “The fall colors and brisk weather, however, make October the ideal time to explore the haunted past of this lovely neighborhood.”
The Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours
In the railroad town of LaGrange in Oldham County, trains whiz right through the middle of the town several times a day. Along with the legends of the locomotives, the town’s history books have a lot of stories to tell. This two-hour candlelit walking tour, led by guides dressed in historical attire, covers about nine blocks. The tour takes pride in the fact that it is 100 percent authentic, meaning nothing is staged or made up. The organizers do historical research on the locations visited and the “spirits” that inhabit those places.
“La Grange seems to have more than its share of paranormal activity,” said Barbara Manley Edds, coordinator and a guide for the tour since 2005. In fact, paranormal investigations have been conducted in all tour locations to authenticate paranormal activity. “One theory is that the town is situated over five springs that run beneath its streets. The combination of water and quartz/limestone seems to act as a giant battery to give spirits the energy they need to manifest. It is not unusual for activity to occur during the tours, and it often does.”
Edds said photographs are encouraged, and if participants have ghost-hunting equipment, they are welcome to bring it along, but video is not allowed.
“I love leading the tours because there is a feeling you get while walking through the quaint, historic downtown,” she said. “It is a feeling of history and a feeling that you are in a very special place, a place that will haunt you for some time to come.”
Haunts of Owensboro
Offering both a Walking Tour and a Creepy Carriage Tour, guide David Wolfe combines the history and the spine-chilling to show the darker side of Owensboro. The tours last about 1½ hours, taking in a variety of locations, but both stop at the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro.
“It is one of the most haunted spots in the tri-state. I will hold this up to Willard Library or Waverly Hills Sanatorium, or some of the other greats in this country,” Wolfe said. “I myself have had experiences there, as well as many customers. We do a little ghost hunting while there, so this is the one place it is quite hands on.”
Wolfe has been guiding the tours for nine years, but this is the inaugural year for the carriage ride.
Buffalo Trace Ghost Tour
It is said that Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort hosts paranormal spirits in the rickhouses in addition to the bourbon kind. This tour consists of part bus riding and part walking, and covers the distillery grounds as well as several buildings on the property. One of the points of interest is Stony Point Mansion, the house bourbon-making legend Col. Albert B. Blanton built and in which he died. Visitors claim he still haunts the house.
“The Buffalo Trace Ghost Tour is unique because it takes visitors through areas that are not normally seen on our other tours, such as our Old Taylor House and the Stony Point Mansion,” said Amy Preske, public relations and events manager. “Guests travel the same path taken by the hosts of the TV show Ghost Hunters when they filmed here a few years ago.”
And just to make sure all spirits are accounted for, every tour ends with a tasting of a Buffalo Trace award-winning product.
Newport is Haunted
Covington is Haunted
These side-by-side northern Kentucky cities perched on the banks of the Ohio River are divided by the Licking River. Each has its own tour and its own ghosts, but the tours are provided by the same company—American Legacy Tours. The costumed, lantern-carrying tour guides revel in the facts of Newport’s murky past and even talk about the ghost that now purportedly haunts Bobby Mackey’s Music World. The Covington tour starts at the historic Baker-Hunt house, which is now an art school, but the building and its neighborhood have a colorful past.
“The Newport tour focuses on an unsolved murder and some haunting that goes along with it,” said Jerry Gels, the marketing director of the tour company. “In Covington, we deal with evidence from the U.S. Civil War and have instances of slave holders and abolitionists still at odds.”
Gels insisted that when the company started giving tours, none of the employees believed in ghosts. He said it was just all about telling the city’s history and stories.
“But after all we have seen, we are believers now,” he said. “Someone experiences an encounter with the unknown every time. It is completely unexpected, but we have everything from someone seeing a ghost to actually being attacked by a ghost. You just never know what will happen.”
Bardstown Ghost Trek
As the second-oldest city in Kentucky, Bardstown has seen its share of historical events. This tour is led by certified ghost hunter Patti Starr, who created it and has been introducing people to both the stories and the ghosts since 1997.
The trek starts at the Bardstown Visitor Center and heads toward the nearby Talbott Tavern, Jailer’s Inn and Pioneer Cemetery, some of the oldest and spookiest spots in town. But ghostly spirits aren’t the only spirits you’ll find in this town, which is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World.
Mount Sterling Ghost Walk
Led by Lori and Ron Coffey, the hosts of the hit radio show Married to the Paranormal, the Mount Sterling Ghost Walk shows visitors why Mount Sterling has long been called one of the most haunted towns in America.
The walking tour highlights true and tragic tales of murder, betrayal, crime, heartbreak, curses and mysteries as it winds around town.
“The tales and legends are blended with bits of human interest and historical fact, which makes them educational as well as spooky,” says Ron. “But it is family-friendly and appropriate for all ages.”
Ron says that while the Ghost Walk technically is not a paranormal investigation, participants are encouraged to bring their cameras and recorders in hopes of capturing a ghostly impression, and many have.
After the tour, Lori and Ron are always eager to help analyze any evidence caught on the tour and to answer any questions covering the whole spectrum of the paranormal.