Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

July 16, 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 | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • NIA New planet art 041814 Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected -- a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 14, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 14, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page