The Roundup -

Ghosts Walk in Virginia City

 

Guests at the Fairweather Inn have reported many ghostly encounters through the years. Room ten in particular seems to be home to a ghost.

It's October, which means the fall decorations have made an appearance, most of them dealing with the Halloween theme. Halloween now ranks second, just behind Christmas, for the amount of money spent on decorations and other paraphernalia for this fall celebration. I know that Virginia City goes all out for Halloween. Decorations show up all over town by the first of October, and by the end of the month, candy abounds, people attend parties, and some businesses or individuals plan fright nights or have haunted houses open for the public. The air seems almost as festive as Christmas.

When I first moved here, I was astounded at the length some individuals and businesses went to in order to commemorate Halloween. However, after living here a few years, I think I understand the reason.

Virginia City has numerous ghosts that still walk the boardwalk and inhabit buildings all over town. Most of the older homes and structures have at least one ghost legend attached to them, and several buildings have multiple tales, stories, and sightings of paranormal activity that continue to this day. Locals have had supernatural or unexplained encounters with phantoms or spirits on many occasions, citizens have hair raising stories of their own to tell, and a few people believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they share their house with a ghost or two. Everyone shares these stories freely. I have heard enough ghost tales since I moved to Virginia City that I could write a small book sharing these stories with others. This explains to me why Halloween has become an integral part of Virginia City. I also have become intimately familiar with many of these tales, as I hosted the Virginia City ghost walks two nights a week all summer long.

Let me explain that Virginia City in the off season may be considered a ghost town anyway. Less than 200 of us live here year round, and after the tourists pack it in and winter arrives, a person could walk down the middle of main street, stop and lay down for a nap, and not worry in the slightest about any vehicle running her over. In this town, traffic and people don't really seem to exist during the months from October to April.

Virginia City's Wallace Street, the main drag through town, has boardwalks for four blocks, up and down the business district. The boards on this makeshift sidewalk creak and groan under the weight of people moving up and down the street. One person alone walking down the boardwalk will cause the boards to squeak and grumble. Consequently, no one can step along this boardwalk silently.

Since October has arrived and we approach another Halloween, I want to share just one of the many ghost stories I've heard, this one from a man who has lived here for decades. In that time he has experienced the unexplained on multiple occasions. He has several strange tales to tell of experiences he has had in Virginia City.

Like most good ghost stories, this one occurred late at night on the main business street in Virginia City. The characters in this ghost story include the local citizen who had this eerie experience whom I will name Bill, a town dog called Hector that roamed freely and that was well known and liked by all the locals, and of course the apparition that chose to frequent the downtown area on this particular night.

Bill had spent the evening at the rehearsal hall making repairs to the building. He finished his work sometime after midnight, took a short cut through an alley to Wallace, and proceeded down the boardwalk towards his home. He hadn't traveled a block when he thought he heard footsteps behind him. He stopped, turned to look, and saw nothing but empty boardwalk on either side of the street. He continued on his journey towards home when again he heard footfalls behind him. For a second time he stopped to survey the town behind him, and he saw nothing. Slightly unnerved by now, Bill quickened his pace. He heard fast footfalls behind him so for the third time he once again stopped to peer in all directions. He saw nothing on his side of the street, but he saw motion several blocks away on the other side of the street, much too far away to explain the footsteps he had heard coming up behind him.

Watching closely, within moments Bill saw Hector, the town dog, approaching him at a fast clip. Hector ran across the street and straight to Bill, where the dog promptly planted himself firmly against Bill's leg.

Hector stared intently behind Bill. Slowly the dog pulled his lips away from his teeth and showed his fangs. The dog then began to growl deep in its throat. Hector's growl because louder, while at the same time his hackles rose straight up.

Although Bill could see nothing, he felt paralyzed by fear. Hector continued to growl, staring fixedly at something Bill could not see. A few moments later, Hector's gaze began to shift, and his head began to move as the dog watched something moving on down the boardwalk. Hector continued to growl and whine as his head slowly pivoted to watch whatever it was he could see or sense move away. Hector craned his neck, watched intently for another moment or two, then relaxed, stopped growling, gave Bill's hand a quick lick before he trotted away into the night.

So what did Bill hear? What did Hector see or sense that upset him so much he thought he needed to stand by Bill until the disturbance passed by? Bill has no idea, but he believes he encountered one of the many spirits that still walk the streets of Virginia City.

Happy Fright Night to all of you. Remember, the early bird may get the worm, but the night owl gets the candy.

 

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