The fall season is upon us again. Cool winds, rainy days, and leaves falling across the ground. Just as quick as it arrives it departs like a shadow in the night. Oh, and did I mention the greatest holiday in existence? I'm talking about Halloween of course? All of you haters out there; I challenge you to find me another holiday that has something for everyone like Halloween does. Kids get mountains of candy, teens get underage costume parties, adults get an excuse to drink, and the elderly get attention when kids knock at their door. Yeah... how about that philosophical bomb. Though it is traditionally a local holiday, getting out and traveling during the season may give you the most fright for your flight. Try any of these prospective Hollows Eve locations to really get in the spirit.
As you can see Halloween has always held a special place in my heart through the years. Just a few of my stellar performances. I'm pretty sure some of these weren't even for Halloween but you get the idea. You might say I combine all the benefits of Halloween into one huge over the top disaster.
Now that you understand where I'm coming from we can introduce the places where you can have your candy corn and eat it too. If your going to be doing some fall travel you want to be surrounded by the colorful landscape. Go no further than the greatest woodland area of all, Penn's Woods. That's the state of Pennsylvania for all of you who haven't had the opportunity to enjoy greatness.
Pennsylvania- Virtue, Liberty, and Independence
Those are three pretty good things that just so happen to be the state motto. What makes PA the perfect Halloween destination? It has one of the longest fall seasons. A thick rolling forest covers the Appalachian Mountains at every turn.
And then there's haunt factor. The entire region has a extensive honey comb of abandoned mines. The Knox Mine disaster of 1959 ended coal mining in the area for good. Unsafe conditions and dangerous practices by mine owners resulted in mining under the Susquehanna River, which collapsed; flooding the entire network. Today there are dozens of abandoned structures from the era.
I remember running through them. In fact, it was directly next to a graveyard. We used to play capture the flag on the grounds, hide in abandoned train cars, and run through the breaker building, completely oblivious to the danger.
The neighboring train yard was purchased in 2009, and is once again operational. However, not one abandoned building was demolished due to cost. That means on a dark night, you hear trains moving through a rotting and abandoned complex. Talk about a surreal setting.
With so many remnants of the past lingering, you can beat the eerie feeling you get stumbling upon them one dark fall night. Take some candy corn and whiskey and you've got yourself a hollows eve to remember.
Due to its long and storied past, PA has a ton of arguably haunted locations throughout. The most notable is Gettysburg, PA which was home to one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. Casualties were high; there were over 27,000 Confederate and 31,000 Union losses. The residents of Gettysburg were left to care for the wounded and bury the dead. Approximately 8,000 men and 3,000 horses lay under the summer sun. On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln attended a ceremony to officially consecrate the grounds and delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.
I've been to Gettysburg many years ago. There's nothing better than walking through the historical district to make you go back in time, especially during the fall season, as Abraham Lincoln made his famous address exactly 150 years earlier.
Its a somber but beautiful reminder of our American history. If ghosts do exist I can't think of a more perfect place for them to manifest. In 2013 the Washington Post documented a week of reenactments during the150th Anniversary of the famous Civil War Battle. If you ever have the opportunity to see a reenactment, don't pass it over.
Savannah, GA: Southern Gothic Meets Southern Charm
After visiting Savannah earlier this year, I can't stop saying good things about it. Unlike many of it's northern counterparts, the city's gorgeous Oaks cloaked in Spanish Moss become overbearing as they cast shadows over the city. Nights arrive earlier and the entire town has an ominous and foreboding feel. The Southern Gothic architectural features and centuries old graveyards make for a real life Halloween movie set. The city has dozens of ghost tours and even better has pub crawl ghost tours for those who want to "enhance" there experience.
There are also a ton of corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and haunted plantations to visit. For the really weird people out there, myself included; a company offers some pretty legitimate ghost tours. I know you may be thinking, I'm not 12yrs old anymore; but BlueOrb Ghost Tours has done something different. It offers a historically factual based tour. This actually makes it more unnerving since everything is true and he has the documentation to back it up.
Originally, I was a bit skeptical myself but the company has gone 3 consecutive years winning TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence Award. Out of 495 traveler reviews, it has gotten 408 perfect ratings. It's got beer, excellent historical knowledge, and just a bit of the strange factor. If anyone gets down there, I would be curious to hear about their experience.
It figures this place is in West Virginia. A former co-worker who lived in VA had told me some stories about the people of West VA that would scare you more than spending a night in this asylum alone.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. It was designed by the renowned architect Richard Andrews following the Kirkbride plan, which called for long rambling wings arranged in a staggered formation, assuring that each of the connecting structures received an abundance of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air.
The original hospital, designed to house 250 souls, was open to patients in 1864 and reached its peak in the 1950's with 2,400 patients in overcrowded and generally poor conditions. By the 1980s, the hospital had a reduced population due to changes in the treatment of mental illness. Those patients that could not be controlled were often locked in cages. A forced its closure in 1994 inflicted a devastating effect on the local economy, from which it has yet to recover.I feel like the most unerving thing about this place is the sheer expanse, covering nearly 5 acres. Day tours seem creepier than the night ones since the guides are wearing period clothing throughout the tour.
The Catacombs of Paris, France
For those who really want to go all out, look no further than the Catacombs of Paris. The history of this place is really incredible. It is one of the very few reasons I would ever be interested in visiting the country. I must admit that it really is fascinating. There were so many bodies placed in the catacombs from the early 12th century until the 18th century that bodies had to be systematically pulled out, let to decompose, and the flesh ridden bones re inserted. Eventually, the ground could no longer handle all of the human decomposition and the groundwater became not quite so potable. Seriously they didn't see that coming, the primary source of water was wells at the time...eek.
Maybe your thinking; that's just strange, why walk through thousands of human remains. Did I mention.... you are in freaking Paris! I'm sure you'll be able to find a few other things to do besides party with the dead. But hey, it's one of the strangest ways to cap off your fall world travel. I have nearly a dozen more places I could get into but, there's always next Halloween ; )
BLUF: If you get an idea from this blog and do something more interesting for Halloween then "your welcome". I'm not paying your medical bill after you run around in the woods at night or through an abandoned structure and break your leg though. BufTip- get a headlamp!