Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
By L.B. Taylor Jr. The History Press. 128 pages. $19.99
Thursday, July 18, 2013
If you believe in ghosts, this is the book for you.
L.B. Taylor Jr., author of 25 books on ghosts throughout the state, says Roanoke may be one of the most haunted cities in Virginia, “if not the entire southeastern United States.”
Taylor claims that “ disembodied entities seem to abound here: in old mansions; on the grounds of long-abandoned plantations; in hotels, restaurants and bed-and-breakfast inns; in vintage theaters and ancient cemeteries, and even on college campuses.”
This abundance “has triggered a cottage industry” of ghost walks and such “haunted house attractions” as “Fear Factory, Dark Forest and Dr. Pain’s Nightmare” plus “the creation of amateur ghost hunting groups.” Apparently these are not widely known locally.
Taylor tells 28 stories of the sounds and sights of ghosts, some more credible than others. He features a 1902 Roanoke Times story about the “Woman in Black,” who seemed to follow married men as they walked home late at night.
The former Patrick Henry Hotel was “for decades, noted for its frequent paranormal activity.” He reports that an airline stewardess was murdered in room 606, which became “a hotbed of psychic phenomena.” A guest in the room said a woman in a long black skirt suddenly appeared. Also, lights were inexplicably turned on and off, cold spots provoked shivers and phantom footsteps were heard.
Ghosts have appeared at the Coffee Pot, the Grandin Theatre and a former mortician’s mansion on Patterson Avenue, “the scene of mystery, intrigue and possibly murder.” A woman who once lived in the mansion told of five bodies found in the basement and a woman in a white gown and lights flickering in the vacant building.
Perhaps the scariest story is that of Rosemont, a house on Bent Mountain where residents reported frequent unexplained footsteps, doors slamming shut, loud, crashing noises and faint glimpses of wispy substances that appeared and resurfaced in other locations.
Donna Dean said she recorded 87 unexplainable incidents the first year she lived in that house.
Taylor tells of a 1900 newspaper report of an old custom of pallbearers expected to fill graves after a burial, regardless of their best suits worn in respect for the person who had died. Other old stories are attributed to local historian Raymond Barnes and a variety of sources.
Some minor errors appear. Hollins is not a town. Confederate Gen. Jubal Early lived in Red Valley, not Red River in Franklin County, and the City Cemetery is not the Tazewell City Cemetery. A story about a tinker who lived in a cave on Read Mountain probably refers to a legend of a tinker who left his name on Tinker Mountain.
Taylor, a Lynchburg native who worked in public affairs for 35 years before retiring in Williamsburg, has written many magazine articles and books. His Roanoke book will be rewarding for those who believe in ghosts.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us