I loooove Halloween. Always have. Always will. And while we are in the States, we want to take advantage of all of the Halloween craziness that is around. But, all week long we could never decide what to be for Halloween – actually we’d been thinking about it all month. So, we decided to not be anything. And we decided to have a cozy night of carving pumpkins, drinking drinks, and watching movies.
Then I got an idea. I thought I might search around and find out about lots of the haunted places in Asheville – of course Asheville is known as a very haunted place, what with all of the spiritual, healing, mystical mountains and rivers and such in the area. Seriously, it is pegged as a very haunted city. There were a few ghost stories that I already knew, so I wanted to brush up on them and see what else I could find out… and I’d take Lina and Paige on a haunted tour of Asheville. Fun!!
I mean, you can pay 20-40 bucks for a Haunted tour with a company, but why do that? I knew I could be just as good of a storyteller and guide as anyone. And it’d be free! So, I researched and created a driving/walking tour of about 16 places all over Asheville – and there are more.
But before we could take off on our tour, I needed to get some pumpkins for carving. That’s right, last minute pumpkin shopping – on Halloween. let me reassure you, never wait until Halloween. They are not easy to find. Hehe. Because I was searching high and low for pumpkins, I had too much time to think, so I created a little list in my head of some fun costume-y things I could buy that we could use to kind of, sort of dress up!
After 2 hours of shopping, finding 2 pumpkins, standing in a super long line for people buying costume-y things last minute, and a trip to our liquor store (because now I had also dreamed up a little cider martini concoction!), I made it home. I headed into our studio and laid out all of the wigs, masks, and make-up/props I had gotten. Then, I invited the girls in to pick and choose whatever they wanted. They were sooooo excited! Immediately they started creating special Halloween looks, and we were full-fledged into being committed to dressing up for the night. There’s nothing like spontaneity!
After a little photo shoot, we were ready for pumpkin carving and cidertini (apple cider + vanilla vodka) sipping. It was so much fun, but the real fun was about to begin as soon as we left our home!
We hopped in the car and headed off on our Haunted Tour of Asheville – it was raining by now, so we decided that most of the tour would be in the car. As we drove, I realized that I left my list of places (and the order I was planning to visit them in) at home. Crap. So, I just went with whatever came to mind – it turned out perfectly actually.
Now, Lina and Paige had no idea which places we would visit or anything about anything. They were just along for the ride. The rain and the cold and the darkness set the perfect mood, and our adventures began!
The Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn (Room 545)
The unknown woman, or “the pink lady” as she has affectionately been called, came to visit the Grove Park Inn during the 1920’s, and was a guest of room 545. Dressed in a long, pink, flowing gown, the woman fell to her death over the stone wall from the second floor. No one really knows if she jumped or if she was pushed. But, legend has it that she was meeting her married lover in room 545. Something happened, and it ended very badly. Though her body was removed, it seems that her friendly, somewhat mischievous, spirit has lingered behind.
This was our first stop on our haunted tour. We walked into the elegant, upper class inn and were greeted by hundreds of people milling about the great room, drinking drinks, sitting by the giant fireplace, and enjoying themselves. None of them were dressed up. Hehe. I led Lina and Paige to the elevator that is located in the rock behind the fireplace – and we pushed the button to head up. Creepy…
A female elevator operator arrived and opened the old wire gate to the tiny elevator. We walked in and I said, “Do you know where we want to go?!” She replied, “5th floor.” Paige and Lina didn’t know what was going on.
When we reached the floor, we walked out and went to the door of the room – 545. As we stood outside its door, I told them the tragic story of the Pink Lady. They were both totally into this… Lina feeling very weird and dark, with her chest tightening up. Paige, completely curious. We stood there and pondered and discussed and felt the air, placing our hands on the stone wall where the Pink Lady met her death. It was eerie. Weird. Frightening. But, mostly sad.
A housekeeping man appeared in the otherwise completely deserted hallway and atrium. We knew that the hotel was at 95% capacity, but no one was anywhere around on the floors that we could see, until the man appeared pushing a cart. He walked over to 545 and knocked on the door to prepare the room for the evening – turn down service. We were so curious, but of course we couldn’t go in. Someone’s private things were in there.
The man reappeared after a few minutes and continued on, knowing that we were there, based on the Halloween look that we had and the way we were loitering outside the room. After he completed all the rooms on that side of the hall, he came back over to us and told us that he knew he shouldn’t be doing this, but he gave us candy that he puts on the guests’ pillows. We just did some trick-or-treating!
It was hard to get Lina and Paige to leave this place, they were sooooo into it. But, I knew that we had so much more to see.
We called for the elevator again, this time picked up by a older man. We rode back down to the great hall, had our picture taken in front of the great big fireplace, then walked back outside into the dark night. We turned to look up at the gigantic Grove Park Inn and the window to room 545 looming over us. The moon was creepy, the lights of the hotel glowed, and it was a perfect Halloween moment.
Zealandia Bridge, aka Helen’s Bridge, was built in 1909 for the Zealandia Estate. It was mentioned in a passage of Thomas Wolf’s “Look Homeward, Angel,” as the novelist used to frequently walk under the bridge. Its ghost, Helen, is believed to have been a woman who lived nearby with her daughter. When her daughter died in a fire, Helen hanged herself from the bridge. Today, folks say that you can visit the bridge and call out to Helen… and she will respond.
After leaving the Pink Lady and the Grove Park Inn, I wasn’t sure where to go next. Suddenly, I realized that we were close to Helen’s Bridge and something told me that this was the next stop we should make.
I drove us past downtown and up into a residential neighborhood. The road then narrowed and headed up a mountain, Beaucatcher Mountain. It was very dark, there were tons of trees, and the road and leaves were slick. The wind howled (seriously) and there was a chill in the air. Lina and Paige still had no idea about anything.
I felt a bit nervous actually, being on this tiny mountain road, slippery, deserted, and dark. We rounded a curve and there was a car just sitting on the side of the road, facing us. Headlights on. We passed and saw that it was a group of people just waiting. I knew we were close.
Then, we rounded another part of the mountain and immediately Lina cried out, “This is it!” Now, folks, she had no idea where we were or where we were going. But, all of the hair was standing up on her arms and entire body. The air in the car got really cold, and we saw the bridge directly in front of us as Lina screamed. I was driving slowly, but we were under the bridge before I knew it. We were all creeped out – like majorly. Paige was freaking out in the back. I was freaking out. Everything felt dark and black and bad.
A car appeared behind us and I drove on ahead, turning off so I could lose the car. After that car passed, we turned around and headed back to the bridge. They wanted to stop and roll down the windows. I totally freaked out, heart pumping loudly in the ears, and drove us back under the bridge. We did not stop, but we drove slowly. Goosebumps still covering Lina.
As we came down the mountain, we needed to decompress and process Lina’s reaction. How did she know? Even when she didn’t know. She just felt it. Yep. We were officially creeped out and our Halloween night would have been complete if we had stopped with that place…
But we didn’t. We drove around and experienced haunted Asheville for at least 2 more hours. There were more stories of horrible things that happened, more creepy feelings, more excitement, more sadness on the part of people who had died, and more fun and laughter and craziness with each stop that we made. Sometimes we just drove by and sometimes we stopped, taking photos and just letting the feelings of the place soak into us.
One thing I’l tell you is that we were really glad to be doing this. I was so grateful for having learned about different Asheville citizens and telling their stories. In some way, it made it feel like they were being remembered and honored – the dead who died before they should have.
We ended our night at Barley’s Tavern – a pub right smack in the middle of downtown Asheville. It is a haunted place, with terribly tragic stories of murder and death. Employees today say that they hear and see and feel weird things all of the time. So, we joined many others inside this old, haunted tavern for a pitcher of pumpkin ale and some nachos. We talked about our drive and all of the places we visited. And Lina and Paige assured me that they had a great time. I, for one, had a freaking blast researching and then driving them all of the city.
As we left the pub, after about an hour and a half, we walked out into the late Halloween night air – and it was snowing! It was just after midnight, Halloween was over, and we bundled together as we made our way to the car to head home. What a great night! What memories + experiences!
Here’s a list of all of the places that we visited around town. If you want to read about each of the individual haunted sites, then just click here to go to a website that has all of the information you need to begin your own Haunted Asheville tour.
The Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn (Room 545)
The corner of Merrimon and Broadway
Highland Park area of Montford
The Reynolds Mansion
Battery Park Hotel
Basilica of St. Lawrence
First Presbyterian Church
Barley’s Tavern + the Eagle Street Massacre
you know, all hallow’s eve (halloween) and all hallow’s day (all saint’s day) are related to each other. find out later today in a blog post how i continued my celebration after halloween night. in the mean time, i hope you had a fantastic halloween – and that your spirit danced with the spirits of others around you!