October has arrived, and with it the season of spiders and spooky things.
Ghost tales abound in the Dan River Basin, and its landscape holds untold secrets. This time of year, the nights grow longer. And our thoughts often turn to the eerier side of life—and death.
For a lot of people, the chill from a fright is a pleasure to be savored. If you thrill to a good scare, or if you’re just fascinated by ghosts and haunted places, come explore what the Dan River region has to offer.
Here are just a few ways to explore the Halloween season this year:
Call the paranormal investigators in Rockingham County, North Carolina.
Based in western Rockingham County, the Paranormal Investigators of North Carolina use technology, testimony and evidence to evaluate hauntings and paranormal activity in homes, businesses, and historic locations.
Gird yourself for 43 Nightmares in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
43 Nightmares has garnered rave reviews and a cult following for its terrifying haunted house experience that includes a 3-D room and a warning for the faint-hearted.
Learn about the history of death and funerals in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
The Simpson Funeral Museum in Chatham encompasses 4,500 square feet, filled with murals covering a history of funerary services, as well as 20 hardwood and metal caskets and vaults including replicas of caskets for Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, John Wayne, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
Explore the haunted history of the Blue Ridge.
Author Joe Tennis documented three Patrick County haunts and one in Henry County in his book “Haunts of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands,” published in 2010. Here are a few of the haunted places he highlights on the western end of Virginia’s Dan River Basin:
The Mountain Rose Inn, Woolwine, Virginia
Al and Suzie DuBree acquired and renovated what is now the Mountain Rose bed and breakfast in the ’90s. During those renovations, Suzie heard the sound of walking on the house’s staircase, as well as the sound of what she termed a ghost on a rocking chair upstairs.
DuBree identified the ghost as Joe DeHart, who lived in a home near Rock Castle Creek and made whiskey at Mountain Rose Distillery No. 250 in the late 1800s and early 1900s. DeHart eventually moved east to Philpott, in neighboring Franklin County—the so-called Moonshine Capital of the World. With the advent of Prohibition, DeHart apparently stopped making whiskey and returned to Woolwine to grow peaches and apples, as well as making vinegar, flour and meal. He died in 1956, and his home fell to ruin until the DuBrees came along nearly four decades later.
The Mountain Rose Inn is now privately owned and is no longer a bed and breakfast.
Poor Farmers Farmhouse, Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Like the Mountain Rose Inn, the Poor Farmers Farmhouse operated as a vacation rental during the 1990s. Eventually it became the private home of Felecia Shelor, who along with her maintenance man, Buford Wood, noticed odd happenings. Wood observed a figure around the house several times, including spotting a blonde woman watching him one day from inside the house, even though no one was actually there. Shelor also saw a blonde woman wearing a blue gown upstairs one day, but the specter disappeared as well.
The mystery deepened when Wood turned up a small tombstone while digging a ditch along the driveway one day. The marker bore the name of Rozinah, born in 1817 and died in 1900, the wife of Jonathan Conner. Was it the 19th-century Rozinah that Wood and Shelor saw watching them? No one knows for sure.
Old Henry County Courthouse, Martinsville, Virginia
Judge Malcolm Hugh MacBryde Jr. was a strict judge who often handed down strict sentences during his time presiding in the Henry County Courthouse, before his eventual death in 1969. Some Martinsville lawyers say his spirit still lingers there.
One morning in the late ’90s, Debbie Hall arrived at the courthouse at 4 a.m. to set up historical displays for a festival. She thought she was alone but heard footsteps upstairs, including inside a locked courtroom. She called out but received no response, even as the footsteps continued. Thoroughly spooked, she fled the building to wait outside for her friends.
Today the old courthouse is home to a heritage society and museum. Come visit and find out more.
Reynolds Homestead, Critz, Virginia
Built in the 1840s, the Reynolds Homestead occupies a prominent spot in Patrick County history. R.J. Reynolds, who transformed the tobacco industry as the maker of Camel cigarettes, was born there in 1850.
Some guests and staff there say they’ve felt a presence in the house, although not a frightening one. An artist-in-residence who stayed there in the mid-’90s woke her first night to find an elderly man grabbing her arm and refusing to let go, and the next day she walked the house, graveyards and grounds to try to make piece.
Others have felt a heavy presence, both in the living room and in the library. Tennis suggests this might be Nancy Ruth Reynolds, who lived 1906 to 1912 and died after reaching for her Christmas stocking on the mantle and deeply inhaling flames in the process. A marble lamb sits atop her gravestone near the Reynolds Homestead.
Today the Reynolds Homestead continues on as a community center and destination for visitors. Come visit and enjoy the simple life.
More ways to explore the Dan River region
There’s more to the Dan River Basin than hauntings and frights. Take a break from ghost-hunting to try one of our other trip ideas.