hesapeake Ghost Walks is conducting over forty Halloween ghost tours in ten historic towns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in October. The ghost tours spread across five counties situated east of the Chesapeake Bay and span 80 linear miles. By day the landscape is wide open and flat, rich with farmland, marshes, rivers and massive blue skies. But at night – a hauntingly powerful nightscape emerges with moonlit swamps and stark fields framed by the silhouettes of loblolly pines. The bones of the old plantations rise up, and the spirits of sea captains, slaves, soldiers, and townspeople come forth.
Author and company owner, Mindie Burgoyne states that few people outside Maryland and Delaware know about the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake. “Millions rush through it on their way to the Atlantic beaches” she said. “But most don’t realize that they’re traveling through the largest contiguous piece of agricultural land between Maine and Florida – and I would guess – one of the most haunted regions in the eastern United States.”
According to Burgoyne, haunted stories abound in this region. “Every time I’d focus on one story, it would be related to another, and then another,” she states. “I was overwhelmed by the amount of haunted lore.” Some of the sites and stories on the tours include the ghost of Robert E. Lee seen in an upper room at the Kemp House in St. Michaels, the spirit of Harriet Tubman heard calling across the farm fields of Dorchester County, calling her people to freedom. In Snow Hill, the spirit of a former governor of Maryland speaks to little children inside his old mansion, and in Ocean City, the spirit of a Trimper still leaves the scent of her perfume around the old carousel at Trimper’s Rides and Amusements. At the Cambridge court house, some people still hear the creaking of rope against wood – the rope around the neck of “Bloody” Henny Insley, an African slave who was hanged for hacking her mistress to death.
One of eight well-trained guides lead the walks and tell the ghost stories on these tours. The towns featured are among the most historically intact towns in Maryland with gorgeous Colonial and Victorian architecture. They are Easton, St. Michaels. Denton, Cambridge, Princess Anne, Crisfield, Pocomoke, Snow Hill, Berlin and Ocean City. Collectively, the walks comprise the largest cluster of heritage ghost walks in America.
Thirteen years ago, Burgoyne moved from Washington D.C. to one of the most remote areas of the lower Eastern Shore. She and her husband Dan purchased a 120-year-old Victorian home that turned out to be haunted – and not just a little haunted. The level of paranormal activity in that home was so high that the Burgoynes put the house up for sale less than a year after buying it. Living in that home ignited Mindie’s interest in the haunted Eastern Shore and inspired her to write four books and scores of articles, which led to her crafting a ghost tour series that includes over 130 stories and sites.
When asked which tour was the best, Mindie Burgoyne responded, “They’re all good. They’re all entertaining and a great way to spend a couple of hours outdoors, especially during the beautiful fall weather.” She continued, “Pocomoke is probably the scariest because that walk goes into a haunted forest and cypress swamp. Cambridge has the most haunted street in Maryland with fourteen stories on High Street alone. Princess Anne is the most disturbing. The content covers two lynchings and is very harsh. Guests have gotten amazing anomalies in their pictures, including an image taken with a mobile phone camera that distinctly shows a man hanging from a tree. We don’t allow kids on that tour.”
The ghost tours run year-round, but the number of tours is stepped up in October. It’s also the month when Mindie and Dan Burgoyne open up their own haunted house to the public. They never sold it. Mindie states, “It turned out that we couldn’t find a buyer and after awhile, the activity settled a bit. But when I put the story of our house in my first book, people always ask if they can visit and see the house so we decided to open it up once a year in October. People love coming in and hearing the stories.”
The Chesapeake Ghost Walk website has complete information on each ghost tour including town locations and tour descriptions. For a sneak peak at Mindie Burgoyne telling one of the ghost stories from the tours, check out the Haunted Minutes series on the company’s YouTube channel. Tickets are purchased online through the website with Adult tickets priced at $15 and Child (8-12 yrs) tickets at $9. For more information, call the Ghost Phone at 443.735.0771 or email tours(at)chesapeakeghostwalks(dot)com
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