Make a haunted date: Explore Maryland's spooky side

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From urban ghost stories to bloody battle fields, Maryland is a great place to plan a haunted history date.

On a cool Saturday evening, Baltimore residents Tim and Kerri Brennan did just that and got to see a different side of their city – the underbelly.

As guests on the Original Fells Point Ghost Walk, hosted by Baltimore Ghost Tours, the Brennans explored the ghosts of pubs up and down Thames Street, ducking in and out of the cobblestoned streets of the neighborhood.

Spooky Spots Balt Ghost TourWBaltimore Ghost Tours explors the city's underbelly"It was cool to walk down the streets and see details of the buildings I normally would have never noticed," Kerri Brennan says. One of her favorite spots was the grave of William Fell, the 18th century owner of the area now called Fells Point, right in between a few houses.

Melissa Rowell, owner of Baltimore Ghost Tours, loves showing groups the haunted side of Fells Point.

"There's a theory that ghosts are connected to water," she says. "Fells Point is extremely haunted, with its shipbuilding past with lots of immigrants. There were lots of bars, brothels, fights, disease."

The Baltimore waterfront — and the entire state of Maryland — is chock full of history-based ghost stories and scary spots ready to be explored. This October, as the days grow shorter and Halloween approaches, step into the shadows and get to know our local underworld.

Get to Know the City Ghosts

The quickest way to immerse yourself in the spooky history of the state is with a ghost tour, like the one the Brennans took. Several companies offer tours of Annapolis, Baltimore and Ellicott City.

Despite the dark subject matter, most tours are upbeat and even funny.

"I try to make it as fun as possible," says Jackie Waymire, historic consultant and tour guide with Watermark's Historic Ghost Walk in Annapolis. "We try to make it enlightening. You learn a lot of history about the culture of the city and how it was long ago."

For Kerri Brennan, the tour was a reminder of Baltimore's proud, if sometimes sordid, past.

"The stories reminded me of those that came before us," she says. "I felt proud to be part of this city and learn some of the secrets it holds."

Ghost tour specificsSpooky Spots Watermark1 Mike B PhotographyW

Baltimore Ghost Tours — Multiple locations and times. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. 877-293-1571 or www.baltimoreghosttours.com

Annapolis Tours & Crawls — Front steps of Maryland Inn, 16 Church Circle, Annapolis. Multiple tour times and options. Tickets are $18 to $22. 443-534-0043 or www.toursandcrawls.com.

Watermark Tours Historic Ghost Walk — Departs from sidewalk in front of 100 Main St., Annapolis. Tours take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $10 for children age 3 to 11 and free for children under 2. www.annapolistours.com/our-tours/historic-ghost-walk.

Ye Haunted History of Olde Ellicott City Ghost Tour & Spirits of Ellicott City Ghost Tours — Howard County Welcome Center, 8267 Main Street, Ellicott City. April through November; Second Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for children age 12 and under, seniors 65+ and active duty military personnel and their families. (Not recommended for children under age 6.) www.visithowardcounty.com/ghost-tours.

Immerse Yourself in Civil War History

History buffs know that Maryland is steeped in Civil War-era history — and the ghosts of the time. A self-guided Civil War-themed ghost tour of the state might start a bit to the west, at Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg. More than 23,000 soldiers died at what's considered the bloodiest single day of the Civil War on Sept. 17, 1863, at Antietam. Many of their spirits are said to still lurk there.

Next, head southeast to Waldorf and the home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the doctor who treated Johns Wilkes Booth following his assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Mudd's home, which has been featured on the SyFy channel show "Ghost Hunters," is thought to be haunted by the spirit of the doctor himself.

Round out the tour with a trip to the Surratt House in Clinton, where legend says the assassination of Lincoln was plotted. Mary Surratt, the home's owner, was convicted and hanged for her role in the assassination. Since then, her ghost has, reportedly, haunted the home.

Civil war sites

Antietam Battlefield — 5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg. Hours: Labor Day to Memorial Day, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Annual passes sold for $20 and 3-day passes are $4 per person or $6 per family. 301-432-5124, www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm

Dr. Samuel Mudd house — 3725 Doctor Samuel Mudd Road, Waldorf. Hours: March through November, Wednesday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $2 for children age 6 to 16. 301-645-6870.

Surratt House Museum — 9118 Brandywine Road, Clinton. Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors aged 60+, $1 for children age 5 to 18 and free for children under 5. 301-868-1121, www.surrattmuseum.org.

Explore the spooks on the shore 

The Eastern Shore is prime ghost-hunting territory.Spooky Spots VanceMilesHouseW.jpgVance Miles House in Marion Station on a Chesapeake Ghost Walk.

"There's a lot of history," says Lara English of Chesapeake Ghost Tours, a company that conducts tours from Easton to Ocean City. "The buildings are really old and there are a lot of stories."

Chesapeake's tours bounce from graveyard to historic home, focusing on stories of the region's long-ago residents. The tour that feels scariest, English says, is the Pocomoke walk. The tour wanders through a forest, starting at the Pocomoke River, and follows a trail lined with cypress trees. The dark forest is considered one of the most haunted spots on the Eastern Shore, and the swinging trees and deep, black river set a classically creepy scene.

But the spookiest building on the Eastern Shore, according to English, might be the Caroline Jail in Denton. Chesapeake's ghost tour of Denton visits the outside of the jail; the facility is still in use today.

"It seems to be the most actively haunted, based on what people say," English says. "There are so many stories that I don't even know them all myself. They still have instances going on today."

Most of the activity in the jail is attributed to one man, a convict named Wish Sheppard, who received the death penalty in 1915. In the century since his execution, dozens of prisoners, guards and visitors to the jail have reported paranormal experiences they attribute to Sheppard, from hearing footsteps to the mysterious presence of a handprint — said to be Wish Sheppard's — on the wall of the cell where he was kept.

Shore tours

Chesapeake Ghost Walks — Multiple Eastern Shore locations with frequent walks scheduled; check website for calendar. Tickets are $15 for adults, $9 for children age 8 to 12. For more information about the ghosts of the Eastern Shore, check out Haunted Eastern Shore by Mindie Burgoyne, the owner of Chesapeake Ghost Walks. 443-735-0771, www.chesapeakeghostwalks.com

Take the Poe Tour

Immerse yourself in the Baltimore that inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write his classic horror stories with a self-guided tour of the Charm City places he frequented. You'll get a literary education — and may spot a specter or two.

Start at the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, where Poe lived from 1833 to 1835. Visitors have experienced bizarre activity at the home, from seeing lights flicker to spotting the ghost of an older woman.

Poe reportedly met his end after a night out at The Horse You Came In On Saloon in Fells Point, also a stop on the Fells Point Ghost Walk. Some patrons say his ghost still lurks about the place. Stop in for a drink and you may get a literary chill.

Wrap up the tour at Westminster Hall, the church next to the graveyard where Poe is buried. The church was built in 1852 and is the site of years of creepy activities, from grave robbers looting the cemetery to stories of ghost children playing and men wandering the catacombs under the church.

Poe particulars

Edgar Allan Poe House — 203 North Amity Street, Baltimore. Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Check the Facebook page for any seasonal events facebook.com/PoeBaltimore. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors age 65+, active military with ID and students age 13 to 21 with ID, children under 12 are free. 410-462-1763, www.poeinbaltimore.org

The Horse You Came In On Saloon — 1626 Thames St., Baltimore. 410-327-8111, www.thehorsebaltimore.com.

Westminster Hall — 515 West Fayette St., Baltimore. 410-706-2072, www.westminsterhall.org.

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