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Make a haunted date: Explore Maryland’s spooky side

Updated 2022

From urban ghost stories to bloody battle fields, Maryland is a great place to plan a haunted history date. If you’ve already tried Maryland’s Haunted Houses or the Halloween Thrills at Local Amusement Parks, then dive into the haunting history Maryland has to offer.

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.

“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.”

Local Ghost Tours

Baltimore Ghost Tours

Explore the spooky history through several tour options, including a Pub Crawl.
Tickets starting at $15 for adults, depending on the tour you take.

Spooky Spots Balt Ghost TourW
Annapolis Tours & Crawls

Take a spine-tingling ghost walk through the historic city of Annapolis. They also offer Haunted Pub Crawls.
Multiple tour times and options. Tickets starting at $18.

Spooky Spots Watermark1 Mike B PhotographyW
Watermark Tours Historic Ghost Walk

Going back in time in Historic Annapolis, these Special Historic Haunting Tours will take you to the lesser-known haunted sites.
Tours take place on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays during the month of October. Tickets are $26 for adults, $15 for children under age 11.

Maryland History Tours

Offering a variety of tours throughout the year, Maryland History tours in October are the spookiest, like Spirits Pub Crawl, Mt. Misery Ghost Tour and Haunted Main Street. They even have a tour that friendly dogs can join in.
Tickets starting at $15 (Not recommended for children under age 6.)

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

Top sites to visit include Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge and the National Cemetery.
Hours: Open Year Round, except Thanksgiving, December 25 & January 1; Visitor Center open 9am to 5pm.
Fees: Annual passes sold for $35 and 3-day vehicle passes are $10 per person or $20 per vehicle.
5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg.

Dr. Samuel Mudd House

The home where the leg of John Wilkes Booth was attended to after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Hours: March through November, Wednesday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
Fees: Admission is $8 for adults and $2 for children age 6 to 12.
3725 Doctor Samuel Mudd Road, Waldorf.

Surratt House Museum

The oldest building in Clinton, Maryland and home & business of the Surratt family with a connection to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Hours: Thursdays & Fridays, 11 am to 2 pm; Saturdays, 11 am to 3 pm.
Fees: Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors aged 60+, $2 for children age 5 to 18 and free for children ages 4 & under.
9118 Brandywine Road, Clinton.

Explore the frights 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.

Eastern Shore tours

Chesapeake Ghost Walks

Multiple Eastern Shore locations with frequent walks scheduled; check website for calendar. For more information about the ghosts of the Eastern Shore, check out Haunted Eastern Shore by Mindie Burgoyne, the owner of Chesapeake Ghost Walks.

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: Thursday through Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. Check the Facebook page for any seasonal events facebook.com/PoeBaltimore.
Fees: Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65+, $5 children under 12.

The Horse You Came In On Saloon

Known as the last destination of Edgar Allan Poe before his death.
1626 Thames St., Baltimore.

Westminster Hall

The burial place of Edgar Allan Poe.
515 West Fayette St., Baltimore.

Getting Spooky with the Kids

Though Maryland’s scary spots can be genuinely frightening, there are still plenty of kid-friendly ways to enjoy the creepier side of the state.

Grayson Carter, a 10-year-old from Annapolis, can’t get enough of the story about the headless man in his hometown. Carter and the rest of his Cub Scout troop heard the story a few years ago while on a ghost tour of Annapolis.

The tour, led by Grayson’s father, Mike Carter, meanders through the city’s ancient streets. Carter regales his audiences with spooky tales, rooted in the history of the area — and the kids eat it up.

Ghost tour guides like Carter, who owns Annapolis Tours & Crawls, say they typically tailor their talks to the specific audience, toning down racier or scarier stories and eliminating profanity when children are present. Tour guides note, though, that most tours involve walking a mile or more at night, which might be too much for younger kids.

“All of our stories are history-based,” says Carter. “So we start with the history and then launch into the haunting. When my son’s troop came out, they couldn’t stop talking about it.”

Families can create their own kid-friendly “ghost tours,” too. Focusing on the history — and highlighting any happy endings associated with the stories — can help give kids an experience that’s fun, educational and a little spooky, but won’t cause nightmares.

Be sure to check out our listing of area haunted houses for more thrills.

By Kit Waskom Pollard

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