On the evenings of Friday Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center will be hosting the Haunted Valley Rally- a driving tour of the haunted history of the Swannanoa Valley.
This COVID-19-safe event will take attendees on a roughly two hour journey through some of the spookiest and most storied places in the Valley. For each tour, attendees will arrive in their own cars, then follow a lead car from stop to stop.
At each stop, visitors will listen to an audio tour- downloaded as an app on their phone- that will describe the historic calamities, hauntings and tragedies of sites in downtown Black Mountain, Swannanoa, local cemeteries and more. Many of the stops will be accompanied by actors who quietly enact ghostly scenes for the audience.
This is the eighth year that the museum has hosted historical haunted house tours. In past years, walking tours, accompanied by a ghostly host, would visit several historic sites in downtown Black Mountain, learning about the town’s history and hauntings from local actors and volunteers.
This year, the challenge of hosting a tour during a pandemic inspired museum staff and volunteers to come up with a safe, socially-distanced alternative of having attendees travel in their own cars, listening to an audio tour, and enjoying some ghostly theater from afar.
“This is a twist on the historic haunted house tour as many people know it. Families or friends will be able to travel together in their cars and get a big dose of Halloween magic without feeling at risk,” said LeAnne Johnson, the museum’s Executive Director.
There will be a few opportunities for attendees to stretch their legs during the tour. One stop at a local cemetery will allow visitors to briefly walk the grounds at a distance from each other, and another cemetery stop will offer the option of a short, socially distanced walking tour of prominent graves in the cemetery. Those who do not wish to participate in the walking tour can listen to an audio track in their cars. Attendees are expected to wear face masks and practice social distancing. Bathroom facilities will be available at two stops.
The Haunted Valley Rally will not only recall tales of ghosts and hauntings in the valley, it will also offer a big dose of history for participants.
“The tours will explore some of the major tragedies and calamities that have shaped Asheville, Black Mountain, and Western North Carolina in general. These are stories that the public needs to know and remember,” said the museum’s Assistant Director Saro Lynch-Thomason.
Attendees will learn about the Great Flood of 1916 that killed over 80 people, the building of the Swannanoa Tunnel, which led to the death of over 120 African-American convicts, and the use of sanitariums in the valley to treat patients with tuberculosis. Even recent history, such as the fire that destroyed Beacon Manufacturing in Swannanoa, will be explored.
“This is a time of year when we like to scare ourselves, but it’s also a time of year when many people remember and honor the dead. We want this tour to be a bit of both,” said Lynch-Thomason.
Attendees can register for the Haunted Valley Rally at www.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/event, or call the museum at 828-669-9566.
The tours take place the evenings of Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24, starting at 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 8 p.m.
Tickets cost $125 per vehicle for museum members and $150 per vehicle for non-members. As many people as wished may ride in each car, making the cost per person lower the more riders in a car. The roads can accommodate minivans and SUVs. In addition to the audio tour, booklets will be provided that provide explanatory text for each stop.
Contact the museum for more details at 828-669-9566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.