Published: Friday, November 10, 2006
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 22:07
Do you believe in ghosts? After experiencing the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour, even the most skeptical believers may wonder if there truly are spirits among us. The tour, which includes a bus tour or a walking tour, is based on the book Haunted Asheville by Joshua P. Warren. Warren is an internationally-recognized expert on paranormal research. In 1995 he founded L.E.M.U.R. (the League of Energy Materialization and Unexplained phenomena Research), one of the country's foremost paranormal research teams. One of the many stops on the tour is Helen's Bridge, which is located near the top of Beaucatcher Mountain. The bridge, originally named Belinda's Bridge, was built in 1909 in order to access the Zelandia Mansion. The story of Helen's Bridge stems from a woman named Helen who lived on Beaucatcher Mountain several years ago with her daughter. Helen became distraught after losing her daughter in a fire and hung herself from the small stone bridge near her house. It is said that you can summon the ghost of Helen by chanting "Helen come forth" three times. Numerous people have reported that their vehicles would not start, or would unexpectedly die after visiting the bridge. Many people believe Helen is not a ghost to be bothered. A few years ago, a young man cursed Helen's ghost and urinated on the bridge. He felt pain immediately and was later checked into a hospital with a stone in his system. The pink lady of the Grove Park Inn is another common ghost story you will hear on the tour. The legend says around the year 1920, a woman wearing a long pink gown fell to her death from the 5th floor of the Palm Court. The reason for her death has remained a mystery, as has her name. Shortly after her death, hotel guests and employees began encountering the apparition of a "pink lady." Her spirit is said to like children and childish pranks, such as manipulating room lights and door locks. Some guests have reported hearing her voice, while others have felt unexplained severe cold chills in room 545, along with seeing an apparition of dense pink smoke. Unlike Helen, however, the Pink Lady is believed to be a gentle spirit and has even been known to tickle guest's feet. The Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour begins at Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria, which is located near the location of the largest mass murder killing spree in Asheville's History. On November 13, 1906, a fugitive from Charlotte named Will Harris came to Asheville in search of his girlfriend Mollie Maxwell. Harris became angry when Mollie's sister Pearl refused to reveal where she was. He bought a rifle, got drunk on whiskey, and then returned to Pearl's house where he took her as a hostage. When the police arrived to the house on Eagle Street, the killing spree began. Harris killed a police officer and then walked through the streets, shooting at anything that moved. Six people were killed, including Harris himself, two days later. A posse of over 1,000 men tracked him down and shot him over 100 times. As was a common practice in those days, his corpse was displayed in a window downtown, where several people tried to shoot his body again. Inside Barley's is a photo of Harris's bullet-riddled corpse. The deaths of that day in 1906 may be the reason for the strange activities reported at Barley's over the years. The owner Doug Beatty once saw a figure walk outside the window on the second floor, an area that has no place to stand. While Barley's was being restored, a man working upstairs by himself heard the manual old-fashioned elevator open and rise up to the second floor. After realizing no one else was in the building, he left town without waiting for his pay. Those three stories are only a sample of what you will hear on the tour. For more information on the Haunted Asheville Ghost Tour, visit the website: http://www.hauntedasheville.com. For times and availability of tours, call (828) 216-3383.