The ghost of Mary Surratt leads visitors through the haunted halls of the National Building Museum. (Courtesy of the National Building Museum)

This is the second in a series of Halloween blog posts. The first covered pumpkin patches. The next post, about pumpkin carving contests, will run Oct. 17.

Don’t be deceived by the National Building Museum’s friendly docents and throngs of visitors... the ghost of a woman thrown to her death from the third floor lurks in the shadows.

Don’t think you are safe as you are strolling the picturesque streets of Frederick... Barbara Fritchie’s ghost is still on guard, protecting her home from Confederates.

And whatever you do, be careful taking pictures inside the historic Oatlands Plantation... the spirits really don’t like it.

These are stories that tour guides don’t usually share. They are spine-tingling experiences whispered about then tucked away, only to be repeated around Halloween to wide-eyed visitors. In some cases they even get turned into books and movies.

Between now and Halloween, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about local lore. Here are a few:


• The spirit of Mary Surratt leads a tour of the National Building Museum and introduces visitors to other spirits who call the museum home.

• The Ghost Story Tour of Washington includes the darker tales of the city’s famous downtown landmarks.


• Russ Noratel, a paranormal researcher will be signing his book, “Ghosts of Ellicott City” on Oct. 24 and 27.

Candlelit Ghost Tours of Historic Frederick sheds light (candlelight, that is) on the darker corners of the city’s long-dead residents.

• The famous “Grief” statue and urban legend gets a turn on the stage in “Hellspawn II.”

• The Ghosts of Sotterly walking tour introduces visitors to the plantation circa 1918 as the flu runs rampant.


Ghost Stories of Historic Brentsville features a campfire and tales from around Prince William County.

Historic Spirits of Ben Lomond includes tales about the site’s time as a Civil War hospital.

• Duels and other deadly deeds are the focus of Here Lieth the Body at Rippon Lodge.

Haunted Heights Ghost Walk Devilish Dumfries features a 45-minute walking tour of local lore followed by hot chocolate and cider around a campfire.

Ghost and Graveyard Tours in Alexandria take visitors through the darker history of the city.

Oatlands Paranormal Tours take visitors through the 200-year-old haunted mansion.