It is probably not surprising that I have been on many ghost walks. Every ghost walk I have been on has a different tone. They have all been brilliant in different ways. However, there are some unifying principles in ghost walks that I feel makes them all wonderful. Every ghost walk I've been on tells the story of the haunted places on the walk from a perspective that makes that story whole. That means that there is a history to the haunting and then there are tales of the haunting itself and those who have witnessed it. This is always the case. This was true until I went on the downtown Huntsville Ghost Walk. This ghost walk was the strangest ghost walk I have ever been on and completely lacked the elements I associate with a brilliant ghost walk.
Instead of having the unifying principles that I mention above, the guide instead told pieces of each ghost story and none of them ever seemed to equal an entire tale. He told tales of many residual hauntings. He would tell stories of places where ghosts had been seen but the history was missing or he would tell tales of moments in history a medium had witnessed without any real ghost tales to go with the history. On some occasions, he would mention hauntings without any history to accompany them. None of the pieces were a whole story and when I questioned him, my guide he seemed lost.
For example, he told the tale of a place on the street where the ghost of a young girl with a basket of kittens wanders. The girl's name is Allison and she haunts Washington Street. The girl was deaf and her father worked for the railroads. The Governor gave her a basket of kittens which she still clings to in the after life because she died of cat scratch fever. It was a medium who determined who the ghost was, but the guide had no idea why she haunted Washington Street or why she would even chose to remain in Alabama since she didn't live here in life.
Another ghost story that lacked definition was a story that a medium picked up in the street. The medium felt someone died there and someone had, but there were no other haunting stories. No one else had seen the ghost. No one had been haunted. A medium could sense a murder. That was all.
Another example is the haunting of the Yargrow Hotel. The hotel is haunted by a ghost that is angry about a water heater. The guide couldn't say who the ghost was or why he was angry. There was no history or story to augment the tale. A medium merely noticed that an angry water heater ghost lives there. Similarly, The Heritage Club Kitchen is haunted by a ghost that bothered staff there, but the guide couldn't say anything else except that it was haunted. There was no history to accompany the tale.
There were a few good stories on the tour. The tragic story of the murder of Molly on the street was a perfectly haunting tale with every component of a beautiful and utterly compelling ghost story. The story of William Street was also a perfect tale of woe.
There are four ghost tours run by the same company in Huntsville, Alabama. Maybe I just took the wrong tour with the wrong guide. Although some of the tour was interesting, overall I was disappointed by the lack of depth most of the stories had and the guide's inability to answer 90% of my questions. I was most frustrated when I asked him about the history of the Hotel Russell Erskin and he couldn't answer any of my questions. He didn't know when it was built or anything else he didn't say in the tour. My sister goggled the information we wanted about the hotel's history on her phone and showed it to him. After, another person on the tour asked him about the history and he answered with my sister's information with the authority of a history professor without mentioning my sister's contribution. That made me sad.
The best part of this tour was the history and the tour of downtown Huntsville. The little city was bustling with activity and the history of the city was interesting to listen to.
I am planning on going on all the Huntsville Ghost Walk's this fall and I am hoping this one was just a fluke and that the rest will be wonderful!