Ever hiked a trail and suddenly you were overcome with an unexplainable creepy feeling? Or perhaps spent the night in a woodland cabin and swear you heard things go bump in the night? Or maybe you just enjoy telling legends and lore around a summer campfire? You aren’t alone as shares Patty Elton, author of Ghostly Tales of Selected Virginia State Parks.
Having visited every state park in the Commonwealth, some multiple occasions over a period of more than 20 years, Patty Elton spent much of that time collecting and recording spooky stories and curious tales from staff, volunteers and visitors of Virginia State Parks and their immediate surroundings. As quoted by Rob Hedlt from the Fredericksburg Star, “Experiences of two very different kinds put Patty Elton in a perfect position a few years back to write a book about a unique Virginia theme.”
The 152-page book gives the reader a different take on the award-winning Virginia State Parks. In her first volume, writing as P.M. Elton, she focuses on thirteen parks and is currently working on her second volume featuring more parks from the 36-park system.
Elton trekked from one end of the state to the other photographing and visiting with park staff, volunteers and visitors. Asked what is her favorite ghostly park, Elton replies,” perhaps Chippokes Planation, because the spirits are so very active and continual. There’s a constant flow of paranormal energy at Chippokes that I could have written an entire volume just on that park.” She has not experienced anything herself at Chippokes other than a few hairs rising on the back of her neck when she enters the Jones-Stewart Mansion, but Elton says she’d someday like to see Mr. and Mrs. Stewart rocking on the mansion’s side porch as witnessed by several visitors. On the other hand, volunteer Joan Miller literally saw a white-wispy apparition twirl past her. As Mrs. Miller states, “it changed me forever.”
Side porch rockers where the spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart have been sighted observing park visitors.
Another of Elton’s favorites is Wilderness Road featuring Martin’s Station. “The historical context of the park to the westward expansion of our nation is pure grandeur to experience and unfortunately, many Americans are unaware it exists.” Additionally, last summer Elton was volunteering in Virginia’s Central Piedmont, miles and miles from Wilderness Road, when she met a young man that shared his personal experience at Wilderness Road. Apparently he smelled Robert Ely’s cigar smoke around the exterior of the Karlan Mansion. This is reportedly a sign of Ely’s ghost lurking the groomed grounds. Large-eyed and tense expression drawn on the young man’s face was reason to believe he’d truly experienced the anomaly that so many other visitors have experienced as well. Even author Joe Tennis, a contributor to the Herald Bristol Courier captures the words of Scott Bowen, Manager at Wilderness Road who replied when asked if he’d experienced ghosts at the Karlan Manson, “you can sometimes smell mysterious cigar smoke in or around the Karlan Mansion.”
Joan Miller’s depiction of the wispy image she saw in the Jones-Steward Mansion.
Elton expounds she loves all Virginia State Parks but Douthat, hidden in the lush Alleghany Highlands, oozes with nature’s healing powers. Accordingly to staff, the park percolates more than healing powers but also a few persistent spirits. It is believed the ghosts of ornery teenagers remain in the woods along the entrance road. There’s also the spirit of a former restaurant employee – cranky last century and this century, too, as she has the propensity to rattle pots and pans. Then there’s the Grizzly Man who is often spotted skulking at the Tuscarora Overlook and if that isn’t enough a puzzling legend still lives today about a young boy named Jonathan Rose.
So if you’re looking for an unusual and intriguing gift this year for Christmas I highly recommend Ghostly Tales of Selected Virginia State Parks. Many of the state park stores carry the $14.95 volume along with national distributors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. The book makes a perfect read around a cozy winter fireplace or next summer’s campfire.