Once the sun sets, and the warm sunny days give way to the chill and darkness of evening in Autumn, the picturesque setting that is Loudoun succumbs to a whole different experience. The rolling landscape, dotted with stately oaks and elegant manors, become seemingly more remote, stark, and lonely. Charming small towns, alive with people moving here and there in the hours before dusk, slow to a hushed crawl. The historic 18th and 19th century architecture, which present welcoming and inviting facades, give way to a foreboding sense of dread when confronted with the stories of the sordid past that haunts some of their structures. To experience the chilly season first hand, we invite you to stiffen your resolve, reinforce your courage, and visit some of our seasonal attractions designed to “wake the dead” as they say.
Begin your adventure in Sterling with a little “Terror After Dark,” with a visit to the former residence of Dr. Emil Bloodstone: Bloodstone Manor. It seems as though the good doctor, who spent a lifetime collecting strange artifacts from around the globe, had a penchant for collecting unsuspecting visitors too. Once discovered, the doctor was punished with eternal incarcaration on Cell Block 13: Death Row, a prison for the criminally insane. “Finish off” your visit by going into the next dimension in the Darkmare, where your most primal fear will be revealed in a terrifying walk through complete darkness.
Another historic and stately estate opens its doors for the haunting in Leesburg. Paxton Manor sits squarely in the middle of the Virginia Scaregrounds, and squarely in the space between here and the hereafter. A paranormal experience awaits.
If you find yourself escaping the walls of Paxton at some point, head down to Leesburg’s historic district for a guided tour of the town’s more lively nightlife with Leesburg Hauntings. History keeps repeating itself, so to speak, at several locations you’ll discover along the way. But repeat visitors will find something for them too, as many sites include updated stories as new occurrences are documented every year. And even though the Civil War ended nearly a century and half ago, you may see the apparition of an officer who still watches over present day Virginia.
If you prefer the hunting over being the hunted, head to Oatlands, a two-hundred year old Virginia plantation just south of Leesburg. Oatlands has had unexplained activity for years…doors that close and lock on their own, items that move around the rooms, strange vibrations, and noises. Paranormal researchers have made several overnight stays in the house with recording equipment to track the activity. Now you get to trace their footsteps to do a little investigating of your own. Just please, be careful.
End your visit with a bone chilling walk through Haunted Woods at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling. The foreboding path through the forest was used as a shortcut between a student dormitory and school, but when children began to disappear it took on a more sinister reputation. It was said that the school’s headmaster, a former circus clown fired from his job, hated children, and chose the woods as his crime scene. Locals claim they have seen an eerie figure in a clown costume in the woods, watching them as they travel the path.
So, besides the obvious, what are you waiting for? Come visit Loudoun this Halloween season.
Note: My next blog post will highlight some of our more kid friendly events and attractions.