Savannah in the fall is one our favorite times of year. The weather finally cools off, but there are still plenty of viable beach days left, and there seems to be a festival or concert nearly every weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. With events like the Greek Festival, Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival, and Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival, it’s the perfect time of year for foodies to visit. But it’s also the perfect time of year for all things that go bump in the night.
As October winds down, the whole town takes on a ghostly air. Between disease, war, slavery, and the every day murder, the Hostess City has its fair share of dark secrets. With tales of ghostly children dropping marbles on the upstairs floors to skeletons bricked into walls, it’s no wonder that Savannah is known as one of the most Haunted Cities in America.
You’ll soon hear enough stories of specters and poltergeists to challenge your perception of the supernatural. In Savannah, it’s common to hear of unruly spirits knocking around in big beautiful mansions and in popular pubs and inns, sending chills down the spines of unsuspecting visitors they pass in the halls. There are tales of ghosts that tickle feet while guests are fast asleep in their beds, of a ghostly bride forever searching for her betrothed, and soldiers from battles long past wandering through Colonial Park Cemetery.
With so many active spectral residents, it should be no surprise that we have ghost tours year-round. You and your family can hear the chilling stories that paved the way – literally – to Savannah’s infamous reputation.
To get a taste of what the season has in store, we joined Old Savannah Tours for their Grave Encounters, a trolley tour that promises to “bring the dead to life” – and they aren’t kidding. The Grave Encounters tour begins nightly at 7:30 p.m.
As we drove through Savannah, ooing and awing over the Spanish Moss dripping down from the tree tops, our guide informed us that that stretch of road was once land given by General Oglethorpe, Savannah’s founder, to our Jewish community to use as a cemetery. We’ve since paved over it, but many of the remains were left, now buried beneath the black top. If that doesn’t give a person reason to come back as a ghost, we don’t know what will!
The trolley made some occasional stops to pick up a few unexpected guests – ghosts eager for an audience to hear their tale of woe. At the Colonial Park Cemetery, we met a caretaker from days long past, telling tales of people buried alive, and of Savannah’s (two) Yellow Fever epidemics. We wound our way through the ever-darkening streets to Madison Square. Once filled with the sights and sounds of the bloodies battle of the Revolutionary War, this quiet square is lined with beautiful examples of Gothic, Romanesque, and Greek revival architecture, including the Sorrel-Weed House.
Often called the Most Haunted Place in Savannah, the Sorrel-Weed Mansion has a dark and sad history filled with deception, betrayal, and untimely deaths. Since we were looking for an extra-supernatural good time, we choose to add the narrated tour of the Sorrel-Weed House to our trolley tour package. Featured on the Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters, the Sorrel-Weed’s website has photographic and video evidence of their ghostly occupants. If you’re really looking to connect with the other side, you may be interested in one of their Paranormal Investigations, an extra-late night two-hour investigation experience. They limit groups to 12 guests, but each event is streamed live online for your friends and family to watch.
While we didn’t see any apparitions during our tour, we were happy to head back to the trolley and leave the ghosts of the past to their mischief.