Every year in late October, with Halloween in mind, scary stories and tales of paranormal activity circulate through communities across the country. With such a rich history and plenty of college students and community members with overactive imaginations, Montgomery County is no exception.
One of the closest haunted establishments to Virginia Tech’s campus is the Lyric Theatre, where two separate ghosts are said to inhabit.
Robert Sebek, webmaster of the library and volunteer at the Lyric, described the first ghost as a woman who can be heard shrieking from the lobby late at night. She supposedly inhabits the apartments above the theatre, but not much else is known about her origins.
The second phantom, Sebek said, is a construction worker who fell off of a wall and died while the building was being built.
“We heard this story and thought we’ve heard that one a million times before. We didn’t really think it had any truth to it,” Sebek said.
However, the story became quite real when a woman came into the theatre one day and told Sebek and his coworkers that her grandfather had worked on the Lyric, but passed away in the same way the supposed ghost had — falling off a wall.
“That made it pretty creepy once we found that out," Sebek said.
The ghost has been known to make odd noises and touch employees while they clean up after hours.
Brandon Brown, a junior industrial and systems engineering major, started a group at Tech about a month ago called Paranormal Investigations VT. Seeing as the group is in its beginning stages, the Lyric was the perfect place to start their first search.
With the assistance of the head paranormal investigator of the New River Valley, Brandon and some of the group members went to the theatre with sound equipment, video recorders and other devices they hoped would help them find evidence of the ghost.
“We had a difficult time at first, because our sound recorders were so sensitive you could hear our feet touching the ground, which made it hard to hear 'other' things,” Brown said.
While the group did not find any evidence during that outing, Brown said “we are still listening to the rest of the tapes, so hopefully we will find something.”
The group plans on going to places all around Montgomery County, including a haunted middle school and some abandoned buildings around the area.
Another location that has had rumors swirling around it for years is the downtown restaurant Cabo Fish Taco. It is the second oldest building in Blacksburg and was built in 1847, originally as a Presbyterian Church.
The specific stories surrounding the restaurant are unclear in their origin, but may not be unfounded.
“The cooks have said things about things falling off of the shelves and odd stuff like that happening in the kitchen while they worked," said Richard Barrar, the general manager of Cabo Fish Taco.
He also mentioned that people have had strange experiences in the women’s upstairs bathroom.
Finally, possibly the most presumably haunted place in the New River Valley is the St. Albans Sanatorium in Radford.
Known for hauntings and apparitions that could have come directly out of a horror movie, the grounds the building stands on is known for numerous murders of early pioneers by Native Americans in the late 18th Century — even before the asylum itself was created.
Once the building was built and began housing mental patients, it became infamous for many patient fatalities due to improper therapy techniques. To add to the horrific history, a woman named Gina Renee Hall was gruesomely murdered and left in her car just a few hundred yards from St. Albans on a nearby road.
Reports from paranormal investigation crews have included full-bodied apparitions, threatening screams and voices, floating inanimate objects, and even, in some cases, physical contact.
“I know it used to be a mental hospital, but it closed down," said Matt Turk, a freshman aerospace engineering major from Radford. "They were going to tear the building down all together, but a paranormal interest group raised funds to save it.”
Being from the area, Turk has had many personal experiences with the building since his childhood. He mentioned “we went in one time by ourselves and it was really scary because you know what happened there. You hear stuff when its dark and it really freaks you out.”
The location was even rated by many experienced paranormal investigation teams as one of the most active locations on the East Coast. Many tours are offered every year around Halloween.
While these are only a few of the supposed hauntings Montgomery County has to offer, more sitings and rumors are reported every year.