Are you ready for a Friday the 13th filled with chills, thrills, and adventure? We have you covered with 13 interesting and chilling things to do in the Wheeling area today…
Tour Wheeling’s Many Cemeteries: Wheeling has lots of cemeteries, some still very much in use and others largely forgotten. Some interesting ones to check out are Peninsula, Mt. Wood, Greenwood, or Mt. Calvary, among others. Pay homage to the area’s former residents and their lives…just make sure to get out before it gets dark!
Discover Wheeling’s Witchy History: From carving Jack-o-Lanterns to trick-or-treating, many of our beloved autumnal traditions are rooted in Pagan practices. Learn more about witchcraft and how Wheeling has always been home to some witchy activity in this article.
Visit The Blue Church: Patiently waiting for a new owner to restore it to its former glory, The Blue Church (formerly St. Matthews Episcopal Church) is certainly a unique sight in East Wheeling. The faded blue stucco, wooden steps and vines crawling up the side only add to its aura of mystique. Read this article to learn more about the myths of The Blue Church before you take a look around.
West Virginia State Penitentiary: While not technically in Wheeling, the West Virginia State Penitentiary is worth the slightly longer trek. An operating prison until as recently as 1995, the seemingly impenetrable walls contain histories of grisly murders and murderers, a variety of other criminal stories and its own set of myths and supernatural occurrences. Take an official tour or just walk around outside to feel the weight of dark history at this site.
Sit around a Campfire with Spooky Stories: Fall is the perfect time for a good, crackling campfire. Ward off bad luck by telling a round of spooky and chilling ghost stories to scare your friends or family. If you need inspiration, check out these recent articles with Wheeling-related tales here, here, and here.
Discover the “Ghost Signs” of Wheeling: Scattered all across the city, the faded advertisement signs make up a scavenger hunt all on their own. Some, like the “Mail Pouch Tobacco” are frequently photographed, but some signs are a little harder to stumble across. To figure out where to start, check out this article – just make sure a black cat doesn’t cross your path on your adventure!
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Adopt a furry friend: Speaking of black cats…they are often the most commonly abandoned cat and most difficult to get people to adopt! Why? Maybe it has to do with superstitions about what happens when a black cat crosses your path? If you are in need of a new companion, consider visiting an animal shelter and debunking this unfair myth…and benefit from lots of animal love! You can meet the Back Street Cat Rescue’s adoptable cats this Saturday from 1 – 3 p.m. at Pet Supplies Plus in St. Clairsville.
Imagine the Village of Power: The Village of Power was located just south of Beech Bottom. Created as a community for the employees of the power plant and their families to live, the community was dismantled in 1973 when the plant shut down. Only ghostly traces remain, but you can still imagine playing ball on Plummer’s Field or walking down the sidewalks that now lead to nowhere. Despite no longer existing as a physical place, the people of Power and their stories are very much still alive. Take a trip up the Route 2 or the Rail Trail to discover this “ghost village.”
Mt. Wood Overlook: A partially built castle-looking structure? Years of colorful graffiti? An air of mystery? Catch some beautiful views overlooking Wheeling and the Ohio River while exploring a favorite site of local lore and legend. For more about recent projects at the Mt. Wood Overlook, click here.
Pick up some Crystals: If Friday the 13th has you feeling particularly imbalanced, pick up some crystals from Under the Elder Tree in Centre Market and learn about some of the perceived healing and balancing properties of crystals and other stones. If you are a skeptic, consider reading this article about the history and modern application of witchcraft and crystals.
Listen to some eerie podcasts on the Wheeling Heritage Trail: A great way to get in the spirit of Friday the 13th while enjoying the outdoors is listening to podcasts while walking or running on the Wheeling Heritage Rail Trail. There are loads to choose from, including the spookier and mysterious to more lighthearted episodes. If you want a Wheeling-specific topic, we recommend Wheeling Haunts Just try not to get too freaked out on the trail…
Party Like You’re at Camp Crystal Lake: If you love 80s slasher movies then you’ll want to check out this Camp Crystal Lake-inspired sing-along event at the Silver Rail Bar & Grill. Folkrock meets folklore with a spirited performance with the New Age Adenas. Bonus points if you come dressed in your favorite 80s attire or slasher movie character. The fun begins at 9 p.m. Get all the details here!
Hempfield Tunnel “aka Tunnel Green”: No list of Wheeling’s haunts would be complete without the notorious Hempfield Tunnel! Take a stroll down the Wheeling Heritage Trail via the East Wheeling Entrance on 17th Street to get to the old B&O Railroad Tunnel. Built in 1857, the tunnel connected Wheeling to parts of Pennsylvania by rail but also ended up being the site of a grisly murder and dramatic train crash. To learn more about the history and spooky stories about this old railroad tunnel, check out Weelunk’s recent October article here!
Originally published Nov. 13, 2020. Updated Oct. 13, 2023
• Emma Wiley, originally from Falls Church, Virginia, was a former AmeriCorps member with Wheeling Heritage. Emma has a B.A. in history from Vassar College and is passionate about connecting communities, history, and social justice.