Everyday I drive past the old weathered building in Scarbro. Owning more than a century of history it stands tall by day, a centerpiece of a coal-centric town, once the heartbeat of the community. But at night while waiting on the front steps ready to explore within, the 18,000 square foot building towered dark and heavy in the foggy West Virginia night air.
That night was my first time inside the large building. My husband and I joined a handful of other ACE Adventure Resort staff members for the Haunted History Tour at the Whipple Company Store. Joy and her husband Chuck, the proprietors, were our hosts for the evening. Joy introduced our tour with a disclaimer, that what we would see and hear was not your average daytime history tour. We would be indulging in the less savory, more frightening, rebellious, sometimes violent and truly haunted past of the building and its community. Several years ago there was a push to turn the Whipple Company Store tour into a Haunted House complete with mummies, zombies, witches and ghosts. I can imagine a slew of sticky fingered kids running around, jumping out at each other, and screaming at the pop-up monsters. Joy and Chuck were not convinced that the experience needed to be enhanced like this. Fortunately in the end there was no need to bring in the props, the history there is real. I learned about the day-to-day difficulties the coal miners faced and the equally daunting tasks their wives and mothers lived. I heard the haunting explanations behind the permanent bloodstains on the floor, the presence that lingers in the elevator, and the shadow that passes in the upper front room.
As each authentic story unfolded that night I felt a sense of gratitude for the preservation of something real. With a history so rich there is no need to change it, you just have to be brave enough to look into it.