Since it's Halloween I thought I'd pass along some different -- and spooky -- ways of preserving the past. Most of us think of revolutionary war reenactments or historical recreations like Williamsburg or the popular Main Streets program when imagining how communities can preserve their past. Increasingly popular, though, are events like ghost walks that lead participants through the community and share the history of past community members, buildings, events, etc.
Interestingly, some are looking to use the ghosts of their past as lures for the tourists of the future. Carroll County, Virginia residents are being encouraged by a consultant to create tourism around a famous courtroom shootout that occurred almost a century ago. According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch story the suggestion of using this event to attract economic development has the area residents talking.
Other locales already use the ghosts of their past to lure travellers. Several years ago the USA Today published a list of 10 bed & breakfasts where visitors can "get in bed with a ghost" and a quick search of "bed and breakfast" with "ghost" yields almost half a million hits. Clearly this is a formula that works. Less visible but highly popular are site-specific ghost tours like the former penitentiary in West Virginia where those interested can be led by flashlight through the facility while being told about its infamous former residents.
Not a long-term solution by any means but a timely one that fits well with community efforts to celebrate local history.