The East End Ghouls Historic Parkersburg, West Virginia

The East End Ghouls

Historic Parkersburg, West Virginia, is best remembered today for the Blennerhassett Island plot, in which Aaron Burr and wealthy Parkersburg patrician Harman Blennerhassett were accused by President Thomas Jefferson of conspiring to create a private empire west of the Ohio River. Many claim that Blennerhassett Island is now haunted because of all this intrigue and many deaths. One of the strangest stories about Parkersburg involves the ghouls that supposedly haunt Holliday Cemetery in the city’s East End.

According to legend, strange occurrences began because 19th-century Parkersburg was a terminus for the all-important Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). This made Parkersburg a bustling hub for businessmen and owners, who came and went with train loads of the state’s coal. Many stayed the night at the Rowland Boarding House, which was also in the city’s East End. Not long after midnight one day in June 1888, railroad workers were heading toward the Rowland Boarding House when they were approached by what they claimed was a 6 ft tall apparition covered in a white funeral shroud. Emitting a deep, nonhuman groan, the creature glided toward the men over the B&O tracks until it reached the Rowland house and disappeared.

When this story was published in the local papers, a man named Mr. Crolley, who worked for the Camden Consolidated Oil Company, decided to see if the story was true. For two nights, Mr. Crolley stalked the ghoul. The story is that on the first night, the ghoul chased Mr. Crolley all the way to the Rowland Boarding House, where it paused before turning back toward Holliday Cemetery. On the second night, Mr. Crolley watched in horror as the ghoul was joined by another apparition dressed in black. Again, the ghouls made for the boarding house before disappearing at the cemetery. The East End ghouls haven’t been seen since 1888. But these two apparitions, which supposedly stank of death and decay, remain fixtures of Parkersburg folk lore.