WEST VIRGINIA: Shepherdstown

Shepherdstown, located in the northeast corner of the monster state of West Virginia, sits on the bank of the lazy Potomac river. Chartered in 1762 it is the oldest town in West Virginia. (Although at the time of the town’s charter it was located in Virginia, West Virginia not entering the union until 1863.)

The bucolic Potomac River

Captain Thomas Shepherd, an American Patriot during the War of Independence, was given a land grant of 222 acres on the banks of the Potomac river. Carving out 50 acres around an abundance of natural springs, he laid out plans for a town he called Mecklenburg.

With the natural springs, and easy access to the Potomac river (A major transportation lane on the east coast,) the town quickly attracted over one thousand residents.

Six natural springs feed what is known as The Town Run. This water source meanders throughout Shepherdstown. Sometimes passing around houses, businesses, and even running under five streets in the town.



If you are visiting in the month of May, make sure you come during the annual DogFest. Held the first weekend in May, this festival is friendly to dogs and their families. It is held to promote pet adoption and many animal rescues bring adoptable dogs to the event. There are also vendors who sell all manner of dog toys and treats, and you may even see a doggie TV star.


Well known for a vibrant art scene and it’s world renowned summer theater festival held at nearby Shepherd University in July, it is not hard to be entertained by the talent that finds their way to Shepherdstown during the festival.

Not going to be in the area in July? No worries, the inhabitants of the town are well known for their artistic talents. The small town boasts multiple art galleries with everything from Fine art, to Mountain Heritage art on display and for sale.


There are quite a few walking tours operating in Shepherdstown. I have not used any so I would recommend that you research the one that best fits your criteria. Or, you can follow the information provided by “Historic Shepherdstown & Museum” and do your own self guided tour.

The self guided tour prompts you to look for certain landmarks as you walk around the town, like these historic iron gates.


There are many sites to visit if you are interested in Shepherdstown Civil War history. In fact, the entire town was used as a field hospital for the Confederate army after the bloody battle of (Nearby) Sharpsburg in September of 1862. It was also later held by the Union forces after the Confederate army retreated.

Researchers have carefully extracted information about the town’s occupation from historical letters and documents written by the inhabitants. These archival treasures show how devastating the prolonged invasion was to the townspeople who were conscripted to care for thousands of dead and dying soldiers during the height of the war, with little or no resources.

Now know as McMurran Hall, the Old Town Hall was a field hospital during the Civil War, as were most of the buildings in the town.


The most haunted town in America? Well, New Orleans may disagree, but Shepherdstown is so well known for its hauntings, that the town was featured for two seasons on the “Destination America” channel in the show called, “Ghosts of Shepherdstown.”

Some dark places are locked for a reason

The premise of the show is that the Police Chief received so many nightly 911 calls about ghostly apparitions, mysterious noises, alarms going off for no reason, and other nefarious sorts of mayhem seemingly caused by…no one…that he had to call in reinforcements in the (Human) form of three Paranormal experts. These unflappable investigators, along with local historic researchers, a psychic medium, and the towns people themselves, make for very hair raising television!

For even more spirited fun, the town hosts a week long Halloween celebration called BooFest with a Vampire Ball and a Zombie street dance.

Because of the abundance of Civil War history, it does not take one’s imagination long to imagine the restless souls of soldiers being the primary suspects for most of the hauntings. For a fun adventure, you could combine three of the Things To Do by taking a guided, walking ghost tour that includes Civil War history!


Bring your appetite. With Shepherdstown University a stone’s throw away, the town is chock full of places to grab a bite to eat. Everything from Bistro French cuisine to the best flavored Mountaineer popcorn you could imagine, or sit in the garden at The Blue Moon Cafe and listen to that iconic Town Run as it meanders by your feet as you sip a cocktail on a summer’s evening, before the ghosts come out to play.


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