5 Grand Caverns Drive
N.B. This article has been revised and edited 18 May 2019.
It’s not hard to imagine that investigating in pitch black darkness could be both terrifying and exhilarating. Ghost hunters are accustomed to stumbling about in dark spaces, but usually there is some dim light even if just from the moon or street lights outside. Within a cave there is no ambient light, and the inky darkness envelops you.
In an article from WHSV, the ABC affiliate out of Harrisonburg, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, the founder of the Twisted Paranormal Society of Virginia talks about the adrenaline rush that he gets from investigating the shadier side of things. In his investigation report he says, “Once the interior lights were turned off, [Grand Caverns] took on a whole new appearance.”
According to the history on its website, Grand Caverns is the oldest continually operating show cave in the nation. Show caves are those caverns that have been opened—exploited some say—for tourists and commercial use.
Like so many caves, Grand Caverns was discovered when someone simply stumbled on it, in this case a hunter retrieving traps. Bernard Weyer discovered the cave in 1804, and within two years tours were being led through it. In the early days, standing in the thick darkness tourists imagined ghosts, demons and all those denizens of the underworld were just at their heels. The weird formations were transformed into manifestations of nightmares and named accordingly: Dante’s Inferno and George Washington’s Ghost among them. At Dante’s Inferno especially—a hole-like formation with rock that seemingly melts towards the mouth of Hell—tourists were warned of evil spirits there that would extinguish candles or torches: the only sources of light here.
Other areas inspired awe or whimsy. In one large room, grand balls were held, while the sacred space of The Chapel was actually used on occasion for religious services. These things brought the curious to visit these caverns for just over two centuries. When the Virginia countryside was overrun with battling armies during the Civil War, soldiers visited, easing their minds of the weariness of war.
The identities of the spirits within Grand Caverns are unknown. While the articles relating to the haunting point to the military visitors to the cave during the Civil War, it appears that the soldiers simply visited and none died or were killed within the cave. Twisted Paranormal’s investigation did produce some results that may indicate the presence of spirits here, though their investigation was only 3 hours long. The group presents some of the evidence they captured on their website including some photographs with orbs and video of EMF detectors being set off with no one around. Unexplained flashing lights were also encountered.
- Adams, Cindy. “Strange activity found in Grottoes Grand Caverns by paranormal investigators.” Examiner.com. 26 June 2012.
- “History.” Grand Caverns. Accessed 24 May 2013.
- Lamb, Elizabeth. “Paranormal Activity Group Searches Grottoes Grand Caverns.” WHSV. 16 April 2012.
- Lamb, Elizabeth. “Paranormal activity in the Caverns.” WHSV. 26 June 2012.
- Twisted Paranormal Society of Virginia. Grand Caverns. Accessed 24 May 2012.
3 Replies to “Grand Ghosts–Grottoes, Virginia”
I am a bit claustrophobic but still would love to visit these caverns.
I would highly recommend Mammoth Cave if you're claustrophobic. The name refers to the size of many rooms and passages in the cave which are enormous. There are a few places where it may feel tight, but those a fewer than some other caves.
I love a haunted cave story to show that just about anywhere has the potential for paranormal activity…even places where we normally don't think of as having a ton of human interaction. WV has its own haunted cave system, Seneca Caverns, where among other incidents, a ghostly tour group is heard following real tour groups. We were going to go several years ago, but my son wasn't walking very well yet and when we asked, were told that we COULD bring a stroller, but would end up carrying it most of the way, lol. Now that he's older, and this blog has sparked a renewed interest, we might check it out this summer!