The living souls who passed through Virginia and Nevada City over the weekend were in for a treat as they dared to brave the haunted characters who came out of the woodwork in the historic mining towns during 2012 Hallows Eve celebrations.
An eerie clown welcomes visitors to the basement of the Elling House’s haunted house Friday night in Virginia City. Photo by Ben Coulter.
Visitors to the Nevada City Museum enjoyed the Haunted Trail, a guided walk into the darkness among old mining claims just across the highway. But little did guests know the horrors that awaited them.
Ghoulish figures, a crazed old miner, a werewolf and even the infamous Headless Horseman all emerged from the shadows to give the frightened museum patrons a spooky surprise.
Meanwhile, up the road in Virginia City guests of the Elling House Arts and Humanities Center had the living daylights scared out of them when they entered what some might consider the most authentic haunted house in southwest Montana.
As they descended the steps into the basement of the house, they were greeted by eerie sounds of ghosts and goblins filtering in and out of a thick cloud of fog, the shriek of a running chainsaw echoing in the background.
Elling House board member Stacy Gatewood was dressed as a scarecrow as she jumped out of her hiding place and directed guests to choose their fate as they made their way through the house. And while Gatewood and other members of the community seemed to thoroughly enjoy giving people the fright of their lives, she explained that the haunted house is the culmination of nearly a month’s worth of preparation.
“It’s a huge process,” she said. “For one, everybody’s got jobs so you only have so much time that you can get a work crew together. We really just rely on anybody and everybody coming and helping.”
“It’s a team effort,” she continued. “We couldn’t do it without all our volunteers.”
With a few Saturday work sessions in the weeks leading up to Hallows Eve, Gatewood and the rest of the volunteers transform the historic Elling House into a nightmarish setting that some people hope to forget before they fall asleep while others come back for more. By Sunday afternoon, the most terrifying haunted house in Madison County was transformed back into the Elling House Arts and Humanities Center in a matter of hours as the decorations came down and went into storage until next year.
“Virginia City already has a level of spookiness,” said Gatewood. “It’s a good spot to have a haunted house.”