Forget about the phony haunted houses that pop up around Halloween every year. If you want real spine-tingling chills that are rooted in haunted history, be sure to check out the Oct. 23-25 Conway Ghost Tour in the Horry County seat's downtown district.
Draped in Southern charm and Spanish moss hanging from the ancient live oak trees that line the city streets, Conway comes across as a traditional South Carolina town by day. But at night, when the street lights cast dark shadows and some of the city's dirty secrets are shared with visitors, Conway can be downright scary.
As one of the Grand Strand's oldest cities, restored antebellum homes surround the lovely Main Street district. The tour takes guests on a short but interesting walk through the village past some of the homes where the city founders lived and, eventually, died. By local legends and folklore have it that some did not make the transition so quietly and still roam the halls of these historic homes.
Presented by Conway Downtown Alive, this annual event features professional storytellers serving as tour guides and weaving tall tales of Lowcountry legends. Some scary, some humorous and some just plain out of this world, the ghost stories are designed to entertain the entire family unless you have little ones who are easily frightened. The element of Halloween provides a fun context so that nothing is too scary.
Not to spoil the surprises, but among the nine stops on the half-hour tour are the historic Beaty House, where five of the Beaty children died at early ages. Their graves are on the property and their spirits are said to laugh and play in the house and yard. There's also the William Garganus House, where the ghost of the former owner and namesake appeared at the bedside of one of the residents one night and caused the room to remain vacant for six months. And visit Conway’s “Hanging Tree,” which historians disagree about whether the oak may or may not have been used to execute criminals in the old days, but it makes a good story.
For Island Vista guests, the 15-mile trip to Conway is a great opportunity to see the sights of the town as well as visit the local shops and restaurants before the sun goes down. Conway Ghost Tours begin each night at 7 p.m. at the Conway Visitors Center on Main Street, right in front of the historic Theatre of The Republic. The one-hour, one-mile tours depart the box office every 15 minutes until 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under. For more information, visit www.conwayalive.com.
(photo courtesy: ConwayAlive.com)