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Updated: Oct 3, 2023

It’s fall in Kentucky and we're getting ready for the spookiest time of year here in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Cynthiana was named the #1 Fall Destination in Kentucky in 2020 and there’s many reasons why we deserve that title. The Cynthiana Ghost Walk, one of the best Ghost Tours anywhere, is starting its 17th year of taking visitors through some of the ghostly tales of Downtown Cynthiana and the spirits who live in our historic district. Find out why the Cynthiana Ghost Walk is the best tour in Central Kentucky and a eerily good time.

Starting at the historic Rohs Opera House, the oldest and most haunted theater in Kentucky, and ending back there, the award-winning storytellers of Cynthiana Ghost Walks will lead you up and down the streets of Cynthiana to 8 different stops of ghostly and historical significance. As you go through the tour, you will be hear the amazing history that lives inside the walls of these stunning, historical buildings. Our storytellers will start your tour off with a quick overview of the history of our great city and lay the context for the stories to come.

The first stop will be on Pike Street where you’ll hear about the “cold spot” where Harry Bailey was gunned down just outside his office by the murdering Newt Arnold on a cold January day. Throughout the buildings of downtown Cynthiana sat up to 15 saloons at one point and you’ll sense a theme in many of the stories of the role that whiskey played in our history. Bailey’s story is one of them.

The tour also makes a stop at the Old Courthouse on Main and Pike Streets, where you will learn about the two civil war battles fought in the streets of Cynthiana. You’ll hear of the fighting in the streets and the burning of the town by General John Hunt Morgan. Through the eyewitness account of Adjutant Edmund Wood who was hiding in the courthouse clock tower, you’ll be made aware of the deaths that could have led to the courthouse ghosts who still walks the rooms and halls of that pre-civil war building.

Next stop is the old county jail, built in 1886. In the old rock walls of this historic building, you’ll hear of one of the most talked-about ghosts on the tour, David Sheely. David was convicted of murdering his wife in 1847 and was hanged for the crime. Hear why his ghost roamed the hills of Harrison and surrounding counties for years after that fateful execution. Did he really do it? Was he a falsely accused man? Our storytellers will lay out the stories in vivid detail and let you decide for yourself.

The next stop is the oldest building in Cynthiana, the old log cabin which was built in 1790. While this building has been used for many things over the years, it does not seem to have deterred the ghosts who haunt it. You will hear tales of strange voices during prohibition and maybe even encounters from when the location served as the home to WCYN, our local radio station. Perhaps the shadowy figures will show themselves as you stand outside and hear the tales from within the old log structure.

Next will be a rest around the fountain on the courthouse square where you will hear the most tragic tale of the tour. From the early 1800’s, the last days and death of young Margaret Goudy will chill you as you hear why her tombstone in the old city cemetery reads as it does. And who is the ghostly figure that still visits and cries at her grave after over 200 years. Your storytellers will give you the details as you sit a stone’s throw from her home on Main Street.

Your guide will next walk you back across Main Street to the side of the old Hamilton Hotel, built in 1812. Here you will hear of the ghost of a young boy that has haunted this building for over 100 years. What happened to the 13 year old boy that came with his family from Covington to see the Liberati Orchestra in 1893? What paranormal activities take place in this building and why do residents hear a weeping dog?

The last stop on the outside walk will be in front of the Seldon Renaker house, a former bed and breakfast where guests would frequently have encounters with shadowy figures and moving objects. Is it the ghost of Chapman Renaker who was shot and died in his father’s arms on the porch of this home or the ghosts of protective boarders from its days as a local boarding house? Your guides will tell you what happens and point out some other interesting historical details in this area.

Then finally you’ll return to the historic Rohs Opera House where you’ll go inside the original theater, Aeollian Hall, built 150 years ago on the block that General Morgan burned during his attack. In this historic hall, you’ll sit down and see a presentation of “evidence” gathered over the years from ghost hunters that have hunted our theater. Hear EVP’s, or voices from the other side. See pictures of strange figures that cannot be easily explained. Watch videos of moving objects, scared owners, and even our “Shadowman.” Who knows, you may even have an experience of your own or capture something out of the ordinary with your own camera.

Our storytellers and presenters have stories to tell for just about every part of Historic Cynthiana. Whether you want to join them for a public group tour on a regular Friday or Saturday or set up a private tour for your group of 10 or more, you will find that the experience is a one-of-a-kind activity, perfect for October fun. The tour is not recommended for children under the age of 12, as some of the stories may be mature for a younger audience, but the Cynthiana Ghost Walk allows the child and their parents to decide if they are up for the tour.

Cynthiana Ghost Walks are available every Friday and Saturday night in October beginning at 7:30, 8, 8:30, and 9 p.m. You can visit to reserve your spot. Tours are just $15 and limited to just 25 per walk.

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