Downtown Florence ghost walk highlights local legends

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

People looking for something spooky to do this Halloween should take a walk—a Haunted History of the Shoals Ghost Walk, that is.

The walk begins at 7:30 p.m. every night through Halloween in Wilson Park in downtown Florence. Souls should gather near the Handy statue in preparation for their departure.

 The tour is 90 minutes long and covers about a mile through downtown Florence, including Court and Seminary streets.

The tour’s leader and creator Debra Glass, a UNA alumna, said she started the walk 13 years ago after visiting other cities that had ghost tours.

She began collecting stories and realized many of them were in downtown Florence, she said.

After writing her first book, “True Ghost Stories of the Shoals Area,” she decided to start a ghost walk tour in her hometown.

During a stop at the Off-Campus Bookstore, Glass told the story of Molly.

Molly died sometime in the 1930s, Glass said. There are a few different stories about the cause of her death, but one thing remains the same—she is always looking for her dog.

Manager of the Off-Campus Bookstore Brad Nichols said though he has never had a personal experience with Molly, he does not want to take any chances.

“Personally, I don’t want to come in the store at night by myself,” he said.

During the Civil War, northern and southern armies used Pope’s Tavern, a museum on the corner of Court and Tuscaloosa streets, as a hospital, Glass said. Thirty-three soldiers died, and many others underwent surgery there.

People have heard footsteps on the staircases, Glass said. Bells ring when no one is around, and once, a loud knock came from inside the museum while the ghost walk was going on outside.

Assistant Professor in Educational Technology and Instructional Designer at UNA Natasha Lindsey said this year was her first time on the tour.

“It’s just one of those things we’ve always heard good things about and thought we’d try,” she said.

Allison Young-Pannell, a Florence native and daughter of Laura Hardin, Communications Instructor at UNA, said she had been on the tour once when she was younger but wanted her husband to experience it.

“I’ve been telling him about this since we’ve been dating,” she said. “He needs this piece of Florence history.”

Other stops on the tour include Trowbridge’s Ice Cream and Sandwich Bar and the Gov. Edward O’Neal house.

Glass encourages those planning to attend any of this week’s tours to check the website for inclement weather announcements.