Memories of the CW Historic Ghost Tour


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

In the 10 years I’ve been involved with the Canal Winchester Historical Society’s Historic Ghost Tour, I have played many parts as one of the actors portraying a character from the town’s past and I can proudly say I’m a veteran of every tour.

Once a ham, always a ham.

I’ve been a passenger on the interurban, the owner of tea room on land that once served as the bed of the Erie Canal, a milliner and a woman who helped run the original toll house.

Perched on the sidewalks and porches of homes throughout Canal Winchester, I shared stories with residents and visitors about historical buildings, the lives of ordinary citizens and tales of homes built when Canal Winchester was young.

Whether waiting for the first lantern-lighted group to come walking down the street as twilight settled or sitting in character in a rocking chair as I related the tale of the lives of Marie Arnold, Alice Will Codner, Lucinda Bailey or Mary Belle Corwin, my stage was framed by trees and concrete and lined with flickering candles.

Sometimes I moved my performance to the steps of a small bus for patrons unable to navigate the path from one stop to another. The jarring brightness of the vehicle was in stark contrast to the historical character I portrayed, but the historical society is good at making the annual tour accessible to everyone.

While the venues change every year, many things have stayed the same. Carol Note can be found toting site signs and candles from one stop to another. Elaine Thomas, a consummate director and tour organizer, is dressed for the occasion and running the show with clockwork precision. Jeanette Schneider and Bobbie Mershon shepherd tour groups, swinging lanterns in tow.

This year is my greatest challenge because of the historical figure I was asked to portray. It is not difficult to bring life to someone from the city’s long past, but Frances Steube is an icon of Canal Winchester and familiar to many.

She was also a woman I knew and worked with during part of her time on city council and as the go-to person for all things with a historical connection to Canal Winchester. And she was a co-founder of the very same historical society sponsoring the tour.

Another aspect making this 10th annual tour so bittersweet is it is the last tour in the decade-long series. The society has decided to bring an end to the event because they are running out of places, people and volunteers. It’s been a good run and a lot of fun to “Bring History to Life.”

This year the tour sites include the Canal Winchester Municipal Building, Frances Steube Community Center, Dr. William Gayman, Mike Miller, Gilbert Guiler and Judson Wynkoop.

The tour takes place on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. The first 90 minute tour departs at 7 p.m. and the last steps off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 per adult, $5 for students 6-18 and free for children five and under. No pets are allowed on the tour.

Tickets may be purchased starting at 6:30 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 15 W. Columbus St. in Canal Winchester, where all tours will depart. For  information, contact the Canal Winchester Historical Society at 833-1846 or 837-7287.

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