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New ghost tour opens in downtown Hendersonville

John Badger leads a Haunts of Hendo ghost tour through downtown Hendersonville. John Badger leads a Haunts of Hendo ghost tour through downtown Hendersonville.

The owners of a new downtown ghost tour are counting on the interest both local residents and tourists have in searching the city’s streets for what haunts Hendersonville.

And whether or not their customers scare up the spirit of a long-dead murder victim or the apparition of convicts hung in public not far from the county’s Historic Courthouse, tour guide John Badger said he hopes people who take his tour have fun and learn a little history along the way.
“A lot of people enjoy the macabre side of things and hearing about deaths and murders,” Badger said. “Some of the most popular podcasts are about deaths and murders.”
Badger and his wife, Heidi, recently opened Haunts of Hendo, a walking tour that takes customers on a one-mile journey through downtown Hendersonville.
A brochure for the business asks if visitors are “ready to learn the haunted history of Hendersonville, North Carolina?”
The tour begins at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street before heading to Church Street, Fifth and Sixth Avenue and then back to Main Street.
Along the way, Badger, who uses his middle name Sebastian on the tour, holds a battery-operated, old timey-looking lantern while telling ghost stories at various locations.
There’s one about a hanging that happened in the 1800s where the Curb Market now stands on Church Street across from the backside of the old courthouse and one about a murder that also happened in the 1800s at the doors of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville. He tells that story outside where the current church stands on Fifth Avenue.
There’s another old ghost story associated with Hendersonville’s First Methodist Church and a story about unexplained events at the Skyland Hotel on Main Street, among others.
Badger also touches on more recent history along Main Street when he on the talks about the connection Tempo Music has to the still unsolved 1966 triple murder in the county.
In addition to the walking tour, Haunts of Hendo also has a YouTube channel dedicated to local ghost stories associated with locations outside the walking tour.
Badger said he hopes people who take his tour are as interested as he is in hearing ghost stories and learning history.
“Learn about the town you are in, whether it’s the town you live in or the town you’re visiting,” he said. “It’s something to do. It’s something to talk about later.”
Badger said he has always been fascinated by ghost stories and he and his wife took a few walking ghost tours in other towns over the years. He also trained to lead a ghost tour in Asheville before Covid put the brakes on those plans.
Badger decided to pursue his own tour in Hendersonville after the pandemic eased. Longtime residents and visitors to Hendersonville, he said, want to hear about the history that might haunt the community.
“If there’s a town that says its historic and it doesn’t have a ghost tour, it’s missing something,” he said.
Badger wanted to find some good ghost stories from the history of the community for his tour. So, he took lots of trips to the county’s library looking for books on ghosts in North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Other research, he said, led him down several rabbit holes before he settled on the stories for his tour.
During a recent test tour before opening for business, invited guests offered Badger some of the stories they heard around Hendersonville over the years and even told him about some of their own unexplained experiences.
“There are a bunch of stories,” he said. “There are so many out there.”
Despite his obvious interest in ghosts, Badger paused for a long moment when asked whether he believed in them.
“I’m open to the concept,” he said before adding that 7 percent of the population claims to have seen a ghost. “It’s not farfetched.”
The Haunts of Hendo tour lasts about an hour and costs $10 per person. It is not recommended for children younger than 10 years old.
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