PAX, W.Va. -- Interest in West Virginia's haunted places is growing, says a Web developer whose guide to West Virginia ghosts is now ranked No. 1 for hauntings in the United States.
The increasing interest in spooky locales is likely a result of a hunger for the paranormal nationally as well as in-state efforts to market dark tourism, says Jonathan Moore, publisher of WVGhosts.com.
"Talk of hauntings in West Virginia picked up around 2004," says Moore, who launched the expanding guide to ghosts in 1999.
"Folks would talk about hauntings before that, but their discussions were under the radar, so to speak. Television began to bring talk of ghosts into the mainstream, and soon afterward West Virginia was making news regularly."
More than 1,500 users visit Moore's guide daily, contributing to the growing compendium of almost 500 stories of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena collected through submissions therein, Moore said.
The site is now ranked as No. 1 for haunted places in the United States by Alexa.com, the commercial web-traffic data analytics resource owned by Amazon.
Moore said he expects interest in the paranormal in the Mountain State to increase, largely as a result of more normal market trends, including increased interest in the state as a result of its accessibility and a longing for tales of home among displaced West Virginians.
"I think as more West Virginians leave to find employment beyond the mountains we'll continue to see more Web searches for all-things-West-Virginian and of news of home," Moore says.
"I also think we'll see interest grow as the population of the eastern U.S. discovers us. The interest in West Virginia overall seems to be growing. Paranormal sites such as the penitentiary at Moundsville and asylum at Weston are only the tip of the iceberg."
Moore said the WVGhosts.com will be opening its pages to providers of paranormal tours this spring and has also become a chief guide to Halloween celebrations in West Virginia.
Do you have a story of a West Virginia encounter you'd like to share? Submit here or call the W.Va. Ghosts Hotline at 304-896-WVSH.