Shepherdstown, West Virginia, is touted as the most haunted locale in the country. Since its foundation in the 18th century, the town has seen countless wars, riots, and terrifying occurrences. Now, residents of Shepherdstown live in haunted homes and work in haunted buildings among hundreds of spirits.
Overwhelmed with calls from petrified citizens that don’t seem to lead anywhere, the chief of the Shepherdstown police, Mike King, has assembled a team of ghost hunters to finally get to the bottom of the supernatural occurrences that plague the town. Nick Groff, Elizabeth Saint, and Bill Hartley travel around Shepherdstown, responding to reports from residents and investigating potential hauntings.
Despite a unique premise rarely seen before or since Ghosts of Shepherdstown aired and fan favorite Nick Groff at the helm, the show still seems to be particularly underrated among fans of paranormal TV. Do two seasons of episodes investigating minor hauntings in the same town get boring after a while, or is Ghosts of Shepherdstown a hidden gem among a range of cookie-cutter ghost-hunting shows? Let’s find out…
Ghost of Shepherdstown First Air Date
Ghosts of Shepherdstown first aired on June 12th, 2016, and was hosted on Destination America. The first episode, Welcome to America’s Most Haunted Town, introduces the team, some significant residents who will play important roles throughout the series, and the long history of the town since its inception in 1762. Despite having a high rating of 7.8 on IMDb, this episode is the lowest-rated of the first season, spelling entertaining viewing for the rest of the series.
Creation and Production
Many of the Ghosts of Shepherdstown producers have experience in the paranormal genre or have since gone on to produce other paranormal shows. Tucia Lyman, who executive produced all 15 episodes, can also be found in the credits of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files and Ghosts of Morgan City. Another executive producer, Will Ebrecht, has since gone on to produce Shock Docs and 28 Days Haunted. The show benefits from a large team of producers, including:
- Fay Yu – Executive Producer
- Mark Kadin – Executive Producer
- Pat Lalama – Executive Producer
- Elaine White – Co-Executive Producer
- Anuj Majumbdar – Co-Executive Producer
- Mary Ronau – Supervising Story Producer
- Brian Rocha – Story Producer
- Joshua Johnson – Story Producer
- Haley Press – Segment Producer
Scott McKibben handled cinematography with the help of Eric Hales as assistant camera operator. Post-production was overseen by Eric Bachman and a team of 12 editors, technical engineers, and colorists. Benjamin Call served as a sound director with David Velez as the series composer, and Ghosts of Shepherdstown also had a stunt department headed up by Daniel Mascarello.
Ghost of Shepherdstown Cast Members
Though Nick Groff needs little introduction for those familiar with the paranormal genre, Ghosts of Shepherdstown was the first hosting gig for both Bill and Elizabeth. Here’s a bit more information about the cast’s backgrounds:
An adventurous child obsessed with horror movies, Nick often took risks other children didn’t. After suffering two near-death experiences within one year, he believes he became more sensitive to a world beyond our own.
Though he began conducting paranormal investigations in 2001, it wasn’t until his documentary, Ghost Adventures, was released in 2007 that he made a name for himself in the paranormal community. Ghost Adventures spawned a hit TV show spin-off, and since then, Nick has produced and starred in several investigative shows, including Ghost Stalkers, Paranormal Lockdown, and Death Walker.
Similarly to Nick, Elizabeth has been fascinated by ghosts from a young age. Describing herself as a ‘weird’ child, her unexplained paranormal experiences from this time and throughout her adult life led her to join the Maryland Paranormal Research team.
Though she was used to investigating the paranormal off-screen, her sensitivity to spirits and empathetic nature made her the perfect pick to connect with the Ghosts of Shepherdstown. Despite her role as a psychic on the show, she is also a computer science major and loves to get involved with the technical aspects of ghost hunting, even creating a spirit box that Nick went on to use in Paranormal Lockdown.
Growing up in a haunted house and witnessing paranormal activity during his time as a Civil War re-enactor, Bill was inspired to found the Greater Maryland Paranormal Society to pursue more in-depth investigations. Though he’s not a skeptic, Bill believes that a balanced approach to the supernatural is the best way to gain thorough and accurate results.
His role in Ghosts of Shepherdstown is as the equipment expert, though he is otherwise involved in all areas of paranormal investigation. He currently works at the Westminster Hall and Burying Grounds in Maryland, one of the state’s most haunted locations.
Primary Focus of the Show
As the title explains, the team dedicates their investigations to the various ghosts still lingering around Shepherdstown. From residential buildings to religious sites, Nick, Bill, and Elizabeth go where residents need them, responding to emergency calls and investigating sightings as and when they take place.
With the help of Dana Mitchell, a local historian, and Lorie Johnson, a psychic medium, the team arrived at the location, heard the report from the affected resident, and delved deeper into its story. The team conducts some initial experiments throughout the day to determine the most active areas before venturing to the location at nighttime when the spirits are most troublesome.
After conducting their experiments using EMF meters, digital voice recorders, REM pods, a DVR system with night vision capabilities, IR illuminators, and a box full of batteries (since “ghosts like to drain batteries”), the team returns to Dana and the resident who made the call.
They review their evidence, determining why certain spirits are connected to locations around town. The team may perform a ‘send off’ for the spirits, honoring their lives and hopefully bringing them enough peace to move on.
Ghost of Shepherdstown’s Impact on the Paranormal Community
Though Ghosts of Shepherdstown had a record-breaking debut, it doesn’t seem to have continued to pull in viewer numbers as large as some of its counterparts. Reviews for the show remain positive, with fans praising it for its “inventive” concept, “basically trying to marry the ghost hunting-type shows (Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, etc.) with the narrative retelling of paranormal stories (A Haunting, Paranormal Survivor, etc.)”
Scifi4me also praised the show’s concept, commenting that “Ghosts of Shepherdstown will keep its cadre of experts for a full six weeks, plenty of time to settle in and dig up the truth of this town-wide spooktacular, if truth there be.” On top of a catchy concept, viewers also found the high production quality and eery atmosphere effective. “It’s a very enjoyable watch,” another reviewer commented. “It’s put together well and is very spooky in places.”
Elizabeth, Nick, and Bill also discussed the episodes with fans on Twitter when they were released. Many viewers reached out to share their own experiences of Shepherdstown and also to comment on things that the investigators didn’t spot during filming. Perhaps the most positive reviews, however, come from the people of Shepherdstown. As season 2 geared up to premiere, Nick shared that one of the best things about filming there was “having the whole town behind us trying to figure out what is going on.”
Ghost of Shepherdstown’s Seasons and Episodes
Ghosts of Shepherdstown ran for 2 seasons, the first with 7 episodes and the second with 8 episodes.
The Most Popular and Well-Rated Episodes
The season premiere of Ghosts of Shepherdstown pulled in a record number of viewers for a series debut on Destination America. However, actual viewer numbers are not readily available, so these rankings are based on IMDb reviews for individual episodes. The top ten episodes are:
- Season 2, Episode 6 – These Weren’t a Few Birds
- Season 1, Episode 4 – Grave Stalker
- Season 1, Episode 3 – She Didn’t Have a Face
- Season 1, Episode 5 – It’s Behind You
- Season 1, Episode 6 – Redemption
- Season 2, Episode 2 – We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes
- Season 1, Episode 7 – Return to Shepherdstown
- Season 1, Episode 2 – Do You Know You’re Dead
- Season 1, Episode 1 – Welcome to America’s Most Haunted Town
- Season 2, Episode 1 – They’re Back
Famous Guest Appearances
Aside from Dana, Lorie, and the residents, Ghosts of Shepherdstown tended not to welcome guest investigators, preferring to keep things within the city limits. With that being said, let’s learn a little more about Dana and Lorie.
Though she isn’t credited as part of the paranormal investigative team, Dana appears in a majority of episodes to share her historical research of Shepherdstown and assist with investigations. Having lived in Shepherdstown for over a decade, she has now created the “Shepherdstown Mystery Walk” for locals and visitors alike. Acting as a guide, she takes guests through a 90-minute history of the town’s most spooky stories.
While Elizabeth is a ‘paranormal sensitive’, Lorie can see and speak with spirits. Having learned of her abilities as a child, Lorie is able to give more intimate readings of Shepherdstown’s hauntings, allowing ghosts to speak through her to the investigative team. She appears in 8 episodes of Ghosts of Shepherdstown, and works full-time as a psychic medium and healer, alongside conducting amateur paranormal investigations on her YouTube channel.
Controversies and Criticisms
Between its first and second seasons, Ghosts of Shepherdstown came under fire after comments made by the director of the town’s visitors center were taken out of context. Marianne Davis, when interviewed by a local news outlet, is reported to have said that “the ghost stories and locations are changed by the show’s producers to make good television.”
Nick Groff quickly rebuffed these allegations of fakery, saying that Marianne had been a great help to the team during filming and was happy to welcome the crew back for their second season. Though some outlets ran with the allegations that the show was “staged and faked”, Marianne never openly said this. Nick later said that these accusations were “completely wrong”, and he didn’t understand why “there has to be this kind of fuel of negativity out there. Why can’t we all just come together and figure out what is going on with some of these paranormal happenings?”
Visitors on the town’s TripAdvisor page corroborated the allegations of fakery, stating, “It’s all hype,” and claiming that the extent of hauntings is “perpetuated by the chief of police for commercial gain.” Despite Nick’s statement, many viewers still believe the show to be, at least partly, scripted.
However, this doesn’t seem to have thrown them off, and they appear to appreciate the show for what it is. One reviewer commented that “It looks like reality TV; it’s even listed as reality TV on IMDB. But if this isn’t scripted, I’m Father Christmas.”
Though Ghosts of Shepherdstown was not renewed for a third season, this is to be expected as there are only so many haunted locations on offer in the town. However, the show clearly made its mark, as in 2019, a spin-off, Ghosts of Morgan City, aired with the same concept on the Travel Channel.
At the time Ghosts of Shepherdstown aired, paranormal TV had been going through something of a lull. Though the structure of episodes remains the same as many shows that came before and have come after it, the unique concept of investigating a single place proved that there are still original ideas floating around in the genre.
The ability to provide a more in-depth exploration of one place’s history sets Ghosts of Shepherdstown apart, drawing in viewers as they become more familiar with repeat stories and mysteries. Despite this, the show still managed to present enough fresh material with each episode to maintain favorable ratings and keep the show entertaining.
Ghosts of Shepherdstown is certainly a standout among paranormal TV shows for its concept, if not for its hosts’ camaraderie or drastically different investigative methods. The dedication to linking historical events with current hauntings is interesting and informative but also provides an entertaining story in each episode.
Though none of the hauntings are truly terrifying, with only two seasons and the opportunity for the audience to become familiar with locations, Ghosts of Shepherdstown is an easy paranormal TV show to binge-watch. However, you will need to watch the first episode to get contextual backing for the rest of the series, but after that, it’s probably most enjoyable to pick and choose the episodes that call out to you.