Experiencing October’s Friday the 13th in Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Experiencing October’s Friday the 13th in Tahoe

Autumn Whitney
See "The Woman in Black" at Valhalla Tahoe on Friday the 13th.
Courtesy Photo |

The idea of Friday the 13th as a day of bad luck has its roots in an era long ago: According to both National Geographic and the History Channel we likely have biblical tradition to thank for the superstition that arose with the number 13, as 13 guests attended the Last Supper (held the night prior to Jesus’ crucifixion). This led to a belief that having 13 people seated at a table was essentially courting death.

Coupled with the notion that the number 12 is often associated with completeness (12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 months in a year are among the list of examples again noted by National Geographic and the History Channel), the number 13 has had a negative connotation for centuries.

But what makes this Friday — Oct. 13 — even more iconic for the superstitious person is that it happens in the eeriest month of the year, and there are a handful of ways to induce goosebumps in honor of the legendary date in the Tahoe Basin.

Consider the following when planning how to spend this event, which won’t occur for another six years.

Haunted Spots

Lean into the day of superstition with locations in and near the Tahoe Basin that are supposedly haunted. Chance a ghost sighting with supernatural excursions in such places as Donner Pass, Virginia City and Emerald Bay — if you dare.

Located roughly 9 miles west of Truckee, Donner Pass is so named for the party that attempted to traverse the Sierra Nevada mountain range in 1846 and ended up trapped in a storm. A large portion of the Donner Party perished throughout the travels, and approximately half of the group reached the final destination (with some resorting to cannibalism to stay alive).

Today, many visitors to the region have claimed to see apparitions around Donner Lake and Donner Memorial State Park, supposedly from party members who met their fate in the 19th century — enter at your own risk.

Virginia City is filled with a handful of spots that have hosted the supernatural: From The Old Washoe Club to the Mackay Mansion, Silver Queen Hotel and Virginia City Cemetery, you won’t be struggling to find places that will make your skin crawl.

The Washoe Club was featured on Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” and SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” for its prestige in the paranormal realm: A spirit has been known to haunt the staircase, and there’s an on-site crypt, too. The Mackay Mansion is also supposedly home to a stair-dwelling ghost, and guests at the Silver Queen Hotel often hear footsteps on wooden floors, despite the establishment being all carpet. Want to hit multiple sites in one go? Local company Bats in the Belfry leads walking ghost tours throughout the city.

On Tahoe’s South Shore, Emerald Bay is supposedly home to Hermit’s Ghost: a man who, in life, was known as Captain Dick Barter. In 1873 the man drowned and his boat was found at Rubicon Point smashed against the rocks, but his body was never found. Visitors and locals alike have claimed to see his ghost rising from the lake in search for his final resting place.

“The Woman in Black”

The ghost play, adapted from Susan Hill’s novel of the same name, began performances at Valhalla Tahoe on Friday, Oct. 6 — but this weekend is the last chance you’ll get to see the show before its South Shore run concludes. And viewing on Friday the 13th is sure to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“The Woman in Black” follows Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, as he travels the countryside to settle the estate of a former client who has since passed away. At the client’s funeral he spies a woman in black and the locals are terrified at the mere mention of her, as she is believed to bring a terrible fate to those who lay eyes on her.

The suspense and tension climb as Kipps learns more about the estate, and finds that the deceased in the town don’t rest. Purchase tickets and learn more about the play online at http://www.valhallatahoe.com.

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