Williamsburg Sails PeytonThere’s the Ghost Fleet of reserve ships in the James River, down from hundreds of boats to around a dozen today. Then there are the ghosts of Williamsuburg, originally compiled in a book by the late L.B. Taylor Jr. He claimed to be agnostic about ghosts but went on to write more than a dozen volumes covering cities all over Virginia.

Some years ago an enterprising woman developed a ghost tour of Colonial Williamsburg, which appalled historians as irrelevant. Eventually Colonial Williamsburg recanted and developed its own ghost tour. Yorktown has one too, focusing more on the town than the York River. People are wild about these tours, and the most famous one in Williamsburg is that of the Peyton Randolph House.

Tourist experts are puzzled by the popularity of ghost tours. One theory is that American history can be overwhelming for children and adults, but everyone can relate to ghosts. Plus, there’s no quiz.

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