Events and Activities

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The Salem Museum’s 25th Annual Ghost Walk

October 5-7 in East Hill Cemetery

Click here for Tickets Now!

East Hill Cemetery comes alive after dark just once a year! The Salem Museum welcomes the living once again for the Ghost Walk on October 5-7, 2023. Tour the historic graveyard and meet notable characters from Salem’s past. These walking tours are family-friendly, fun and informative, but not scary. You will meet...

Susannah Cole, Salem’s founding mother; good times in a new town!

Margie Brown, mischievous daughter in the Williams-Brown House

Charles Peter Deyerle, his bones travel 1,000s of miles to rest at East Hill

Susan Spurlock, introducing a new community, Water Street

Fannie Gholston, the story of East Hill’s grave-digger

Thomas and Mary Cooper, built and partied in “Salem’s Castle”

Dr. Charlie Smith, Roanoke College president through tumultuous times

Louise Thaden, early aviator and Amelia Earhart’s BFF

Alfreda Peel, captured mountain music and preserved local folklore

“Ghosts” will share the tales of fascinating characters from different periods of Salem’s more than 200-year history. Most have made an impact, large or small, and some are just plain fun. Guests will also learn the surprising stories of some of the most historic locations in the region, places they may see every day. Tours leave the Museum every 15 minutes from 6 to 8pm. A sign language interpreter will join the 6 pm tour each evening.


Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students of any age, and free for children age three and younger. Tickets are available online or at the Salem Museum. If you have trouble signing up for one of the later tour times, please call the Museum.  Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended to reserve your preferred tour time. Groups must register in advance. The Ghost Walk is expected to sell out again this year.


Good walking shoes and a flashlight are recommended: this is a walking tour of just over a half-mile. As the name “East Hill” implies, the route goes up and downhill, although the walk is not strenuous, and has a number of stops along the way. In case of rain, the event will be held inside the Salem Museum.


The Ghost Walk is generously sponsored by the William and Margaret Robertson Endowment, Sherwood Memorial Park, BLANCO Labels, MKB Realtors, Chick-fil-A, SERVPRO, and James T. Jordan, Attorney at Law. All proceeds benefit the Salem Museum and its educational programs.


Speaker Series: Death and Mourning in the Civil War

Thursday, October 19 at 7 pm

The Civil War changed the way we dealt with death. Civil War historian Betty Shideler will speak about the devastating effects of the Civil War on the lives of women, and the difficulties Southern women endured in locating, identifying, and transporting the bodies of their loved ones back home for burial.

Betty is a living history interpreter; her favorite role is portraying Frances Steptoe Burwell of Avenel Plantation in Bedford, Virginia. She has received continuing education certificates from American Battlefield Trust. She is currently a volunteer with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation and has been a docent at the Jubal Early Homeplace in Hardy.


May Speaker Series Talk and Documentary: The History of the Enslaved People at Roanoke College

Through the Center for Studying Structures of Race, a team of Roanoke College faculty and student researchers led by College Historian Dr. Jesse Bucher, are learning more about the contribution enslaved people made to the College’s founding and early development. Six student researchers worked to identify the names and life histories of enslaved people who lived and worked in this region between ca. 1840 and 1865. Their research led to the identification of more than 2,500 enslaved men, women, and children in Roanoke County. Dr. Bucher’s presentation included a short documentary by the project team that describes their findings, as well as the emotions and revelations they experienced in the course of their research.


March Speaker Series Talk: The Roanoke Valley in the 1940s

The 1940s were tumultuous and life-changing, full of joys and sorrows, uncertainty and hope. Noted local historian Nelson Harris has collected stories of events from this fascinating decade in his most recent book, The Roanoke Valley in the 1940s. In a six-year effort, the Rev. Harris has meticulously documented the history of the Roanoke Valley from 1940-1949.  By searching every edition of The Roanoke Times between January 1, 1940, and January 1, 1950, Nelson Harris gleaned all things noteworthy for the decade—in sports, business, religion, entertainment, civil rights, politics, municipal projects, disasters, crime, and medicine—plus an assortment of the odd and unusual. The recording is here on YouTube. The first half is audio only. The second half includes the video.


February Speaker Series Talk–The heroic story of D-Day veteran,
William Dabney

“I wasn’t afraid of the D-Day Invasion, but I didn’t think I’d come out alive.” If you missed Forest Jones’ talk about William Dabney, D-Day vet, the link to watch the recording is here on YouTube:

This talk was based on Jones’ award-winning essay about Mr. Dabney.


January Speaker Series Talk–Taking the Waters: The Restoration of the Warm Springs Pools

After years of sustained advocacy efforts at the grassroots and state level, the historic Warm Springs Pools reopened for public bathing in December. Watch the talk on YouTube.

Hands-On History Saturdays

Join us each week for Hands-on History Saturdays! On Saturdays from 10-4, visitors will get the chance to pull on curators’ gloves and hold a piece of history in their hands. Come see, up close, artifacts that are not often on display. A new theme every month!

  • Sun - Mon: Closed
    Tue - Sat: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

  • Sun - Mon: Closed
    Tue - Sat: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

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