Carson City ghost walk brings history to life

Mary Bennett leads the Ghost Walk through downtown Carson City, Nev., on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Mary Bennett leads the Ghost Walk through downtown Carson City, Nev., on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Mary Bennett first went on the Carson City Ghost Walk as a reporter for the local radio station 23 years ago.

With a theater background and storytelling instincts, she was immediately drawn to the historic production.

“I loved it so much,” she recalled.

She joined the cast right away, becoming one of the characters from Carson City’s history to give a tour of the city as it was in its early days.

“It really focuses on the background of Carson City,” she said. “It’s so deep. There’s so much to be proud of.”

In 2001, Bennett took over as the creative director of the walk, assuming the role of Mary Curry, wife of founding father Abe Curry.

“I’ve really played with that role theatrically,” Bennett said.

When the city decided three years ago to no longer sponsor the Ghost Walk, Bennett took it under the wing of the nonprofit Brüka Theater, which she runs.

“We’re able to use our actors and our costuming,” she said. “So that’s worked out nicely. And we are able to work out some partnerships that are conducive to the walk.”

Some of the buildings on the tour include the Bliss Mansion— built as Duane L. Bliss’ dream home and the most elaborate home in Nevada at the time — and the Ferris Mansion —home of George Ferris, Jr., inventor of the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition in 1893.

“When you look at Carson City only in a contemporary way, you miss a lot of what’s there and what has been there,” she said. “The old Java Joe’s, which is now Kim Lee’s Sushi, used to be a morgue. Actually, a lot of buildings were utilized as mortuaries. Comma Coffee used to be an opera house and performance hall.”

The characters from the city’s history intrigue Bennett as well.

“I wanted to know more about these people and sharing their stories,” she said. “That’s what caught me personally, wanting to know who was so brave to start this town.”

The architecture and the landscape around the west side also tell the stories of the first settlers.

“People brought seeds with them as they traveled from the East Coast,” she said. “The drive to bring a piece of nature with them fascinates me. The trees are still there even though the people are gone.”

Bennett pointed out the walk is not a haunted tour, but attracts people interested in the paranormal. She said the guides will share their own brushes with the other side as will people at stops along the way.

“We tell compelling stories that are based in truth and based in people’s experiences,” she said. “We try to keep it really authentic.”

Whether there are ghostly apparitions along the 90-minute tour, Bennett said, the spirit of the city’s founders is always present.

“Abe Curry talked about how special a small town was and how he wanted to create a community,” she said. “He was such a playful man with an entrepreneurial spirit. I think you can still feel that.”


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