By day, Wendy Heiken is a friendly, 21st-century bed-and-breakfast hostess who runs the Annie Wiggins Guest House with her husband, Bill. But on weekend evenings, Wendy dons a floor-length black gown and veiled bonnet to greet guests in her parlor. After a brief but informative welcome, she leads the small crowd outside. Several minutes and one block later, Wendy pauses dramatically as she transitions into Annie Wiggins.
Widow Wiggins shares ghostly gossip about her friends and neighbors during an entertaining, pavement-pounding expedition. (Paranormal sticklers and fact checkers are advised to relax their standards.) With a lilted voice and flowing gait, the straight-laced Widow Wiggins tells tales of tragedy, some crafted to integrate Galena’s colorful history as a booming shipping community; others borrow from local legend. Stops include the Grant Home, Washburne House and St. Michaels Cemetery. No single destination receives top billing, including the cemetery visit, which takes place outside the gates and doesn’t capitalize on any graves in sight.
The tour, $12 per person and lasting around 75 minutes, then loops back to the steps of the guest house, where Wendy resumes her present-day persona to sift through the inspirations behind her tales and answer questions. It’s best to approach this tour with a free spirit and an open mind—those looking for a historically sensitive retelling of established Galena lore may be disappointed. We visited on a warm summer evening, but the tour might be much spookier during a darker autumn night. Booking reservations requires flexibility and patience because dates and times vary according to attendance, weather and Wendy’s schedule.