Trolleys don't tend to strike fear in the hearts of their riders. But the trolleys departing from Station Square tonight just might.
Molly's Trolleys of Pittsburgh, a 17-year-old company started by a Carnegie Mellon graduate, usually offers trolley transportation for weddings, tour groups and corporate and university groups. Around Halloween, however, the company takes a turn for the spooky.
Just like Christmas, Halloween is a one-day holiday that has stretched into a month of celebration, with haunted houses, haunted hayrides, haunted mazes and costume parades.
To that list, add the Pittsburgh Terror Trolley Tours.
The tours -- running tonight and the remaining Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in October, plus Halloween night -- take riders from the South Side, to Oakland, to Downtown and to the North Side, showing off the city and its ghost stories, from the inside of 1920s-style trolleys.
The 75-minute tours are narrated by actors, some with murder mystery theater experience, and include special effects and "little surprises along the way," said Christina Robertson, director of marketing for Molly's Trolleys and Just Ducky Tours, which in 2011 began running the daily operations for the trolley company.
"I think it's something different," she said. "Not only are they getting the ghost stories and the haunting of Pittsburgh that goes with Halloween, they are also getting a tour of the city."
One of the people giving those tours tonight is Valerie VanHolt, whose background in musical theater and interest in ghost and paranormal topics lay the foundation for her narration of Pittsburgh's haunted sights, including a stop at the former site of a North Side house said to be the location of murders and unexplained phenomena.
Ms. VanHolt, who came across the story of the house several years ago in a book about Pittsburgh ghosts, didn't want to give too much away before her narration on the trolley tonight.
"It just has the makings of such a great horror film," she said. "It's just a great story."
Pittsburgh, with its long history and its role in the Revolutionary and French and Indian wars, has good "ambience" for a Halloween tour.
"It's got a lot of spiritual energy, so to speak," she said.
And around Halloween, she said, people embrace the fun of being scared.
"People like to be scared, and I think they like to be scared in a safe manner," she said.
On her tours so far, there have been startles, but no screams, Ms. VanHolt said.
Reservations are recommended to ride the Pittsburgh Terror Trolley Tours and can be made by calling 412-281-2085.
Tickets are $25 for ages 13 and over, and $15 for children 12 and under. The tour is recommended for people 13 and older.
Tonight's trolley tours are scheduled to depart from Station Square, near the Hard Rock Cafe, at 7 and 9 p.m.