The Arc of Loudoun has unveiled a new theme—with elements of the property’s actual history—for the 10th year of the best haunted house and Halloween party around.
The new theme, Camp Carlheim, hearkens back to the actual history of Paxton Campus. The estate was built in 1872 by Charles and Rachel Paxton, and Shocktober takes place inside what was originally named Carlheim Manor.
Rachel Paxton willed the estate into a charitable trust to benefit needy children. In 1967, a group of parents of special needs children formed the Arc of Loudoun to start a preschool for their children, and in 2009 the Arc of Loudoun moved to Paxton Campus, where it has been growing ever since.
But in the fictional history of Camp Carlheim, the manor was built by Dale Carlheim. While exploring the grounds, he discovered a series of large caverns and an underground lake—based on a real underground lake underneath Paxton Campus—and inadvertently disturbed unmarked graves. Soon after, the hauntings began, and within a few months his wife and children had perished in unexplained accidents. Carlheim disappeared, never to be seen again.
Since then, everyone who lived and worked in the house died mysteriously or simply disappeared, and the mansion and grounds were abandoned. This October, they will be reopened as a community camp and recreation area called Camp Carlheim.
And if past years—and a rating from Travel + Leisure magazine as the fifth scariest haunted house in the country—are any guide, the results will be terrifying.
Once again, brave or foolish visitors can tour a long, winding, claustrophobic route through two floors and the basement of Carlheim Manor. There are also plenty of games outside, and “Escape Carlheim,” Shocktober’s escape room. And for the first time, one group a night can rent a room for a private, catered party on the campus for up to 50 people including drink tickets and fast passes to the front of the line to haunted house.
According to the nonprofit, since it began in 2010, Shocktober has generated $2.5 million for The Arc of Loudoun. Last year, it brought in a record-setting 17,614 visitors, and $625,00 in revenues for the Arc of Loudoun’s advocacy and services for people with disabilities and their families and “We Scare Because We Care” mini-grants to other nonprofits. It was a huge jump from the previous year, with about 12,000 visitors. Some nights were so packed, this year the event organizers are capping ticket sales at 600 for each hour of the event—but they hope to break 20,000 visitors this year, the event’s 10th year.
This year the Trail of Terror returns, a guide to Loudoun County restaurants, wineries, breweries, places to stay, and special experiences with a haunted twist during the Shocktober season. And once again, Old Ox Brewery is brewing a special beer for the event, the Oxorcist II, while Tarara Winery has again produced a special Shocktober wine.
And for people who like to do the scaring, each year Shocktober happens with the help of about 350 volunteers, said Arc of Loudoun CEO Lisa Kimball.
Shocktober will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from Oct. 4 through Nov. 2. General admission is $40, with a Really Important Person or RIP fast pass to the front of the line for $50. More information and tickets are available online at shocktober.org.