Have your nerves of steel inoculated you against scary movies? Friends leaping out of the shadows getting boring? If you feel like having a more immersive experience, you might want to head to a local haunt instead. Take a look at some of the scariest destinations in all 50 states that guarantee a night of frights.
1. ALABAMA // BASS CEMETERY
Location: Irondale, Alabama
It doesn’t get much creepier than Bass Cemetery. Drive down the dirt road at twilight, turn off into the woods, and keep your eyes and ears open. The Civil War-era cemetery was the final resting place for both soldiers and slaves, many of whom reportedly return to walk the grounds at night. Visitors report seeing ghostly figures and hearing spooky voices, and at least one tomb has been visibly vacated.
2. ALASKA // RED ONION SALOON
Location: Skagway, Alaska
In its heyday, the Red Onion Saloon offered a slice of the Old West in the Last Frontier. Built in 1897, the upscale saloon and brothel was one of the hottest spots in Skagway, Alaska, during the Klondike Gold Rush. Today, the establishment functions as a museum and, according to their blog, it’s "home to more than one spirit." Accounts of footsteps, cold spots, apparitions, and a strong perfume smell have all been reported on the upper floors that once served as the bordello. Most disturbances have been attributed to one spirit in particular: a former prostitute named Lydia. Thankfully she seems to be friendly, even going so far as to water the plants for the homeowners. Visitors can hope to catch a glimpse of her on the museum’s Ghosts & Goodtime Girls Walking Tour.
3. ARIZONA // VULTURE MINE
Location: Wickenburg, Arizona
The Vulture Mine, located just outside of Phoenix, was once Arizona’s most successful gold mine, and the surrounding settlement, established in 1866, was a boomtown home to 5000 residents. The mine was closed down in the 1940s and Vulture City became a ghost town, but some of the spirits of those who died at the mine may still remain. The mine was plagued by theft, and 18 high graders—miners who pocketed their discoveries—were put to death at the Vulture hanging tree. In 1923, due to lack of support structures, seven miners died in a cave-in, and their bodies are still trapped within the mine. The ghostly location was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures in 2010, and the hosts claim that spirits threw rocks at them.
4. ARKANSAS // 1886 CRESCENT HOTEL & SPA
Location: Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Looming high over the town of Eureka Springs, this stately hotel is supposedly home to a colorful cast of spirits. There’s Michael, the stonecutter who fell to his death during the building’s construction, and Dr. John Freemont Ellis, the former hotel physician whose pipe smoke some guests claim they can smell. The Crescent has embraced its haunted reputation, offering ghost tours for visitors and ESP packages for diehard spook hunters.
5. CALIFORNIA // ALCATRAZ
Location: San Francisco, California
For decades, the concrete island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals—murderers, thieves, and public enemies like Al Capone. That concentrated selection of bad vibes is said to remain, even though the prison has long since closed. While the National Park Service runs no official ghost tours of the grounds, visitors hoping for paranormal activity can book an evening ferry ride and guided tour of the cell blocks that have been known to harbor unexplained events like eerie moaning and strange apparitions; some guests have even claimed they could hear a faint banjo, an instrument Capone picked up to pass the time inside.
6. COLORADO // THE STANLEY HOTEL
Location: Estes Park, Colorado
If roaming a murder hotel is your idea of a good time, The Stanley is the place for you. Horror buffs will recognize the haunted hotel as the inspiration for The Shining (1980)—a fact not lost on its owners, who offer regular ghost tours for a small fee. The original owners? Well, they're supposedly still roaming the halls, with Flora Stanley's piano being heard playing in the middle of the night, and her husband, F.O. Stanley, reportedly showing up in the background of billiard room photos.
7. CONNECTICUT // THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
Location: Dudleytown, Connecticut
You can’t enter Dudleytown, a.k.a. the Village of the Damned, but you probably don’t want to. Legend says the settlement was founded in 1740 by the aristocratic Dudley family, whose reputation of treachery and scandal preceded them into the New World. Over the next six decades, the little town reportedly saw its share of horrors—people going insane, children disappearing—before being abandoned in the 1800s. The settlement itself has vanished; today, the site is private property, lost to an overgrown dark forest. Those who have ventured close speak of a suspicious silence in the woods and bright orbs in the air.
8. DELAWARE // FORT DELAWARE
Location: Pea Patch Island, Delaware
Take the ferry from Delaware City and make a day of it at Fort Delaware State Park, which offers picnic areas, wildlife, and, of course, ghosts. The spooky, pentagonal fort itself was built in 1859 and is so famously haunted that it was featured on a 2008 episode of Ghost Hunters. The show’s hosts recorded eerie noises like cannon fire and movement in the fort’s tunnels. But for the amateur paranormal investigators out there, you will love the night-time ghost tours.
9. FLORIDA // MAY-STRINGER HOUSE
Location: Brooksville, Florida
You want it, the May-Stringer House has it: footsteps, creepy dolls, weird mists, sudden drops in temperature, even children’s laughter. The Victorian-era mansion has seen more than its share of death, from childbirth and smallpox to suicide, and is known as one of the most haunted buildings in Florida. Ghost hunters with a little extra cash will want in on the late-night investigations package, which allows visitors free rein to roam the building with their ghost-sensing equipment until 2 a.m.
10. GEORGIA // BONAVENTURE CEMETERY
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Heading to Savannah? Be sure to bring a stuffed animal for Little Gracie, the resident ghost-ambassador of Bonaventure Cemetery. The little girl was the sweetheart of Savannah in her day and was known for entertaining guests with songs in the lobby of the luxury hotel her father managed. When she succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 6 in 1889, her grave became a shrine. It’s said her ghost still plays in the square where she used to live, and that her cries can be heard when the toys left for her are removed. The cemetery also has numerous other statues and figures, many of whose faces are said to change shape when in the presence of visitors they like or dislike.
11. HAWAII // MORGAN’S CORNER
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Several urban legends surround this sharp curve of Nuuanu Pali Drive in Honolulu. The true origins of its ghastly reputation trace back to the murder of a 68-year-old widow that took place nearby in 1948. Since then, the spot has been connected to tales of paranormal activity, and today it’s a stop on the "Orbs of Oahu" ghost tour held on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.
12. IDAHO // IDAHO PENITENTIARY
Location: Boise, Idaho
The Idaho Penitentiary housed over 13,000 inmates when it was a functional prison. Not all the residents served their time peacefully: The building was the site of many violent riots, culminating in the fire that shut it down for good in 1973. According to some accounts, the spirits of former prisoners still roam the halls. Visitors have reported overwhelming feelings of anxiety and dread upon entering the place and some even claimed to have heard unexplained whispers and screams. Anyone looking to experience the eerie atmosphere can attend one of the historical site’s various tours, including investigations led by the "International Paranormal Reporting Group."
13. ILLINOIS // CONGRESS PLAZA HOTEL
Location: Chicago, Illinois
The Congress Plaza Hotel is rumored to be one of the most haunted hotels in the Windy City. It was built to house the influx of visitors coming into Chicago for the 1893 World's Fair (an event with a seedy history of its own). Several ghosts—including those of a Czech boy who jumped from a window with his mother and a Spanish American war veteran who shot himself before his wedding—are now said to haunt the building. And that’s not all: Unplugged kitchen appliances suddenly turn on; pianos play spontaneously; and visitors hear disembodied humming and whispers—and phantom gunshots that come from out of nowhere. Chicago Ghost Tours makes the hotel their first stop—tours begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Fridays.
14. INDIANA // STEPP CEMETERY
Location: Martinsville, Indiana
A typical visit to Morgan-Monroe State Forest might include a hike, a picnic, and a leisurely stroll through an abandoned cemetery. Stepp Cemetery was opened in the 1800s and is home to less than three dozen gravestones. Visitors to the site—which, according to urban legend, was founded an orgy-loving, snake handling cult called the Crabbites—report strange sounds in the graveyard and sightings of a ghostly woman dressed in black who is said to be watching over the graves of her family members.
15. IOWA // VILLISCA AX MURDER HOUSE
Location: Villisca, Iowa
The Villisca Ax Murder House appears relatively unchanged from how it looked on the night of the violent crimes that took place there over a century ago. On June 10, 1912, J.B. Moore, his wife Sarah, their four children, and two visiting children were killed in their beds by an ax-wielding intruder. There were several suspects—including a state senator—but no one was ever convicted of the crime. The building is now open to brave members of the public wishing to learn about this gruesome chapter in Iowa history. According to the house’s official website, tours have been interrupted by "children's voices, falling lamps, moving ladders, and flying objects." Walk-in tours are given during the day for $10 per person, and visitors feeling especially gutsy can reserve an overnight stay for $428 for groups of one to six.
16. KANSAS // SALLIE HOUSE
Location: Atchison, Kansas
Whatever paranormal experiences interest you, you can probably find them at Sallie House: Visitors to the home have experienced apparitions, strange smells, objects flying through the air, and disembodied voices. Though the residence is named after a little girl who allegedly died of appendicitis there at the turn of the century, according to some mediums, "Sallie" is just one of the many spirits stuck in the house.
If you find yourself in Atchison, you may as well take a look around—the entire town, besides being the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, is said to be the most haunted in Kansas and is full of spooky stories and strange happenings.
17. KENTUCKY // WAVERLY HILLS SANATORIUM
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
From 1911 through 1961, Waverly Hills was a tuberculosis hospital, able to house 50-60 patients trying to recover from the disease at any given time. Unfortunately, many of those patients didn’t recover: Thousands succumbed to the illness before an effective treatment was introduced in 1943, and apparently, many of them are still there. Room 502 is a particularly popular spot for ghost sightings, with reports of a ghostly nurse still making her rounds there.
In addition to hosting tours from March through August, the current owners convert the place to a haunted house attraction every fall. They plan to use proceeds to renovate the hospital into a legit hotel—presumably one where no one gets any sleep.
18. LOUISIANA // THE LALAURIE MANSION
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
On April 11, 1834, a fire broke out at 1140 Royal Street in New Orleans. When neighbors rushed to help the residents escape, they discovered something even worse than the flames: a veritable house of horrors. The New Orleans Bee reported that "Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated were suspended by the neck, which their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other," and compared the mistress of the house, Delphine LaLaurie, to Caligula.
The house has since been renovated and sold many times, including once to actor Nicolas Cage. But it’s no surprise that owners and visitors alike report ghostly goings-on, from hearing chains in the attic to strange phone calls coming from the house. The LaLaurie House is a highlight on most of the innumerable New Orleans ghost tours.
19. MAINE // WOOD ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Location: Biddeford Pool, Maine
In 1896, a terrible tragedy took place on Wood Island, Maine—during an argument about an overdue rent payment, local fisherman Howard Hobbs shot game warden Fred Milliken, who died 45 minutes later. Distraught about what he had done, Hobbs shot himself with the same gun. People, including the wife of one of the lighthouse keepers, believe their shell-shocked spirits are still there. You can visit the lighthouse during the day, if you prefer, or take a haunted lighthouse tour to hear more about the various hauntings that happen in these isolated spaces.
20. MARYLAND // ANTIETAM
Location: Washington County, Maryland
More than 23,000 people lost their lives at the battle of Antietam during the Civil War, so it’s not surprising that a few of them may still be hanging around. One location in particular, deemed "Bloody Lane" after 5000 soldiers died there, is especially known for ghost sightings—people reportedly think they’re seeing Civil War reenactors, until the "reenactors" disappear into thin air.
Other visitors to the national park have reported seeing balls of blue light, hearing drums playing, and hearing soldiers chanting. Legend has it that there’s a house nearby where the wounded were taken, and after even after centuries and countless attempts to sand and refinish the floors, there are blood stains that refuse to disappear.
21. MASSACHUSETTS // DOGTOWN
Location: Gloucester, Massachusetts
This once-bustling settlement was founded by colonists around 1693, but after decades of fruitless farming efforts, many residents abandoned the town after the War of 1812. The few people who stayed—mostly widows who couldn’t afford to leave—were deemed witches, especially after one of the women found a source of income by threatening to curse people unless they paid her. Other local lore involved werewolves and ghost dogs.
Though history is on the side of the "witches" these days, there’s no doubt that some disturbing activity has taken place in those woods, which still bear remnants of the cellars built by the original colonists. A woman was killed there in 1984, and it’s said to have been the scene of several suicides.
22. MICHIGAN // THE GRAND HOTEL
Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan
That old "Native American burial ground" horror movie trope is absolutely true on Mackinac Island, which was once, indeed, a burial ground called Michilimackinac. In fact, more remains were discovered during a construction project just a few years ago.
That might set the stage for paranormal incidents on the tiny island: it is also home to a ghost named "Harvey," thought to have been a student at the Mackinac College in the 1960s, and soldiers from the War of 1812 who are occasionally spotted on the golf course of the hotel. You’re sure to hear their stories, and more, on any number of Haunted Mackinac tours.
23. MINNESOTA // PALMER HOUSE HOTEL
Location: Sauk Centre, Minnesota
Feeling brave? Book a room at the Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Rooms 11 and 17 are particularly active with spirits, with guests reporting people in 1920s clothing showing up in their rooms at the middle of the night. And if you’re in the market for a famous ghost, you might be in luck—it’s thought that writer Sinclair Lewis, whose childhood home was nearby, is still wandering the halls.
24. MISSISSIPPI // MCRAVEN
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Known as the most haunted house in Mississippi, McRaven has been called a "time capsule of the south." It was used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, and of course, not all of the soldiers made it. "We do have 11 unknown bodies buried on the property," the house manager has said.
In addition to Confederate soldier ghost sightings, there’s also a young mother named Mary Elizabeth Howard who died in the house shortly after childbirth, and a robber named Andrew Glass who used McRaven as a hideout. Both haunted tours and regular history tours are offered at McRaven.
25. MISSOURI // THE LEMP MANSION
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Built in 1868, this historical home was once owned by William J. Lemp, the owner of what would eventually become Falstaff beer. Sadly, the Lemp family was plagued by tragedy—four family members, including the patriarch, committed suicide; three of them in the house. And according to visitors to the old residence, which is now an inn, most of them are still there. If you don’t want to risk an overnight stay at Lemp Mansion, you can also opt for one of their mystery dinners instead.
26. MONTANA // MONTANA TERRITORIAL PRISON
Location: Deer Lodge, Montana
In 1959, the Montana State Prison experienced the darkest moment in its history: a 36-hour prison riot that resulted in the deaths of several people, including the murder-suicide of two of the ringleaders when the Montana National Guard came in to end the uproar. The damage they did—machine guns and bazookas were fired into the cellblock—can still be seen on various historical or ghost prison tours today. People touring the prison have reported hearing strange things and feeling like they’re being touched. Cell No. 1 is especially active with what some believe is the spirit of Paul Eitner, an inmate who spent 49 years at the prison.
27. NEBRASKA // HUMMEL PARK
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
At the entrance to Hummel Park in Omaha, Nebraska, there are a set of trees that bend eerily and unnaturally in one direction. Local legend holds that the trees were used for hangings—so many hangings, in fact, that the branches are permanently bowed from the weight of the bodies. The deaths may explain the strange things said to happen in the park now: howling wolves, people who live in the trees, animal sacrifices, and a creepy set of stairs that seem to change in number for each person who attempts to count the steps. Though there’s no evidence to back up the rumor of hangings, there is evidence to support another theory: that the area was once a Native American burial ground. In fact, in 1945, Boy Scouts used a skull found in the park to decorate a totem pole.
28. NEVADA // THE MIZPAH HOTEL
Location: Tonapah, Nevada
Built in 1907 to accommodate folks hoping to strike it rich with the recent silver discovery, the Mizpah is said to host several ghosts, including at least a couple of miners and some impish children. But the Mizpah’s most famous revenant resident is the Lady in Red, a woman who was killed on the fifth floor by a jealous husband or ex-boyfriend. It’s said that she’s particularly fond of whispering "Hey you" in the ears of men who are in the elevator alone.
The hotel closed its doors in 1999 and remained shuttered for more than a decade. It reopened under new management in 2011, so you can have a close encounter with the Lady in Red if you’re so inclined. They even have a suite themed after her.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // BLOOD CEMETERY
Location: Hollis, New Hampshire
Pine Hill Cemetery’s ominous "Blood Cemetery" nickname doesn’t come from blood spilled within the grounds, but from a permanent resident there named Abel Blood. Blood’s 1867 tombstone featured an engraving of a hand, which people swear pointed skyward during the day, but gestured down at night. The stone was broken and removed at some point, but that hasn’t stopped the spirits—there are still sightings of shadowy figures and fog that seems to appear out of nowhere. The public cemetery is open from dawn until dusk.
30. NEW JERSEY // PINE BARRENS
Location: southern New Jersey
The Pine Barrens, a stretch of coastal plain that spans seven counties in New Jersey, is home to a lot of urban legends, from phantom dogs to the ghost of Captain Kidd. But its most famous denizen is, without a doubt, the Jersey Devil. Though there are many versions of its origins, in one popular telling the creature was born in the 1730s when "Mother Leeds'" cursed 13th child came into the world with hooves, wings, a goat’s head, and a forked tail. After killing its mother, it escaped into the Barrens—and there have been sightings ever since. Even Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, had an encounter with the beast during his years at Point Breeze. If you visit the Pine Barrens for its trails, wineries, canoeing, or duck hunting, keep one ear cocked for strange noises.
31. NEW MEXICO // SANTA FE STATE PENITENTIARY
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
On February 2 and 3, 1980, the Santa Fe State Penitentiary was the site of one of the worst prison riots the country has ever seen: 33 inmates died, more than 200 were treated for injuries, and seven officers were severely beaten or sexually assaulted. The deaths were horrifically violent; even today, hatchet marks said to mark the site of a beheading are still visible in the concrete floor. Since then, visitors have reported cell doors slamming shut of their own accord, a “winged demonic specter,” and other phenomena. Though the prison opens for visitors only rarely, after a five-year revitalization is complete, it will have a museum and regular tours.
32. NEW YORK // THE KREISCHER MANSION
Location: Staten Island, New York
Any old Victorian house lends itself to an aura of spookiness, but this estate has real horrors to back up the vibe. A brick magnate named Balthasar Kreischer built the mansion for one of his sons in the 1885. When family fortunes fell, that son, Edward Kreischer, committed suicide in 1894. Afterward, locals began to talk about odd happenings at the house, including strange lights and voices. Rumored ghosts include Edward, his brother Charles, a German cook, and a couple of children. A century later, in 2005, the home was the site of another incident: a Mafia hit carried out by the property caretaker, who stabbed, drowned, dismembered, and finally incinerated his Mob victim in the estate furnace. The mansion opens for events from time to time, including yoga retreats and Halloween parties—and, if you’re so inclined, you can probably purchase the house soon if you’ve got a couple of million burning a hole in your pocket. It seems to go on the market every few years.
33. NORTH CAROLINA // THE BILTMORE ESTATE
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
With 250 rooms, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the largest privately owned house in North America. The man who constructed it, George Vanderbilt, is allegedly still there. Keeping him company is his wife, Edith, who can be heard calling his name down the corridors. But don’t just rely on secondhand ghost stories—book a tour and see for yourself.
34. NORTH DAKOTA // FORT ABRAHAM LINCOLN - CUSTER HOUSE
Location: Morton County, North Dakota
Though General George Custer died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, legend has it that his widow, Libbie, is still waiting for him to come home. According to tour guides and workers at the Custer House, the general himself also makes appearances from time to time, moving objects and wiping his hands on the linens—perhaps lamenting that he only spent a couple of years in the home before his death. In addition to being open for historical tours year-round, the house also hosts special Halloween events.
35. OHIO // THE RIDGES ASYLUM
Location: Athens, Ohio
Once called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, the Ridges accepted its first patients in 1874. It eventually developed a reputation for experimentation with shock therapy, lobotomies, and transorbital lobotomies. The facility closed in 1993, but spirits of the thousands of patients that suffered there over the years still linger, according to some. One is said to be Margaret Schilling, a patient who disappeared in the hospital in December 1978 and wasn't found for more than a month. Her body was so badly decomposed that fluids had seeped into the concrete floor, leaving a stain that remains there to this day. The Ridges is now owned by Ohio University, which uses the old administration building to house the Kennedy Museum of Art. The school demolished the dangerous, decaying, “haunted” part of the facility in 2013 because it drew too many trespassers and vandals, but a local history center gives outdoor tours of the grounds throughout the year.
36. OKLAHOMA // CONSTANTINE THEATER
Location: Pawhuska, Oklahoma
Originally built in the 1880s as a hotel, the Constantine Theater was turned into a performance space in the early 1900s. Ghost investigators who recorded 40 hours of video and audio on the stage and throughout the theater heard mysterious footsteps and knocking; they also captured a couple of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs). The ghost in question, some say, is Sappho Constantine Brown, the daughter of the theater’s owner. It’s not clear why her spirit has decided to stick around the place, but we’d like to believe she’s still waiting for her chance at the stage. You’ll have to buy a ticket to a show to find out.
37. OREGON // HOT LAKE SPRINGS
Location: La Grande, Oregon
Once a popular resort for people seeking healing waters to treat what ailed them, the bed and breakfast at Hot Lake Springs is only the latest iteration of the area’s hospitality options. The original Hot Lake Hotel operated from 1864 to 1934, when part of the building burned down. It later served as a nurses’ school, an insane asylum, and to store dead bodies during a typhoid epidemic, among other things. With a history like that, it’s no wonder that there are a number of restless spirits wandering around. In 2001, the property was featured on the show Scariest Place on Earth; two years later, it was purchased by the Manuel Family, who renovated and restored the property. Current visitors report spooky sounds in their lodgings, especially on the third floor, which once housed a hospital.
38. PENNSYLVANIA // GETTYSBURG
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
There were some 51,000 casualties (men who were killed, wounded, captured or missing) during three-day battle at Gettysburg in 1863, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Naturally, there are some ghosts said to lurk in the area. From phantom smells linked to the stench of bodies left rotting in the heat after the battle, to strange sounds and sightings of soldiers in local buildings used as field hospitals and shelters, there’s a ghost story for just about any location in the Gettysburg area. Visitors to Devil’s Den—an area where some of the fiercest fighting took place and where many bodies were left to rot in a ravine—report apparitions of sharpshooters and malfunctioning camera equipment.
39. RHODE ISLAND // PROVIDENCE BILTMORE HOTEL
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Originally opened in 1922, the Biltmore Hotel in Providence was a popular party spot during Prohibition—but spending time there wasn’t always something to celebrate. The hotel’s wild parties reportedly often turned violent, leading to several murders. And in 1929, a stockbroker reportedly jumped out a 16th floor window, falling to his death. Visitors report seeing the stockbroker’s ghost falling past their window as well as other apparitions during their time there.
The hotel also has an infamous former employee. The patriarch of the Patriarca crime family, Raymond Patriarca, got his first job as a bellboy at the hotel, and it’s likely that he killed at least one person there. But its history of horrors hasn't stopped guests from enjoying their stay. A recent visitor still gave the hotel four stars, despite having a terrible paranormal experience in the middle of the night.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA // SUMMERVILLE LIGHT
Location: Summerville, South Carolina
According to legend, a woman used to walk her husband home from the train after work every single night along a certain stretch of dirt road here, carrying a lantern. When he died in an accident, she kept coming, walking up and down the road waiting for him. When she died, a mysterious light began appearing in the same area she used to walk, just around midnight every night. Ghost hunters say to go past where the pavement ends on Sheep Island Road and keep a look out for a single orb of light in the distance.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA // THE BULLOCK HOTEL
Location: Deadwood, South Dakota
Seth Bullock, the first sheriff in the gold-mining town of Deadwood, helped corral the lawless locals into something approaching civility. In addition to his policing, Bullock constructed an ornate hotel in the heart of the area, before dying in room 211 in 1919. Newly restored, the hotel is open for guests, dining, and tours, where many say you can still feel Bullock patrolling the grounds. Visitors can even make note of unexplained phenomena in the hotel’s guestbook.
42. TENNESSEE // THE SENSABAUGH TUNNEL
Location: Church Hill, Tennessee
You won’t have to endure long lines to experience the reputed gloom of this traffic tunnel in East Tennessee: Locals avoid it and advise others to do the same. Although no one knows how the tunnel got its reputation, several anecdotes have sprung up over the years relating to murder. Supposedly, driving through could mean a dead engine, or worse: Strange figures and noises have been said to appear. Defaced with graffiti and worn to cracks, it’s not a place for the faint of heart.
43. TEXAS // USS LEXINGTON
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
A World War II-era battleship that’s now open for tours, the USS Lexington saw fierce combat in her day. It’s said that the spirits of departed soldiers still patrol the vessel. For additional scares, there’s an annual haunted attraction onboard the ship.
44. UTAH // OGDEN CITY CEMETERY
Location: Ogden, Utah
The grounds of the Ogden City Cemetery have more than their fair share of spooky stories. Legend has it that a statue of a World War I soldier has trouble in mind for anyone who drives or walks around his monument three times, while the headstone of Florence "Flo" Grange is said to be the haunted home of a young woman killed by a car while waiting for a date. If you flash your headlights at her tombstone three times, her ghost might materialize.
45. VERMONT // EMILY’S BRIDGE
Location: Stowe, Vermont
Locals in the small town of Stowe call this quaint structure "Emily’s Bridge," named for a woman who was said to have committed suicide after being stood up by her groom. Strange noises, lights, and apparitions reportedly greet those who visit after daylight hours.
46. VIRGINIA // SAINT ALBANS SANITORIUM
Location: Radford, Virginia
This establishment has an uncomfortable history. It’s a former boys' school that became a mental hospital known for experimental treatments. It’s also located on ground that was once the site of a Civil War battle as well as a number of skirmishes between colonists and Native Americans. Those who dare to visit won’t want to miss the "Suicide Bathroom" and the "Electroshock Therapy Room." And if you need a more traditional place to rest up after your visit, there’s a not-so-haunted hotel just down the road.
47. WASHINGTON // MOUNT BAKER THEATRE
Location: Bellingham, Washington
A playful spirit named Judy supposedly haunts this historic theater. For decades, projectionists and ushers have told of sudden breezes and eerie bursts of cold, or being tapped on the shoulder and hearing a ghostly voice whisper their name. While renovating the theater 20 years ago, a worker snapped a picture of a hallway filled with white mist. Some say it was a hoax, while others claim it’s Judy making an appearance.
48. WEST VIRGINIA // LAKE SHAWNEE AMUSEMENT PARK
Location: Rock, West Virginia
There’s nothing creepy about an abandoned amusement park set back in the woods, right? Six children perished on the park’s swings and rides before owners shut it down in 1966. Rust and vines have overtaken most of the structures, but locals and paranormal investigators claim the children, including a little girl in a bloodstained dress, still come out to play.
49. WISCONSIN // PFISTER HOTEL
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The ghost of Charles Pfister, who built this historic hotel in 1893, supposedly haunts its rooms and corridors, but enough activity has been noted by guests that he can't possibly be the only spirit up to no good. Not convinced? Check out a few testimonies from numerous Major League Baseball players who have stayed there. Their stories include rearranged furniture, flickering lights, radios turning off and on, and even ghosts climbing into bed with them.
50. WYOMING // THE OCCIDENTAL HOTEL
Location: Buffalo, Wyoming
The Occidental has all the ambience of an Old West hotel—including an unwanted guest straight out of that era. According to legend, when the building housed a brothel, the young daughter of prostitute died in a second-story room, and has haunted the hotel ever since. Guests have reported moving furniture, mysterious lights and the sound of children giggling.
By Stacy Conradt, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kate Horowitz, Jake Rossen, and Jeff Wells.
From heartbroken brides to spectral oenophiles, America is a melting pot of otherworldly entities who have staked a spiritual claim in every crack and cranny of the country—as well as in the local community's consciousness. No matter what city or state you hail from, you no doubt grew up hearing terrifying tales of one ghost or another with whom you shared a zip code. We all did. Here are the spookiest ghost stories from all 50 states.
In February 1858, a steamboat named Eliza Battle set out on a cruise down the Tombigbee River, carrying 60 passengers and more than 1200 bales of cotton from Columbus, Mississippi, down to Mobile, Alabama. But on March 1, an unseasonably cold night, the cotton caught fire and quickly engulfed the ship in flames. It was the greatest nautical disaster in the river’s history, leaving 33 passengers and crew dead. On brisk and chilly nights, people sometimes see the burning Eliza Battle rising from the misty waters where it sank, trying to complete its journey to Mobile.
At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, a woman named Mary moved into the Golden North Hotel in Skagway with her fiancé, a prospector known as “Klondike Ike.” Before their marriage, Ike set off for the gold fields to make his fortune. But Ike never returned. Mary locked herself in their room and waited, her anxious anticipation of Ike’s arrival turning to dread and despair. The innkeepers eventually broke down the door and found Mary dead in her wedding dress. Guests at the Golden North Hotel report that “Scary Mary” still roams the halls, appearing over their beds in the night to check that Ike isn’t sleeping with anyone else.
The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, opened along Route 66 in 1927, often lodged the casts of western films shot in nearby Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon—and reportedly houses a whole host of ghostly guests. In fact, John Wayne reported one of the hotel’s first ghost sightings in the late 1950s. Ever since, guests and staff have reported dozens of spirits stalking the halls, including a phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and disappears, the eccentric specter of a boarder who liked to hang raw meat from the chandelier, and a ’70s bank robber who succumbed to his gunshot wound over a celebratory post-heist drink at the hotel bar.
During the Civil War, Union General Frederick Steele (above) commandeered the home of a mailman named John Chidester to use as his headquarters during the battle of Poison Spring. Chidester had been accused of espionage for turning over Union mail to Confederate troops. To this day, bullet holes remain in an upstairs wall of Chidester’s house, where Union soldiers fired at random, hoping to hit the alleged spy as he hid in a small closet. Paranormal investigators say his spirit remains, too, turning up in photographs and shouting “Get out!” to unwanted visitors. The home, which stands as a museum today, is open for tours so that you can see for yourself.
Alcatraz was the site of reputed hauntings long before hosting the famous prison (Native American spirits reportedly roamed it then and now), but today one of the most famous stories is of a prisoner from cell 14D. The story goes that the prisoner spent the night in solitary confinement, screaming that a creature with glowing eyes was trying to kill him and pleading for help. The guards ignored him, but the next morning, they found the prisoner strangled to death—with strange wounds doctors said could not have been self-inflicted.
The Buffalo Rose Saloon in Golden, Colorado doesn't have much choice but to admit one underaged patron: It's believed the ghost of a girl who drowned in a swimming pool located in the saloon's basement back in the 1920s still roams the building, skipping up and down stairs and making employees slightly nervous. The former site of the pool is said to be particularly unsettling, with the bar's overnight custodian, Seth Barry, describing it as "very bad. Sometimes you can't go [down] there."
In 1970, famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called to combat the spirit of “Annabelle,” a demonic presence attached to a giant Raggedy Ann doll. For weeks the doll had thoroughly freaked out its owner, Donna, moving from room to room, leaving handwritten notes, and even attacking a friend who suggested Donna get rid of the doll, choking him in his sleep. Finally, a priest exorcised the doll and the Warrens locked it away in a special case designed to check its malevolent influence. But even that wasn’t enough to save one brash visitor to the Warrens’ museum, who reportedly taunted the doll and died in a motorcycle crash on his way home.
Since 1965, Woodburn has served as the official residence of Delaware’s governor. But more than a century before that, it became known as a home to more than one apparition. Around 1815, the home’s owners were entertaining Lorenzo Dow, a well-known Methodist clergyman. When the group sat down to breakfast one morning, Dow asked if their other guest would be joining them … but there was no other guest. When Dow described the man he had seen the evening before, it became clear that it was Charles Hillyard III (the late father of the home’s then-owner). Rumor has it that if you leave out a glass of good wine at night, it might be gone in the morning: Hillyard was a bona fide oenophile. Sounds like the kind of ghost we could hang with.
The Don CeSar hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida, was built by Thomas Rowe and named for a character in the opera Maritana. Rowe had attended the opera during his time as a student in London, and he fell head over heels for its star, a Spanish aristocrat named Lucinda. They regularly met at a fountain in the city and made plans to sail to America and be married. But Lucinda’s parents didn’t approve of their romance and took her back to Spain. He wrote her faithfully, but his letters were returned unopened. Only one letter of Lucinda’s ever reached Rowe. “Time is infinite,” she wrote. “I wait for you by our fountain … to share our timeless love, our destiny is time.” According to legend, Lucinda died of a broken heart; Rowe, who said he would never love anyone else, would go on to build his hotel. It was completed in 1928 and features an exact replica of the fountain where the lovebirds spent happier times. Rowe’s ghost has been spotted on the beach, on the hotel’s fifth floor and in the lobby, and in the garden, where he is sometimes seen holding the hand of a woman believed to be Lucinda.
When the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the foothills of the North Georgia mountains to create Lake Lanier in the 1950s, 59 square miles of farmland, homes, and businesses disappeared beneath the water. In the process, the federal government relocated more than 250 families—along with 20 cemeteries and all their corpses. A nasty streak of freak accidents and mysterious drowning deaths have convinced locals that the lake has been cursed ever since. Some people who have survived near-drownings at the lake have reported feeling hands dragging them down beneath the surface.
According to legend, the fire goddess Pele and a hog-faced demigod named Kamapua’a had a star-crossed love affair. The lovers were elemental opposites: Pele’s lava flows brought flame and destruction, while Kamapua’a restored rain, vegetation, and animal life. Ultimately they decided to part forever, with Pele claiming one side of Oahu for fire and Kamapua’a retreating to the other side, where all is wet and lush. Today, Hawaiian motorists are careful never to drive with pork in their car along the old Pali highway, which crosses Oahu. According to legend, carrying pork—representing hog-faced Kamapua’a—over to Pele’s side of the island will enrage her spirit, and she will get her revenge by making the car stall until the driver throws the pork out the window.
When it comes to abandoned buildings, penitentiaries might rank only slightly behind psychiatric hospitals in creep factor—and the Old Idaho Penitentiary, with its built-in gallows and death row, may be one of the country's creepiest. Between 1872 and 1973, the Boise prison served as a temporary home to more than 13,000 prisoners—including Raymond Allen Snowden, a.k.a. "Idaho's Jack the Ripper." Some believe he still haunts what is known as 5 House, where the prison's gallows were located. On October 18, 1957, Snowden was brought here to be executed, but the noose that should have broken his neck didn't; it took 15 minutes for him to suffocate. In the years since, visitors to the "Old Pen" have reported strange happenings in 5 House and other areas of the former prison, such as hearing odd sounds and voices and being overcome by strong feelings of sadness. The prison is open to the public year-round for paranormal enthusiasts who want to test their mettle.
In the depths of the Great Depression, the Oh Henry Ballroom southwest of Chicago drew young people hoping to dance away their troubles. One night, a teenage girl named Mary had a fight with her boyfriend at a dance and decided to walk home along Archer Avenue. She was killed by a hit-and-run driver and buried nearby in Resurrection Cemetery. Since then, residents have described a girl in a white party dress hitchhiking along the avenue. A cab driver even picked her up, and she asked to be taken to the cemetery. But by the time they arrived at the gates, Resurrection Mary had vanished.
The tiny township of Tunnelton was named for the number of railroad tunnels constructed around it, beginning in the 1850s. One of them, Tunnelton Tunnel (a.k.a. The Big Tunnel), is one of the Hoosier State's most feared landmarks. Reportedly, there are a few ghosts who refuse to leave the area, including a man who was beheaded in an accident during the tunnel's construction and still roams the grounds with his head in one hand and a lantern in the other. But the most famous of this tunnel's tenants is Henry Dixon. In 1908, the body of Dixon—who worked as a night watchman for the railroad—was found just inside the tunnel with a gash to the back of his head, his lantern still lit beside him. Dixon's murder was never solved, and locals claim that he still haunts the area seeking justice for his death.
Coe College in Cedar Rapids is said to be haunted by the ghost of a freshman named Helen Esther Roberts, who died after becoming ill in the 1918 flu pandemic. As legend has it, the ghost of Roberts set up residence in an old grandfather clock—in Voorhees Hall, her former place of residence—which her parents donated to the school in her memory. While the clock was being installed, students claimed they saw an apparition hovering over their beds at night, pulling the covers off, and even playing the piano in the lobby, before taking a quick trek to her old room. Some even claimed that the clock would act up or stop working altogether at 2:53, the time of Roberts’s death. When the clock was removed in the ’70s, the sightings promptly ended at Voorhees Hall. But then they manifested in Stuart Hall—the grandfather clock’s new home.
People in Hutchinson, Kansas, know not to venture into the surrounding sand hills alone—because that's where the Hamburger Man lives. Some say the monster, horribly mutilated by a fire or car crash sometime in the 1950s, abducts victims by brandishing a long knife or meat hook, and then carries them back to his lair where he grinds them up for dinner. The locals aren't sure whether the half-human, half-ghost was ever a real person—or why he seems to crave so many burgers.
In 1891, just a year after thousands of spectators converged on Pikeville to see the last hanging in the trial of the Hatfields and the McCoys, a newlywed named Octavia Hatcher died. Octavia had fallen into a depression shortly after her only child had died in infancy, and then slipped into a fatal coma. Since it was a hot spring, her husband wasted no time in burying her. But soon doctors began to notice a strange—but not lethal—sleeping sickness spreading through the town. Panicked, her husband exhumed her casket and found its inner lining shredded with claw marks and his wife’s face frozen in a mask of terror. Wracked with guilt, he reburied Octavia and had a tall stone statue of her placed above her grave. Locals say they can still hear Octavia crying, and that once a year—on the anniversary of her death—the statue rotates and turns its back on Pikeville.
Louisiana’s Cajun communities have an explanation for sleep paralysis: cauchemar, a species of nighttime witch that immobilizes sleepers and rides them like horses. Some say the cauchemar comes to those who forget to say their prayers before going to bed. Its unfortunate victims lie awake, unable to move, as the cauchemar presses down on their chests, and no matter how much they try to call out, their screams catch in their throats. Some have even reported waking up with marks on their bodies from the bridles and whips that the cauchemar uses to mount and ride sleepers. Beware: Talking about cauchemar increases the likelihood it will visit you tonight.
In the mid-19th century, a lighthouse keeper and his wife moved in to the lighthouse on Seguin Island, a 64-acre speck of land two miles out to sea. To stave off their loneliness and boredom, the man ordered a piano and some sheet music from the mainland, so that his wife could learn to play. Dutifully, she learned her first song—then she played it again and again and again, the same song, every day. Eventually, it drove the lighthouse keeper mad. He took an axe first to the piano, then to his wife, and finally took his own life when he realized what he had done. Visitors to the island say they sometimes hear phantom piano music, and occasionally catch a glimpse of the lighthouse keeper walking by, still carrying his axe.
With thick cypress swamps fringing a black river, the Pocomoke Forest on Maryland's Eastern Shore has birthed several ghostly legends. Folks say that a teenage couple drove into the forest but ran out of gas. The boyfriend went to get help, and the girlfriend was woken in the middle of the night by scratchy sounds on the car's roof. In the morning she discovered her boyfriend hanging upside-down from a tree and his fingernails trailing on the metal. In another tale, a couple in a car heard a radio report of an escaped murderer with a hook for a right hand. The girl noticed a strange sound outside the car, and when she opened the door, a hook was hanging from the handle. Locals also talk of fireballs erupting from thickets and a six-fingered sea captain who killed his adulterous wife and bastard child in the forest. The baby's wails still echo through the trees.
Minots Ledge, a tiny outcropping of rock rising from the sea a mile off the coast from Cohasset, was a ruthless destroyer of ships and sailors. Between 1695 and 1754, the ledge sank 80 ships and drowned 400 men. But no one knew how to build a lighthouse on such a perilous sliver of rock in the middle of the sea. Finally, in 1850, Massachusetts erected a small granite beacon tower on nine cement pylons grounded on the ledge. One year later, a furious nor’easter hit and set the tower swaying. During a lull in the storm, the lighthouse keeper rowed to the mainland, leaving his two assistants behind to man the beacon. All night, townspeople on the shore heard the lighthouse bell ring furiously, perhaps as a final goodbye from the assistants. In the morning, the tower was gone, toppled into the sea. The assistants’ bodies washed up days later. Passing fishermen say they can still hear their ghosts crying for help.
Be careful where you roam at night in western Michigan: The Melon Heads might come after you. Said to haunt the woods near Saugatuck, these childlike figures have oversized heads and mostly white eyes, with irises barely visible above the lower eyelid. They might knock on your car window, or they might stalk you as you walk the dog. Some speculate that the Melon Heads were children in the late 19th century with hydrocephaly who escaped a local hospital where a doctor had been conducting terrible experiments on them. Be especially wary if you're a young couple making out in a parked car; the Melon Heads like to tap on the windows to get your attention.
Ghost hunters have come from all over the country to visit the Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre in the hopes of glimpsing a permanent guest: Lucy, a ghost who hasn't forgiven the male gender for her tragic life and even more tragic demise. As the story goes, Lucy was a prostitute who worked in a brothel erected on the future site of the hotel. It burned down, taking Lucy and other escorts with it. When men pass by, she's said to slam doors and drop the temperature. Guests can ask for Room 17—Lucy's favorite—if they're feeling adventurous.
At the center of the historic section of Glenwood Cemetery, Yazoo City’s public burial grounds, there’s a grave surrounded by a chain link fence. Local lore claims that the grave belonged to a witch who lived along the Yazoo River, who used to lure fishermen to the shore to torture them. When the Yazoo County sheriff came to arrest her, she fled into the swamp and fell into quicksand. The sheriff found her half sunk. Before she drowned, she swore to take revenge on Yazoo City. No one thought much of her threat, but they fenced in her grave just in case. Then, on May 25, 1904, a fire nearly wiped out the entire city, spreading quickly on unusually fierce winds. After the fire, Yazoo City residents found the chain link around the witch’s grave cut open.
An old couple in Overton, who made a trickle of income lodging travelers in their home, decided one night to murder a wealthy boarder and make their fortune. They hid his body, took his money, and used it to build a grand new house. Years later, as the woman lay on her deathbed, she made her husband promise to keep their secret and never to remarry ... but he took a new bride within a year. The people of Overton, disapproving of the widower’s impropriety, harassed the couple on their wedding night with catcalls, drums, and rifle shots. But when the man went outside to shush the crowd, he was startled to see a black carriage pull up to the house. Inside sat a woman, pale as death and dressed in black. Without a word, the man got into the carriage. It drove off and he was never seen again. Ever since, townspeople have spotted the black carriage and interpreted it as an omen of danger.
Taking a drive along Highway 87 by Black Horse Lake in Montana? If the legends are true, you’ll want to think twice before agreeing to pick up just any hitchhiker. Locals claim that a man known as the Phantom Hitchhiker of Black Horse Lake—a Native American man wearing a jean jacket—appears on the road, then violently smashes against your windshield as if struck by your car. It is said that the man was involved in a fatal car crash many years ago and has reenacted it ever since.
Blackbird Hill, Nebraska, is best known as the gravesite of the eponymous Omaha Indian Chief named Blackbird, who was famously buried sitting upright on his most prized horse. But the hill is also home to one of Nebraska’s oldest ghost stories. In the late 1800s, a local man discovered that his wife still had feelings for a long-lost lover. Consumed in a fit of jealous rage, he stabbed his wife and then, in a panic, picked up her body, ran to the cliff on Blackbird Hill, and jumped. It’s said that if you listen closely on October 17, you can hear a woman screaming near the top of that hill.
Long before the founding of Las Vegas, a pair of lovers named Timber Kate and Bella Rawhide toured the saloons of Nevada performing a live sex show. One day, Bella abandoned the act and left Kate for a man named Tug Daniels, breaking her former partner’s heart. Kate eventually ran into Bella and Tug in a Carson City brothel, resulting in a knife fight. During the melee, Tug murdered Kate, and it's been said that her disheveled ghost still haunts the halls of the bordello.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE
Before the Portsmouth Music Hall was built on Chestnut Street in 1878, the site was home to the Temple, a public meeting house where black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass spoke against slavery; a Baptist meeting hall; an 18th-century prison; and one of the first almshouses in the colonies. With all that history, its ghosts could be a mixed bag, but they seem to be all about the stage. Audience members have reported seeing a man dressed in clothing so convincingly Victorian, they thought he was an actor—until he faded away. They've heard shuffling feet near the box office and loud footsteps in the empty hallway. Some have witnessed a shadowy mist blocking their view of the stage, dark shadows passing in front of their seats, or the stage curtains rippling as if someone were walking behind them—but no one was there. Sounds like at least one phantom is still yearning for some time in the spotlight.
30. NEW JERSEY
Manuel Rionda, a sugar baron living in the wealthy New Jersey enclave of Alpine, wanted to do something nice for his wife Harriet. In 1910, he built a tall gothic stone tower to give her a view of the New York City skyline. But the gesture lost its charm when, sitting atop the tower one day, Harriet spotted Manuel with another woman. With years of fears and suspicions confirmed, Harriet grew despondent and leapt from the tower. Afterward, every time Manuel walked up its stairs, he heard footsteps and sobs or felt the push of a cold, angry hand. Overcome with guilt and fear, Manuel walled up the tower, vowing that no one should ever climb it again. After his death in the 1950s, construction crews came to tear the tower down, but after several men fell to their deaths, they left the building as it was.
31. NEW MEXICO
In the Wild West days, Johnny, a lieutenant posted at Fort Union, fell in love with a flirtatious woman named Celia. One night, as the two danced at an officer’s birthday party, a messenger burst in to announce an Apache raid. Fearing he might not get another chance, Johnny immediately proposed to Celia, who said yes and promised that if he didn’t return, she would never marry. Some soldiers died in the fight, including Johnny. Despite her promise, Celia soon married another man. At their wedding ball, a ghoul in uniform appeared, a gash on his head and fire in his eyes. He pulled Celia from the arms of her new husband as the musicians, entranced, played an eerie waltz. Johnny’s spirit danced Celia around the room. She grew pale and died in his arms. Faithful in death, Celia's ghost can still be heard weeping over Johnny’s grave.
32. NEW YORK
The first recorded murder trial in American history dates to 1800, when New Yorkers discovered the body of Gulielma Sands in the Manhattan Well in SoHo. Rumors quickly spread that Sands had been murdered by Levi Weeks, an alleged lover who lived in the same Greenwich Street boardinghouse as Sands did. Levi was the brother of Ezra Weeks, a prominent New York City architect who designed landmark buildings like the Hamilton Grange. With his brother’s help, Levi hired an all-star defense team that included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr—and beat the charges. Ever since, people have reported strange shrieks and flashes of light emanating from the well, which remains untouched in the basement of a clothing store at 129 Spring Street.
33. NORTH CAROLINA
The infamous pirate Blackbeard—whose real name was Edward Teach—is said to haunt a cove on Ocracoke Island, in the Outer Banks, where he was executed by members of the British navy in 1718. Blackbeard's head was severed and hung from the bowsprit of one of the British sloops, and his body tossed overboard. The body swam around the ship several times before succumbing to its watery grave. Some tales say that a headless figure has been spotted splashing around in the small, sheltered bay, which is known as Teach’s Hole. Other reports say Blackbeard has been seen roaming the beaches with a lantern, looking for his lost head.
34. NORTH DAKOTA
Once a thriving pioneer outpost, today Sims is a ghost town in more ways than one: Its only permanent resident is a spirit. Known as the Gray Lady of Sims, she’s said to be the wife of a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, one of only a few buildings remaining in town. According to legend, she fell ill and died in the church parsonage sometime between 1916 and 1918, after which her husband married her sister and left the region. By the mid-1930s, the Gray Lady had begun haunting the parsonage’s second floor, pulling back the curtains, opening and closing windows, and pumping its well with her invisible hand. Her antics so spooked the congregants, they wrote a letter to a local bishop to complain about the supernatural activity, which they said kept scaring off new ministers. The spectral figure is said to still haunt the church, which is home to an active congregation.
The darkest, most desolate stretch of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad ran through Moonville, Ohio. According to local legend, an epidemic once spread through the tiny community and trains were forbidden from stopping there. Running low on supplies, residents sent a volunteer with a lantern to flag down a cargo train on the edge of town. The idea was that the train’s conductor would start to slow down after seeing the man outside town and come to a stop by the time he cleared the passage. But the plan never had a chance to come to fruition: The volunteer was late getting to the tunnel, and the oncoming train struck and killed him before he could reach the other side. Today, the Moonville Tunnel is one of the few remaining landmarks from the defunct mining town, and some visitors still claim to see a ghostly figure carrying a lantern in the darkness. Others are convinced they've encountered one of the many other souls who are said to have lost their lives at the location.
Decades ago, when the owner of what’s now the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City discovered that he had impregnated a housekeeper, he responded by locking the maid in one of the rooms. She was to stay there even after she had the baby. However, the despairing housekeeper had other plans and threw herself and the baby out the window. Nowadays, her spirit tends to get a lot of press for terrorizing NBA players. Opponents of the Oklahoma City Thunder typically stay at the century-old hotel, and athletes have reported hearing a baby’s cry in their rooms and knocks at their doors. They’ve also seen drawers open and doors close without reason. The New York Knicks once blamed a loss on a restless night caused by the prank-playing spirit. “She is an apparitional sixth man, of sorts,” The New York Times reported.
The Kuhn Cinema in Lebanon, Oregon is a relic of movie houses gone by—ornate and without the trappings of a generic multiplex. But preserving that kind of legacy isn't without some risk: Legend has it that a theatergoer once plummeted from a second-floor balcony to her death. Now, her image can be allegedly be seen flickering on the screen, shocking patrons into spilling their sodas.
There’s no shortage of haunted spots related to the Battle of Gettysburg, but Devil’s Den may be the most infamous. Local lore has it that the rock formation was viewed as a cursed place long before the Civil War. When Confederate and Union troops clashed at the site in July 1863, the craggy boulders gave them a convenient place to hide. Battalions were separated, and men on both sides were ambushed. Some of the bloodiest, most confused fighting of the battle took place at Devil’s Den, earning it the nickname the “Slaughter Pen” from soldiers. A few days after the battle ended, Union soldiers returned to the area and found it still littered with the bodies and viscera of the fallen. Some Confederate soldiers were allegedly tossed into crevices between boulders and left to rot. It’s said that the spirits haunting the area sometimes appear in photographs—that is, when photography equipment works there at all.
39. RHODE ISLAND
In the late 19th century, the people of Exeter responded to an outbreak of "consumption"—tuberculosis—with an infamous vampire panic that ended in the exhumation, mutilation, and cannibalization of the corpse of Mercy Lena Brown. Science knew little of tuberculosis, and superstitions quickly spread that the wasting away it caused was due to the nefarious influence of undead family members. Mercy died at age 19 in January 1892, shortly after her mother and her sister. Since her corpse was the best preserved of the three, she was singled out as a vampire and blamed for the illness of her brother, Edwin, who had also contracted tuberculosis. Villagers cut out Mercy's heart, burned it, mixed the ashes with water, and made Edwin drink the concoction. Edwin died two months later. Mercy’s spirit still lingers forlornly about her disturbed grave.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA
According to some historians, America’s first convicted female serial killer was a Charleston woman named Lavinia Fisher, who ran an inn called the Six Mile House with her husband John. Most of Lavinia’s victims were wealthy men traveling alone. She would offer her unfortunate guests a cup of poisoned tea, then direct them to a room with a specially designed trapdoor bed. When the ill man laid down, John pulled a lever and the guest fell into a pit below the house. There John would make sure the man was dead and relieve him of his valuables. The story goes that the couple was caught when a traveler—who hated tea but was too polite to decline Lavinia’s offer—poured his cup into a nearby plant and retreated to his room. As he sat at his desk that night, he was shocked to see his bed plunge into a pit. He ran out of the inn and told the police, who soon found the bodies of missing travelers buried nearby. The couple were hanged, and legend has it that Lavinia’s ghost still haunts her cell at Charleston’s Old Jail.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA
The Fairmont Hotel—formerly a brothel and saloon, now an oyster bar—is widely considered the most haunted landmark in South Dakota. The place has seen its share of jealousy and heartbreak: There’s the ghost of a man who shot the client of his prostitute girlfriend, and then accidentally shot himself; there’s the spirit of an angry fellow whose girlfriend died of syphilis; and there’s the ghost of a prostitute named Maggie who jumped out a window to her death. On more than one occasion, visitors have reported seeing an apparition with red hair and a green dress—perhaps Maggie herself—lurking in the hallways upstairs.
The Chickamauga battlefield, which in 1863 saw a key Union defeat and one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, is now home to a haunting monster known as Old Green Eyes. One legend maintains that the creature was a Confederate soldier whose head was blown off during the battle. His spectral head floats around the battlefield, searching for his missing body. Another, apparently older tale claims that Old Green Eyes is a humanoid monster, with glowing green eyes, light-colored waist-length hair, and huge deformed jaws sporting massive fangs.
In the frontier days, a settler family eked out a living on the banks of Elm Creek near San Antonio. One day, the son of a wealthy merchant in town passed through their property and was bitten by the family mule. Enraged, the young man began beating the animal and wouldn’t stop. The family depended on the mule for their living and in desperation pelted the man with stones until he left—but before he did, he vowed revenge. That night, he rounded up a posse and set fire to the family home. The men came armed and waited to gun down the family members as they fled the fire. When the mother ran out, she was deformed nearly beyond recognition: Her fingers had fused almost into hooves and the flesh on her face sagged terribly. With a screech, she hurled herself into the creek, where her ghastly spirit remains. Locals say they still hear shrieks coming from the creek and nearby woods, and some have reported a terrifying creature with hooves dropping onto their cars and scratching at their windows, trying to get inside.
One of the first gravediggers in Salt Lake City, Jean Baptiste was otherwise unremarkable; he lived with his wife in a two-bedroom home in town, had few friends, and was punctual. He was, perhaps, unusually well off for a gravedigger—and authorities learned the reason why in 1862. In just three years, Baptiste had robbed the graves of more than 300 people, stripping them of clothing and possessions, and dumping their naked bodies back in the caskets. The police found his home filled with clothing; he'd sold many of the possessions. Baptiste showed up in court wearing a suit a local storekeeper had been buried in. Banished to a remote island in the Great Salt Lake, Baptiste vanished six weeks later. Many say his ghost roams the southern coast of the lake carrying an armful of wet, rotting clothing.
If you ever stay at the Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont during a snowstorm, listen carefully for the sounds of boots tapping on the rooftop. You may hear Boots Berry, the ghost that’s said to have haunted the inn since his tap dancing days at the turn of the 20th century. Boots was born to the inn’s horseman and chambermaid in the building’s servants’ quarters in 1840. As an adult, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a successful horseman. He even achieved hero status after gaining control of some runaway horses pulling a stagecoach.
But his glory days were short-lived: Boots developed a drinking problem that got him fired from the inn and landed him in jail. It was one of his fellow inmates at a prison in New Orleans that taught him how to tap dance. Years later, Boots’s quick feet came in handy: He was back at the Green Mountain Inn in 1902 when he learned that a girl was stuck on the building’s roof during a snowstorm. Recalling the secret route he took to the roof during his own childhood, he arrived there in time to return her to safety. Unfortunately, Boots himself wasn’t so lucky and he slipped and fell to his death.
The Wythe House, a colonial-era Georgian townhouse, draws its name from George Wythe, the country’s first law professor and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Wythe was an eminently respectable judge, but his great nephew, George Wythe Sweeney, was his opposite: a profligate gambler with a mounting debt problem. By 1806, the elder Wythe was widowed and childless, and Sweeney was one of his last remaining heirs. Eager to hasten his inheritance, Sweeney offered to move into his great uncle’s house to look after the old man. At the first opportunity, he slipped arsenic into Wythe’s coffee. The judge fell violently ill and died two weeks later—but not before he grew suspicious and wrote Sweeney out of his will. Legend has it that Wythe’s spirit never left his house.
Perhaps it's no surprise that Kell's Pub, on the former site of Seattle's first full-service mortuary, would be home to several spooky tales. One of the most famous surrounds a mischievous little girl with long red hair who was apparently looking for pals. One day, a young mother came in for a job interview at the bar with her small daughter, who was told to go play by herself while the mother spoke with a manager. Halfway through the interview, the little girl appeared with a rag knotted in the shape of a doll. Confused, the mother asked her daughter where she had gotten the toy. The little girl replied that her new friend, a little girl with long red hair in the corner, had shown her how to make it. Surprised, the manager and mother insisted there were no other little girls at the bar, and sent her off to play again. A little while later, the mother called for her daughter and received no reply. After a frantic search, she finally found her sitting on the floor, playing with the rag doll and conversing with a spectral presence. The mother whisked her daughter away, never to return to the bar again.
48. WEST VIRGINIA
The Appalachian woods of West Virginia are stalked by the Tailypo, a strange, cat-like creature [PDF] with long claws, sharp teeth, and a thick, hairless pink tail. Legend has it that one winter night, a hermit living deep in the woods with his dogs was about to go to bed hungry when the Tailypo crawled into his cabin. The man lunged at the revolting creature with a hatchet, managing to lop off its tail before it scurried away. Overcome with hunger, he cooked the fleshy tail into a stew and ate it for dinner. Throughout the night (or over a couple of nights, depending on who’s telling the tale), the creature returned, calling in an inhuman voice, “Tailypo, Tailypo ... where is my Tailypo?” The hermit sent his dogs after the creature; they didn’t return. Despite the unsettling voice outside his door, the man fell into an uneasy sleep just before dawn, only to wake up and find the creature, with its red eyes, staring at him from the edge of his bed—just before the Tailypo ripped him apart. Hunters and hikers say that on some nights, they can hear a strange refrain on the wind: “Tailypo! Tailypo! I got my Tailypo!”
Visit Appleton’s Riverside Cemetery during a full moon and you might see one of its historic tombstones ooze blood. Located on an isolated wooded bluff, the grave is the final resting site of Kate (“Kitty”) Blood, the daughter of an influential 19th-century settler who has been the subject of many a bloody tale. According to one legend, Blood murdered her husband and children with an axe before killing herself—but that can’t be true, because her spouse, George W. Miller, outlived her by 42 years, as you can see right on her tombstone. Another account says that Blood’s husband murdered her, and yet other speculative accounts have her pegged as a witch. The real-life Blood died in 1874, reportedly from tuberculosis, at age 23, and Appleton’s community mourned her loss. Blood’s remote grave and evocative maiden name likely played a part in the formation of these spooky tales. Today, they play such a large part in Appleton’s historic lore that a local grocery store has even sold tombstone-shaped cookies with Blood’s name on them.
In Sweetwater County’s library system, you don’t need to pick up a book to experience a good ghost story: just stay overnight. The branch at Green River was accidentally built on top of a graveyard. (Construction workers, believing that the graves had been relocated ages ago, were shocked when they dug up caskets.) Patrons and employees have come home telling spooky tales ever since: A few years ago, a reporter is said to have stayed at the library overnight and discovered a voice speaking into his tape recorder. Another time, a janitor was vacuuming the bottom floor when he noticed a lightbulb glowing on an upper floor. He went up to turn it off. But when he returned downstairs, his vacuum cleaner had gone missing—that is, until he heard the vacuum running by itself, upstairs.
Written by Nico Rivero, Michele Debczak, Colin Gorenstein, Kirstin Fawcett, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Erin McCarthy, Lucas Reilly, Jen Pinkowski, Jake Rossen, and Jenn Wood.