Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there are some places in the world guaranteed to make your hackles rise and goosebumps break out on your arms, regardless of how loud your inner skeptic might be shouting. Glowing orbs, children dressed in Victorian attire, disembodied voices, and the sounds of ancient battle cries… if this sounds like your kind of thing, make this Halloween the scariest one yet by checking out our list of the 20 most haunted places in America.
20. Devil’s Tramping Ground, North Carolina
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure to be in for a big surprise… well, you will if that wood happens to be the North Carolina woods. Buried deep in its midst is a large, 40-foot clearing where neither tree will grow nor animal will wander. According to local legend, both fauna and flora keep well away for a very good reason… at night, the devil rises from his pit to stop and dance around the circle, flashing his red eyes at any passerby who happens to glimpse his presence through the surrounding trees.
19. Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
In 1909, Henry and Georgiana Pittock decided to put their life savings to good use by building the house of their dreams in Portland, Oregon. Within just 10 years of the final brick being placed, both Pittocks were dead and buried. Clearly unwilling to abandon the home they invested so much in, they are still said to haunt the mansion, with many a ghostly occurrence being reported by visiting guests.
18. New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City
In the early 1900s, a young lady named Olive Thomas was rapidly on her way to becoming the first “it” girl of the 20th century. However, earning the title of “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” and being embraced by the legendary Ziegfeld Follies group wasn’t enough for the bright young thing, and at the age of 25, she decided to put an end to it all by swallowing a handful of mercury pills. A century later, her specter, dressed in full Follies kit and clutching a pill bottle, is still said to haunt the New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City.
17. Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah, Nevada
Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah, Nevada may have begun its life with a reputation for being one of the state’s swankiest hotels, but these days, it’s known for a very different reason altogether. According to local legend, the hotel is the home of the Lady in Red, a former guest of the hotel who died on the fifth floor during her stay. While her body may have left the building, her soul never has, and today, she spends most of her time creeping out guests by whispering in their ear and leaving little pearl trinkets on their pillowcases.
16. Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
Today, Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is home to a few hundred tigers, lions, monkeys, and other exotica. Rewind to the 1850s, and the Zoo was one of the city’s largest cemeteries, with over 35000 people resting in peace beneath its grounds. Well, we say resting in peace… many of those same people’s spirits are said to tramp the zoo’s grounds to this day, with parapsychologist Ursula Bielski saying the zoo is "Without a doubt the most active site I’ve investigated".
15. San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas
There’s something about old churches that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas is no exception. In the 1930s, construction workers unearthed the remains of three bodies dressed in tattered military uniform on the site. Local historians were quick to trace the discovery to the death of three Alamo soldiers, whose spirits some believe haunt the church to this day. Shadowy figures, floating orbs, and hooded monks are just some of the ghostly apparitions’ visitors have claimed to have seen.
14. Pine Barrens, New Jersey
Spanning over a million acres of dense woodland, Pine Barrens, New Jersey is speckled throughout with former industrial towns left abandoned when inhabitants fled to make their fortunes in the west. Those same derelict communities are now ghost towns in the truest sense of the word, with many visitors to the area claiming to have seen numerous apparitions and paranormal sights. One of the creepiest ghostly inhabitants is the Jersey Devil, a creature with leathery wings, hooves and a goat’s head born to local townswoman Deborah Leeds in the 18th century. Legend has it the creature has been doing away with local livestock (and even some South Jersey residents) ever since.
13. Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona
Fancy staying at a hotel where a long-term boarder hangs raw meat from the chandelier of room 210, two women try to enact revenge on their dastardly husbands by asphyxiating male guests in their sleep, and where a newborn baby’s cries are so terrifying, they’ve driven staff members to distraction? Yes? Even if they’re all dead? Thought not.
12. Moon River Brewing Company, Savannah, Georgia
Many guests visit the Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, Georgia for a fine pint of ale and a delicious dinner. Many others visit it to check for themselves whether the many reports of ghostly happenings that emanate from the brewery are true. Originally built as a hotel, the site was converted into a sanatorium for yellow fever victims during the Civil War. As you’d expect, many people that entered the hospital never found their way out, and today, their troubled souls are said to still haunt the brewery’s halls.
11. Saratoga Battlefield, Stillwater, New York
In 1777, the Battle of Saratoga proved a turning point in the Revolutionary War. The American rebels may have won the day, but many of their number perished in the bitter battle for supremacy against the British. Today, their ghostly spirits are said to haunt the battlefield, with visitors to the historic site reporting sounds of clashing weapons, battle cries, and even the distant sound of drums. For a chilling walk through history, a visit to 648 NY-32 in Stillwater is a must for any true ghost hunter.
10. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois
If you believe the 100 reports of paranormal activity to have originated from Bachelor's Grove Cemetery to be true, this Chicago burial ground has to be one of the most haunted pieces of land in the States. Glowing orbs and scary sightings are said to have been witnessed by visitors of the small cemetery: check it out for yourself by taking a private ghost tour of the sight... only the brave need applies.
9. The White House, Washington, DC
It’ll come as little surprise to learn The White House is home to some of the most troubled souls in the US, although perhaps a little more surprising to learn that many of them have been dead for centuries. Past presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Harry S Truman are believed to still walk the mansion’s halls. Old Abe is even said to have tried to engage Winston Churchill in conversation by the fireside on one occasion, and on another, given Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands the fright of her life when he knocked at her door.
8. The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary has to be the most haunted ocean liner in the world. Reported sightings include children playing by the pool in which they’ve thought to have drowned, and a troubled soldier who may (or may not) have been murdered. If you can keep your wits about you, the Queen Mary offers guests the chance to take an evening tour of its interior, or even the opportunity to stay overnight in its floating hotel.
7. Mount Misery Road, West Hills, New York
With a name like Mount Misery, you couldn’t expect this area of West Hills on Long Island to be anything other than haunted. Reports of paranormal activity have swathed the road in mystery for centuries, with traveler’s frequently reporting seeing strange, unexplained lights flickering above the woods, misty apparitions, and ghostly faces crying out from the trees.
6. Saint Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, Florida
Build in 1821, the Saint Augustine Lighthouse has intrigued lovers of the paranormal for years. Two of the site’s most frequently spotted ghosts are the daughters of Hezekiah Pity, an employee of the lighthouse in the late 1800s. Eliza and Mary were playing on a rail cart when it suddenly broke free and lurched into the sea, killing both girls instantly. Their spirts are still said to linger around the lighthouse to this day.
5. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What would a good “most haunted” list be without a penitentiary or two? The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia opened in the early 1800s with the aim of rehabilitating prisoners via a backbreaking work schedule, enforced silences, arbitrary punishment, and hoods to keep inmates in permanent darkness. The draconian system led to explosive outbreaks of violence, extreme misery, and, two centuries later, one of the most haunted prisons in the US. Cold spots, disembodied voices, apparitions, and various other paranormal activity has been reported, and the prison now serves as one of the most popular spots for TV led investigations.
4. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
As a regular fixture on paranormal shows such as ABC/FOX Family Channel's Scariest Places on Earth, and the British TV series, Most Haunted, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is one of the most terrifying places in the US. Originally built as a sanatorium for tuberculous patients in the early 20th century, the house has since been everything for a home for the elderly to a concert venue. These days, it’s just a good old haunted house, offering paid tours to anyone brave enough to traverse its halls of shadow people, ghostly nurses, and tortured souls doing pretty much everything other than resting in peace.
3. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Fans of Stephen King will be only to familiar with the name The Stanley Hotel. Legend has it the horror writer and his wife stayed at the hotel some time in the 1970s, and the experience (and the nightmares that followed) proved so troubling they gave rise to The Shining. Visitors and staff at the hotel have reported ghostly sighting of the hotel’s founders, F.O. and Flora Stanley, as well as apparitions of children and mysterious objects suddenly appearing from thin air. If you want to test your mettle, the hotel offers night tours for visitors… just don’t go alone.
2. The Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee
If CBS calls somewhere the most haunted place in America, you’d better take note. Adams, Tennessee was once home to the Bell family, an otherwise normal family that just happened to be terrorized by a poltergeist who tormented the children and, somewhat bizarrely, made fruit appear out of thin air. The poltergeist took a special dislike to the father of the family, Jon Bell, and vowed to murder him… going by the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, she may well have succeeded. These days, fans of the paranormal can tour the Bell Witch cave on the grounds of the family’s old property… if you see an apple floating through the air, run for your life.
1. Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Battle of Gettysburg may only have lasted three days, but over 50,000 men lost their lives in what’s since been recognized as one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. Most of those 50,000 never received a proper burial, with many believing their lost souls now tramp the battlefield in search of their fallen comrades. Since being turned into a historical monument, the area attracts thousands of tourists every year… although whether their sightings of young men in soldier’s uniforms are civil war re-enactors or something altogether more ghostly, who knows?
Written by Liz Flynn
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