Haunted Places USA: Take a Halloween Ride
In honor of All Hallow's Eve being just around the corner, I decided to do some coast-to-coast research into some creepy destinations for road trips. Whether or not you buy into ghosts, goblins, or spirits of the ethereal sort, I invite you to take a ride to the creepy side. These destinations could make for a good story, you never know.
Do you dare?
Looking for some haunted places or spooky road trips this Halloween? If you want more info, just click the name to go the official page. Did we miss one of your favorite spots? Let us know and we will add it!
Battlefield, Fort, or Cemetery
NOTE: while I cannot say for sure whether these locations are haunted, they are places of honor and remembrance. If visiting, please recognize that these are somber places, and, as always, be respectful.
Fort Knox, not to be confused with the gold fortification, was constructed between 1844 and 1869. Though it never saw any action in the Civil War, it was heavily manned through the span of the Spanish-American War. The sounds of military exercises and marching has been heard by witnesses, and the figures of soldiers have been captured in visitors’ photographs.
As part of the westward expansion and to protect the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Leavenworth was built in 1827 and is the oldest active army post west of Washington, DC. The National Cemetery onsite was one of the cemeteries established by President Lincoln and is the resting place of veterans since the War of 1812.
As far as ghosts, the fort is told to have dozens of them with events occurring as early as the pioneer days in the old west. The spirits are supposed to be the victims of disease, Indian attacks, lost travelers, slain soldiers, and many more unlucky others. The most famous tale is that of Father Fred who was killed when the original church onsite burned in 1875. Another story is that of Catherine Sutler who was traveling to Oregon with her family in 1880. Two of her children, Ethan and Mary Sutler, went missing, and Catherine Sutler was distraught. The children were eventually found, but Catherine had already passed away of pneumonia. Her ghost is said to still wander the fort as she searches for her children.
Gulf Shores, AL
Before the construction of the current Fort Morgan, the site was home to Fort Bowyer, built to defend against the British in the War of 1812. Just before the end of the war, the fort endured two attacks made by the British, in which both sides suffered casualties. Fort Morgan, as it is known today, is a bastion fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay that was built in 1834.
The fort was well-used and took heavy fire during the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864, and was used off-and-on until WWII. Legends say that the ghost of a man who hanged himself in the barracks before WWI haunts the fort, and you can still hear the screams and cries of Confederate and British soldiers long-dead. Fort Morgan, as it is known today, is a bastion fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay that was built in 1834. The fort was well-used and took heavy fire during the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864, and was used off-and-on until WWII. Legends say that the ghost of a man who hanged himself in the barracks before WWI haunts the fort, and you can still hear the screams and cries of Confederate and British soldiers long-dead.
Delaware City, DE
Fort Delaware was built in 1859 and was used as a Union fortress in the Civil War. It once held more than 33,000 Confederate prisoners of war on the island by the end of the war, and about 2,500 prisoners died while in captivity.
Some witnesses claim to see uniform-clad spirits lingering within the walls of the fort, or mysteriously showing up in photos taken onsite.
Forest Park, IL
On June 22, 1918, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was train-bound to next show when an empty Michigan Central Railroad 20-car train plowed into the circus train. 104 employees of the circus were killed, most within seconds of the collision, with the rest perishing when the wreckage caught fire.
Most of those who were killed were burned beyond recognition, and were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The section set aside for the mass grave is now called Showman’s Rest, and is still used for burials of showmen who go to play the big top in the sky. Supposedly the memorial cemetery is haunted, and legends say the sound of phantom elephants drift through the cemetery.
The Battle of Olustee was the only major battle fought in Florida during the American Civil War, and it took place on February 20, 1864. The Battle was a victory for the Confederates, but losses totaled around 300 with thousands more wounded.
Today, the site is the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, and many visitors claim to hear shouts and cries from phantom soldiers, the pounding of horse hooves in the heat of battle, and the crack of unseen rifle fire from the trees.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is at the edge of the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve and has been the burial site for Chicagoans since the early 1800’s. On the edge of the cemetery is a small pond. In the 1970’s the most famous report of the ghost of Bachelor’s Grove became known.
One night, two Cook County Forest Preserve officers were patrolling near the pond when a horse emerged near the pond. The horse seemed to be pulling a plow and, steering it, was an old man. The horse passed in front of the headlights of the patrol car before vanishing. Little did they know, they had just witnessed one of the most famous ghosts of Bachelor’s Grove. In the 1870’s an old farmer was plowing a nearby field when his horse became spooked. The old man became tangled in the reins and was dragged behind the horse and plow before they plunged into the pond. The man, the horse, and the plow were all dragged to the bottom of the pond and drowned.
Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, The Civil War Battle of Antietam took place on September 17, 1862 and is known as one of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. Over 22,700 American soldiers were declared missing, dead, or wounded, and heavy losses were suffered for both the Confederates and the Union armies.
This hallowed ground in Maryland has seen massive amounts of bloodshed and terror, and visitors often describe feelings of sorrow and grief overwhelming them. The sound of shouts, cries, moans, and rifle fire have been heard, and the thundering of phantom horse hooves are common occurrences. Perhaps these are the residual feelings of those soldiers who lost their lives here, but the long-ago battle seems to be raging on for those souls who remain.
Business or Museum
Fall River, MA
It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard the story of Lizzie Borden. But, in case you don’t know, Lizzie Borden was suspected of killing her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892. And, even though there was a considerable amount of evidence against her, she was found not guilty because the all-male jury thought that a woman could not be capable of such a heinous crime.
What most people don’t know, though, is that the double murder of Lizzie’s parents was not the first violent act on the property. In 1848, the great-aunt of Lizzie, named Eliza Darling Borden, killed two of her three children before taking her own life. The property, which has seen more than its fair share of tragedy much less in the same family, is said to be very haunted. Not just by the ghosts of Lizzie Borden and her slain parents, but also the “ghost children down the well” who were killed in 1848.
The Villisca Axe Murder House
The Villisca Axe Murders remains one of the most perplexing mysteries to this day, and the house remains as a grisly reminder of the crime that happened over 100 years ago. In 1912, two adults and six children were brutally slain by an ax-wielding assailant in their home.
The murders of the Moore family and two visiting children, Ina and Lina Stillinger, occurred as they slept and the murderer was never caught. There were suspects in the case, but no justice was ever brought to the victims, and they are said to haunt the “Murder House” which is now a museum.
The Bird Cage was a bonafide brothel and saloon from 1881 to 1889, when the “wild west” was at its peak. It quickly became renowned as one of the “…wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin and Barbary Coast,” according to the New York Times in 1882.
It was also one of the most dangerous brothels in American history. To this day, you can count 140 bullet holes in the walls...and those were just the ones that missed. Reports of ghostly prostitutes and patrons are common, and one of the most famous is the mysterious “man in black” who paces the stage with heavy boots.
Long Beach, CA
The RMS Queen Mary completed her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, and was boasted to be a ship that was bigger, faster, and more powerful than the Titanic. It was used as a luxury travel liner before it was commissioned into WWII. By the end of the war, she had earned the nickname the “Grey Ghost” and carried more than 800,000 troops and played a significant role in virtually every major Allied campaign, including D-Day.
She was made into a luxury hotel in 1967 and has rested in Long Beach ever since. The ship is known as one of the most haunted places in the world with a reported number of ghosts reaching over 150 hauntings. Hotspots of activity include the infamous “Door 13” below deck which crushed two men to death in the Queen Mary’s lifespan. Others have reported seeing the apparition of a drowning victim name “Jackie” at the ship’s swimming pools, and the ghost of a beautiful young woman in the first-class lounge.
Bobby Mackey’s Music World is perhaps one of the most famously haunted places in the country. The music venue began to gain its reputation in the early 2000’s, but the location of the nightclub has a long and violent history that involves, murder, seedy behavior, demonic possessions, and satanic rituals.
While the site is said to be infested by “demons” of a particularly violent and sinister nature, Bobby Mackey’s most famous spirit is that of Pearl Bryan. In 1896, Pearl Bryan was five months pregnant when she disappeared. Her mutilated body was later discovered, but her head was never found. Rumor has it that her head was used in an occult ceremony and cast down the well in the old slaughterhouse where Bobby Mackey’s Music World now stands (over the same well, as it were). Her lover, Scott Jackson, and his partner in crime Alonzo Walling, were convicted and hanged for her murder, but Pearl is rumored to have never left.
Key West, FL
As if dolls need a backstory to be any creepier, meet Robert the Doll: the real-life inspiration for the murderous Chucky. While Robert hasn’t murdered anyone (as far as we know anyway) the doll is supposedly haunted. The doll was made around the turn of the 20th Century, and some historians suspect that voodoo may have played a part in his creation.
Those who were fortunate enough to find themselves in the company of Robert reported hearing giggling or whispers coming from the doll. Or, even more terrifying, hearing footsteps before discovering that the doll had moved by itself. He is now safely housed in a glass case in the Fort East Martello Museum.
After the Civil War, The Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham became an important player in the Industrial Revolution by supplying the much-needed crude pig iron for steel. In the early 1900’s the furnaces were led by foreman James “Slag” Wormwood who seemed to disregard the well being of his workers to meet the soaring demand for production.
In the following few years, 47 of the furnace’s workers lost their lives under Slag, who, in 1906, mysteriously disappeared. Rumor has it that the workers threw Slag into the furnace, but no one knows for sure. Since then, workers and supervisors have reported being harassed by a ghostly, burned man who screams to “get back to work” or “push more steel.”
Yes, by “pirate,” I mean actual pirates. The building located in Savannah’s historic district was built in 1754 and is considered the oldest building in the whole state of Georgia. It was used as a meeting place for pirates, sailors, criminals, and other types of seedy characters. And, like tons of drinking establishments back in those days, it had its very own Shanghai tunnels beneath the Rum Cellar.
Fights, brawls, duels, murders, and who knows what else happened within the walls of the Pirates’ House Restaurant. And if you believe what many witnesses claim, the place remains a happenin’ hot spot...for ghosts.
Grab a beer with the ghosts of Moon River! It seems like there are ghosts everywhere at Moon River Brewing Company, and the location has an infamous reputation. The building was built in 1821 and first housed the City Hotel, but perhaps the most tragic time in its history was when it served as a hospital during Savannah’s many yellow fever outbreaks.
Most interestingly, though, is the story of the duel that took place inside the hotel in 1832. As history tells, a notable Savannah physician named Philip Minis had his honor insulted by James Stark, a member of the Georgia state legislature. As was customary back in that day, a duel was challenged, and the men met in the barroom of the Moon River Brewing Company, at that time the City Hotel. Minis shot Stark through the chest, killing him.
Stark is just one of the many ghosts who haunt the Moon River Brewing Company (a particularly nasty spirit named Toby also is rumored to reside in the basement, who has been reported to viciously attack the living), and witnesses report allegedly being shoved, poked, hearing phantom cracks of a pistol, and seeing ghostly apparitions regularly.
San Diego, CA
The Whaley House was built in 1857, and, in addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Courthouse, a theater, a general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, a school, and a polling place. Now, the historic home is a museum. A haunted one, at that.
There were many deaths and tragedy on the property, and the earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is "Yankee Jim." In 1852, James Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. After Thomas Whaley built the house on the grounds five years later, he immediately reported hearing and seeing paranormal happenings, and they supposedly haven’t stopped since. Other ghostly residents are said to be Thomas, Violet, and Anna Whaley, a mysterious long-haired girl, and a spotted dog.
Landmark or Ghost Town
Near Cornwall, CT
This colonial-era settlement was established in the 1740’s and is now a ghost town. While the sight of abandoned and crumbling structures might be unnerving, it’s not so much the remaining structures that are haunted as much as the surrounding land is cursed. Supposedly there is nothing but specters, demons, and bad luck that causes one to go insane. Here’s a bit of a history lesson: Dudlelytown legends say the land is cursed.
The family that owned the land and for who Dudleytown was named, for lack of a better term, was cursed. Back in England in 1510, an ancestor with the last name Dudley was beheaded for plotting to overthrow King Henry VII. At that time, a curse was placed on the family stating that all of the Dudley descendants would be surrounded by horror and death. The Dudley family did indeed have a pretty bad run of luck for the next couple hundred years, and it historical evidence reflects that it followed them from England to France, and finally, to America.
This legend comes from deep within the swamps of Louisiana. The Manchac Swamp is said to be home to the ghost of a once practicing voodoo priestess, Julia Brown. She was said to have been some oracle, often seen rocking back and forth on her front porch and glaring at passers-by, but when she predicted the ill-fates of her neighbors it wasn’t a surprise when they often came true. In 1915, Julia’s voice floated from the swamp as she was heard singing over and over “when I die, I’ll take the whole town with me.” She died shortly after, and on the day of her funeral, a hurricane ripped through the area and wiped the town off the face of the earth, killing hundreds. Almost everyone in the town was dead, and they were buried in unmarked, mass graves.
The bitter ghost of Julia Brown is said to still haunt the swamps; some say the cursed, earth-bound victim of the black magic the practiced.
Manitou Springs, CO
In 1887, Emma Crawford, the eldest daughter of a prominent Boston family fell ill with Tuberculosis. As was customary in those days, doctors would order a reprieve from the polluted city to the mountains of Colorado. Hoping for healing waters and fresh air to cure her ailment, Miss Emma followed her doctor’s orders and the family moved to Manitou Springs, Colorado.
From her sickbed, Emma could see the beautiful Red Mountain and she dreamed of the day that she could be healthy enough to hike its peak. However, this day never came. Emma died of her illness, but not before making her family promise to bury her on the mountain she so loved. They honored her wishes, but, after a sequence of events that could only be described as the worst luck ever, poor Emma’s body was moved to the Crystal Springs Cemetery in the late 1920’s directly against her last wish.
Legends say that Emma now haunts the mountain, and witnesses have reported seeing Emma's wandering spirit as she forever climbs to the summit she never reached in life.
Apache Junction, AZ
The legend of the Lost Dutchman begins in the 1800’s when, you guessed it, a Dutchman named Jacob Walz stumbled into Apache Junction and claimed he had discovered gold in the nearby Superstition Mountains.
Walz never disclosed the location of his mine, and it remains a mystery to this day. When other hopefuls went to search for themselves, they all vanished without a trace, lost their minds, or turned up dead. Walz was undoubtedly responsible for most of the murders, as he’s suspected to have been protecting his stake, but when the Peralta Massacre occurred and hundreds were found murdered, some had to wonder how such things could be done by one man. Some believe that Walz himself perished in the mountains, and the murderous ghost of the Dutchman continues to protect his claim.
Mackinac Island, MI
So, what you need to know about Mackinac Island is that it is is essentially a huge Native American burial ground with a military fort built on top of it; a fort where a lot of people were killed, I might add.
The island was home to an Native American settlement in the 17th century, that was considered sacred by the Anishinaabe. In the mid-1600’s, the island was settled by the French, the British came along in the 1700’s, and the Americans after that. Soon, and this sacred place was turned into a very critical fort that saw action in two different battles in the War of 1812.
One of the biggest hotspots is the Drowning Pool, where in the 1700s and early 1800s seven women were accused of being witches. To question the witch-status of the accused, they used a method where rocks were tied to the feet of the “witch,” and they were thrown into the water to see whether or not they would float. Unfortunately, the women sank. But, on the bright side, they were declared innocent of any witchcraft!
I should note: if you want to visit Mackinac Island, be aware that they do not allow any motorized vehicles on the island. All vehicles have been banned since the end of the 19th century in order to maintain historical (and quiet) integrity of the island.
Just like the Lizzie Borden story, few people haven't heard of the Salem Witch Trials. The history tells it like this, between February 1692 and May 1693, a series of frenzied accusations of witchcraft caused the executions of twenty innocent people.
Witchcraft was such a terrifying prospect in the colonial days that the fear of having a possible witch in their midst was enough to justify the murder of some of Salem’s townsfolk. However, people say the ghosts don’t see it that way. The town is supposed to be actively haunted by the spirits of those wrongfully accused and executed so many years ago on the town's "Gallows Hill."
The legend of the Dover Lights got its start sometime in the 1800’s in the wilds of the Arkansas Ozark forests. In the days before electricity, witnesses reported seeing mysterious floating lights appear and move about the trees and the nearby canyon. There are many theories as to the origins of the lights, including the protective spirits of a Native American burial site, the spirits of Spanish Conquistadors still searching for gold, or the ghostly carbide lanterns of those killed in a mining accident.
Regardless of the legend’s origin, the lack of electricity in the depths of the canyon and centuries’ worth of reports make the Dover Lights an intriguing mystery that you can see for yourself.
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