Things That Go Bump in the Night: 6 Most Haunted Places in America

With Halloween lurking around the corner, we thought it only pertinent that we list some of the eeriest and most haunted places in America. Abandoned asylums, sanatoriums, and prisons are exceptionally creepy and, luckily for those of us with a strange fascination with the paranormal, many across the U.S. are open for tours — some even offer overnight stays … if you dare.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston, West Virginia)

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum/Facebook

Originally designed to house just 250 patients when it opened in 1864, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was occupied by more than 2,400 people in the 1950s.

Construction took place between 1858 and 1881, and was designed to allow an abundance of sunlight and fresh air into the long wings. However, due to an eventually deteriorating facility and changes in patient treatment, the hospital closed in 1994. The structure remains the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America.

Patients who came seeking treatment were often forced into cramped conditions; many were exposed to electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Hundreds of patients died at the facility, and visitors and staff at the once cramped asylum claimed to have seen and heard those who checked in, but never left.

The former asylum is open for heritage and ghost tours between April 1 and November 5.

Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Eastern State Penitentiary gargoyle

Photo by Krystle Marcellus

The Eastern State Penitentiary first opened in 1829 and is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the world. The prison’s wagon wheel layout, debuted in 1829, was built to hold 253 inmates in solitary confinement. This type of reform therapy caused many of the prisoners to go insane.

During its more than 140 years of operation, no official executions took place — however, there were a number of murders among inmates. Additionally, hundreds of prisoners died of disease and old age … and many are thought to still roam the cell blocks.

The prison is open year-round for tours. It also hosts a massive haunted house each fall.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, Kentucky)

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Kentucky

The Waverly Hills Sanatorium/Facebook

During the 1800s and early 1900s, America was ravished with the “white plague” (aka tuberculosis), and Louisville was no exception. In 1910, the two-story, wooden Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened to help contain those afflicted with the diseas. This building quickly became overcrowded and construction of a new building was completed in 1926.

There was a high death rate among tuberculosis patients at the facility. Some estimates go over 8,000 over the time the sanatorium was in operation. A special tunnel —  dubbed the “death tunnel” — was used to secretly transport those that perished away from the hospital so as to keep the morale high among living patients.

While the tour season is closed for the year, the annual haunted house at the sanatorium is open every Friday and Saturday night through October 28, 2017.

Ohio State Reformatory (Mansfield, Ohio)

Ohio State Reformatory

Image courtesy of Ohio State Reformatory

Built on the site that was once a training camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War, the the Ohio State Reformatory opened in 1896 to house young, first-time offenders. The castle-like penitentiary was closed in 1990 due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

Over 200 people, including two guards and the superintendent’s wife, died on the facility during its almost 100-year tenure.Haunted history aside, the Romanesque-style structure has been the backdrop for several movies, including The Shawshank Redemption.

The former halfway stop for young offenders is open for tours but check the calendar for full dates and special events.

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)

The Stanley Hotel Colorado

Image courtesy of The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel is probably best known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s famed thriller, The Shining. The inn was named after Freelan Oscar Stanley, who first visited Estes Park in hopes that the plentiful sunlight and fresh air of Colorado would cure his tuberculosis. He liked the area and felt it was missing accommodations suitable for wealthier visitors.

Unlike the prisons and asylums above, The Stanley Hotel, which opened in 1909, has a peaceful past. The spirits that purportedly roam the iconic property, nestled at the Gateway to the Rockies, are of a more harmonious nature than those depicted in King’s novel.

The hotel still welcomes guests and even offers spirit tours around non-guest areas of the hotel .

The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, Louisiana)

The Myrtles Plantation Louisiana

Image courtesy of The Myrtles Plantation

Touted as one of “America’s Most Haunted Homes,” The Myrtles Plantation was allegedly built on top of a Native American burial ground in 1796 by General David Bradford. The antebellum house is now a bed and breakfast — and is supposedly occupied by numerous apparitions, including restless Native Americans, former slaves, and the victim of the only verified murder to take place on the property.

The most famous of the ghosts that inhabit the over 200-year-old home is Chloe, a young slave girl. Modern photos of the house depict a young African-American girl dressed in period attire.

Evening mystery tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Feature image by Jeff Fusco.