Do you believe in ghosts? Do you want to? For those interested in making contact, there are places around the country that will give you better than average chances. Some places have seen more than their share of horror. It just makes sense that some souls will remain for centuries to come. Other places just have one or two people that for one reason or another, couldn’t leave the premises.
With Halloween lurking around the corner (do you have your costume yet?), 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.
If you are ready for a possibly life-changing experience, plan a visit. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
On the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia sits a small island. In 1771, Fort Mifflin was built on this island for use during the Revolutionary War. Nearly a century later, the fort would be used to house Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. Hundreds of soldiers suffered horrific deaths within the fort’s walls.
Strange occurrences and ghostly sightings at the Fort are common to this day. One of the more famous ghosts is that of a woman who screams so loud the Philadelphia police have been called on numerous occasions, only to find no one there. Others have reported seeing the ghost of a man whose face was blown off by a canon. Tours are available for the curious brave.
Seeing a ghost can scar one’s psyche, causing lasting mental anguish for years to come. At Moon River Brewery in Savannah, unlucky visitors have been known to get different kinds of scars. Though currently a brewery, the building’s history goes back to 1821 when it was built and became Savannah’s first hotel. During the Civil War, it got a reputation as a violent establishment, due to the many bar fights that ended in death.
The brewery has had many instances of unexplained phenomena. Reports of bottles flying through the room and smashing on the walls are common. Others report being slapped across the face by unseen forces. But the one you really need to watch out for is Toby. This ghost is said to haunt the billiards room where he is always looking for a brawl.
Currently a restaurant in downtown Detroit, The Whitney is a 21,000-square-foot mansion built by David Whitney Jr. between 1890 and 1894. The late lumber baron’s wife Flora had always wanted to live in a mansion, but died before their home was finished. Whitney raised the couple’s four children in the mansion with Flora’s sister Sara, whom he married a year after Flora’s death.
Needless to say, Flora’s ghost is not happy with the way things worked out. She has reportedly been seen by employees and guests alike, as has Mr. Whitney himself, who died in the mansion. Make yourself a reservation and enjoy an upscale dinner for two … or three … or four.
Weston, West Virginia
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.
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.
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.
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.
Estes Park, Colorado
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 hhotel.
St. Francisville, Louisiana
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.
If you’d rather be spooked from the comfort of your home, check out the best horror podcasts right now.
Article updated October 2018 by Chelsea Batten to add additional locations.
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