It’s our 30th post! In honor of that, we have brought you 30 ghost stories from haunts all over the US.
I don’t write about ghosts very often. Maybe because I think they’re hooey. But I don’t believe in movie ghosts or TV monsters, and I still find them fun. So in the spirit of good old fashioned chill-up-your-spine fun, I have scrounged up these ghostly tales from across the nation.
My sources for this article? Utterly irreputable. Total nonsense. The very finest of absolute BS. I went out of my way to cull from paranormal websites that are terribly designed. They are way too into Halloween even for me and have cheesy ooky-spooky graphics up the wazoo.
But there is a big mix between actual history and fantastical folklore in these legends. So stick around, turn down the lights, and check out the tales of these haunted locales.
Sloss Furnaces | Birmingham, Alabama
After 90 years of producing iron, the Sloss furnaces closed and now serve as a multi-use facility. It even seasonally serves as the ‘Fright Furnace’–a commercial haunted house. But twist: the fake haunted furnace is a real haunted furnace! The corridors are still stalked by an old foreman who was is as much a bossypants terror in death as he was in life. Old James “Slag” Wormwood–totally not a made-up name –died in an accident on the site (or was it MUHRDEHR?). He’s made appearances as a severely burned apparition, growling at people to “Get back to work!”, “Push some steel”, etc. You know, only the worst bosses stick around forever.
Jesse Lee Home for Children | Seward, Alaska
Yeah, an abandoned orphanage out in the frigid plains of Alaska. Surely this won’t be eerie as all hell. The Jesse Lee Home was built for children left without parents in the wake of epidemics that were just everywhere you turned in the 19th Century. Now this is not one of those evil orphanages. By all accounts, the Jesse Lee Home was a genuinely safe and fostering place for kids in need. Perhaps its former charges had such good memories of the place that some returned…after death. If you visit the site, you can see shadows playing and hear children giggling, the whap of jump ropes on sidewalks, or the tippy tapping of little feet. Yeah, no thank you. I don’t care if those kids are having the time of their afterlives—I’m out, goodbye.
Hotel Monte Vista | Flagstaff, Arizona
Hotel Monte Vista is bursting at the seams with different ghosts, including a pair of murdered painted ladies, a bandit who died in a gunfight in the lobby, and a phantom bellboy. Room 220 is the true diva of the place, both when he was alive and after. In the 80s, a long-term boarder in 220 was ‘eccentric.’ And by that, I mean he used to hang raw meat from the chandelier. Charming. He must’ve tipped like a motherfucker for the hotel to put up with that. The Meat Man (title of the worst porn ever) eventually lived up to his name, as he passed away in the room and his body wasn’t found for several days. I assume because no one could tell the difference between the terrible odors. Today, coughing, odd noises, and flickering lights are regular occurrences in the room. As long as 220 doesn’t reek of rotting meat, this ultimately sounds like an improvement.
Crescent Hotel | Eureka Springs, Arkansas
What’s worse than a sprawling, Victorian-era building in the middle of the Ozarks? How about if it’s a haunted hotel? How about if it’s a haunted hospital turned haunted hotel? What could be worse than that? How about that haunted hospital was run by a total quack? The Crescent Hotel was a hospital and health spa in the 1930s. It was run by *checks notes* a radio personality claiming to be able to cure cancer. …Yeah that didn’t go well. Today, the hotel is said to be packed with ghosts. Room 218 belongs to “Michael,” whose hand emerges from the room’s mirror. Room 419 belongs to “Theodora,” an older woman who wanders the halls asking for her key. A little boy in old timey clothing plays in the halls and likes to appear in photos. And what would a hospital-turned-hotel be without the eerie sight of a nurse pushing a gurney down the hall?
The Whaley House | San Diego, California
Remember this, Dear Reader, and if you must write it down so you don’t forget, go ahead: Do NOT build your house on top of a cemetery. Or that house may become a cemetery itself… (ominous music) That is indeed what became of the Whaley House. The house was built in 1857 by (you guessed it) the Whaley family. The house was notable for how handsome and comfortable it was. You know, for a place that was built on top of dead people and all. While the Whaleys lived there and ever since, heavy footsteps have been heard on the stairs. The footsteps are said to of the ghost of a man executed on the property just 4 years before the house was built (again: WHY build there???) But the Whaleys still didn’t take the hint, and many members of the family died in the house. Definitely not because it was ridiculously easy to die back in the day–no, a curse is certainly afoot. Today, spirits of Whaley family have stuck around, proving that stubbornness doesn’t end in death.
Cheesman Park | Denver, Colorado
Remember in Poltergeist when it’s revealed that the local cemetery was moved but all the bodies were left behind? If you paw through history, you’ll find that wasn’t a rare occurrence. Cheesman Park was originally a cemetery that fell into disrepair. In the 1890s, it was decided that the corpses would be moved and a nice park would be put there instead. They hired a team on the cheap to take care of all the moving. What could go wrong? What indeed. Even 1890s-era people, who loved public executions and pouring molten tar on other human beings, were disgusted by what followed. Bodies were thrown around like dolls, rotting pieces were flying off everywhere, etc. The project was quickly put on pause, which was smart. What was not smart was the decision to just give up on moving the bodies and build the park over them. Might as well just put up a sign that says “We Love Angry Wraiths!” Sad and confused spirits wander the area, knocking on neighboring houses. It’s even said that if you lie on the grass, you might find it difficult to get back up–as if the ground itself is trying to replace the bodies it lost.
Lafayette Cemetery | Lafayette, Colorado
Poor Fodor Glava could not catch a break in life. Somehow, things got even worse in death. Fodor immigrated to America all the way from Transylvania. Once he settled in Colorado, he was impoverished, worked in a coal mine, and then died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic. The legend is that the townspeople, good American xenophobic folks that they were, decided that the pale Transylvanian dead guy just might be a vampire. So, they dug him up and put a stake through his heart. A tree, which is unlike any other tree in the surrounding cemetery, now grows from that grave. It’s said that the tree is a preternatural testament to Fodor’s innocence. Today, it’s custom for visitors to leave trinkets on the headstone, a gesture to try to make up for the whole “we mutilated your corpse” thing.
The Capitol Building | Washington, District of Columbia
Yes, the Capitol Building, where all major decisions about our country have been made for centuries, is haunted by a specter known as the Demon Cat. (The initials are the same as D.C., get it? Because it’s Washington D.C., and… is that the light going out of your eyes?) The cat has appeared to night watchmen, who I’m sure were totally alert and absolutely not nipping at flasks during long shifts. The cat will approach guards, growing larger and larger in size. It can be as large as a tiger, sometimes as large as a room. Finally: a cat that matches the average cat’s ego. The demon cat is an omen who has been seen right before national tragedies and presidential deaths. But the cat hasn’t been seen once in 2020, so I’m ruling it bupkis
Showmen’s Rest | Forest Park, Illinois
Oh boy, ready to get sad guys? Let’s get sad. ‘Cause nothing says ‘sad’ like ‘dead circus.’ Showmen’s Rest is a special plot set aside in the Woodland Cemetery. It was created as a mass grave for about 60 circus workers who died in a 1918 train wreck. I say ‘about 60’ because in the aftermath, they couldn’t get an exact count on what body parts belonged to which people. Well that’s what you get when you shove so many clowns into one train car! The burial plot is surrounded by 5 elephant statues with their trunks lowered–you know, to be respectful. Locals claim that phantom elephants can be heard trumpeting at night, which I guess is the circus equivalent of “Taps.”
White Lick Creek Bridge | Avon, Indiana
So real talk: back in the day, fanciful things like OSHA and respect for human life didn’t exist. Sometimes when concrete was being used in construction, someone would fall in and die a horrible death. Such was the fate of “Dad” Jones during the building of White Lick Creek Bridge. No idea where the nickname came from–maybe he just made terrible jokes. The truth is lost to history. Anyway, during construction of the bridge in 18(something-or-other), “Dad” fell from a platform and into framing where concrete was being poured. One can only imagine that as “Dad” sank to his doom and his coworkers called down “We’re trying to help!”, he answered “Hi, Trying to Help, I’m Dad!” Afterwards, because it was easier and cheaper, the construction company just left old “Dad” in there after the concrete dried. Do you want cursed bridges? Because this is how you get cursed bridges. For years, locals claimed you could hear screams and pounding from a particular pylon on the bridge. Although a new bridge has since been built, the remains of the old bridge are still at the site. And it’s said that “Dad” Jones’ screams are still there too.
Tunnelton Tunnel | Lawrence County, Indiana
Welcome to the Tunnelton Tunnel, the tunnel cousin of Boaty McBoatface. But don’t let the silly redundant name fool you–the site is Creepy Creeptastic. For starters, the tunnel is directly beneath a cemetery. Because the only way to make an old tunnel even eerier is for dead bodies to be suspended in earth directly above you. The tunnel is notorious for loud screaming emanating from it. A night watchman was murdered in the tunnel in 19(hrm-hrm). He’s said to walk the tunnel with his lantern on one arm and his head in the other. If you want to treat yourself to a local reporter from the 70s getting intensely into the local lore, check it out here.
Buck Cemetery | Bucksport, Maine
Apparently if you establish a town, you get to have the town and the local cemetery named after you. Such was the fortune of Colonel Jonathan Buck. But Buck’s story did not end so fortunately. After Buck died in town and was buried there, a strange phenomenon occurred. A mark blemished his headstone. It could not be removed–not even to this day. The mark looks like a leg, a woman’s stocking-clad leg. When he served as a justice of the peace in the enlightened era of the 1700s, Buck oversaw the hanging of an accused witch. She cursed him with her dying breath. The leg is said to be her dancing on his grave or a representation of her dangling legs when she was hanged. …Or it’s just an old watermark. You decide!
South Manitou Island | Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Michigan
As ya’ll already know, lighthouses are beacons for ridiculous levels of death. South Manitou is no exception. For starters, about 50 known shipwrecks occurred within sight of the island. Scuba divers have heard underwater moans and screams while exploring wrecks. If you go on a tour, a guide will helpfully point out a mass grave from a cholera outbreak. The outbreak was so dire that the sick-but-living were buried alongside the dead. Is that the point in the tour where guests flee before the tortured souls attack? If you camp on the island (WHY?), you may be subjected to phantom voices and laughter, drifting scents of perfume, and ghostly footsteps. The island is so unnerving that, at least once, a park ranger posted on an overnight shift has lost their shit, taken out a service weapon, and demanded to be taken off the island. Where is that season of Survivor?
The Death Tree | Avilla, Missouri
Along Historic Rte. 66, you’ll find a town that is both a figurative and literal ghost town. Between the creation of the interstate and a huge fire that hit in the ‘70s, Avilla has been limping along with its abandoned buildings and 100-person population for decades. Avilla is also home to a legendary Death Tree. During the Civil War, a bushwhacker named “Rotten Johnny Reb” was murdered by angry locals. His body was bound to the tree and left there as a warning to others. The body stayed there for a year, slowly deteriorating into a skeleton. The skull remained tangled in the tree for some time after. So yeah, that is 1000% cursed. “Rotten Johnny Reb” wanders the surrounding land looking for his head and seeking violent vengeance on townspeople.
Seven Sisters Road | Otoe County, Nebraska
“Seven Sisters Road.” Seems an innocuous enough name. Surely the name isn’t from some grim legend about a man who hanged his seven sisters from seven trees along the roadside. Oh, that’s totally where the name comes from? Well why would you name it that? You are asking for trouble. And for fuck sake, don’t drive on it. Cars driving along Seven Sisters Road are known to stall, just in time to hear screams of the seven murdered women. In the 1960s, there were multiple reports of a beast walking upright with glowing red eyes stalking along the road. So yeah, do not go there. Use Waze, find a way around.
The Devil’s Tramping Ground | Bear Creek, North Carolina
Out in the woods, there is a clearing with a large bare patch in the center. Nothing has grown on this patch for centuries. If you try to plant here, nothing will sprout. It’s said that this very spot is where the Devil comes to earth and paces about for his evil scheming. If you’re an idiot and stay here overnight, you’ll hear the Devil walking around and his angry red eyes will glare at you from out of the darkness. OR it’s trampled because it’s been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. Tomayto, Tomahto.
St. James Hotel | Cimarron, New Mexico
Numerous bullet holes from the days of the Wild West can still be seen on the ceiling of the hotel’s dining room, so of fucking course it’s haunted. While many different cowboy-type ghosts are said to wander the halls, this hotel has a very special ghostly guest. In 18(mumble mumble), T. J. Wright was shot after a poker game and slowly bled to death in Room 18. He’s never left and has become quite the drama queen. Room 18 is now permanently locked, unused as a room for guests, and doesn’t even have a bed in it anymore. Enter, and you risk getting shoved around by the angry ghost. Maybe that attitude is how he got murdered in the first place?
Spring Street | New York City, New York
In a posh clothing store in SoHo, you’ll find something extremely creepy. It’s a big brick well from the 18th century. And I mean big–the spout is over 6 ft high and about 3 ft in diameter. Conveniently big enough to throw a body into! Which is exactly what a guy named Levi Weeks did to his girlfriend in 1799! Just days before the murder, Weeks was even seen measuring the well like some cartoon villain. Yet he was acquitted with the help of no less than patriotic sensational duo Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Wonder why the musical left out the whole ‘helped a murderer get away with it’ subplot. Would’ve made for a fantastic song. Ever since, the well is said to be cursed and you can still here the victim screaming from within the well. But I think if it was legit, that angry dead lady would’ve pulled herself out of there like The Ring and kicked Lin Manuel Miranda’s ass by now.
New Amsterdam Theater | New York City, New York
Silent film actresses from back in the day are creepy. In those old sepia photos, they seem doll-like—and they literally made a living off of being seen and not heard. Olive Thomas was a silent film actress who did a couple of stage shows at the New Amsterdam Theater over a century ago. Her death in 1920 at age 25 was one of the first Hollywood scandals. She died in Paris after ingesting her actor husband’s syphilis medication. You know, the good old days when syphilis was treated with toxic mercury. Olive drank the solution without realizing what it was because the label was in French. Totally an accident. OR… the marriage was known to be ‘tumultuous.’ Could it have been a suicide? Or MUHRDEHR? The promising and young actress’s death stirred up just enough tragedy for a ghost to be created. Olive is so active in the theater that staff have created a small shrine of her photographs, where they greet the actress at the start of shifts. She’s known to tap people on the shoulder, throw things around when she’s perturbed, or even help audience members.
Ceely Rose House | Lucas, Ohio
I remember the Ceely Rose haunting fondly from when I was but a wee horror nerd in 8th grade and bought Haunted Ohio. The tale of Ceely Rose was the first entry and it was chilling. See, Ceely Rose was an actual person who actually did live in this house. In fact, Ceely actually poisoned three family members in this house before actually being committed to a mental institution for life. The house is currently a part of a state park (must be a fun stop for school fieldtrips). The legend is that Ceely’s face can be seen peering out of one of the windows.
Beaver Creek | Sprucevale, Ohio
This is another nostalgic favorite of mine from growing up in Ohio. On August 12 of 18(cough), Esther Hale was to be married to her true love. On her wedding day, the house was covered in decorations, the gorgeous cake was set on the table, and Esther donned her beautiful wedding dress. All it was missing was the groom… and he would never be seen again. Ouch. That’s classic ghosting. (HA HA.) Esther collapsed into heartbreak and became a recluse. She never took off her wedding dress, put the food away, or took down the wedding decorations. Somehow her friends didn’t feel super comfortable popping by anymore. Later that winter, the weakened Esther was discovered dead in her (creepy as shit) house. Turns out a wedding dress doesn’t hold up well in Ohio winters. Esther was buried in that same wedding dress. On August 12 of every year, never-bride-to-be Esther can be seen searching for her groom on the bridge near her previous home. It may sound tempting to come look for her, but stay away. If you catch the gaze of Esther Hale’s ghost, she’ll attack and tear you to shreds.
Dead Women Crossing | Custer County, Oklahoma
Yep, this place is called ‘Dead Women Crossing’, so you know the backstory can only be pleasant and cheerful. In 1905, Kate James decided to leave her abusive husband. She packed up their baby, Lulu, and set off with a friend, Francine Norton. Later that night, Francine Norton came flying back into town—with Lulu wrapped in bloodstained clothes and no Kate. Francine dropped Lulu off with strangers at the edge of town and fled. Francine Norton is said to have either ‘never been seen again’ or died by suicide. So that’s all suspicious as fuck. 2 months later, Kate’s decapitated body was found by the bridge. Her murder was never solved. And for an extra tragic ending, that abusive husband was allowed to take custody of Lulu. Now I know that all sounds so insanely tragic and fucked up that it could only exist in a depressing folk ballad, but that all actually happened. At night, Kate’s ghost walks the bridge looking for her head and/or her baby, Lulu. If you’re driving over the bridge and pause for a moment, it’s said you can hear her dying screams.
Highway 101 | Cannon Beach, Oregon
Legend says that if you are driving along Highway 101 at night and check your rearview, you’ll catch sight of The Bandage Man. The Bandage Man is the ghost of a logger who died in a horrible accident and now wanders, covered in bloody bandages. And if you just see him in your rearview, you’re getting off easy. If you camp on the beach overnight, Bandage Man might pay a visit. He smells of rotting flesh and will leave bloody gross bits of bandages in his wake. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dry heave in a corner for a few minutes.
The Haunted Vista | Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
The Midstate Trail of Pennsylvania runs right through the old Anne S. Mine site. Up on Rattler Mountain and on the other side of a naturally occurring rock maze, you’ll find the abandoned mine and old company town. If you arrive around twilight, miners from days of yore will emerge from old tunnels with their lanterns and pickaxes. See, continuing to show up for work after you’re dead: that’s the ideal American employee.
Dock Street Theater | Charleston, South Carolina
This historic hotel-turned-theater is home to a type of ghost known as a ‘Lady In Red’. Ghosts of the ‘Lady in White’ type tend to be a maiden or bride. Ghosts of the ‘Lady in Red’ sort are usually ‘ladies of the evening’ that perished. In the 18(something-something), the then-hotel was frequented by a painted lady named Nettie Dickerson. Nettie had worked at a local church before she figured out that she could make more cash in ‘the world’s oldest profession’. She left and started to sell her wares in the hotel. One evening, the local priest approached Nettie on the hotel’s outdoor balcony and begged her to return to a good Christian life. You know, one where she would have 0 control over any decisions, especially about sex. Nettie naturally turned him down, but this would prove a bad move. She is said to have been struck down by God aka a lightning bolt on the balcony, killing her instantly (and epically). Apparently sick of God’s bullshit, Nettie hasn’t moved on and instead regularly glides through the theater in a red dress.
Yorktown Memorial Hospital | Yorktown, Texas
Nothing quite says ‘haunted’ like ‘abandoned hospital’. Yorktown Memorial Hospital is no exception. Groundskeepers have reported blood spatter appearing on the walls, red glowing eyes peering out of the shadows, and old dolls coming to life. Okay as soon as dolls start getting possessed, just burn that shit down and start over. The halls are haunted by a doctor who ‘accidentally’ slit the throat of a patient, a sweet little girl who will roll a ball to you if asked to (there is nothing sweet about balls ominously rolling around in an abandoned hospital), and nuns who will attack visitors (because this place didn’t have quite enough horror clichés yet).
Great Salt Lake | Salt Lake City, Utah
Life in Utah in the 1800s was hard living. Death was no stranger to settlers there. Fortunately, the community of Salt Lake City had good ol’ Jean Baptiste as their gravedigger. He was a multitasker– both gravedigger and graverobber. Baptiste was found out in 1862, having robbed an estimated 300 graves. This was especially bad because Baptiste horded the clothes of the dead (which I am sure wasn’t a horrible fetish). Mormon funeral tradition is very particular about the dead being buried in special Temple garments. Baptiste’s crimes weren’t bad enough for him to be legally hanged, but an angry mob made it clear they were happy to ignore the ‘legally’ part. So it was decided that Baptiste would be banished to a remote island on the Great Salt Lake, aka “we think you should die, but we’ll let God take care of that.” A few weeks later, authorities went to the island to ‘check on him.’ I assume this was code for ‘see how he likes having his corpse robbed.’ But Baptiste was nowhere to be found. It’s thought that he tried to escape the island and drowned. Or perhaps God himself swallowed him up for his crimes. But to this day, on misty nights, you might see the shadow of a man shambling along the shores of the lake, forever in exile.
The Governor’s Palace | Williamsburg, Virginia
Nothing says “NOPE ” like a Colonial-era mansion that was once a hospital that burned down and now has a goddamn hedge maze. Welcome to The Governor’s Palace of quaint ye ole Williamsburg. During some reconstruction in the 1930s, hundreds of skeletons were found on the property from when the building was a military hospital. The hedge maze is said to be haunted by a guy named Percival Goodhouse. Proving that the “escaped killer from a mental asylum” legend is an older than you might think, Goodhouse escaped the Eastern State Lunatic Asylum of Virginia way back in 1774. He snuck into the Governor’s Palace and tried to assassinate the then-governor. Goodhouse was caught, hanged, and his body was left to rot in a nearby field. Goodhouse’s ghost is said to walk the maze even to this day–his ‘milky white feet’ (ew) have been observed walking the paths of the maze.
Riverside Cemetery | Appleton, Wisconsin
In this cemetery, there is an obelisk-shaped grave set apart from the rest. Here lies Kate “Kitty” Blood, and her resting place lives up to her name. Her headstone can be warm to the touch, as if it’s alive. On full moon nights, blood seeps from the stone. There’s a legend that Kate Blood was a witch who murdered her husband and children with an axe. Recently, local Appleton residents have taken up the cause of clearing Kate’s name, because blah blah “she was just a young woman who died of TB and doesn’t deserve such indignity in death.” But that’s less fun to write about, so yeah: the evil axe lady haunts her bloody grave.
Old Military Road | Iowa County, Wisconsin
The Ridgeway Ghost is an overachiever, to be sure. It’s said to haunt a full 25 mile stretch of road between Blue Mounds to Dodgeville. The phantom is known for taking on any monstrous appearance it desires, from a man with a whip to various animals, to a crone, to bodies hanging from trees, to even a headless horseman. The region had a lot of mining, saloon, and crime activity back in the 1800s. It’s thought that the spirit is the result of a murderous robbery or an amalgamation of all of the negative activity during those years. Or maybe it’s a bit of old country magic–the mining communities were largely Welsh and Cornish immigrants. Could an otherworldly member of the ‘Fair Family’ settled in the New World with them?
And those are our 30 haunted places! …we know, we know, apparently ghosts are a real ‘bridge and tunnel crowd.’ I guess the lessons from these legends are: don’t build stuff on top of dead people; avoid any and all hospitals; and if you’re a woman of any era, you’ll probably be murdered and become a wraith. The more you know!
If you have suggestions for more hauntings and ghost legends for us to cover, tell us in the comments!