Although the United States is barely over two centuries old, it has a rich history. Drive through the states, and you’re bound to see Civil War battlefields, abandoned hospitals, and ghost towns. Allegedly, some of these sites are haunted.
America has no shortage of paranormal stories. Some come from a city that lies underneath Portland, Oregon. Others creep down the halls of abandoned asylums and mansions. If you’re searching for a harrowing ghost tour, look no further. Here are the most haunted places in the United States.
Eastern State Penitentiary: America’s Most Haunted Prison
Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) has stood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for 150 years. It was a high-security prison that used to treat inmates poorly, to say the least. One of its most infamous punishments was “The Hole,” where inmates had no light, exercise, toilet, or human contact.
ESP closed in 1971, but it still stands as one of the most haunted locations in America. Tourists report ghostly voices, distant cackling, and shadow people darting by. Ghastly cries echo through cellblocks four, six, and 12. If you’re curious, you can take a guided tour at ESP.
You Can’t Navigate Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is one of the strangest architectural buildings in the world. The mansion in San Jose, California, once belonged to Sarah Winchester. Her husband, William Wirt Winchester, once sold ammunitions. Allegedly, the house is haunted by the victims of Winchester’s inventions.
To trick said apparitions, Sarah built several twists and turns into the mansions. Hallways that lead nowhere, doors that open to nothing but a wall, closets that are an inch deep–she built it all. Sarah paid builders to keep changing the house until she passed away in 1922. Today, some people still believe that it’s haunted.
Portland’s Underground City: The Shanghai Tunnels
Did you know that an entire city lies beneath Portland, Oregon? Portland was rebuilt on top of its Old Town and Chinatown. Today, the underground route is known as the Shanghai Tunnels. It conceals Portland’s dark, immoral history.
In the 19th century, Portland became an infamous area. Back then, visitors would get drugged and shipped off as slaves (“Shanghai’d”). Robbery and violence were commonplace there. Nowadays, the only evidence of this past lies underground. Tourists have claimed to see shadowy figures and hear disembodied voices while in the Shanghai Tunnels.
The Jersey Devil Lives In Pine Barrens Forest
The Pine Barrens forest consumes 1.1 million acres of New Jersey. It is most famous (or infamous, rather) as the home of the Jersey Devil. According to legends, the Jersey Devil is a bipedal creature with wings, a forked tail, and a horse-like head. It is said to have terrorized the residents of Pines since 1735.
But Pine Barrens has more legends than that. Some people claim that fallen soldiers from the Civil War still roam the forest. Abandoned villages appear throughout the forest, which only adds to its eerie vibe. It’s no wonder why Pine Barrens is the most haunted location in New Jersey.
The House Of The Seven Gables Inspired Ghost Stories
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book The House of the Seven Gables was inspired by a real mansion in Salem, Massachusetts. As the novel states, the house has a long, haunted history. Captain John Turner built the house in 1668, and the Salem Witch Trials occurred shortly after. The family built a hidden staircase in case someone got falsely accused.
In the late 1700s, Hawthorne visited the house and wrote down many of the ghost stories. Even today, tales abound of a ghost boy playing in the attic and former owner Susannah Ingersoll wandering the halls. Currently, the house is now a museum and offers guided tours.
Beware The Ghost Town Of Rhyolite, Nevada
Rhyolite is one of the many short-lived towns from the Nevada Gold Rush. It popped up in 1904, and by 1916, it became a ghost town. Panic from the financial markets caused the mines, schools, banks, and train stations to close.
As with many ghost towns, Rhyolite is allegedly haunted. But this town is different; it is covered in several eerie, random art pieces. In 1984, a group of artists installed permanent sculptures across the town. One of the most famous is “The Last Supper,” with the men wearing real flowing robes that look like ghosts.
The “Light Of Saratoga” Shines On Bragg Road
Two miles north of Saratoga, Texas, lies Bragg Road. This dirt road carries the legend called the “Light of Saratoga.” According to legend, people who drive down the road at night may see a blinding light with no known source.
Some say that the light comes from the ghost of a railroad worker. According to them, the worker died near the road, and the light shines from his lantern. Others suggest that the light may be an illusion caused by swamp gas. If you’re brave enough, you can drive by and see it.
The Haunted, Abandoned Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium lies abandoned on top of a hill in Louisville, Kentucky. It opened in 1910 shortly after a tuberculosis outbreak plagued the citizens of Kentucky. Patients were quarantined in the sanatorium. Although the building could only accommodate 50 people, over 140 patients lived there soon after it opened.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium became a self-contained community; employees and patients who went there never left. After it closed in 1961, the ghosts of its former patients were said to roam the building. Allegedly, tourists have spotted figures walking by windows and heard echoing voices.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Has A Dark Past
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, is a popular destination for paranormal investigators and enthusiasts. After the asylum opened in 1881, it quickly became overcrowded. It was designed to hold 250 people, but over 2,500 patients lived there in the 1950s.
Along with being overcrowded, patients were subject to harsh treatments. Many had poor sanitation and were subject to lobotomies. Rumors say that the former patients still haunt the premises. Despite the asylum being closed in 1994, a few patients still reside there. You can tour the nearly-abandoned Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum if you’re curious.
The Ghosts Of The St. Augustine Lighthouse
The brick lighthouse is the oldest building in St. Augustine, Florida. But that’s not why the St. Augustine Lighthouse is well-known. Since it appeared in 1874, the lighthouse has garnered nothing but bad luck. Many deaths occurred at the building.
In one instance, housekeeper Joseph Andreu fell from the top of the lighthouse. During another case, sisters Eliza and Mary Pity drowned while helping to renovate the bricks. Visitors claim to see the ghost of Eliza floating in a blue dress, and others declare that they have smelled the cigar smoke that the old housekeepers used.
The Worst Civil War Battle Happened In Antietam
The Battle of Antietam was the most destructive fight in the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, soldiers fought along the trails in Antietam, Maryland. Over 23,000 people were wounded or killed there. It’s easy to see why some people consider the Antietam National Battlefield to be the most haunted location in America.
Specifically, some tourists claim to see ghosts along the roads where the battle took place. One trail, called Sunken Road, is said to be the most haunted. Visitors have reported the sounds of marching soldiers and gunfire despite the area being empty.
Many Deaths Occurred At The Sloss Furnaces
The Sloss Furnaces have stood in Birmingham, Alabama, since the city’s founding. The creator, Colonel James Withers Sloss, built the furnaces to produce iron. Between 1882 and 1971, employees struggled to work there. The job was incredibly dangerous, the pay was low, and the hours were high.
With these hazardous conditions, it’s no wonder that many accidents occurred. Many people were incinerated after falling into one of the furnaces. After Sloss Furnaces closed, rumors spread that the employees who died there still haunted the area. Some tourists claim to have been pushed by apparitions and see ghostly faces.
The Poinsett Bridge Becomes Spooky At Night
In South Carolina, hikers need to cross a bridge to get from Columbia to Saluda Mountain. This is the Poinsett Bridge, designed in 1820 by Robert Mills, the same architect who made the Washington Monument. According to legend, Poinsett Bridge hosts a lot of paranormal activity at night.
Since Poinsett is the oldest bridge in South Carolina, many people believe that it’s haunted. Rumors say that the ghosts of slaves live there, as well as the spirit of a man who died in an automotive crash there. Tourists have captured spirit orbs in photos of the bridge.
Stull Cemetery Is “The Gateway To Hell”
In Douglas County, Kansas, one cemetery is known as “the Gateway to Hell.” In 1974, a student newspaper from the University of Kansas claimed that the Devil visited Stull Cemetery twice a year–during Halloween and the spring equinox. Rumors spread that witches went to Stull Cemetery to perform spells.
Unlike the other haunted locations, there is no factual basis for any of these claims. However, both locals and outsiders believe the legend. Tourists gather at Stull Cemetery every Halloween to try to catch a glimpse of witches, ghosts, or the Devil himself.
Faulkner Haunts The Bookstore That Was Once His Home
In the 1920s and ’30s, author William Faulkner lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. After Faulkner moved out, his former house became a bookstore called Faulkner House Books. But some visitors claimed to have seen Faulkner writing as his desk years after his death.
Faulkner House Books still operates today. It’s tucked into a tiny alley and can be challenging to find. Visitors who find it may smell the pipe that Faulkner used to smoke. Others have claimed to see figures, hear disembodied voices, and seen shadowy figures walking around.
Former Employees Still Haunt The Red Onion Saloon
The most haunted site in Alaska is the Red Onion Saloon in the town of Skagway. When it opened in 1898, the Red Onion Saloon was a famous brothel. It received a lot of business during the Klondike Gold Rush. It eventually went out of business, but visitors have claimed to see ghosts of the former employees.
One of the most famous ghosts is Lydia. Allegedly, she was one of the employees and now haunts the second floor. Tourists have reported the smell of Lydia’s perfume, and she is said to water the plants there, even in the afterlife.
Lincoln Park Zoo Was Built On A Cemetery
Not many people suspect a zoo to be haunted. But in Chicago, Illinois, that’s common knowledge. In the 1800s, the Lincoln Park Zoo was once a cemetery. Relatives were warned to move their relatives before the zoo was built, but rumor has it that 10,000 graves remained. Some people believe that the zoo is a literal burial ground.
Many ghosts are reported to stalk the Lincoln Park Zoo. The most famous is John Dillinger, a bank robber from the 1930s that allegedly stumbles down the pavement. The ghost of a Victorian lady is said to wander around the Lion House.
The Wild West Legends Of The Bird Cage Theater
Tombstone, Arizona is the home of many Wild West legends. But its most haunted location is the Bird Cage Theater. Between 1881 and 1889, it was known as one of the wickedest places in Arizona. Ladies would perform in hanging “birdcages” from the ceiling.
If you go there today, you’ll see 140 bullet holes dotting the walls. Many gunfights broke out there, which makes people believe that it’s haunted. When the theater briefly reopened in 1934, visitors reported paranormal phenomena there. Even today, tourists claim to see spirits and hear music playing from an unknown source.
George Vanderbilt Haunts The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, was once the home of George Vanderbilt II. Today, the estate and nearby winery are now open to the public. But many refuse to go to Biltmore because they believe that the Vanderbilts still haunt the estate.
Some tourists claimed to have heard Judith Vanderbilt say her husband’s name, “George.” Others have heard the sounds of a party nearby–clinking glasses, talking, laughter–only to see an empty room. Reportedly, most people see ghosts along the main stairway and the library. If you’re brave enough, you can tour it.
The Stanley Hotel Inspired The Shining
Have you ever read Stephen King’s The Shining? The fictional hotel in that story is directly based on the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. King and his wife stayed overnight when hardly any guests were around. During that night, King had a lucid dream about being chased around the hotel, which inspired The Shining.
The Stanley Hotel has many alleged ghosts. One is the original owner, Freelan Oscar Stanley. Others are children said to roam the hotel. The most haunted rooms are 217 (where King stayed), 401, 407, and 438.