Have you ever heard something go bump in the night? Or seen a shadow that you could have sworn moved without reason? These 11 places might convince you that the all the creepy noises and unexplained shadows aren’t just in your imagination…but spread throughout America instead.
1. The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado
Eight kilometers from the Colorado entrance of the Rocky Mountains National Park, you’ll find the Grand Heritage Hotel, The Stanley. The Stanley served as inspiration for horror novelist, Stephen King to write the famous horror novel, The Shining. In 1974 while vacationing, King and his wife Tabitha spent one night in Room 217 as the staff was getting ready to close the hotel for the end of the season. They turned out to be the only guests in the four hundred and twenty room hotel that night. A cumulation of eerie events and a fever dream led King to form the bones of The Shining that very night, using The Stanley as the basis for the novel’s hotel, The Overlook Hotel.
Admission: You can stay at The Stanley Hotel (prices start at around $200/night) and watch Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation of The Shining on the hotel’s in-house entertainment system or get lost in the hedge maze, installed last year as a nod to both the film and mini-series adaptation of the novel. Book your tour or weekend getaway here.
2. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – Weston, West Virginia
Described as a living hell for its patients, the infamous psychiatric hospital in Weston, West Virginia was operating from 1864 till 1994 when it was forced to close due to its treatment of patients. Originally designed to hold 250 people, the facility hit peak capacity in the 1950s with patient numbers swelling to reports of 2,400 to 2,600. Treatments such as hydrotherapy and electroshock therapy as well as controversial lobotomies were commonplace.
By the 1980s, the hospital had a reduced population due to changes in the treatment of mental illness. Those patients that could not be controlled were often locked in cages and those who weren’t locked up would sometimes find themselves in violent exchanges with one another. Ultimately a new, psychiatric facility was built and The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum closed in May 1994. The building and its grounds have since remained mostly vacant…with the exception of a few unidentifiable figures reported being seen wandering the hallways at night.
Admission: Jump on two types of tours at the deserted asylum; paranormal or a ghost hunt. Paranormal tours visit the activity hotspots from the hours of 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., one to two times a month. On ghost hunts, you can tour the main building or medical, forensics, and geriatrics centers solo or with experienced ghost hunting guides by your side. Book your tour here.
3. Lemp Mansion – St. Louis, Missouri
The mansion boasts the hauntings of at least three members of the Lemp family that took their own lives and the life of an illegitimate son that was locked away from public’s view. The demise of the Lemp empire is one of the great mysteries of St. Louis. Johann “Adam” Lemp, patriarch of the Lemp empire, was responsible for introducing German lager to the city. After that time he steadily grew his local provisions business to become one of the the largest breweries in St Louis.
But a combination of tragedy, greed, and prohibition resulted in the brewery going bust and two Lemp generations (father, son and daughter) committing suicide in the family mansion all within a 20 year period.
Admission: You can stay the night at the Lemp Mansion, with prices starting at $200 for one of the luxurious parlours once occupied by the dearly departed members of the Lemp family. Alternatively, you can sign up for an evening of appetizers, cocktails and infrared cameras to track your tour through the world of the paranormal. Make your reservations here.
4. Whaley House – San Diego, California
The property on which the Whaley House sits has seen its fair share of death and disturbance before the Whaleys ever moved in. The ghost of James “Yankee Jim” Robinson, is said to have haunted the Whaley family back in the late 1800s. Robinson was convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to death by hanging on the very plot that Thomas Whaley would eventually build his family home. Thomas, who was present the day of the hanging, would later report the occurrence of heavy footsteps heard frequently from the upstairs quarters. Thomas and his wife Anna had six children; Francis Hinton, Anna Amelia, Thomas Whaley Jr, George, Violet, and Corinne Lillian. The second born son, Thomas Whaley Jr., tragically died from scarlet fever when he was only 18 months old. Second youngest, Violet, committed suicide at age 22 after an embarrassing failed marriage. She shot herself in the chest with her father’s 32-calibre.
Despite dying of old age and natural causes, the ghost of each remaining child except Anna Amelia has supposedly been spotted at the Whaley house since their passing. Both Thomas and Anna have been spotted regularly keeping watch over the family estate from windows and staircases.
Admission: Admission is $8 during the day and $13 in the evenings. If you’re up for a scare, you can take a private after-hours tour of the Whaley House at 10pm for a starting price of $75. Booking in advance is essential and you can do it by clicking here.
5. Devil’s Tree – Somerset County, New Jersey
…Or as the local’s call it the ‘portal to Hell.’ Various legends and myths surround this solitary oak tree situated on Mountain Road, New Jersey and the origins of its cursed nature. One theory suggests this tree was used for lynching and another says that a farmer, after killing his family, hung himself from one of the tree’s branches. Locals will tell you that the tree is cursed and some even believe it to be a portal directly to Hell. If you dare to damage or disrespect the tree, prepare to meet with some form of harm. You can expect anything from spirits chasing you away in a black pickup truck to your hands turning black after touching its bark. People have also reported that if you put your ear to the tree you’ll be able to hear the sounds of bloodcurdling screams from deep inside. If that’s not creepy enough, apparently, in winter the ground beneath the trunk of the tree does not gather snow. No snow. No matter how cold. Just ponder that for a minute.
Admission: It’s just a tree so admission is free!
6. The Amityville Horror House – Amityville, New York
The three bedroom, two bathroom family home in upstate New York was on the market just this year, asking a mere $850,000 for a house packed with history. The story goes that on November 13th 1974, Ronald and his wife Louise DeFeo and four of their five children, ages 9 to 18, were found murdered in their family home. Ronald DeFeo Jr, son and brother to the victims, was found guilty of the murders and is still serving six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life in prison.
A year later in December 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three young children moved into the house. Only 28 days later, the Lutzes fled the house, claiming they had been terrorized by angry spirits still occupying the house. The events that took place over those 28 days (slime oozing from walls, rotating crucifixes and demonic pig-like creatures with glowing red eyes) laid the basis for the 1977 novel The Amityville Horror and various Hollywood adaptations by the same name.
Admission: As it is a private residence, visitors are neither welcome or permitted…and that means drive bys too.
7. Villisca Ax Murder House – Villisca, Iowa
It is unknown who murdered the entire Moore family and their two young guests (neighbours the Stillinger sisters, aged 8 and 12) on that fateful night of June 10th, 1912. The victims, two adults and six children were found brutally murdered in their beds all hacked to death with an axe. The murderer was never found. Rumours and hushed speculation about what really happened that night persist to this day and although there have been several people accused of committing the horrific act, the crime remains unsolved. Police pieced together what they believed happened; the killer or killers waited in the attic of the house until the Moore family and the Stillinger’s were asleep before making their way through the house and killing all the occupants. Children’s laughs and cries have been heard coming from the house and tours have been cut short due to falling lamps and flying objects.
Admission: Daylight tours are $10 for the faint hearted. If you’re feeling brave you (and five of your closest friends) can stay overnight at the Ax Murder House for $428, with $74.90 for each additional person. As stated on the Villisca House website, your guide “will simply turn over the key and head on home,” leaving you and your mind alone in the dark. Book the scariest night of your life here.
8. The Crescent Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
How many ex-hotel/college/bogus cancer hospitals do you know that are home to at least eight reported ghosts or spirits?
Built in 1886, The Crescent Hotel was a playground for Arkansas’ rich and famous. As a result of poor management, the hotel went out of business and re-opened in 1908 as a conservatory for young women. In the next thirty years, it would close again and re-open as a junior college and summer hotel.
In 1937 millionaire radio personality and self-styled doctor Norman G. Baker transformed The Crescent into a cancer hospital and health resort. Baker claimed that he could cure ailments, cancer included, with the area’s natural spring water. In 1940 Baker was charged with fraud and sent to jail, leaving the hotel without an owner. Several of the ghosts are believed to be cancer patients that were tricked by Baker into thinking they’d be cured. Then there’s Michael, the Irish stonemason who lost his footing and fell to his death while building the hotel in 1885. There’s also an interesting incident of a man in a hat, who had been caught on camera by TV’s paranormal investigators, Ghost Hunters.
Admission: $249 will get you a 1 night stay at the Crescent Hotel, breakfast included and two tickets to the ghost tour. Alternatively, 75 min tours run nightly at 8pm for $22.50 a person. Book your night of terror here.
9. Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I’ll see your eight ghosts and raise you 12!
The Myrtles Plantation in the deep south of the United States is up for contention in the ‘most haunted’ stakes. There have been reports of up to 12 different ghosts walking and guarding the Myrtles grounds in St. Francisville. Two have been caught on camera; a young girl dressed in antebellum clothing looking out from a window and most famously, Chloe, a woman in a green turban snapped standing idly on the plantation ground. Legend has it that Chloe was a slave that had an ear cut off as punishment for eavesdropping. Despite the numerous accounts of ghosts, there is only one historical record of a murder or tragic death on the plantation. William Drew Winter lived on the plantation from 1865 to 1871. He was shot on his front porch by a stranger, and managed to stagger his way inside, up to the 17th step of the staircase – some say to lay in his wife’s arms. His ghost has been seen and heard trying to climb the same steps.
Admission: Guided mystery tours run Friday and Saturday evenings at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm at $15 per person. You can take a more intimate (and private) guided mystery tour for a $200 flat rate plus $15 per guest. You can also stay at the Myrtles Plantation, with rooms ranging in price from $148.00 to $400.00 per night. Find out more here.
10. Hex Hollow – Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania
Rehmeyer’s Hollow or Hex Hollow, gained national attention in 1928 when a rather perplexing murder took place.
On the night of November 27th three men broke into the house of Nelson Rehmeyer. One of those men, John Blymire of nearby York County, had been convinced by local witch, Nellie Noll or the River Witch of Marietta, that his recent spate of ill health and bad luck was the result of a curse that Nelson Rehmeyer had placed on him. Rehmeyer was a practicing pow wow healer – a form of Christian faith-based folk healing, popular with Dutch and German settlers in the Pennsylvania region. Nellie had advised the men to find Nelson’s spell book (The Long Lost Friend – a popular book to treat ailments in pow wow culture) and burn or bury it, along with a lock of his hair.
Needless to say, John Blymire and friends couldn’t find the book, but found Rehmeyer instead. The story goes that when Rehmeyer did not cooperate with their wishes, they strangled him to death, mutilated his body and tried to set his house on fire, all in an attempt to lift the ‘hex’.
Admission: The house has been restored as a historical exhibit and tours are being run occasionally by Rehmeyer’s great-grandson Ricky Ebaugh.
11. Wood Island Lighthouse – Wood Island, Maine
There are a few legends of the Wood Island Lighthouse located just off the coast of Maine, but one particularly disturbing incident in the 1890’s has gained much attention from hunters of paranormal activity.
Stories vary on what actually occurred and who was killed, but in 1896 a murder-suicide shook the small community of Wood Island, Maine. Although there are mixed versions of what actually took place, the tale told is that Howard Hobbs, a local squatter and fisherman, had murdered a sheriff’s deputy in his squatter shack following an altercation. In a panic, Hobbs attempted to turn himself into lighthouse keeper Thomas Orcutt. Orcutt, turned Hobbs away in fear, leaving the squatter to return to his shack where he committed suicide. The ghost of the murdered deputy has been spotted on the island, guarding the lighthouse – but there is no mention (or sightings) of Howard Hobbs.
Admission: The lighthouse operates tours dependant on season and price of admission is based on a suggested donation of $15 for adults and $8 for kids. Make a reservation here!
12. Gettysburg Battlefields – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
There have been reports of ghost soldiers and even ghosts battling on the fields of Gettysburg. The bloodiest battle with the highest casualties (approximately 50,000 men) fell during what was considered a turning point in the American Civil War. At over 24 kilometers, the battlefields are home to several hotspots for paranormal activity and ghost sightings.
At Sachs Covered Bridge, visitors have seen soldiers and mysterious mists appear then strangely, and without a trace, disappear. The Devil’s Den is considered to be home to a Texan soldier, spotted as recently as 2010, that is known for approaching visitors and even providing directions. And although a little removed from the battlefields, Farnsworth House is reported to have had 16 spirits occupy its rooms at the one time – all distinct and equally creepy.
Admission: You can jump on a tour or take a self-guided one of the Battlefields. Prices start at $30, and some tours include entry to the Gettysburg Visitor Center. Or you can consider one of Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours, one of the most popular tours to take while in Gettysburg. Tours start at $10.50 and differ in price depending on length.