In recent years the proliferation of television shows and Hollywood movies with the theme of the supernatural has resulted in an increase in interest in places that allow the average, non-psychic person to detect, or “feel” the presence of the supernatural.
This, in turn, has led alert entrepreneurs to set up tours and overnight stays in places reputed to be haunted, or where the supernatural supposedly abide. Whether or not there are supernatural forces in these areas is open to debate, but the power of suggestion is such that people will sense something out of the ordinary and thus the reputation of those locations grows.
Some places in the US are widely reputed to be haunted, and if you are one of those travelers that enjoy the supernatural, then these locations must appear on your bucket list. Here is a selection of America’s most haunted places.
9. Eastern State Penitentiary
Topping the list has to be the Eastern State Penitentiary situated at 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia.
This building may look like an ancient castle, but when it was opened in 1829, it took solitary confinement to the ultimate level. Under the “separate system,” prisoners were kept in solitary in every cell, and they never saw another person except for the guards. When they left their cells for a solitary exercise period, their heads were covered with hoods, so they never saw any other prisoner and no one else saw them.
This system was discontinued in 1913 due to overcrowding, and the building would see more than its fair share of executions, riots, and violent behavior. Eventually the facility was shut down by federal order in 1990, but still today the rusty railings and empty cells are said to echo as angry spirits attack visitors, images of skeletal inmates appear and vanish, and eerie whispers reverberate around the halls.
The voice of Helen, a former warden’s wife, can reportedly be heard in her rooms, along with the scent of her favorite rose perfume wafting in the air.
8. Waverly Hills Sanatorium and Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Following closely on the heels of the penitentiary are the numerous, now closed, psychiatric hospitals and asylums. The two best known of these are the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum situated on Asylum Drive in Weston, West Virginia, and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was built to house people suffering from tuberculosis. Long before the advent of modern antibiotics, the cure for tuberculosis, better known in the past as “The White Death,” was nutrition and fresh air. Many doctors experimented on the patients to find a cure, and experimental surgery resulting in the deaths of patients was not unknown.
TB, if left untreated, can affect the brain. Many of the patients at the hospital slowly went insane, leaving behind a residue of whispers and ghostly apparitions that follow visitors through the halls. Eerie footsteps have been heard echoing down corridors, and hazy images form in what is known as the “death tunnel,” the chute that was used to remove bodies from the building. The most often reported supernatural apparition is called The Creeper. This spirit is supposed to climb the walls on thin, frail legs at frightening speed as it stalks those who are brave (or foolish) enough to visit this old building.
The beautiful building that housed the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was originally intended as a place of safety, and it opened its doors in 1864.
Sadly, this did not persist, and soon it became a little house of horrors, with overcrowding and underfunding creating a miasma of misery. The spirits said to linger here are some of the most tortured as the patients endured lobotomies, and a little girl named Lily sits in her room waiting for a playmate. The grounds used to be a military post during the Civil War, and the spirits of soldiers can also apparently be seen wandering the grounds.
7. Villisca Axe Murder House
If haunted hospitals are a little too gruesome for your taste, perhaps haunted houses will fit the bill. One of the best known is the Villisca Axe Murder House, which can be found at 508 E. Second Street, Villisca, Iowa.
This unassuming white clapboard house was the scene of a gruesome murder when Josiah B. Moore was slaughtered along with his wife, their four children, and two young girls who were visiting for the night.
No one was ever convicted of the murder, and ghost-hunters believe this means the spirits of the family haunt the building. Residents of the house have told of seeing a man with an axe, and of hearing children crying. The house has been restored to its original state and is now a tourist attraction.
6. Whaley House
Another house with a chilling reputation is Whaley House, 2476 San Diego Ave, San Diego, California.
This house is reputed to be the most haunted house in America, and some of the specters one might encounter are “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was hanged in 1852 on the site where the house now stands; the original owner of the house, Thomas Whaley, dressed in a frock coat and pantaloons; Anna Whaley, the mistress of the house, who appears as a white floating specter; a little fox terrier dog; and a long-haired young lady.
5. The Cuban Club
The Cuban Club on Avenida Republica De Cuba, Ybor City, Florida is another well-known landmark that has many stories of ghosts that play the piano and ride up and down in the elevators.
4. Jerome, Arizona
Perhaps haunted houses are not your forte, so how about a ghost town or haunted wilderness areas? Jerome, Arizona was founded in the late 19th century around a rich copper strike on Cleopatra Hill.
In its heyday the town was home to over 15,000 people, but when the copper ran out the town slowly dwindled to its current 400 residents.
When copper ruled the town, it was populated by miners, and saloons abounded on every corner. With the saloons came gambling and prostitution, a place rife with bawdy houses doing a roaring trade. One of the ghosts rumoured to roam the town is Sammie Dean, a prostitute strangled by one of her customers. She is now spending eternity searching for her murderer, who was never brought to justice.
3. Pine Barrens
Pine Barrens is a heavily-forested area stretching over a large part of New Jersey. This area was home to thousands of people working in the timber industry, where sawmills and paper mills abounded, but the population slowly declined after coal was discovered in Pennsylvania.
As the people left, ghost towns were left behind, which inevitably spawned supernatural phenomena.
The most famous is the Jersey Devil, supposedly the thirteenth child of one Deborah Leeds, who was born with a goat’s head and hooves, and leathery wings.
Apparently, when this child was born, it flew out of the house and terrorized New Jersey residents by killing livestock.
2. Fort Mifflin
It is not surprising that many old battlefields come equipped with their own ghosts, and Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia is no exception.
This is the only intact battlefield from the Revolutionary War, and the 14 restored buildings reportedly play host to a wide variety of spirits. One spirit, a woman, screams so loudly that people have called the police to investigate, while others include a man with no face who wanders around in revolutionary clothes, as well as many children and dogs.
1. Gettysburg Battlefield
The Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania was the site where almost 8,000 men lost their lives. Often cannons can be heard, and soldiers screaming is a commonplace occurrence, Travel Channel reports.
There are many varied places within the United States where the avid ghost-hunter or paranormal expert can find fulfillment. Organized tours are run at many of these, both during the day for those less brave, and at night for the true believers. Check out the tours that are available and be sure to take a partner to cuddle up to when the ghostly images and noises start to appear.