The paranormal; the supernatural; simply, the unknown. These linked terms encapsulate an area of interest that fascinates and horrifies simultaneously. We seem to have a strong preoccupation with what occurs after this life ends for us, with what happens once our physical forms have ceased to be nothing more bone slowly turning to dust. Everyone has grown up listening to ghost stories of one sort or another – some that are steeped purely in folklore and legend, and some that carry somewhat more weight with them.
Pure spooky tales put to the side, listed here are the most haunted sites within each state, many of which have been widely documented – some for generations. What makes a site supremely haunted though? What is it that distinguishes one place breathtakingly eerie? The answer isn’t so straightforward, as it can be one of a couple of things, or a combination thereof. Many sights are vaulted to top of the terror list due to the violence that led to their hauntings – think mass murders involving axes and rifles. Others aren’t so much terrifying as they are extremely active, such as many of our nation’s historic hotels and theaters. In fact, hauntings occur virtually everywhere across America, from houses, hotels, and theaters to universities, government buildings, and even highways.
Now, if you’re easily creeped out, reading through this expansive list may not be the best idea (although it is kind of fun to get spooked….most of the time anyway). If you’re enthralled by the supernatural though, or simply intrigued, then this list makes for one fascinating – and maybe slightly horrifying – read.
1. Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Alabama
Operating for just under 100 years, this pig iron factory had plenty of time to rack up the number of fatalities that occurred on its premises. It’s reported that screams, odd noises, apparitions, and even the malevolent ghost of a former foreman haunt this place.
2. UAA’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium, Anchorage, Alaska
While it may look innocent enough, this auditorium has its fair share of unexplained phenomenon. Footsteps and voices are often heard, but it’s the poltergeist activity that gets the attention, whether its brunettes getting shoved or having their hair pulled, or stage equipment being thrown.
3. Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone, Arizona
With dozens of deaths at this theater due to one type of brawl or another, this famous theater has plenty of fodder for the paranormal. Eerie music, laughter, and shouts often echo through the building, and the spirits of cowboys and prostitutes alike are often seen – and sometimes felt.
4. The Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Often referred to as the most haunted hotel in America, this hotel is said to be haunted by several spirits. These include a young woman who died from a fall from the roof, a nurse seen pushing a gurney, as well as several former guests and owners.
5. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California
Known globally for its infamous convicts and several daring escape attempts, the island and its now closed prison are home to a great deal of paranormal activity. People have reported screams and sounds of violent fights, as well as doors slamming and people being shoved or scratched.
6. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Rich in history, this hotel was also the original inspiration for Stephen King’s, The Shining, which seems fitting since staff and guests often report hearing parties in the empty ballroom as well as someone playing the piano – thought to be the former owner’s wife.
7. Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut
Built in 1934, this property has been home to several different medical facilities, including most notoriously a mental institution. The mental asylum exhibited an inordinately high suicide rate, and was the subject of a string of abuse cases, which probably explains the voices and apparitions reported here.
8. Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island, Delaware
Military activity here dates back to the War of 1812, but Fort Delaware is most closely connected with the Civil War, when it was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers. Many of these soldiers still haunt the fort, with footsteps, voices, and full-bodied apparitions widely reported.
9. Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, Florida
With one estimate placing the number of spirits at this location around 50, this is definitely Florida’s most haunted locale. Of particular note is a video showing what is believed to be an apparition, something that the SyFy channel attempted to debunk, only to find supporting evidence.
10. Kennesaw House, Marietta, Georgia
Once a hospital and now a museum, this building once housed wounded Confederate soldiers, hundreds of whom are believed to still haunt the place. One report tells of how a group in an elevator somehow ended up stopping at the basement, where they emerged to see soldiers in hospital beds.
11. ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
Once the residence of the Hawaiian Royal Family, this palace is now a museum that happens to display a few ghosts. Various royal ghosts have been seen and heard here, with the most frequent sightings revolving around Queen Liliuokalani.
12. Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho
The enforced residence of criminals such as a political assassin and a female serial killer, this prison was in operation for just over 100 years and features a range of phenomena, including footsteps, voices, shouts, and overwhelming emotional sensations.
13. Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
In operation for well over 100 years, this hotel has become very well-known for its paranormal qualities. Guests and employees have reported everything from apparitions and voices to the presence of a room so horrible that it’s been boarded over.
14. French Lick Springs Hotel, French Lick, Indiana
Built at the dawn of the 20th century, this hotel – now part of a larger casino resort complex – features various hauntings. Many report hearing voices and footsteps, that there is the ghost of an elevator attendant who helps out, and that ghosts call the front desk from empty rooms.
15. Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
No doubt the most infamous haunted locale in Iowa, this house was the site of the Villisca Axe Murders in 1912 that ended in the unsolved deaths of 8 people, including children. Children laughing and crying, as well as telling each other to hide, footsteps, and shouts have been reported.
16. The Sallie House, Atchison, Kansas
Not only is this said to be the most haunted house in the state, but it’s also located in its most haunted town. It was reportedly haunted by a little girl, Sallie, who liked to play little pranks, and an older, unidentified woman who was violent towards the male owner.
17. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky
A major site for paranormal research, this now abandoned complex was once a tuberculosis sanatorium as well as a nursing home for the elderly and mentally handicapped. It is estimated that thousands have died here, with many of their spirits remaining behind.
18. The Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana
This late-18th century plantation has had a very colorful history, resulting in what many claim to be the hauntings of several distinct spirits throughout the main house and the grounds. These include former slaves as well as owners and their children.
19. Wood Island Lighthouse, Wood Island, Maine
In 1896, a drifter shot and killed the area’s local sheriff, and then went to the lighthouse to kill himself. It is said that his moans and footsteps are often heard, as well as shadows with a human form. Locked doors are also known to somehow open on their own.
20. Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
The Battle of Antietam is one of the most famous battles from the Civil War, as well as from American history. Over 20,000 men died here, and many visitors have reported seeing apparitions in uniforms as well as hearing canon and gunfire.
21. The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
The 19th century home of Lizzie Borden and her family, this house was the site of the axe murders of her father and stepmother, widely believed to have been committed by Lizzie herself – even though she was tried and acquitted. Apparitions and voices are experienced throughout the house.
22. Henderson Castle, Kalamazoo, Michigan
This beautiful house was built in 1895 and is currently a bed and breakfast. Haunted by the original owners and a soldier, as well as a little girl and a dog, many people report being tapped, having radios blare even when unplugged, and seeing apparitions.
23. Forepaugh’s Restaurant, St. Paul, Minnesota
Originally the mansion of Joseph Forepaugh, this late-19th century house is now a restaurant. The original owner and his lover apparently killed themselves here, and the woman’s ghost apparently bangs on walls, causes glasses to explode, and can sometimes be seen, as well as Joseph.
24. Cedar Grove Mansion, Vicksburg, Mississippi
Completed in 1852, this antebellum mansion was used as a hospital during the Civil War to house soldiers from the nearby Battle of Vicksburg. Various manifestations from the house’s original family have been reported, such as tobacco smoke, apparitions (including soldiers), laughter, and footsteps.
25. Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri
Dating back to the mid-19th century, this mansion was long the home of the Lemp family, a dynasty of rich St. Louis beer brewers. The family was besieged by tragedy though, as four of its members committed suicide – three of them in the mansion, resulting in rampant poltergeist activity today.
26. The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana
The entire campus of the university seems to be teeming with paranormal activity of one kind or another. Reports range from the ghost of a girl who committed suicide and the ghost of a dog, to other apparitions and sudden emotional sensations.
27. Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska
Several deaths have occurred here over the years, two of which took place in the stairwell of the central tower after two different people fell to their deaths from the 12th floor. Reports include screams and crying, as well as mist that is seen falling through the stairwell.
28. Virginia City, Nevada
Sometimes, an entire town is so haunted that it comes to encapsulate all activity featured in each independent locale. Of particular note in this town is St. Mary’s Art Center, where poltergeist activity, shoving, and odd sounds have been documented, as well Silver Terrace Cemetery.
29. Pine Hill Cemetery, Hollis, New Hampshire
Pine Hill Cemetery, aka Blood Cemetery, dates back to the 18th century and has been the sight of numerous paranormal events. The most widely reported occurrences involve ghosts sitting on their own tombstones, as well as one tombstone that appears to glow at night.
30. Seabrook-Wilson House, Port Monmouth, New Jersey
Built in 1663, this house was a tavern during the Revolutionary War and became a hangout for spies. Several ghosts are said to haunt this house, including a woman in white, a little boy, and an apparition that is said to be Captain Morgan.
31. Highway 666, New Mexico
Renamed U.S. Route 491 in 2003, this stretch of road still maintains its status as the Devil’s Highway. A huge slew of reported events pepper this infamous highway, including a flaming truck that attempts to run people off the road and ghosts that show up in backseats.
32. The Amityville Horror House, Amityville, New York
Undoubtedly the country’s most infamous haunted house, 112 Ocean Avenue has been the subject of numerous books, Hollywood films, as well as documentaries. The hauntings experienced by the Lutz family, who moved here right after the DeFeo murders, include moving objects, attacks, levitation, and demonic apparitions.
33. Brown Mountain Lights, Burke and Caldwell Counties, North Carolina
One of the nation’s greatest unexplained mysteries, the Brown Mountain Lights are a series of glowing orbs seen all across the mountain and into the valley below. Various government sponsored investigations have turned up nothing to explain the lights, which are thought to be the spirits of Native Americans.
34. Liberty Memorial Building, Bismarck, North Dakota
Built towards the beginning of the 20th Century, this building has experienced a great deal of paranormal activity, all of which is attributed to a presence known as the Stack Monster. This entity apparently calls out the names of employees, has been seen repeatedly, and opens doors at random.
35. The Ridges (Athens Lunatic Asylum), Athens, Ohio
Now part of Ohio University, The Ridges was a mental health institution infamous for the use of electroshock therapy and lobotomy, as well as neglect and abuse. The most well-known event is of a woman who died here and left a stain in the outline of her body.
36. Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dating to 1911, this lovely and opulent brick hotel has collected its fair share of haunts over the years. Such incidents include a female spirit who climbs into bed with male guests, maids’ carts moving down the halls on their own, and the crying of an infant.
37. McMenamin’s White Eagle Saloon, Portland, Oregon
Taking in patrons since 1905, this bar and hotel is known for some pretty hands-on haunting. Many people feel someone touch them or find it physically impossible to get out their beds, while others report being shoved down the stairs.
38. Gettysburg Battlefields, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Battle of Gettysburg incurred the highest number of fatalities of any Civil War battle. With so many men ending their lives in such a traumatic fashion, it’s no wonder that paranormal activity here is so high. Everything has been reported here from apparitions of soldiers and voices to the sounds of battle.
39. The Ladd School, Exeter, Rhode Island
In operation for well over 80 years, beginning in 1908, this facility once housed the mentally handicapped as well as the criminally insane. It was known for its awful conditions and mistreatment of patients, which may account for the screams and apparitions reported here.
40. Old Charleston Jail, Charleston, South Carolina
Opened in 1802 and closed in 1939, this jail was home to many infamous individuals, including the country’s first supposed female serial killer, Lavinia Fisher. It is said that she – along with many others – still haunts the building. Apparitions, voices, as well as moving and disappearing objects are the norm.
41. Bullock Hotel, Deadwood, South Dakota
Opened in 1895 by Captain Seth Bullock, this beautiful hotel is apparently haunted by his spirit. His presence is amiable to most, but he can cause plates and glasses to shatter when displeased. Many people have seen him – as well as a young girl, have heard voices, and been tapped.
42. Loretta Lynn Plantation House, Hurricane Mills, Tennessee
Already well-known as the home of famed singer Loretta Lynn, this house has also garnered a reputation for the paranormal. In fact, the entire surrounding town has gained a bit of a reputation, with the ghosts of confederate soldiers often seen at the plantation as well as throughout town.
43. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas
Famous for the Battle of the Alamo that took place between a small force of Texans and a much larger Mexican army, this site is reportedly haunted by those who died defending the site. Many people often see apparitions, either coming straight through walls or walking along the roof.
44. Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah
This campus is exceedingly haunted, and not by just one or two ghosts, but by at least seven well-known spirits. The ghosts are spread out over several buildings and are known for appearing at random, issuing odd noises and sensations, and sometimes touching passersby.
45. The University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont
With more paranormal activity throughout its campus buildings than anywhere else in the state, this is undoubtedly Vermont’s most haunted locale. Poltergeist activity, apparitions, voices, and windows and doors slamming are common features of this school.
46. Ferry Plantation House, Virginia Beach, Virginia
When a building reportedly contains no less than 11 spirits, you tend to sit up and take notice. This early 19th century house is said to be home to former owners and slaves, people who drowned nearby, and other lost souls.
47. The Palace Hotel, Port Townsend, Washington
Rife with spirits, this hotel exhibits a wide range of supernatural happenings. Several different female apparitions have been seen, some of them thought to be former prostitutes from the last century. Many people report being touched and having their things moved around.
48. West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia
Investigated by both major television paranormal groups, Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, this prison – which operated for well over a century – has known a great deal of violence. At least 100 men have died here between executions and riots, and their spirits have been seen, felt, and heard.
49. Summerwind Mansion, West Bay Lake, Wisconsin
Built in the early 20th century, this lodge turned mansion was the residence of Robert Lamont, who would eventually leave the house after an encounter with an apparition. Another set of owners left after a few months because the paranormal events literally almost drove them insane. The mansion was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only the foundation and chimney (and the ghosts).
50. Wyoming Frontier Prison, Rawlins, Wyoming
Like most prisons, especially older ones, plenty of violent deaths have occurred here that have resulted in widespread haunting. Apparitions and voices are common, as is a malevolent entity that responds with hostility to many people who try to explore certain areas of the prison.