It was a dark and stormy night...
America is filled with spooky little hidden corners and old colonial towns with legends, ghost stories and other lore. Old spirits, energies, tales, impressions or whatever you want to call them—even inhabit our wide open spaces.
Itching for a little rush of adrenaline and a few bone-chilling history lessons this Hallows’ Eve, or any time of year? Look into one of these American "haunts" (pun intended).
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Black Warrior Lake (USACE)
The Black Warrior-Tombigbee Lake system is home to six beautiful lakes on the Tombigbee River. On March 1, 1858, a fire destroyed the Tombigbee River steamboatEliza Battle on the river. The disaster was the worst in the river's history. Sightings of the ghostly burning ship permeate Alabama folklore.
Kennecott Mine (NPS)
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is our largest National Park and home to the abandoned town ofKennecott, where the Kennecott Copper Corporation (later the Kennecott Minerals Company) mined the richest known concentration of copper in the world. The company processed nearly $200 million worth of copper from 1911 to 1938, when as many as 600 people worked in the company mill town and in the mines. Persistent stories of hauntings, especially along the old railroad tracks, are common.
Jerome National Historic District
Prescott National Forest surrounds the once notorious mining town of Jerome and the Jerome National Historic District. The town is the home of the reportedly hauntedJerome Grand Hotel, a National Historic Landmark building which was originally a hospital built in 1926. Since the 1930s, people have reported ghost sightings there—the old nurses called one vision, in particular, Clyde or Scotty. Groups of adventurers can reserve nearby Playground Group Campground through late October.Tonto National Forest
If you don't get enough of Halloween, mark your calendars for the annual "Halloween in July," when the Tonto National Forest's tubing concessionaire, Salt River Tubing and Recreation, encourages tubers floating the Salt River to capture the Halloween spirit during their Spooktacular Bash event by dressing up as goblins, witches and cartoon characters.
The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
Within the Eureka Springs Historic District is the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations. The hotel is reportedly haunted by former owner Dr. Norman Baker, who died in 1958. It embraces its legends with ghost tours and spooky productions in the 4th floor theater. If you prefer to stay somewhere with a less eerie reputation, try Dam Site Lake or Dam Site River campgrounds on Beaver Lake, less than 10 miles (16 km) from Eureka Springs. Still, there are a lot of dark, spooky caves in the area.
Golden Trout Wilderness
In the late 1800s, Sam Lewis and his wife ran sheep up on the Kern Plateau of the Golden Trout Wilderness—a favorite area of Mrs. Lewis'. When she died, Lewis had her body cremated and spread her ashes there. By the 1920s, people began to report strange happenings in the area. More recently, campers and backpackers have reported odd goings on: their stuff rearranged in the morning, noises, a woman's voice, glowing entities and the like. The less skeptical among us can only attribute these happenings to Mrs. Lewis herself.
Old Post Hospital (NPS)
The U.S. Army built the Old Post Hospital in 1864. During the 1890s, the Spanish American War filled it beyond capacity with wounded soldiers, many of whom died there. Word has it their ghosts still haunt the closed building, which sits within the Presidio of San Francisco.
For more creepy thrills, venture into dark corners of the infamous Alcatraz Island and the prison that once held some of the worst hoodlums in American history, like George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz. It is also said that Native Americans once avoided the island entirely, believing it to be cursed.
Limited to just a few hundred visitors per evening, the Alcatraz Night Tour offered by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy includes special topics, tours, and activities not available during daytime hours. The darkness adds a spooky feel!
Ironton Ghost Town
The town of Ironton is just one of many ghost towns and mining haunts in southwest Colorado and it was a major transportation junction between Red Mountain and Ouray, in addition to having some of its own mines. Settled in 1883, it had 300 buildings in roughly three weeks and a peak population of more than 1,000 with two trains arriving daily from Silverton. Ironton suffered the same fate as many other Colorado mining towns when the silver market crashed and the town faded away after the first part of the 20th century. Ten minutes south of Ouray on Highway 550, the town site is approximately 1/3 mile (53.64 m) down a gravel road (walk or use a high clearance vehicle) or via a groomed Nordic-ski trail in the winter
Lincoln's Box at Ford's Theatre
Some say our nation is still “haunted” by the events of the American Civil War, including the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After John Wilkes Boothe shot the President at Ford’s Theatre and fled the scene, doctors cared for the mortally wounded president across the street at The Petersen House where Lincoln later died. Obtain a free ticket to tour both the theatre and the house, or support Ford’s Theatre by purchasing a ticket for theHistory on Foot tour and join Detective John McDevitt (portrayed by a costumed actor) as he investigates the assassination at different locations near the theatre. Can’t make this district Halloween tour? You can still view McDevitt’s eerie Metropolitan Police blotter entry from April 14, 1865, or look at some of the theater’s ghostly historical photos on Flickr. Visiting DC overnight? Try the historic Willard Intercontinental. People claim to see the specter of Lincoln's commanding general and President Ulysses S. Grant in the lobby, where in life he often enjoyed brandy and a cigar.
Castillo de San Marcos (NPS)
Mix multiple land uses, add a clash of different cultures and then bake it for 500 years. It’s the perfect recipe for ghost stories. You will sense them in the air at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Built in the late 1600s, the “Castillo” preserves the original walls of the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the U.S. They say you can place your ear against the limestone and shell (coquina) walls and hear the sounds of battle. Visitors reportedly catch the perfume of “Dolores.” The young wife of Spanish Colonel Garcia Marti posted at the Castillo; she went mysteriously missing circa 1784. Check out the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum (a Smithsonian Institution affiliate) and ask about the “All Ghosts, No Gimmicks” tour.
A De Soto Volunteer Haunting
De Soto National Memorial is where in 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto made landfall at the mouth of the Manatee River, a place with its share of haunted history and ghostly happenings. Shrouded trails and ghostly echoes sound through the mangroves along the shores of Tampa Bay—of the Tocobaga people, of Spanish pirates, Confederate guerillas and Florida’s cowboys—all who are part of the park’s history and folklore. Join the park’sDesoween special event and find out what mysterious figures are reported on the park's trails. Are they one of the parks many interpretive cutouts or maybe something more sinister? In one shape, form, or another there will always be opportunities at De Soto for a hair-raising good time.
Canon in the fog at Fort Pulaski
National Monument (NPS)
National Monument (NPS)
Savannah's got a haunted heritage that perhaps stems from its rich, antebellum history or, simply, the creepy atmosphere; low-hanging Spanish moss, weeping willows and that dreamy, warm breeze. Stories of aggravated spirits and peculiar tales pervade this Southern town. Make sure to spook yourself silly at one of the historic cemeteries, visit one of the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, or step back in time at nearbyFort Pulaski National Monument.
In 1862, Union forces surrounded Fort Pulaski and asked for surrender. Confederate Colonel Charles Olmsted initially refused, and then later surrendered after a 30–hour bombardment by Union rifled cannons. Olmsted's decision to surrender haunted him for decades, but Olmsted was not the only one haunted by the events. Stories and legends of the fort now include unsubstantiated sightings of ghostly young men in Confederate uniforms.
Loess Hills (NPS)
The Loess Hills Scenic Byway traverses the unique windblown-silt bluffs above the Missouri River in western Iowa, through forest and prairie. More than 1,500 archaeological sites, ancient fossils in the area, the haunting courtship of Mallard Marsh swans and circling birds of prey overhead give the area a mysterious air. Stop at Historic Dodge House, a National Historic Landmark in Council Bluffs that is reportedly haunted by Civil War veteran and Union-Pacific Railroad builder General G. M. Dodge and his wife.
Mammoth Cave (NPS)
In fall, when the leaves change to gold and red, spirits seem to fill the rugged landscapes of Daniel Boone National Forest. The spirits of Blackfish, Chief of the Shawnee tribe and Daniel Boone dwell along theSheltowee Trace. Chief Blackfish captured Boone in 1778 and called him Sheltowee or "Big Turtle." The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail skirts the edge of Laurel River Lake, an area of spooky caves and reports of ghosts.
But Mammoth Cave National Park is perhaps the spookiest place in Kentucky—if not the spookiest of all the U.S. federal lands. The world's largest known cave system, with its vast chambers and complex labyrinths, emits a spine-chilling feeling not only because of its eerie atmosphere, but also because of all the secrets it holds. Stephen Bishop (PDF), Melissa and Floyd Collins—are only a few names of ghosts who supposedly haunt this place.
Friendship of Salem replica
(Neil Lynch/Share the Experience)
(Neil Lynch/Share the Experience)
The historic buildings, wharves and the reconstructed tall ship Friendship of Salem at 9-acre (3.6 ha) Salem Maritime National Historic Sitetell the stories of sailors, Revolutionary War privateers and merchants who brought riches of the world to America—and with that much history lining the streets of any town, ghost stories are bound to follow. Salem also gained notoriety for its Witch Trials of the late 1600s.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park preserves not only the battlefields and structures associated with the first battle of the Revolutionary War, but also the Wayside Home of Authors, where Nathaniel Hawthorne and other American authors once lived. One of Hawthorne's ancestors was a judge involved in the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, more than a century earlier. The kinship with the judge influenced Hawthorne's writings such as the spooky "House of the Seven Gables" as well as chilling short stories. Although the Wayside is closed in 2015 for renovations, the park offers tours of the site and the park celebrates the area's literary legacy with a Halloween storytelling event each year. Check the park’s schedule for details.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Arguably, Canadian vocalist Gordon Lightfoot's haunting song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald makes it the most well-known shipwreck on the Great Lakes, but ghost legends and rumors surround dozens of Great Lakes shipwrecks. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a great place to learn about Manitou Passage history, one of "the busiest and most dangerous shipping channels on the Great Lakes." Join a ranger-guided program; visit the Maritime Museum to learn the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and Great Lakes shipping (whose members knew fall as "shipwreck season") or check out the ghost towns of North Manitou Island.Reservable camping is available year-round in the lakeshore.
Diving in Thunder Bay
“Shipwreck Alley” in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the graveyard of more than 100 ships that have fallen victim to Lake Huron’s murky fog, unpredictable weather and rocky shoals over the past 200 years. Thunder Bay collaborates with Alpena Shipwreck Tours to offer glass bottom boat tours through Shipwreck Alley (through mid-October). Use this trip planning information. Many of the ghostly ships appear through the eerie green water as if they might rise and set sail into the foggy horizon.
Vicksburg National Military Park
The town of Vicksburg held the key to controlling the Mississippi River during the Civil War. As if the specter of the battle and the soldiers buried at Vicksburg National Cemetery within Vicksburg National Military Park were not enough, the park is also home to McRaven House, who some claim is "the most haunted house in Mississippi." McRaven, also known as Bobb House, is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Vicksburg and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
Most people know that the Ozarks are full of haunts and ghost stories. Each October the Ozark National Scenic Riverways presents The Haunting in the Hills with Ozark legends, folktales, mysteries, superstitions and natural wonders with spellbinding, age-old storytelling. Check the park's special events page to learn more.
Bitterroot National Forest (USFS)
From June through October, the Bitterroot offers monthlyWalks by the Light of the Moon based on American author, naturalist and ornithologist, Francis Hamerstrom's "Walk When the Moon is Full." During October's "Ghost Moon at Lake Como" walk, you'll meet historical Bitterroot Valley ghosts, and hear stories of their lives and untimely deaths.
Garnet Ghost Town (BLM)
With tales of fresh footprints in the snow left by ghostly figures and the tinkling of piano keys from the saloon, Garnet Ghost Town will have you on high-alert. Garnet is an abandoned mining town managed by the Bureau of Land Management and located about an hour's drive east of Missoula. Set in the forest on the edge of the Front Range, this late 1800s-era ghost town offers historic, primitive cabin accommodations befitting the town's Gold Rush heritage. The Dahl Cabin and McDonald Cabin are available for rent from December 1st through April 30th. The surrounding area contains more than 116 miles (186.6 km) of trails, including the 32-mile (51.4 km) Garnet National Winter Recreation Trail. These trails offer the chance for leisurely exploring and solitude--an opportunity to listen for a bygone melody or to chance upon a spirit of the past!
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
This site near Ely is what ghost town explorers live for. The Belmont Mine and Mill were worked in the late 1800s and early in the 20th century by the Tonopah Belmont Development Mining Company. Judging by the ruins, this fun little camp must have given the White Pine Mining District it's last breath of life. Silver-lead ore from this mine was processed at this mill and then shipped off to Eureka, Nevada. For more information on this and other ghost towns in the area, visit the White Pine County Tourism and Recreation Board.
Bitter Lake Sinkhole (USFWS)
UFO sightings helped the nearby town of Roswell become a household name, but Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge supports a wide variety of creatures that are native to Earth. The refuge offers Endangered Species Tours the first Saturday of every month from October through May, and touts 70 weird sinkholes that punctuate the landscape with odd geology and water chemistry. The sinkholes support unusual plants and animals and are 50 to 70 feet (15.2-21.3 m) deep and 15 to 230 feet (4.5-70.1 m) wide, some may be as old as 5,000 years. Camp nearby at eerie Bottomless Lakes State Park and scour the night sky for unearthly visitors.Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Bats in flight at Carlsbad Caverns
Bat decorations are as common as jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night. Although the pretend bats may scare trick-or-treaters, real bats benefit all of us. They eat loads of insects (like mosquitoes) and some species act as pollinators. At Carlsbad Caverns National Park, bats benefit from the good publicity they get from rangers who dispel bat myths at nightly bat flight programs from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. Read our Article, Bats: Heroes of the Night for more.
St. Paul's Church (NPS)
The historic cemetery at St. Paul’s Church has gravestones dating to 1704, along with rumors that the ghost of British actor George Frederick Cooke, buried here in 1812, still roams fitfully. Naturally (or supernaturally?) the souls of those who died at or near these National Historic Landmarks: Dakota Apartments(PDF), Empire State Building (PDF), Brooklyn Bridge (PDF) are said to haunt these places. Be sure to visit African Burial Ground National Monument, where free and enslaved Africans were buried from the 1690s to 1794, and the General Grant Memorialto answer the age old question, “who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?”
Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
On Howl-O-Ween, come to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge for an adventurous attempt to hear the haunting sounds of the refuge's captive red wolves. Learn about the life history and behavior of these endangered wolves at the only place in the world where they still exist in the wild.
Audubon National Wildlife
As dusk creeps across the autumn sky and the afternoon breezes relax, for some wild critters across the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, their activity is just beginning. Night life is awakening on nature's wild side and families are invited out for a Halloween adventure (PDF) to learn more about the animals active mostly at night, such as owls, bats, coyotes and other creepy crawlers.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Take a lighthouse tour or visit the haunted lighthouse keeper's home at Heceta Head, in the Siuslaw National Forest. The lighthouse is arguably the most photographed lighthouse in the world, and the lighthouse keeper's home operates as a bed and breakfast.
Allegheny Portage Railroad (NPS)
Why do so many ghost stories surround railroads? During October sign up for the Spirits of the Summit Tour or reserve your spot on the Spirits of Staple Bend Tunnel Tour (PDF). The "ghosts" will share, in their own words, the darker side of life, hardship and death on the Portage Railroad. Check the park’s schedule of events or enjoy the Summit Level and the Staple Bend Tunnel any time of year by hiking (or biking portions of) the Inclines Six to Ten Trail or the Staple Bend Tunnel trail, which offers a moderate four-mile (6 km) out and back excursion to view and walk through the tunnel.Independence National Historical Park
Historical Park (NPS)
Historical Park (NPS)
Some people call Philadelphia (or "Philly") "America's most historic city;" others claim it's America's most haunted. You won't hear about paranormal experiences from Independence National Historical Park rangers, but along the old city's cobblestone streets you might still get wind of ghostly tales. Of course, the "Spirit of '76" is always alive at Independence Hall (get tickets in advance), Carpenters' Hall, Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery, Christ Church Burial Ground, and the "ghost structure" marking Ben Franklin's home.
Visit the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, where the morbid writer spent six of his most productive years. Relive his spine-chilling tales like "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue." The park offers house tours Fridays through Sunday. Check the park'sspecial events calendar to see what treats they have in store for October. Ask to see the creepy cellar that inspired "The Black Cat."
Blue Heron Mine (NPS)
At Big South Fork National River, visit the Blue Heron Mine at night when the "ghost structures"—built by the Army Corps of Engineers—appear especially eerie. You can visit Blue Heron Mine in the fall or anytime year-round. Consider chugging there aboard the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, one of the "Ghost Railroads of Kentucky." The Railway offers fall trips that include the Blue Heron Ghost Train, the Trick or Treat Train or the scarier Haunted Hollow Express. Hear more hair raising tales at the park's Annual Haunting in the Hills Storytelling Festival. Reservable campgrounds are available nearby.
San Jose Mission (NPS)
Some claim San Antonio is one of the most haunted cities in America. As you might expect, ghost sightings concentrate around the Alamo, where hundreds of soldiers and Alamo defenders died without proper burial in 1836.
Experience a different kind of “spiritual” at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which preserves four missions from the Spanish colonial period of Texas. Founded three hundred years ago, these churches are still active parishes where you can attend Mass, and—from late October through early to mid-November—commemorate “Día de Los Muertos” or Day of the Dead. This tradition started when early Spanish friars used All Souls’ Day as a bridge between indigenous traditions and Catholicism.
All four mission churches set up altars or “ofrendas” for families to place photographs, personal items, and favorite foods of deceased loved ones. They also add decorations like candles, flowers and humorous skeleton figures, all to entice their loved ones back for one day of earthly delight.
Bryce Canyon Moonrise (NPS)
Bryce Canyon National Park offers Full Moon Hikes during full moons, (1-2 consecutive nights each month), when the mix of shadows and moonlight cause the hoodoos to take on spooky personalities. Free tickets are required and distributed at the park (tickets are not available online). This is ideal UFO territory so watch the night sky for some extraterrestrial activity.
Civil War Officers in
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Parkpreserves battlefields where the Civil War “roared to its bloody climax.” Here, 15,000 soldiers died, most in unknown graves. Sightings of ghostly figures wearing Civil War-era attire are common. General Stonewall Jackson received his fatal wound at Chancellorsville—take the Jackson Wound Walking Tour and follow Jackson's reconnaissance as you pass several monuments honoring Jackson and an unknown Union soldier. Visit the Stonewall Jackson Shrine, the plantation office where General Jackson died. Take a virtual tour to learn more about what happened. It’s no wonder that ghost hunters call this “America’s most haunted battlefield.”
The Old Faithful Inn.
Yosemite National Park
(Larry Stinson/Share the Experience)
Yosemite National Park
(Larry Stinson/Share the Experience)
Visitors claim to see ghosts haunting the Old Faithful Inn and the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. What (or who) are the apparitions visitors claim to see? Could they be the gentleman guest who disappeared in 1890 after stepping outside to smoke a cigar? Is it Mattie Culver, who died in the winter of 1889 and whose grave lies near a lovely picnic spot? Perhaps it is the “ghost of the honeymoon bride,” who haunts the halls even after a former innkeeper admitted he’d made her up? Watch thesevideos about the Old Faithful Area and see if you notice anything mysterious.
Bruton Motor Sports News
Bruton Motor Sports News