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10 most popular haunted locations in the US

by Staff

Halloween is prime time for those who love a good ghost story. Whether you’re a skeptic or an experienced ghost hunter, a little chill down the spine is only right during the spookiest season of the year.

Of course, Halloween is not the only time to enjoy spooks and spirits; after all, haunted houses don’t stop being haunted after the calendar flips over to Nov. 1. While ghostly walking tours and haunted history attractions are most active leading up to All Hallows Eve, a spooky road trip can hit the spot any time of year.

Whether you plan to take to the road before Thanksgiving rears its head or want to start planning your post-holiday season, those looking for a ghost-filled trip through the U.S. have plenty of potential pitstops.

In a report released by Camping World, researchers analyzed Google inquirers for more than 60 famously haunted locations, using search volume to determine the hottest stops. If you’re interested in a paranormal romp across the U.S., check out these top 10 haunted locations.

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Winchester Mystery House

If you’re even a passing fan of haunted history, you’ve heard of the Winchester Mystery House. Located in San Jose, California, the building was first purchased as a two-story farmhouse by Sarah Winchester in 1886. Known for its unusual and rambling architecture with staircases going nowhere and doors that don’t open, the house was eventually expanded into a 7-story Victorian mansion.

As the legend goes, Sarah Winchester, wife of the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company William Winchester, ordered never-ending construction on the house after she came to believe ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her family.

Stories say that Sarah believed the continuous and seemingly nonsensical expansion of the home would confuse the spirits, distracting them from their ghostly duties. According to the house’s website, thirty-six years of construction only ended when Sarah died in 1922.

Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known for being one of the most haunted places in the U.S. and has appeared on a number of ghost-hunting TV shows. Visitors and investigators have reported all kinds of paranormal activity, from disembodied voices to shadowy apparitions.

Al Capone was famously locked up in the prison, which housed 85,000 people between 1829 and 1970, when it closed. Capone was known to speak adamantly of his encounters with the paranormal while serving his term there, and you can still visit his cell today.

Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri

This road in St. Charles, Missouri is chock full of historic places and is alleged to have a number of spirits roaming around. While there is plenty of history to explore without mention of ghosts and ghouls, such as the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Museum or the many buildings originally built to serve as homes and businesses for early fur traders and blacksmiths, the area is also known for its “lost cemetery.”

Rumors say that the town’s cemetery was moved in 1853, but many bodies were left behind. Now, according to legend, those lost graves are empty and their inhabitants roam up and down Main Street at night. While those hoping to hit all the best hotspots can sign up for a haunted walking tour, the town also has a haunted community college, a haunted high school and a haunted forest to drop in on.

Jacob’s Well

Located in Wimberley, Texas, Jacob’s Well is a little scary for more than just its haunted lore. Swimming is not currently allowed in the watery hole, and it is known as a potentially dangerous spot for divers, thanks to its series of chambers and the thick, sticky soil at the bottom.

The sinkhole houses an underwater cave system 140 feet deep and over 4,300 feet long, fed by an artesian spring. According to the Houston Chronicle, at least 12 people have died trying to explore the treacherous waters, making it the prime haunting grounds for restless spirits who met a tragic end. Some thrill-seekers come to the infamously dangerous sinkhole looking for hints the drowned spirits still inhabit the spot.

The Stanley Hotel

This sprawling Stanley Hotel, opened in 1909, is perhaps best known for inspiring Stephen King’s “The Shining.” King, like many other guests over the years, reported otherworldly experiences while staying at the hotel, which has likewise been the subject of several ghost-hunting televisions shows.

Visitors claim to have experienced everything from unseen hands touching their hair to messages communicated in ghostly whispers. One of the most famous stories is that of head chambermaid, Elizabeth Wilson, who lit a candle in room 217, which had built up quite a bit of gas from a leaking lantern. The ensuing explosion miraculously didn’t kill Wilson, and she later returned to work at the hotel. According to legend, she continues to work there today, inhabiting infamous room 217.

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White Horse Tavern

The White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island is believed to be the oldest tavern in the United States, having opened for business in 1673.

With sites this old tend to come the legendary and the haunted. The tavern served a number of purposes over the years, lending a meeting place for city council, the colony’s general assembly, the criminal court and quartering British troops during the Revolution.

While it’s difficult to tell fact from fiction in a place so old, the bar reportedly is home to an elderly gentleman ghost, who died while renting a room upstairs in the 1720s, and a young girl who is often heard crying.

Masonic Temple Detroit

Known as the largest Masonic temple in the world, the Masonic Temple Detroit is home to several buildings. Construction on the massive building began in 1923, when the first brick was laid using a trowel George Washington used to lay the first bricks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.  

In 1926, the temple opened to the public and, being associated with an organization often regarded as mysterious, stories began to swirl. As the legend goes, George Mason himself went bankrupt building the temple, causing his wife to leave him. Distraught by this turn of events, Mason then allegedly jumped from the top of the 210-foot building, dying by suicide.

While records show this to be a tall tale, guards, members and visitors have still claimed to see Mason’s ghost causing mischief, engaging in typical antics like closing doors and windows, relocating items and, most creepily, climbing the stairs to the top of building where his death allegedly occurred.

Waipi’o Valley

Located in the Hamakua District of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, the Waipi’o Valley is known for its natural beauty, breathtaking scenery and abundance of hiking trails.

It is also known for the many myths and legends of deities, demons and demi-gods. One myth, the story of Nanaue, speaks of a shark man who once inhabited the area as a cannibal in ancient times. Some ancient Hawaiian religions believed the Waipi’o Valley to be a door to the land of the dead, housing a cliff that was said to be the spot where decease souls jumped to enter the afterlife.

Other stories speak of lost tombs and treasures, ghosts roaming plantations and echos of the past coming from the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

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St. Roch Chapel, Yellow Fever Shrine

Located in one of the most haunted cities in America, the St. Roch Chapel has stood in New Orleans, Louisiana since 1874. The 19th-centruy chapel is a strange sight to newcomers, as it is filled with prosthetic body parts hung from the walls and placed on surfaces inside as offerings.

As the story goes, yellow fever began spreading in 1817, killing more than 40,000 in New Orleans over half a century, ravaging entire neighborhoods as citizens desperately, but unsuccessfully, tried to find a way to put an end to the deaths.

In 1867, Reverend Peter Thevis began throwing desperate prayers to Saint Roch, Patron Saint of Good Health, who was said to have saved many from wicked deaths during the times of the black plague. After this, it was said the reverend’s parish suffered no further fatalities from the fever, inspiring the building of the chapel in 1875 to honor the saint.

Many came to believe in the power of Saint Roch to cure their ailing health and began placing prosthetics and other items representing their illness in the chapel, asking the saint to bring them healing.

Of course, with that many deaths, there are bound to be a few ghosts hanging around. Reports of a woman’s ghost spotted rising from her grave began as far back as the 1930s, and residents in homes surrounding the chapel and accompanying cemetery reported curious phantoms appearing in or even rapping at their windows. Still others say voodoo rituals are often performed in the area around the chapel, summoning spirits late at night. As if all the prosthetic limbs weren’t creepy enough!

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Myrtles Plantation

It will come as no surprise to many to see a plantation on this list. Built in 1796 by American Revolutionary War general David Bradford, the Myrtle Plantation, located about two hours northwest of New Orleans, has long since been known as one of the most haunted in the U.S., thanks to its troubled past.

While the Bradford family experienced their own tragedies in the home, such as the deaths of two young children, the most well-known story is that of an enslaved woman on the plantation allegedly named Chloe. As the legend goes, Clarke Woodruff, the husband of Bradford’s daughter and owner of the property after his father-in-law’s passing, was known for making sexual advances on enslaved workers held on the property.

It is said that Chloe was forced into a sexual relationship with Woodruff for a number of years, and, nervous the mistress of the house would find out, she was caught eavesdropping on a conversation between the Woodruffs. In response, Woodruff cut off Chloe’s ear, forcing her to wear a now well-recognized turban around her head.

Folklore says Chloe then slipped poison into the dinners of the Woodruff family. In some tellings, she did so in order to nurse them back to health and re-earn favor in the household, while in others, she simply wanted revenge. Either way, Mrs. Woodruff and two of the Woodruff children died after consuming the poison, so the story goes, and, fearing blame for the murders, the other slaves on the plantation hung Chloe from a tree before throwing her body into a river, according to the stories.

Another such piece of lore tells of a man who, a few generations after the property had passed hands, was shot in the chest leaving the house. He managed to climb back inside and die on his wife’s lap, says the legend.

While these stories, like others on this list, have proven more fiction that fact, the many reports of ghost sightings have persisted since the 1970s. Some insisted they saw the apparition of a young girl in a turban, while others heard noises of the typical ghost fare such as footsteps and whispers. It is even alleged that one of the ghosts was caught on camera, though the picture is as blurry and vague as any other ghost photo. Still, people report seeing the visages of young children, former slaves and a man, presumably the one allegedly shot and killed, in the home.

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