Spooky Tour of the Haunted and Deranged Throughout the U.S.A.
It is a picture permanently etched inside of our subconscious. The abandoned house sitting high atop a hill at the edge of a desolate town. Forget the blood-sucking, widow peaked night crawlers from Transylvania. Ignore those European castles filled with humpback henchmen and lavish laboratories. There is plenty of eerie phenomenon in our own backyards, some dating back before our country started. Here are some scary ghost stories of horror as we explore haunted houses, hotels, and theaters, roads and lakes, beaches and bridges, cemeteries and churches, warehouses, and prisons throughout the United States.
1. Huntsville, Alabama
The life of Sally Carter was cut tragically short while visiting her sister, weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday. Carter passed away inside of Cedarhurst, a mansion built circa 1823. She was buried on the premises.
Fast forward to 1919 when a young man staying at the residence claimed Sally Carter came to him in a dream. She asked him to straighten her tombstone, which had fallen over during a storm. Once inspecting the grounds, he noticed that the headstone was exactly how she had described!
Her body was eventually exhumed. It was then moved to an undisclosed location due to ongoing vandalism on the premises. Oddly enough, the fifteen-year-old scary ghost of Sally Carter still haunts the stately Cedarhurst!
2. Scagway, Alaska
Gold and environmental treasures have lured many a fortune seeker to the dark wilderness and unbridled coastlines of our fiftieth state. Scary Mary tops the list of spine chilling phantoms to obtain legendary status. The would-be bride of a prospector met an untimely end but still lives on in the minds of many. Mary set up housekeeping in the Golden North Hotel awaiting the arrival of Klondike Ike. Alas, her fiancé never returned. Mary eventually locked herself inside the hotel room. When the staff finally realized what had happened, it was too late!
They found her dead body wrapped in the gown that never witnessed a wedding. Scary Mary is still an active resident of the Gold North Hotel. Some surprised female guests have seen her hovering above as they sleep, making sure Klondike Ike hasn’t returned to the wrong bed. Others claim to have seen the betrothed staring out the hotel window, pining for her lover who has yet to say, “I do.”
3. Devil’s Highway, Arizona
Renamed Highway 191 in 1992, what was the Devil’s Highway is a source for much mystery and intrigue. Desolate during the day and mind-numbing at night, tourists have and continue to report strange shenanigans. Here is a list of dos and don’ts when traveling this part of the southwestern United States:
1. Do keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.
2. Don’t pick up hitchhikers!
3. Do watch for crazy drivers sneaking up behind you.
4. Don’t swerve and crash trying to miss demons or a pack of devil dogs.
5. Do keep your doors locked and your windows shut tight.
6. Don’t forget these essential lists of dos and don’ts!
4. Little Rock, Arkansas
The Mount Holly Cemetery is widely known for the activity that occurs on and beyond the grounds! It is the final resting place for many high ranking Confederate soldiers and the wife of an Indian Chief. Final is the operative word, as, for some odd reason, many people were reburied there in the early 1800s.
Flute music has been heard by visitors to the graveyard. Some have sworn that certain statues move around the premises. These restless monuments have even ended up in different parts of Little Rock without explanation.
5. San Francisco, California
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated from 1934 to 1963. Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly were among its famous inmates. Once a convict arrived, their first thoughts were how to getaway.
The “Rock” is now a museum. During the day it is filled with tourists and historians. But at night, spirits roam the corridors that once housed the diabolical. One of the main doors is now welded shut. This was done following a night watchman’s repeated reports of unexplained clanking sounds. Voices from the hospital ward are a regular occurrence. Some believe ghosts frequent places they had traumatic experiences when they were living. If so, previous suicides, beatings, and stints of solitary confinement could be significant factors when rationalizing modern-day sightings.
But long before Alcatraz was a prison, it was an island. Even then, Native Americans spoke of the evil spirits that dwelled among them. Writer Mark Twain put it best after a brief visit to the penitentiary. “It is as cold as winter,” quipped the legendary figure. “…as cold as winter, even in the summer months.”
6. Boulder, Colorado
It took almost half a century, but George Paper finally returned to the workplace where he expired. A manager in the 1940s, Paper accidentally hung himself while doing some rigging at the Boulder Theater. Then sometimes, not until the 1980s, did he reappear usually dashing by unsuspecting patrons. The ghost of George Paper enjoys hanging out in bathrooms. He is known to turn the sinks and lights on and off. He is known to startle female staffers. His sightings are more whimsical than anything else. It is for sure the former employee has never harmed a soul.
Paper is so ingrained in the history of the building, an adjacent business had been named in his honor. Unfortunately, at the time of this article, “George’s Food & Drink had already closed. Its replacement is an establishment called “The Ghost Bar.” There have been zero sightings of George Paper since. Perhaps he is waiting for the right time to reemerge… just when you least expect it!
7. Gardner Lake, Connecticut
What’s tougher than moving a piano? How about moving a house and a piano! That’s precisely what some folks tried to do in the town of Salem, Connecticut. Their only and most grievous mistake was taking a break, leaving the house situated atop the ice. For when they returned, their living quarters had sunk fully intact, thirty feet to the bottom of Lake Gardner.
Most of the heavy and cumbersome appointments were left in the house, including the family piano. To this day, fishermen and boating enthusiasts claim to hear music coming from underneath the surface of the water. Who or what are tickling the ivories remains a mystery.
8. Newark, Delaware
Cooch’s Bridge is located where the first battle the Revolutionary War was fought. During the squirmish, a British soldier found himself at the wrong end of a musket. His head was shot off, and he has haunted the bridge ever since.
Centuries later, eyewitness reports detail a group of travelers taking pictures of the historic site. They soon discovered the camera wouldn’t work. Then mysteriously, the cars radio and air conditioner cease to function. This was followed by a flat tire, although once the tire was changed, the original had repaired itself!
Some say the redcoat continues to search for his head. This is especially true on foggy, moonless nights. But not everyone is a believer. Others who live near the bridge have never seen the apparition.
9. Marianna, Florida
Another bridge ghost story tells of Doctor Samuel C. and Elizabeth Bellamy, real-life newlyweds in antebellum Florida. Doctor Bellamy was the son of a wealthy planter and Elizabeth, the daughter of General William Croom. Their wedding brought guests from as far away as Europe. Fact and fiction have blended over the years, but both accounts lead to Elizabeth’s untimely demise. One adaptation has the bride’s flowing gown catching fire, leaving her burned beyond recognition. Her body was buried in a grove of trees on the bank of the Chipola River.
Many years later, a bridge was built and named for the prominent Bellamy family. It was erected close to the grave of Elizabeth Bellamy. Almost immediately, she would appear all in white, in the swamps surrounding the structure. She has also appeared as a ball of fire passing through the framework of the bridge.
10. 1242 Surrency, Georgia
Few states if any have a reputation for evil spirits like Georgia. Hauntings originating from the Civil War are among many of the hair raising anecdotes. But a particular tale remains a mystery. As though shrouded in Spanish moss, sources are unexplainable and unrecognizable, although undoubtedly undeniable.
Allen Powel Surrency founded the town that bears his name. Over the course of several years, Surrency and hundreds of witnesses confirm his home was ransacked to what could be attributed to an earthquake. Books, plates, bric-a-brac, and items too numerous to mention flew off shelving and cupboards. Reporters from across the world flocked to the residence and found the stories to be true.
Doors opened and closed by themselves. Livestock randomly ended up in the house without reason. A pair of boots walked across the floor. Clock hands spun around like propellers. Bed covers rolled up and down without human interaction. The house burned down in 1925. However, the paranormal activity followed the family to their new home on the other side of town. It wasn’t until the elder Surrency died that things seemed to calm down.
Big Island, Hawaii – Seems building on an ancient battleground is a great way to conjure up the dearly departed. This is especially true if the building is a hotel! The Kona Sheraton is a prime example. Different guests at different times have repeatedly complained about two little girls playing in the hallway. There’s also a man on a cliff in front of the hotel the appears, then disappears. Long-time employees realize it’s just part of their everyday work schedule. But it’s enough for tourists to say aloha in reverse!
11. Pocatello, Idaho
Around 4 a.m. in 1984 a woman was drugged at a party, taken to an abandoned warehouse and then brutally attacked. During the scuffle the attacker’s gun went off, killing the victim. Police arrived at the scene, but never found the bullet to successfully trace the murder weapon.
Ten years later, a manager was pulling an all-nighter at the warehouse. He assumed something was wrong with the heat since it was abnormally ice cold in the facility. Imagine his surprise when police barged into his office and arrested him! The police were answering fifteen 911 calls from a woman screaming, “Help me! Help me!” Upon inspection of the warehouse, they found a chair in the middle of a room with a tiny bullet nearby. This was a preview of things to come.
Today the warehouse is again abandoned. But every year on the anniversary of the murder at approximately 4 a.m., 911 operators get the same fifteen calls. Police find the same evidence, a chair in the middle of the warehouse and a tiny bullet nearby. No one dares enter the warehouse, business or personal, for fear they will be implemented in the case.
12. Alton, Illinois
Creepiness is not limited to one or even two structures in the sleepy village of Alton. For it has been proven time and time again, the entire town is haunted! A road trip to Alton would prove prosperous for any aspiring ghostbuster!
Spirits and orbs dance around eleven marble fireplaces inside the McPike Mansion. Deserted in the 1950s, it stands as a paranormal monument, reminding us anything is possible in the darkest realms of fear! Just down the street is the First Unitarian Church, where a pastor committed suicide. His presence remains and leaves parishioners contemplating joining neighboring congregations. Then there’s the Mineral Springs Hotel, where a man drowns in the basement pool after a spat with his spouse. He is said to be waiting poolside, plotting revenge on his wife. Lewis and Clark Community College and the Milton Schoolhouse are also haunted, both by women wronged by the throes of a demented society.
13. Dunes State Park, Indiana
Around 1915 rumors spread local fisherman had spotted a naked lady swimming in Lake Michigan. Diana of the Dunes was named for the beautiful Greek goddess and was considered to be a hermit. Truthfully, her name was Alice Marble Gray. She was well educated, cultured, and had a good-paying job in the city. Her eyesight began to fail to the point she could no longer do her secretarial job. Add to that a broken heart from a failed relationship.
Alice moved into an abandoned shack on the beach and it was a peaceful existence. She met a boatbuilder named Paul Wilson. They eventually had two daughters. Wilson’s run-ins with the law had the family moving back to the city. He would habitually beat Alice. Alice died in 1925 from blows to the back and stomach. Wilson wound up in a California prison. No one knows what happened to the two daughters.
Legend says Alice returns to the beach where life was peaceful. Many people have seen her running along the shore and disappearing into the water.