America isn’t hurting for ghost stories. All across the country, there are countless tales of haunted mansions, ghostly graveyards, and other spooky spots. Many of these notorious locales have become very well known through the years. Some, like the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, have served as inspirations for horror flicks and other transcendent pop culture products.
Other spots send shivers down the spines of children who grow up hearing creepy tales. Rumors and gossip spread like wildfire. Creepy spots become notorious ghost dens. But some of the scariest spots are a bit off the beaten path. These ten haunted haunts are a bit lesser known than most — but still guaranteed to freak you out all the same!
The Sloss Fright Furnace, Alabama
Alabama’s Sloss Furnaces operated as a blast furnace for nearly a century until they shut down in the 1970s. During that time, the furnace’s energy production helped propel the city of Birmingham to become one of the region’s foremost population centers. Even today, long after the furnaces have shuttered, Birmingham residents still take pride in the site’s productive place in Alabama history. But the demands placed on the furnace and its laborers were intense.
In the early 1900s, Sloss had a back-breaking crew foreman named James “Slag” Wormwood. Slag ran the furnace’s graveyard shift. Working with a skeleton crew, the foreman demanded they push at a brutal pace all through the night in oppressive heat. During his time as foreman, locals claim, Slag’s harsh work standards and cruel leadership led to the deaths of 47 workers. Scores more were supposedly seriously injured on the job. Slag met his demise soon enough, though. In 1906, he accidentally slipped and fell into “Big Alice,” the site’s largest furnace. Instantly, he melted to death in the molten ore.
Conspiracy theorists wonder whether his death was truly accidental. Soon afterward, workers began to report a “demonic” presence among the furnaces. Some said the ghost urged them to work harder and faster. Others claimed the spirit physically shoved or burned them if they didn’t move fast enough. In sum, there were more than one hundred reports of Slag’s supposed paranormal presence in the decades after the foreman’s death.
The McRaven House, Mississippi
The McRaven House is said to be the most haunted place in Mississippi. The venerable old home, which sits in the historic city of Vicksburg, was built just before 1800. And like many antebellum mansions, it comes with no shortage of creepy capers and terrifying tales. The home’s builder, for one, has his own dark past. While constructing the mansion in 1797, Andrew Glass was a notorious highwayman in the area. He was said to violently rob unsuspecting travelers riding the Natchez Trace across Mississippi. Then, he’d return to McRaven House and stash his stolen loot. After Glass sold the home, its new owner added to the lore. The man had a 15-year-old wife named Mary Elizabeth Howard. She died during childbirth in one of the home’s bedrooms. Today, she is said to haunt the place.
But the ghost stories don’t end there. During the Civil War, the house served as a field hospital for Confederate troops. That ended when the home’s owner John Bobb, a Rebel sympathizer, was shot dead out front by Union soldiers. Twenty years after the Civil War, the Murray family moved in. Over the years, at least four family members died inside the home. Descendants kept the mansion until it fell into disrepair in the 1960s. After they left, other residents began to report strange hauntings. Howard’s ghost would routinely appear at the top of the staircase. She is said to constantly turn lights on and off at night, too. Meanwhile, Bobb’s ghost is said to still prowl the home’s balcony. Even the spirit of Glass himself is rumored to haunt the halls.
The Red Onion Saloon, Alaska
To the unknowing visitor, Alaska’s Red Onion Saloon looks like any other drinking establishment. The Skagway-based bar has an Old West theme that honors its origins as a Gold Rush watering hole built back in 1897. The old-time decor and Wild West branding gives it a memorable touch. And everything is available. In addition to alcohol, visitors can get all the tasty staples at the saloon, like pizza and nachos. But something very creepy lurks under the surface of the long-standing establishment.
During the saloon’s early days, it was known as the finest brothel in Skagway. Upstairs above the dance hall were ten bedrooms intended for clients. Bar staff would place ten dolls behind the bar. When a doll was upright, it meant the woman in that room was available. When the doll was lying down — well, the woman was lying down, too. Customers always knew who was working based on that subtle system. At the time, a woman named Lydia was the most sought-after sex worker in town. Her popularity was so great, in fact, that her spirit still haunts the Red Onion. Today, employees swear Lydia’s footsteps can be heard on the second floor. Cold spots eerily drift on the stairs and in the bedrooms. The scent of her perfume wafts inexplicably around the bar, too. Lydia is said to tend to the bar’s plants, as well, as a service to the living after death. Some visitors have even seen her ghostly apparition walking around her former room. The spirit doesn’t appear to be malevolent, but the Red Onion’s owners have made the most of the rumors: they offer tours of the upstairs brothel to eager visitors.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is one of Michigan’s foremost tourist destinations. Wedged as part of a state park in the middle of Lake Huron, the island is tucked between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. During the summer, the weather is nearly perfect, and visitors flock to the small community. When there, they find plenty to do: historic buildings, local shops and restaurants, great walking paths, and a lovely downtown. Cars are banned on the island, too, making horse travel one of its most infamous traits. But as beautiful as Mackinac may be, it hides a dark side, too. In fact, some Michiganders swear it’s the most haunted place in the entire state.
Mackinac’s long history plays into this. The island was originally the home of the Odawa tribe. Many of those natives were brutally killed in the 17th and 18th centuries as the British took over the island as a fur trading center. Then, in the War of 1812, the island hosted a British military fort that saw several bloody battles and plenty of corpses. Present-day visitors claim to see phantom limbs from the battered spirits of long-dead soldiers. Today, the island’s Grand Hotel is the epicenter of ghostly rumors. Some say it’s haunted by the ghosts of workers who died during the hotel’s construction back in the late 1880s. Others swear one phantom with glowing red eyes haunts the place in particular. Another resort in town lays claim to Harvey, the supposed ghost of a man who shot himself to death long ago following a heartbreak. Locals claim Harvey was actually murdered, and thus his spirit remains on earth to seek justice.
The Ocean Born Mary House, New Hampshire
A young girl named Mary Wallace was born on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean in 1720. Her parents were immigrating to America at the time in search of a better life for their family. But soon after Mary was born, the ship was captured by pirates outside Boston. But the pirate captain was moved upon hearing the baby’s cries. He made a deal with the captives: he’d let them all go free if the couple named their baby Mary after one of his relatives. The new parents agreed, and everyone was released as promised. The pirate captain even gave the young mother some green silk to use for the girl’s wedding dress one day. Mary grew up in New England and lived a normal life. She later got married (in that green silk!) and had five children. Years later, three of her adult sons settled in the city of Henniker, New Hampshire. At one point, Mary came to live with one of them in the small town. She spent the final 16 years of her life there, dying in 1814.
Years later, a newcomer showed up in Henniker. He was looking for an old New England estate with some history. He found one he liked that happened to be the home of another of Mary’s sons. Hoping to make the house an attraction, he started spinning fantastic tales about how “Ocean Born Mary” supposedly died in the house. It was false — she had lived in another house in town, and died elsewhere — but the tenant’s persistence paid off. Visitors began to swear they experienced Mary’s ghost. Some claimed to have seen her in a rocking chair. Others decided Mary reunited with the pirate captain as an old widow and let him bury treasure in her orchard. While Mary never lived in the home, even today visitors swear there are ghostly apparitions and creepy happenings inside.
The Wabasha Street Caves, Minnesota
The Wabasha Street Caves are an artificially-created tunnel system in St. Paul, Minnesota. The caves were first dug out in the middle of the 19th century. At the time, they were created as silica mines meant for local glass-blowing firms to use. After the glass industry moved along, the caves remained intact, and other locals quickly moved in. First, the area became a mushroom farm. But the area’s most notorious run came during Prohibition. The caves turned into an underground speakeasy and nightclub. Gangsters from across the Midwest ventured to Wabasha Street to take part in some (literally) underground drinking. Notorious bad boys like John Dillinger and “Baby Face” Nelson hung out there well into the 1930s.
Today, the caves serve as an event hall and must-see tourist destination. But whatever the gangsters were doing way back when has stuck around. Locals say hauntings are a daily occurrence down in the caves. Event hall employees regularly report strange footsteps, flickering chandelier lights, and apparitions wafting through the halls. Historians have begun to wonder whether the bodies of slain mobsters were actually hidden in the caves. Today, legend has it, their ghosts haunt the dank tourist attraction from another realm. Spooky!
The Old Montana Prison, Montana
The Old Montana Prison was the state’s biggest lock-up for over a century after it was built in 1871. The area around the prison in Deer Lodge is the gateway to a gorgeous part of the West. But inside the walls, prisoners experienced hellish conditions. Times were so bad prior to the prison’s 1979 closure that some say those who perished inside have never left. The prison’s most horrific moment came in 1959. That year, inmates took control of the entire complex for 36 hours during a violent riot. They imprisoned guards in solitary confinement cells and killed a deputy warden. They held the warden hostage and demanded better conditions. State officials acceded to those requests. Then, they sent in the National Guard. The riot ended with a bang after the inmate ringleaders committed suicide.
After the prison closed in 1979, the state turned it into a museum. Almost immediately, visitors noticed strange things happening inside. Many say the prison has some of the typical ghostly happenings: strange figures, inexplicably cold areas, and eerie mists. But the real horror sits in “The Hole.” Formerly the solitary confinement cell where prison guards were held hostage during the 1959 riot, The Hole is said to be dangerous. Museum employees say a malevolent spirit inside has been known to push people. Others report strange noises and threatening auras. There’s supposedly a friendly ghost within prison walls, too. During his life, “Turkey Pete” was a beloved mentally ill inmate who “sold” nearby wild turkeys to other prisoners. The likable resident would receive fake money from them in return. Now, in death, Turkey Pete is said to still hang out within the walls of Old Montana.
The Jerome Grand Hotel, Arizona
Arizona’s Jerome Grand Hotel has had a unique history. The property was originally a hospital. In 1927, builders constructed a medical building in the small town of Jerome that later became United Verde Hospital. That center operated until 1950 before it closed. Then, the property sat unused for nearly half a century. Finally, developers purchased it and opened the hotel in 1996. From the start, things were far from smooth. Locals believe nearly 10,000 people died on the expansive hospital’s grounds during its three decades of use. Now, many of those spirits are said to still haunt the place. Some employees have seen hospital gurneys floating through hallways. Others report hearing disembodied voices coming out of empty rooms.
The hotel’s third floor is the epicenter of ghost activity. That’s where the operating room once stood, and guests say they can still feel apparitions around. Some hear the sound of gurney wheels rolling down the hall. Others swear they feel the ghost of a cat jumping on their bed in the middle of the night. Room 32, where two suicides took place during its hospital days, is supposedly the most haunted. The elevator is also said to be possessed by the ghost of a maintenance man who was crushed by an elevator car in 1935. So many ghosts haunt the hotel that the manager now keeps a journal to log events. According to AZ Central, he fills a 300-page notebook every year documenting ghostly reports.
The Whaley House Museum, California
The Whaley House in San Diego may be the most haunted place in a very haunted state. The Golden State boasts all kinds of creepy buildings and ghostly locales, but the southern California city’s spooky museum may tip the scales. A man named Thomas Whaley first built the mansion in 1856. He intended for it to be the most elegant estate in all of southern California. He had big plans for the property, too. In addition to his family home, Whaley also built a courthouse, a theater, and a general store on the land. Even today, the complex is a part of beautiful Old Town San Diego — but things aren’t so sweet inside the house.
Whaley didn’t do his homework on the area before building. Four years prior to construction, notorious horse thief Yankee Jim Robinson had been brutally executed on the land. Locals said his spirit still haunted the area. And after Whaley’s house went up, it was clear something was very wrong. Right after the Whaleys moved in, their 18-month-old son died suddenly of scarlet fever. Several years later, Whaley’s daughter Victoria committed suicide in the house. Today, visitors claim the entire family still possesses the house. Whaley’s cigar smoke inexplicably lingers in the halls. His wife’s perfume randomly tickles visitors’ nose hairs. Victoria is said to shuffle around an upstairs bedroom. And the baby boy’s giggles can be heard throughout the home. There’s so much paranormal activity within that ghost hunters come from far to experience it themselves.
KiMo Theater, New Mexico
Albuquerque’s KiMo Theater was built in 1927 by an entrepreneur named Oreste Bachechi. It had a unique style perfect for New Mexico at the time, combining American Indian traditions with the Art Deco look that was popular in the 1920s. Almost immediately, the KiMo became an attraction for Albuquerque residents and a hit for Bachechi. Over the years, the theater has shown everything from vaudeville pictures and silent films to plays, blockbusters, and thrillers. Today, the KiMo’s legacy is solidified by its standing on the National Register of Historic Places. But it’s also haunted, locals say. And the story behind the young spirit said to live in its walls is truly creepy.
The KiMo’s most famous ghost is known to employees as Bobby. That spirit is supposedly the eternal soul of a young boy who died in a boiler explosion in the theater’s basement in 1951. True to his age at death, Bobby is said to be a very mischievous ghost. Theater workers claim he regularly plays pranks on the staff by moving items around and knocking things down. Staffers have taken to appeasing the young ghost by hanging donuts and candy from the backstage rafters. It seems to work. Now, employees are leery of removing the treats lest they upset Bobby over it. Even patrons claim to have seen the ghost. Typically, he can be spotted walking down the theater’s staircase wearing a striped t-shirt and jeans. Amazingly, he’s not the only ghost who haunts the KiMo. Several other spirits have been spotted inside, including an unknown woman wearing a bonnet who silently walks the halls at night.
[Image via Veronica & Ryan/YouTube]