Thursday, October 9, 2014

Top 10 Most Haunted Places In America

Ghosts. Some of us believe whole-heartily in them, many of us want desperately to believe, while the rest of us just aren’t sure and have no proof of their existence. Whether you believe in these spiritual apparitions or not, a good ghost story is always fun to listen to. We loves to have our spines tingle and be spooked by a great tale of ghosts. Here are the top 10 most haunted places in America. These are supposedly homes to legendary tales and infamous spirits. The stories that follow are both historically fascinating and eerily spooky at the same time. My bucket list of places to visit has just gotten longer!


When you think of creepy places to visit, one of the things top on everyone’s list is an insane asylum. One asylum in particular will bring a chill to your spine if you visit it. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was constructed between 1858 and 1881 and is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and is the second largest in the world. It was originally the Weston State Hospital and was designed to house 250 patients. Pre-1800’s mental illness was grossly misunderstood. People exhibiting aberrant behavior were popularly considered to be possessed by demons or witches and, on occasion, by the Devil himself. Many were killed as witches, treated barbarically, or placed in prisons in the company of common criminals, often chained to walls, unclothed regardless of temperature and mired in their own filth. By the 1800’s asylums were starting to be constructed to house the mentally insane, but they weren’t treated any better in these facilities. Treatment here in the Trans Alleghany meant being locked in cages, chained to walls or possibly given lobotomies or electroshock therapy. At its peak in the 1950’s this hospital that was meant to house 250 contained more than 2,600 patients who suffered ailments ranging from epilepsy, alcoholism, drug addicts and non-educable mental defectives to “woman troubles” as one building sign reads. Hundreds of people died here due to mistreatment before the facility closed in 1994. Spirits are said to haunt the building and grounds today, dating back to the Civil War era when the asylum’s grounds served as a military post. Many people believe the asylum is haunted by former patients and staff. People claim to hear laughter, and see shadows and apparitions. Other common signs, such as battery drainage and cold spots are also reported.


On June 10, 1912, the old white frame house at 508 E. 2nd Street became a grisly crime scene. The heinous murder of Josiah B. Moore, his wife, their 4 children and 2 young girls who were overnight guests rocked the small town of Villisca, IA, and the murderer was never identified. Eight people had been bludgeoned to death, presumably with an axe belonging to Josiah himself and left at the crime scene. It appeared all had been asleep at the time of the murders.

Over the years, residents of the home reported visions of a man with an ax, children crying and unexplained paranormal activity. In 1994, the home was restored to its original condition with no indoor plumbing or electricity. To this day no one really knows what happened on that dark night inside the home of the Moore family.

3. THE MYRTLES PLANTATION – St. Francisville, Louisiana

The Myrtles Plantation was built in 1796 by General David Bradford and was first called Laurel Grove. This plantation is said to be one of the most haunted homes in America and several theories abound as to why this is such a paranormal hot spot. The home was built over the top of an Indian burial ground and after the house was built, ten deaths have occurred on the site. One of the most famous of these deaths was that of a slave girl named Chloe. In 1817 one of Bradford’s Law students, Clark Woodruff, married the General's daughter Sarah and managed the plantation. Legend has it that Chloe was caught eaves dropping on the family, and as punishment she had her ear cut off and was demoted to kitchen duty. As revenge she baked a cake and poisoned it with oleander leaves, a very toxic plant. Two of the tree children and Sarah, the mother, all died. The other slaves, fearful of their master’s anger, drug Chloe out to a tree and hanged her. She has roamed the plantation ever since. There have been several sightings of Chloe standing around the plantation, and there is even a famous “Chloe Postcard” where she was supposedly caught on film. 

 (This is Chloe supposedly standing there at the far end of the right building)

In 1834, Woodruff sold the plantation, the land, and its slaves to Rufffin Gray Sterling. In 1865 Sterling’s Wife, Mary Cobb, hired William Drew Winter to help manage the plantation as her lawyer and agent. In 1871, William was shot on the porch of the house and died within minutes. His footsteps are reported being heard on the porch to this day. Other phenomena reported have been hand prints in the mirrors, footsteps on the stairs, mysterious smells, cold spots and moving objects. The Myrtles Plantation is run as a bed and breakfast today.

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4. GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

As the site of one of the Civil Wars bloodiest battles, Gettysburg stands the test of time as one of the most haunted places in America. Over 50,000 soldiers from the Union and Confederate armies lost their lives in July, 1863: Cited as the war’s turning point, the Battle of Gettysburg effectively ended confederate General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North and was the inspiration for Abraham Lincolns famous speech “The Gettysburg Address”. A National Historic site today, not only does it offer a wealth of history, but is also said to be one of the most haunted places in the nation.  Visitors claim to hear the thunder of canons, gunfire and screams and moans of the battle's victims. Devil's Den, a rock formation where dozens of bodies and limbs were discovered after the war, is a popular spot for tourists seeking a ghostly encounter in this historic area.  The reports don’t just end with the battlefield: hotels, homes and various businesses are also haunted by the ghosts of this fateful battle. 

5. THE STANLEY HOTEL – Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel was built in the early 1900’s by F.O. Stanley, who created the Stanley Steam Engine. It opened in 1909, catering to the rich and famous. Steven King stayed at this hotel while he wrote “The Shining”, being inspired by the paranormal activity, and is the infamous locale where Jack Nicholson went crazy in the movie (even though most of the movie was filmed on a sound stage in Hollywood). Well known spooks include a young boy who makes his presence known in room 1211 and a young man who just likes to hang out in closets and bedrooms. The hotel’s owner, Mr. Stanley, makes his presence known by appearing to visitors in the lobby and billiards room, while his wife Flora entertains guests by playing a piano. There are reports of having belongings unpacked, lights turning on and off, and hearing phantom children laughing and giggling in the halls. Staff members have also heard music coming from the empty ballroom and kids running and playing on the floors above them. The hotel is a fully functioning facility to this day with beautiful rooms and accommodations. 

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6. EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Built in 1829, this former prison was originally built to house up to 250 inmates, but the numbers eventually swelled to over 1,700. Eastern State was the first prison of its kind – prisoners were held in solitary confinement, with their own yards, so there was no contact with any other inmate whatsoever. The theory was the principle of reform rather than punishment; however this treatment drove many inmates to insanity and was therefore scrapped in 1913. Inmates were brutally mistreated, often sprayed with freezing cold water and sent outside in the middle of winter. Punishment often resulted in a water bath, where the inmate would be dunked in a bath of ice-cold water then hung from the wall for the night. They were also punished in what was called the “mad Chair’ so named because it was not uncommon for an inmate to go mad before is punishment ended. During this punishment, inmates would be strapped into the chair so tightly that it was impossible for them to move at all while sitting for days without food until the circulation in the body was almost stopped from the tightness of the straps and the lack of movement. For consistently refusing to obey the no communication rules, an iron collar was sometimes clamped onto the tongue of the inmate, and then chained to his wrists which were strapped high behind their back. Called the Iron Gag, any movement would result in the tearing of the tongue and severe bleeding, from which many died before their torment ended.  Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held within these walls. The prison was shut down in 1971, but many of the inmates supposedly stayed to walk the halls. Experiences such as shadowy figures, evil laughing, ghostly faces, voices, footsteps and banging sounds have all been witnessed regularly.
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7. ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE – St. Augustine, Florida

The St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in 1874, replacing the first one which was about ¼ mile away and lost due to tidal erosion. Legend has it that the daughters of the Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction drowned. They were playing in a rail car used to bring supplies up the hillside and something happened to cause them to fall into the water. They have continued to haunt the building ever since their untimely death. Three other people have passed away in the lighthouse from illnesses, while a keeper named Joseph fell to his death. Visitors have claimed to see shadows high up in the tower, while others hear the daughters laughing and giggling at night. The eldest girl is also fond of appearing before guests donned in the clothing she wore on the day of her death. 

8. MOUNDSVILLE PENITENTIARY – Moundsville, West Virginia

During its more than 100 years in operation, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia was one of America's most violent correctional facilities. It is estimated that one thousand inmates died while being incarcerated at this fearsome, Gothic style prison. Some died of natural causes, while others were murdered by other prisoners. Suicide and violent punishments contributed to the deaths of many other inmates. Over the course of the penitentiary’s history, 94 men were put to death since the first executions began in 1899: 85 hangings and 9 by electrocution. Prisons are often the places of unhappy, angry people, thus they are a great place to find ghosts of people who have had traumatic experiences or have died there and can’t quite leave. The prison closed in 1995, but according to some, the tortured spirits are still behind bars and in the bowels of the prison and may be seen or heard on a tour. One of the he most famous hauntings is The Maintenance Man, who made it his responsibility to report the wrong doings of inmates to the guards. This of course didn’t sit well with the inmates and they shivved him with homemade knives while he was sitting on the toilet. He is often seen wandering around the bathroom area of the basement. 

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With mile-long hallways, staircases to nowhere and doors that open into walls, this mysterious maze-like Victorian mansion in San Jose boasts 160-rooms. The home was originally built by Sarah Winchester, the wealthy widow of William Wirt Winchester (son of the manufacturer of the Winchester repeating rifle).  Sarah tragically lost both her daughter and husband to illness in 1881 and later sought help from a spiritual adviser to overcome her depression. The medium warned Sarah that the Winchester family had been struck by a terrible curse, and would be haunted by the ghosts of the many deceased killed by the Winchester rifle. The only way to appease the dead according to the medium was to build a house for the lost souls... and never stop building. In 1884 Sarah purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. She did not use an architect and added onto the building in a haphazard fashion, so that the home contains numerous oddities like doors or stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs with odd-sized risers.  For 38 years, construction on the house continued for 24 hours a day, until Sarah died on September 5, 1922, at which time the work immediately ceased. Over the years numerous strange events have been reported such as ghostly footsteps, banging doors, mysterious voices, cold spots and Sarah Winchester herself, has been spied many times.

10. WHALEY HOUSE – San Diego, California

Built on the site of San Diego’s first public gallows in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, the Whaley House was built for use as a general store and granary, along with the main residence for the Whaley family. As soon as Whaley moved into the house he heard disembodied footsteps upstairs. He believed it was the ghost of Yankee Jim Robinson, a drifter and thief who was hanged four years before the house was built. Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852 and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. Although Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there. Robinson can allegedly be heard walking in the halls, opening and closing doors, and making chairs rock and chandeliers seem to swing of their own accord. Many guests have also felt a sadness in the home, attributed to Whaley’s daughter, Violet, who committed suicide here. Violet was married to George T Bertolacci on January 5, 1882. Two weeks into the marriage Violet awoke to find her husband gone. Bertolacci turned out to be a con artist and only married her for the dowry he believed he would collect upon the marriage. Violet and Georg’s divorce was finalized approximately a year later, but she never recovered from the public humiliation and betrayal and suffered depression. Violet committed suicide by shooting herself in the chest on August 18, 1885 at the age of 22 years. Many claim to see Violet walking the halls of the home to this day.

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