Halloween special: Tracking 13 of the creepiest historical places in the U.S.
The history of the United States may be relatively young compared to the rest of the world, nevertheless it has its fair share of legends and lore trying to explain the unexplained phenomena associated with some of the oldest sites in the New World.
As we celebrate Halloween this month -- including our collection of Halloween flags -- here are 13 of the spookiest historical sites in America for your perusal, if you dare.
El Campo Santo and The Whaley House, San Diego
The Whaley House is a popular stop on the ghost hunting-related reality show tours and for good reason. Just steps away from the equally-eerie El Campo Santo cemetary, Yankee Jim Robinson was hanged on the spot where the house would be built. Ranked as the No. 1 haunted house in the U.S. by the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted. Soon after the Whaley family moved in years after Robinson’s death, loud footsteps could be heard. Violet Whaley committed suicide in the home and apparitions of other family members allegedly can be seen there today.
Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Mass.
Yes, you can stay overnight in the same home that Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her parents, Andrew and Abby, with an axe on Aug. 4, 1892. The house now serves as a Bed & Breakfast and you can also reserve a spot for the home’s Paranormal Night events or take part in the hour-long tours daily.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colo.
The inspiration behind Stephen King’s book, The Shining, the centrury-old resort was the idea child of Massachusetts couple F.O. and Flora Stanley. And legend has it, they never left. Mrs. Stanley can be heard playing the piano and Mr. Stanley can show up in photographs. Visitors have claimed apparitions and strange occurrences, including crying voices and footsteps and the ghost of a child calling out to his nanny.
The St. Augustine (Florida) Old Jail and Lighthouse
The oldest New World settlement is certain to house some memories, ill-fated or not. The Old Jail is relatively young compared to the municipality, but the deaths of many prisoners over the years continue to give a creepy feeling to visitors. The Lighthouse, being the oldest brick structure still standing there, has had its share of “inexplicable, mysterious and just plain eerie” events that draws many visitors.
Parker House, Boston
Built in the mid 1800s, it’s most famous entity is its original owner Harvey D. Parker. Charles Dickens lived on the third floor for two years and that floor is allegedly constantly receiving elevator visits without prompting. The third floor is infamous for Room 303, which is now walled off and is the inspiration for the Stephen King short story 1408.
The first U.S. Prison to implement solitary confinement, what some may view as a tortuous practice and may be behind the alleged spirits that still reside there. Al Capone spent a year at Eastern State for carrying an unlicensed firearm and his cell is among several attractions you can visit there. Halloween is an especially popular time to visit what is now one of America’s spookiest attractions.
Menger Hotel, San Antonio
The most haunted hotel in Texas is said to be home to 32 ghosts, including Teddy Roosevelt who persuaded bar patrons there to join his Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. Although situated next to The Alamo, it was built more than two decades after the battle. Maid Sallie White, who was brutally attacked and killed by her husband there, has reportedly been seen still tending to her duties around the building.
West Virginia Penitentiary
The last stop in the criminal justice system for many criminals, the West Virginia Penitentiary closed in 1995, but not after numerous riots and the execution of more than 100 prisoners. Tortured spirits are said to still be trapped behind bars in the bowels of the prison. Brave living souls can experience time in the prison from midnight to 6 a.m. if they dare.
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, Calif.
Built by the daughter-in-law of the famed riflemaker, Sarah Winchester, the whacky construction of the Mystery House can play with visitors' senses. Legend has it that after the death of her husband and daughter, Winchester was told by a seer that they were killed by the ghosts of gunshot victims. She bought the home in 1886 after moving from New Haven, Conn., and began a long renovation/addition project that lasted until her death in 1922. Helen Mirren protrayed Winchester in the 2018 movie “Winchester” which was filmed in part at the house.
The first capital of Alabama turned into an eerie ghost town. Abandoned after the Civil War, it sports a slave burial ground and other cemeteries that highlight the ghost tours. Pegues’ Ghost is a phenomena that has several origin stories involving Col. C.C. Pegues and a mysterious luminous orb that appear over the maze garden at his home following his death in battle in 1862.
Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah, Nev.
Voted the No. 1 haunted hotel by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards. The “Lady in Red” allegedly died on the fifth floor of this hotel that was built in 1907 and she supposedly makes her presence known by whispering in men’s ears and leaving pearls from her broken necklace in guests’ pillows. The hotel closed in 1999, but was purchased by Fred and Nancy Cline in 2011 and restored to its historic grandeur. U.S. Senator Key Pittman was a frequent guest and rumor has it that he died on the eve of the 1940 election and his body was kept on ice in a Mizpah bathtub until the election was over.
Crescent Hotel Spa, Eureka Springs, Ark.
Built in 1886, the building served many purposes -- luxury resort, conservatory for young women, junior college. When Norman Baker took over in 1937, however, it took on a new meaning. Baker relocated his “cancer treatment” hospital there and that is the premise behind the spirits, including Baker himself, who purportedly haunt the “Castle in the Air” on a hill above town to this day. His elixir scam supposedly netted him $500,000 a year until the feds caught up with him a couple of years.
Vulture Gold Mine, Wickenburg, Ariz.
A humming spot in Arizona’s gold rush, Vulture City quickly sprouted after prospector Henry Wickenburg’s gold discovery in 1863 and is now a frequently visited ghost town. Legend has it that at least 18 men were hanged at the hanging tree for stealing gold. Several miners were killed in a large underground chamber of the mines. Their bodies were never recovered and are said to haunt the area to this day.