Fake haunted houses and spooky hay rides are everywhere when October rolls around. Some are better than others—some are very good in fact and they certainly have their place, but those looking for a genuine encounter with the paranormal won’t find what they’re looking for at a typical spook house.
Haunted places have history; in some cases they’ve housed pure evil and, in others, terrible tragedy. These places have seen nightmares come to life within their very walls and the memories still haunt visitors today.
Creaky staircases and phantom gusts of wind are just the beginning in these prisons, theaters and ships. A visit to the Whaley House has been said to make guests inexplicably sad and movie-goers in Lincoln Square Theater have reported seeing a figure missing an arm. If you’re brave enough, skip the cheesy attractions this October and head out to one of America’s most haunted destinations on our list.
Moundsville Penitentiary—Moundsville, W. Va.
One of America’s most haunted prisons has a past darker than most. Before the prison closed in 1995, nearly 1,000 prisoners died within its walls. The history of the penitentiary includes several riots, escapes, hangings, electrocutions and grisly murders—visitors say they can feel the presence of trapped souls still lingering. Take a tour or stay overnight and find the original electric chair, “old sparky,” still in its place.
Stone’s Public House—Ashland, Mass.
Formerly known as the Railroad House, this site was once a booming hotel put up by John Stone in 1834. After fairly recent restoration in the 1970s, Stone’s now serves lunch, dinner and drinks, with a haunted twist. It is believed that the founder John Stone is just one of many spirits that haunt the place. There have been reports of doors that won’t remain locked, birdseed falling through holes in the ceiling and customers being tapped on the back only to turn and find no one there. Rumor has it Stone accidentally killed a New York man staying in the hotel after he thought the man cheated in a card game. The skeleton of that man is thought to be buried in the basement—the tale is so convincing the current owner has agreed to dig up the floor in search of his remains.
Editor's Note: additional reporting by Cathrine Adamo.