The stories behind the 15 most haunted places in America If you don’t believe in the supernatural, you may just start now.

America is rich with a history linked to the dark and the mysterious, and wherever there is evidence of antiquity, there is the potential for a haunting. If you don’t believe in the supernatural, you may just start now. Not convinced? Well, maybe one of our founding fathers will convince you.

The Stanley Hotel

“Heeeere’s Johnny!” The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado has a lot of history. Not only was the Colorado resort the inspiration of Stephen King’s “The Shining,” it also carries a dark history that reportedly continues to haunt the property, including the ghost of the hotel’s head housekeeper and the hotel’s founder.

Employees will tell you that the most haunted portion is the fourth floor. One room in particular, room 401, is said to have been the where female employees, children, and nannies stayed. To this day, guests will report hearing children running, laughing, giggling and playing. Perhaps the inspiration for the twins in the Shining?

If you were to look up “horror” in the Oxford Dictionary, you’d most likely see Stephen King’s picture take up the page. While on vacation in late September of 1974, King and his wife had the opportunity to stay a night at the Stanley Hotel. They were the only ones in the hotel, which made it the perfect setting for some haunting action.

That night, King had a nightmare involving his son and woke up in cold sweat. It was after the nightmare that King began formulating the plot for his acclaimed novel, The Shining. The room he stayed in, room 217, was occupied by a housekeeper whose spirit moves and unpacks luggage. She is known to the employees as Mrs. Wilson.

The Gettysburg Hotel

If you’re a Civil War buff, then you know about the Battle of Gettysburg. It was one of the bloodiest battles in American history, and leftover 50,000 dead and wounded along with 5,000 dead horses. The land was torn by cannon shrapnel and rifle smoke. All that was left was pain and misery.

Those who perished were either buried or left to the elements. Not far from the hideous aftermath was the Gettysburg Hotel which was converted into a makeshift war hospital where soldiers on the brink of death were housed, many of which died from their injuries. rumors has it that over those who passed in the hospital, some of the spirits never quite left the building.

Many eyewitnesses have reported sightings of a woman, who goes by the name of Rachel and is believed to have been a nurse during the war, still haunts the halls of the Gettysburg Hotel. She’s rumored to move guest belongings and open drawers, which is apparently a common hobby of ghosts.

Other witnesses claim to see a lone veteran soldier walk the grounds late at night clad in a Union uniform. The last ghost reported on the property was a woman who danced in the center of the hotel’s ballroom to imaginary music. Guests have also reported hearing music coming from the ballroom.

The White House

The White House is more than a building. It’s a symbol that represents executive leadership and the foundation of American principles. Over the past 200 years, Americans have witnessed great leaders come and go under the neo-classical roof of our country’s HQ. That means there is 200+ years of supernatural potential.

Don’t take it from us — take it from Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the first ladies who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and swore that during her time there, she heard and witnessed spirits roaming through the halls of the White House. It was well known that Mary firmly believed in the supernatural. She held séances through which she thought she could communicate with the spirit of her dead sons. Instead, she heard footsteps, which she believed belonged to Andrew Jackson, upstairs in the Rose Room which Jackson used as his bedchamber during his presidency.

If that wasn’t enough, Harry Truman wrote a letter in 1945 to his wife saying how he also heard Jackson stomping overhead.

“I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs, read reports, and work on speeches–all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth–I can just imagine old Andy [Jackson] and Teddy [Roosevelt] having an argument over Franklin [Roosevelt].”

Not convinced? In the 1920s, First Lady Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge, swore to have seen former president Abraham Lincoln looking out a window in the Oval Office across the Potomac, where former Civil War battlefields laid beyond. Winston Churchill and Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands also claimed to have seen Lincoln’s ghost there.

Alcatraz

Surrounded by shark-infested waters on an isolated island off the urban metropolis of San Francisco, Alcatraz is the ultimate fortress for the infamous and notorious. One memorable inmate in the Alcatraz’s penitentiary was none other than the “tax evading” Al Capone. Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala named the island Isla de los Alcatraces, which loosely translates to “island of the pelicans.”

There is a long and dynamic legacy of haunting and paranormal activity that hangs over the sourdough-baking city. Some witnesses claim that they’re still haunting the cells to this day and that some inmates have never left. Their spirits still remain behind the concrete walls waiting to be released.

Those who’ve perished behind the prison walls are said to still haunt the prison to this day, including on inmate who died in cell 14D, a “hole” cell. The inmate who supposedly died in cell 14D was said to have screamed through the night before his death, claiming a creature with glowing green eyes was after him.

They found him in the cell the next morning strangled to death. To this day, visitors who enter cell 14D claims they feel cold spots and fear an intense jolt of fear inside. There are even reports of crying and sobbing coming from the area.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Tinsel Town is known for its stars on the Hollywood Boulevard and the gimmicky tourist-traps that attract every mid-westerner on the east side of the Mississippi. It’s where many peoples’ hopes and dreams come to die, except for the lucky few who manage to hit it big.

Perhaps is this nowhere more perfectly symbolized than Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, and Clark Gable have at some point checked in here, helping it become known as the hotel of the rich and famous. However, as with many good things, there are stories of something rather sinister lurking in its walls.

Speaking of Marilyn Monroe, the blonde bombshell of classic Hollywood is said to haunt a room in the famed establishment (we’re going to guess it’s the most requested room in the building). Though she died in her Hollywood home in Brentwood, many guests claims they’ve seen her in her favorite room: room 213. Those who have stayed in the room have reported coming face to face with Marilyn.

Guests report to seeing the Hollywood starlet gussying herself up in the corner of the room. Supposedly, there was once a vanity mirror in the room where Marilyn was known to doll up. Other spooky things? There are reports of cold spots, floating orbs, and a mysterious phone calls to the hotel operator.

The Alamo

Remember the Alamo! No, seriously, remember the Alamo? It hovers over every conversation regarding the US annexing the once-Mexican territory and turning it into what is now the great state of Texas. The historical landmark was the site of a great battle in which Texan volunteer soldiers occupied the former mission turned fortress and witnessed a miracle.

They survived a 13-day siege against Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army and achieved the impossible. They secured the victory that ensured the success of Texan independence. But aside from the glory, many deaths resulted in the squabble between two countries, leaving behind a world housed by the supernatural.

When the war ended in 1836, many soldiers laid bloody and dying. Thousands were killed, and the majority were unable to receive a proper burial and were thrown into a mass grave. It’s no wonder many spirits wander the fort to this day. Many security guards who patrol the area report to hearing strange sounds from the site.

One witness reports to hearing disembodied footsteps in the middle of the night and some report having seen a little boy in the gift shop. There was even one account of a security guard who claims to have seen John Wayne (yes, the Duke himself) reciting his lines from his film “The Alamo.” Though the last account may be questionable, the former has been frequently been reported, along with sightings of wandering soldiers.

The Winchester Mystery House

Imagine this: Your family has a long connective history with one of the most dangerous weapons of the modern world. Due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, a close loved one passes away and occultists bid you a single warning: The spirits of those who died by your family’s violent creations will come to haunt you for the rest of your days. Yikes.

Most people would most likely laugh it off and go on with their lives, but not Sarah Lockwood Winchester. She took the warning to heart. The wife of a gun magnate whose family created the Winchester rifle, Sarah sought a spiritualist after her husband died in 1881. The spiritualist gave her some alarming advice.

The medium convinced Sarah that her husband’s spirit wanted her to protect herself by building “a home for [herself] and for the spirits who have fallen” from the rifles her husband had created. Sarah took “his” advice seriously and immediately began construction. However, the designs were completely wacky.

She included trap doors and staircases that led to nowhere along with doors that open to blank walls and a two-story drop. Construction lasted for 38 years until Sarah’s death in 1922. Once news spread that the mistress of the notorious Queen Anne Victorian had died, carpenters quit construction so abruptly that they left half-hammered nails sticking out the walls. Plus, is it just us or does the only-known portrait of the Mrs. (above) look pretty ghostly itself?

North Brother Island

Tucked between the Bronx and East River is a secret hiding in plain sight. North Brother Island was a small residential area until 1885, when the city purchased the island to build a hospital known as Riverside Hospital.

The hospital became a medical facility to house the sick and dying. In the turn of the century, York City was struck by an epidemic. Tuberculosis was the number one killer, but there were other diseases plaguing the city, among them typhus, influenza, yellow fever, and smallpox.

There was one patient on North Brother Island who trailed sickness at her wake and was quite notorious for a pretty unflattering reason: “Typhoid Mary” Mallon. She was the United States’ “first documented asymptomatic carrier of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever.” She was released from quarantine in 1910, only to go on to infect 25 people thereafter.

Once it was brought to the city’s attention, she was then sent back to Brother Island to live the remainder of her days (she died in 1938). Since her death, over 1,000 people have perished on the island.

Old Town Pizza

No, the pizza isn’t haunted. The only thing pizza should be haunting are those with a gluten and lactose allergy. No, pizza establishment known as Old Town Pizza in Portland, Oregon is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the state. Why? For one reason: human trafficking.

This was one of the most shameful practices committed during the turn of the 19th century. It’s not so much that the pizzeria has a history, but the history in its foundation. Below the restaurant are the Shanghai tunnels where many men have been forcibly kidnapped and stowed underground, only to be transported on ships as slave laborers. Many did not survive.

Many witnesses report seeing men below, supposedly sailors who died at sea and returned to haunt the tunnels. But there is one ghost who frequents the tunnels to this day. In the late 1800s, the pizzeria used to be an old hotel known as Old Town’s Merchant Hotel. It was there that a woman named Nina met her untimely end.

Working as a prostitute, Nina was said to have been sedated and thrown down an elevator shaft leading down to the Shanghai tunnels. She died on impact. Rumor has it that you can see her ghost in the tunnels. Many swear to have smelled her perfume or have an unknown force tug at their clothes.

Calcasieu Courthouse

The 1940s is a time that is filled with noir and demure, where women fall to pieces in the arms of handsome men or play music at the local dance, full of soldiers and jazzy music. However, the case of Toni Jo Henry is one that might have come out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. You see, it was Toni Jo Henry who killed a man in cold blood.

Henry’s husband was serving a 50-year sentence and Toni Jo helped spring him out. While on the road, they managed to hitchhike with a friendly, unsuspecting good samaritan. However, this was one couple that the samaritan should have left behind.

Somewhere down the road, the couple robbed and killed the poor man. They caught and arrested by authorities. It was never clear who killed the poor soul who picked them up that night. However, after three repeals, Henry was sentenced to death via electric chair.

Her husband, on the other hand, got out on parole due to a medical condition. Henry was the only woman in the state of Louisiana who died via electric chair. Employees at the Calcasieu Courthouse report to hearing blood-curdling screams, burnt hair, and having their desk items moved. It’s rumored that her spirit locks doors and meddles in everyday office life in the courthouse.

Philosophical Society Library

There’s always history in antiquity, whether it’s a house, a school, or even a library. The Philosophical Society Library resides in the heart of Philadelphia and was founded in 1743 by one of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Besides the opportunity of garnering and fostering knowledge, the library is also known for something more than chalk boards and class bells.

They have ghosts. Specifically, one ghost. The ghost is rumored to be Benjamin Franklin himself. Laying the very foundation of our nation’s government, Ben Franklin is a name many revere and respect. However, after his death in 1790, legend has it that his spirit is still tied to this earthly plane.

The writer, printer, scientist, inventor, and philosopher is said to have been making an appearance as far back as 1884. It’s reported that a cleaning woman was knocked over by a ghostly apparition rushing toward a bookshelf in the library. Her description was eerily similar to the appearance of the late founding father along with other sightings of the sound of disembodied footsteps.

Whether or not we can take to this cleaning woman’s account, other witnesses have sworn they’ve seen the library’s statute of Ben Franklin dancing up and down the city streets. Sounds more like an urban legend that a frightening tale.

Waipio Valley

When you think Hawaii, you think of white sandy beaches and purple sunsets while lounging on a hammock with a green coconut drink in your hand. The last thing you’d think about is a bunch of torch-wielding ghosts parading down a winding road in the middle of paradise.

They’re called Night Marchers and they are the legendary phantom warriors that are said to roam the Islands in the dead of night. Meant to protect the sacred, these ancient Hawaiian warriors are said to wield torches and race on top of what used to be ancient battlegrounds defending their home turf even after death.

Meant to be a ghost story to ward off evil-doers, the Night Marchers are said to brand death on anyone who looks them in the eye or gets in the way of their procession. Many locals believe the legend so much, they even follow the rules of how to protect themselves against them.

One rule is to avert your eyes — never look them in the eye as they march, for that’s the way they mark you. Some witnesses claim to have captured these Night Marchers on camera in downtown Honolulu. The Night Marchers appear on the last Hawaiian moon phases, often chanting and beating on drums as they light their way through the islands.

Ellis Island

As immigrants came in torrents toward American shores, they also brought with them illnesses and various diseases. Is it really a surprise that maybe, just maybe, the very place that harbored them all might just possibly be haunted?

Aside from the textbook version of the increased immigration in the United States, we’re willing to bet you didn’t know that Ellis Island had a medical facility that has seen over 3,500 deaths. In fact, out of the 1.25 million people who passed through Ellis Island, 90% were denied entry into the United States between 1901–1924 because of disease. For many first arriving to the States during this time, the real struggle was only getting started.

Today, it’s alleged that spirits of those lost immigrants haunt the island and the medical ward to this day. Many testify they hear voices, slamming doors, and children crying or laughing.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

The early 1900s was a time of medical affliction that had claimed thousands across the nations, especially in the urban and heavily populated areas. No disease was more destructive than tuberculosis. Known as the “white plague,” the disease affected the lungs and held no sign for a cure until 1944, when a vaccine completely eradicated the disease.

Until then, many were subjected to isolation and quarantine in secluded hospitals away from people and cities. One of those hospitals was Waverly Hills Sanitarium. Constructed in 1910, it was meant to be a place for rejuvenation and healing. However, the medical center was far from rejuvenating. It was more like a hell then a hospital.

There was no cure for TB until 1944 and until the cure, many scratched their heads while trying to ease patients from pain and torment. However, they did the very opposite. In the sanitarium doctors were said to remove ribs, and inflate lungs believing it would help patients. In the end, many died within its desolate walls.

Among the many victims were children, specifically a little boy named Timmy. Visitors and paranormal investigators are said to have heard the voice of a child in the dormitories. Little Timmy is rumored to play with toys. Visitors often leave toys for the young boy, and witnesses report battery operated toys going off on their own, and rubber balls bouncing through the halls.

The Sultan’s Palace

The Jazz, the booze, the people, New Orleans is the epitome of what it means to have a good time. None is more famous than the city’s French Quarter, which oozes historical architecture and charm. However, in the Madi Gras-famed city there’s a darkness that plagues 716 Dauphine St., also known as The Sultan’s Palace.

The famed haunted hotel was built in 1836 and later purchased by a Turkish man claiming to be a sultan. When luxurious home was given to the rumored royal, it was recorded that he had installed extra locks on all the doors and added heavy drapery on the windows and chains.

Soon, the mansion would be a place of live music, incense, and pleasure. However, many were suspicious about what went on behind the mansion’s closed doors. One morning in the French Quarter, a neighbor was taking a walk when he noticed blood trickling down the steps and out onto the sidewalk. The neighbor called the police and discovered something hideous within. It was a massacre inside filled with what looked to be obvious torture and brutal homicide.

Today the Sultan’s Palace is broken up into small apartments. Inside, residents often report missing items such as house keys; others claim to hear screaming and strange voices in their homes. What can you expect from a mansion with such a bloody mystery?

Leslie Gonzalez is a fiction and content writer, editor, and certified copy editor from Indio, California. Her work is published in LOCALE magazine, OK Whatever magazine, FLAUNT magazine, and History 101. She is a hardcore lover of all things fantasy and science fiction (with the acceptance of the occasional ghost story). She performed for The Desert Sun and was the former Blog Editor for The Coachella Review. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from California State University, Northridge and earned her Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from UC Riverside Low Residency program in Palm Desert.

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
trackback

[…] don’t recommend doing that if you scare easily, because you’ll discover that, yes indeed, your hotel may have a few ghosts in it. But I’m fine with celebrity ghosts, especially if one of them is Marilyn […]