All Hallows Eve is fast approaching, which in days of yore celebrated the day when Samhain, Lord of the dead, gathered together all the souls of the departed for that year and moved them on to the next plane of existence…but did he leave some of them behind? Many people claim to have seen a ghost, and even more believe in them. North America is full of places around which ghostly lore has built up. With that in mind, October is the perfect time to plan a trip to some of the most haunted locations in the continental North. Which one is closest to you? And are you man enough to go creeping around these terrifying places in the dark?
10. Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – Banff, Alberta
Built in 1887, the Banff Springs Hotel is a massive chateau set within a beautiful Rocky Mountain vista that would remind anyone of the haunted hotel immortalized in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. There could be no more fitting of a place for the undead to roam. Several spirits are said to call the hotel their home but none more famous than the “Doomed Bride”. The bride was walking to her wedding banquet, bedecked for her beautiful day in a very flammable wedding gown, which as luck would have it, got too close to a decorative candle and caught fire. Turning in terror, surely thinking her perfect day was ruined, she slipped on the staircase and fell, breaking her neck and dying. Many guests claim to have seen the sad lady dancing alone in the ballroom, forever mourning the love she lost. The eternal bellman, Sam, has also been witnessed here by more than a few guests and employees. Sam is an old Scottish man who worked for the hotel for decades and passed into the hereafter in 1975. It seems he never realized he no longer worked there, because even to this day people report being assisted to their accommodations with old-world courtesy by Sam. Oddly, The Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, New Brunswick has remarkably similar ghost sightings.
9. Josiah B. and Sarah Moore House – Villisca, IA
On a balmy summer night in 1912, Josiah Moore, his wife, his four children and two of the children’s friends (all aged 12 and under) were bludgeoned to death in the family home. Only one victim, one of the children’s friends, was awake during the attack. They know this because she was the only one with defensive axe wounds on her arms… Like the plot to some horrific “whodunit”, many suspects were brought to light, one mentally disturbed Reverend George Kelly was even tried twice, but no one was ever convicted. The crime remains unsolved. The home has since been placed on the National Register of Historic Places list and many people have supposedly experienced paranormal phenomena in the home. Many reports have been made of sounds of children laughing, children crying, apparitions of an axe-wielding man, and multiple voices picked up by EVP equipment, including one whispering “I killed six kids”…Is it possible that in another dimension we can almost see and hear this crime is being rehashed over and over again?
8. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery – Bremen Township, IL
Just outside of Chicago lays an abandoned and overgrown cemetery that has been the subject of many a paranormal rumor since breaking hallowed ground in the 1840s. Even though the cemetery is well off the beaten path and you can only get to it by walking through unkempt countryside at least a quarter mile from the closest road, many paranormal researchers have made the trek to check the rumors for themselves. There are also rumors that the site has been used by occultists for satanic worship and ritualistic sacrifices over the years. Reports of glowing orbs floating amongst the graves began in the 70s and continue even today. A phantom house is said to appear to the occasional visitor, but as the visitor approaches the house, it seems to get further away until it disappears altogether. A man with a horse and plow are often seen trudging into the slough where they both drowned years ago. Many unexplained EVP recordings have been taken in the graveyard, even though electronics are known to act strange upon approach; cameras taking pictures on their own, fully-charged batteries draining in an instant, etc. The most famous “capture” was during a research expedition in 1991. Someone took a picture of a tombstone that revealed, upon having the pictures developed, a semi-transparent woman in turn-of-the-century clothing, sitting on top of the stone. No one was there when the picture was taken.
7. Rails Restaurant – La Grange, KY
Not all hauntings are the result of sad souls mourning and moaning about the lives they lost. Some spirits are playful and mischievous, like Jennie, the little girl that haunts the Rails Restaurant in La Grange, Kentucky. Said to have died of typhoid sometime in the 1800s, the little girl has often been seen wearing a white dress with a bow in her hair. She is heard laughing and playfully moves things about in the building, like table settings, toys, chairs, etc. Ownership of the restaurant recently changed hands and during remodeling, workers found toys in places that would be inaccessible to pranksters. The owners, intrigued by events and thankful that the ghost does not appear to be malicious or depressed, have placed a doll for the little girl to play with in the restaurant.
6. Gettysburg Battlefield – Gettysburg, PA
Who would have guessed that a plot of land on which nearly 8000 people lost their lives during a two-day battle would be littered with the souls of the departed? There are reports of ghostly armies, women in mourning pacing the fields and wailing, children and animals crying, as well as the moans of injured and dying soldiers droning on for the past 151 years. That’s not all, though. The haunting is not exclusive to the battlefield; locations nearby that housed wounded soldiers report loads of paranormal activity. The Herr Tavern, used as a field hospital, was so full of amputations that doctors had to throw limbs out the windows to keep them from piling up inside. The rooms are reportedly haunted by the amputees that died soon after surgery and never left the building. There is also an orphanage nearby that housed the children of fallen soldiers. Rosa Carmichael, headmistress of the orphanage, was an extremely abusive woman and fashioned a 5’x8’ windowless room called “the cellar” in which to punish the children. Kids as young as 5 were bound, beaten, and left in the room for as long as Rosa saw fit. The cellar is said to be so dark and full of despair that people with psychic abilities will not enter.
5. Pennhurst State School and Hospital – Pennhurst, PA
Built in 1908, Pennhurst was intended to be a nurturing live-in home for the “feeble-minded and epileptic.” As one would imagine, the reports of abuse and neglect began as soon as it opened its doors. Pennhurst housed over 10,000 patients during the course of its service to the community, mostly comprised of people with autism and various mental handicaps. Families struggling to care for a member would drop their loved ones off thinking they would be better cared for by a staff member paid to do just that, but with far too many patients and far too little funding, “care” was a thing hard to come by at Pennhurst Asylum. Punishment for “unfit behavior” however, was in abundance. Many patients were abused, ignored, and raped at Pennhurst by angry, overworked staff or by other inmates, and the staff would organize fights between patients for their own amusement. If a patient bit someone they were reprimanded, but if a second biting incident occurred, a dentist would pull out all of the patient’s teeth. After the facility closed its doors in the 80s, reports began stacking up of the sounds of vomiting issuing from empty rooms, cries of lament in the dark, and apparitions wandering from room to room mourning their sad lives in the institution.
4. Amityville House – Amityville, NY
Famed site of the DeFeo family massacre and the most obvious inclusion on this list, the Amityville House has been the subject of many horror movies and books. If you’ve somehow missed them and don’t know the story, Ronald DeFeo, Jr., adult son of the house’s then owners, Ron and Louise DeFeo, murdered his parents and four brothers and sisters in the house while they slept. DeFeo is still alive and incarcerated, but the souls of some of his victims as well as other darker spirits still reportedly haunt the house. The most famous story of this haunting is the account of the George and Kathy Lutz family. After buying the house at an incredible bargain price, the family began to experience terrifying, ghostly phenomenon including voices, green ooze, sulphurous smells, red eyes peering at them from the dark, windows and doors opening and closing on their own, and an extremely odd encounter their family priest had when he tried to bless the house. The Lutz family only stayed in the house for 28 days before leaving and having a moving company procure their belongings. To deter modern-day sightseers, the house’s address and familiar exterior windows have been changed.
3. LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, LA
Can the buildings we live in carry imprints of our hurt? In the 1830s Delphine LaLaurie, a beautiful Creole socialite, and her third husband built a three-story mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In this exquisite home, they threw refined parties, raised their children, and tortured their slaves. While the city had been informed that LaLaurie was mistreating her servants, representatives sent to investigate could find nothing. However, during a fancy party in 1834, the house was suddenly set ablaze! When people came to assist the LaLauries, they found the cook, a 70-year-old negress chained to the kitchen stove. She claimed she set the fire in an attempt to commit suicide, preferring to burn to death than to be punished “in the attic.” When firefighters finally located and broke their way into the attic room, they found a scene of blood-curdling carnage. Slaves had been stretched, bound, cut, and mangled in a shocking variety of ways. When the public found out, they mobbed the home in a fury and the family fled, never to be heard from again. Ghosts of slaves walking the halls and grounds, screams of agony, and encounters with whip-wielding phantoms have been reported time and again as people have attempted to re-inhabit the LaLaurie Mansion.
2. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The architecture, atmosphere, and age of one of North America’s oldest cities lends much credence to the plethora of hauntings reported here…Old Montreal is the site of 17th century fur trade, and as the community grew, so did Montreal’s rich history. At Old Montreal’s Auberge Le Saint-Gabriel, the oldest inn in North America, a little girl who tragically lost her life in a fire there is often seen wandering the halls. Another house in Old Montreal still has the patron’s wife occasionally overseeing activities even though she died in the late 1800s. Apparitions are very frequently seen floating through Mount Royal Cemetery, including a Native warrior and his steed. People report having been pushed by invisible hands and hearing disembodied voices in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Employees of Royal Victoria Hospital report hearing footsteps in empty hallways, seeing “light anomalies”, and even the apparitions of former patients forever awaiting treatment in the hereafter.
1. Sites of the Salem Witch Trials – Salem, MA
During the course of 16 months in 1692 and 93, twenty “witches” (mostly women) were executed, five more of the accused died in prison, and at least another 50 people were incarcerated for suspicion of witchcraft. Is it any wonder that Salem reports numerous hauntings? The Witch Trials Memorial and nearby graveyard are said to be haunted by those who were executed and many witnesses have caught strange things on camera including apparitions, orbs, unexplained shadows, etc. The house of Joshua Ward is said to be haunted by an elderly woman who appears very angry when she allows herself to be seen, as well as the ghost of George Corwin, a man who was so despised at the time of his death that he had to be buried under the boards of the cellar of the house to keep angry community members from desecrating his grave. Inexplicable fragrances of apples in a local hotel have caused some to speculate that it is haunted by Bridget Bishop, owner of an apple orchard and the first of those executed for witchcraft (accused because she supposedly came to men in their dreams). The Salem Jail where prisoners were left to starve, suffer, and die has been renovated and turned into luxury condos. If one wishes to live in a place where they would almost definitely encounter the souls of the long-deceased, they can do so for a pretty penny. With Salem’s wicked history, echoes of the past reverberate in far too many places to count on this list.