If there's one thing that keeps getting lots of attention no matter how unrealistic it might be, it's anything related to ghosts. Humans have been obsessed with death, the afterlife, the supernatural, and the unexplainable for thousands of years, if not longer.
These curiosities regarding the dead and what -- if anything -- lies beyond have led to the rise of ghost stories, alleged hauntings, and supposedly unexplainable phenomena.
Some people love to be scared, and so they seek out creepy-looking places in the hopes of finding something to satisfy their thrills. Others are simply born creative and are capable of putting together convincing tales of murder, trapped spirits, demons, the occult, and supposedly empty locales that aren't actually empty.
These stories have, in some cases, become so convincing and popular that they've led to everything from novels to films to actual legal inquiries happening... all over some supposedly supernatural occurrence happening.
The United States is something of a hub for these so-called supernatural phenomena. Legends and stories of supposed hauntings have been passed down for generations, and, in some cases, the evidence supporting is very convincing.
Below, we'll look at the fifteen creepiest places in the United States that are believed to be haunted, though beware! If you aren't a thrill seeker, you might want to turn away now... you've been warned.
12 Shades Of Death Road, Warren County, New Jersey
The 7-mile road known as 'Shades of Death' got its name for several reasons. First, the southern half of the stretch has many old trees that block out the sun, even on the brightest days, providing lots of shade. Bandits were alleged to use this natural cover to conceal themselves and attack seemingly out of nowhere before killing unsuspecting passersby.
Second, people have reported seeing apparitions at all times of day along the highway, only for them to disappear the closer you got to them. Others have also reported seeing orbs when they turn into a single-lane side road named 'Lenape Lane,' and the local superstition is that if this orb turns red as you drive back onto Shades of Death Road, you will die.
Finally, there's a lake alongside the highway aptly named Ghost Lake, which releases vapors that have been reported to take on a 'wraith-like appearance,' which must be a great thing to see when you're driving on a quiet highway known for supernatural occurrences.
The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
This otherwise-average-looking house in Fall River, Massachusetts was the home of Lizzie Borden, who was the centerpiece of one of the most famous unsolved murders of the 19th century.
Currently, the building’s operated as a bed & breakfast, but its owner has described several occurrences that would make your skin crawl, especially if you were to stay there as a guest.
Creaking floors and doors closing on their own are commonplace enough that the owner doesn’t get bothered that much. But guests have reported much worse: light bulbs blowing out at random, shadows walking up the staircase, bed sheets being disrupted while guests unpack inside the room itself, and so on and so forth.
If horror films have taught us anything, it’s that anything related to Victorian Era clothing is creepy and unsettling. So, imagine yourself lying in bed in what’s supposed to be a quaint B&B, about to fall asleep.
Then, you open your eyes and there’s a woman in a Victorian-era gown in the same room as you, and then the empty space in the bed next to you starts to develop an indentation in the shape of a person – despite no person being there with you.
It’s enough to make your skin crawl like there’s no tomorrow.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA), Weston, West Virginia
This ominous-looking mammoth of a building was meant to be a place where people considered 'mentally ill' could be treated humanely and with dignity. But the American Civil War broke out, and after that affected the TALA, it was all downhill from there.
TALA became the place where anyone deemed mentally ill for any reason would be dropped off like an abandoned pet. Many of the building's residents were subject to torturous treatments, including the infamous 'icepick lobotomies' that were believed to cure several kinds of mental illness.
TALA offers ghost tours on a regular basis, and the stories told here mention several kinds of paranormal events. Their most 'famous' ghost is that of a little girl named Lily, who wanders the halls and is believed to interact with children's toys that are placed in her room. Guests have also reported various spirits roaming the upper levels, making this gigantic complex one place you absolutely wouldn't want to explore alone.
11 Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Jefferson County, Kentucky
There's nothing that makes people's imaginations run wild like an abandoned sanatorium, and Waverly Hills is probably the creepiest and most ominous of them all. It first opened in 1910 when tuberculosis was widespread and has also served as a prison. It's believed that up to 63,000 people died in Waverly Hills, which means that it might be rife with spirits.
Among the most famous specters said to reside in Waverly Hills is the nurse in Room 502, who was believed to have committed suicide in the room after learning she was pregnant while being unmarried.
There's also the tale of the third-floor girl who has a face without eyes. Then there's the entire fourth floor, which is believed to have the highest concentration of spirits roaming the halls and making doors slam shut on their own and shadows moving about without explanation.
All in all, Waverly Hills is considered one of the creepiest places in the entire United States.
10 Clinton Road, New Jersey
Clinton Road is another one of those places that get a bad reputation from people’s imaginations running wild. There have been countless stories suggesting the road is haunted due to murders and other crimes happening along its path.
There have been numerous stories of people seeing a boy at a bridge and ghostly vehicles of different types in front of them. Animals not indigenous to the region – both real and supposedly supernatural – are said to dwell in the forest on both sides of the road, scaring people as they drive through.
There are even tales of Ku Klux Klan members operating in the area, and people trying to visit a local abandoned structure called Cross Castle have reported seeing Satanic symbols and experiencing random bruising on their bodies.
But what truly adds fuel to the folklore fire for Clinton Road is that there has been one confirmed case of organized crime syndicates using the area to dispose of bodies. In 1986, after a lengthy investigation, Richard ‘the Iceman’ Kuklinski was arrested after admitting to dumping a body in the woods near Clinton Road.
That’s just another reason why one should be extremely cautious if they decide to drive along this long, desolate road.
9 Brown Mountain, North Carolina
This is one of the few allegedly haunted locations for which there is video evidence of something occurring. Many people have seen the Brown Mountain lights, but explaining them is another matter entirely.
The most common legends suggest these lights are Native American spirits that are either looking for their loved ones or wanting to confuse hikers into getting lost in thicker parts of the mountain’s woods. Though not seen often, when they do appear, they’re believed to appear in such high numbers and so quickly that they’re hard to count and observe carefully.
Various theories have been presented on what these lights are: gases, reflections of the water, vehicle lights, fireflies, even flashlights. However, a lot of these explanations have been debunked as the lights continue to appear.
8 The New Jersey Pine Barrens And The Jersey Devil
The Pine Barrens is a sparsely-populated area due to having nutrient-poor, acidic and sandy soil that didn't make it ideal for farming or growing human settlements. Even today, it's estimated that there are only 15 people per square mile in the counties that exist within the Pine Barrens.
This isolation and 'backwoods' image of its residents have led to the rise of several supernatural stories, the most famous of which is that of the Jersey Devil, a demonic creature that was said to have been born to a resident of the area and that still resides in the Pine Barrens.
The legend of the Jersey Devil has existed in this area for centuries, and sightings have been reported many times since the legend first came about in the early 1900s. Other legends and paranormal entities are also alleged to dwell in this vast, untouched forest, making it a terrifying place to explore or in which to get lost.
7 Ohio State Reformatory/Mansfield Reformatory
Mansfield Reformatory is famous for two things. First, it was used for several shots in The Shawshank Redemption. Second, though it was initially supposed to reform people in a humane manner (hence its name), it soon became synonymous with everything that’s inhumane about treating people.
The conditions in the prison were often deplorable, and prisoners were often abused. Solitary confinement and being cramped into horrifically-small quarters led to widespread suffering. Many people were murdered at Mansfield, both prisoners and staff. It truly does have a bloody history.
Curious explorers who have visited Mansfield have reported many creepy things. Spectral orbs, cold spots, and equipment malfunctioning have all been witnessed several times. Though not definitive, at least one guest reported a ‘strong and unfriendly presence’ while exploring.
Clearly, this is a place in which one’s imagination and subconscious can really play tricks and possibly create convincing experiences of supernatural phenomena.
6 The Winchester Mystery House
Located in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House was once listed as one of the Most Haunted Places in the World by Time Magazine. This is because the history of the house itself and the family from which it gets its name are just as creepy.
The house’s never-ending construction was commissioned by Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester, the gun magnate who developed the rifles bearing that name. After he died, she contacted a psychic who claimed she was being tormented by the spirits of people killed by her husband’s guns.
In its current form, the Mystery House has 161 rooms and 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 17 chimneys, two basements and 3 elevators. It also features several doors and staircases that go nowhere and lacked an actual master plan during construction, making it one giant labyrinth.
It’s believed that many ghosts remain trapped inside this complicated house, and reports of people encountering these spirits have surfaced. Some tales tell of handymen on ladders being bothered by an unseen force, while others tell of tour guides hearing deep sighs and seeing dark figures wandering the halls.
One thing’s for sure: if you do decide to visit this unusual place, DO NOT GET LOST.
5 Union Cemetery, Easton, Connecticut
Nobody likes cemeteries; they’re depressing, ominous places filled with monuments to the deceased that serve as reminders of where we’re all bound to end up sooner or later. Maybe that’s why legends surrounding haunted cemeteries and spirits unwilling to accept that they’re dead have flourished for centuries.
Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut is one such a place. It’s believed to be one of the oldest graveyards in the United States and also one of its most paranormally active. Many visitors – including well-known ‘ghosthunters’ Ed and Lorraine Warren – have reported contact with spirits here.
Some have even managed to capture photographic evidence of one famous spirit known as the White Lady as she floated among the graves. Then there’s the even creepier story of a spirit named Red Eyes who – as the name implies – stares at you with menacing red eyes.
Even if this proved to be an animal masquerading as something supernatural, a pair of red eyes is nothing to laugh at.
4 Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When someone describes ‘feeling’ something without physical proof, it’s hard to disprove their reactions. This is what makes Eastern State Penitentiary so creepy.
ESP, with its high walls, massive cell blocks, and expansive acreage, served as the blueprint for many prisons built after it. Throughout this now-abandoned prison, visitors have reported feeling and seeing things that they could not explain scientifically.
Everything from extreme temperature changes in specific spots and at specific times to shadows moving about without explanation have all been reported in the halls of this building.
In fact, there’s one famous story involving Al Capone that stated that he was tormented on a nightly basis by an evil spirit. Capone, being an intelligent man, wasn’t someone who would start rambling about something supernatural very easily; he needed compelling evidence before he’d make such a statement. But as the story goes, this is exactly what he did while imprisoned in Eastern State Penitentiary.
3 Adams, Tennessee & Bell Witch Cave
In Adams, Tennessee, the tale of the Bell Witch has been told for over two centuries. Stories tell of the Bell family, that was tormented by a malevolent spirit that some say became a poltergeist.
It was believed that the Bell Witch could physically harm others and even pinched children, despite being an unseen force. Today, the property on which the Bell family lived and the nearby cave are both said to be incredibly haunted, with some even suggesting that one can see the witch’s visage on the rocks inside the cave.
Though nothing particularly dangerous or terrifying has happened on these lands for decades, there's still a strongly held belief in that part of the country that the hauntings were very real and that the Bell Witch could still return.
The Villisca Ax Murderer House, Villisca, Iowa
This might look like your average turn-of-the-century family home, but it’s actually the site of a grisly murder that took place over a hundred years ago. One either June 9th or 10th, 1912, someone entered this house and murdered all six members of the Moore family and two guests. The wounds inflicted – which included heads being severed – were believed to have come from an ax. To this day, the murder remains unsolved.
The current owner allows for tours to enter the home, enabling people to see what the home looked like before the murder. Some people have even tried to stay the night and have reported hearing disturbing sounds (like that of children laughing) and lamps falling at times that some consider too much to be coincidences.
Maybe this is just another example of one’s imagination running wild. But one thing’s for sure: if you were to spend the night in a derelict house in which eight people were murdered, you wouldn’t leave that house the same.
2 Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg is the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. It's estimated that over 50,000 people died during the three-day battle. This has led to many people believing that Gettysburg is a focal point for ghosts and hauntings due to so many people dying under painful circumstances while fighting there.
Various locations in Gettysburg are believed to play host to ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. The Devil's Den is one such place where a man is said to help you align the perfect picture, only to disappear once the flash goes off.
There's the Jennie Wade House, the former home of the only civilian to die in the battle. Visitors have reported feeling drafts of cold air, hearing loud bangs while touring it, and even sensations of children grabbing their legs when there are none around.
There are also other famous buildings scattered throughout the city that are believed to be haunted by various spirits -- and some of them aren't very friendly.
1 112 Ocean Avenue House, A.K.A. The Amityville Horror House
The alleged paranormal events experienced by one family living in this house were so severe and so realistic that they wrote a novel that has also inspired several horror films, additional books retelling the same story, and even multiple 'paranormal investigations' performed to determine whether or not these events were real.
Among the creepiest things believed to have occurred in and around the house include: the house being swarmed by flies constantly (possibly a reference to Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies); a secret 'Red Room' that wasn't on the house schematics being discovered and the family dog always being terrified of it; the youngest daughter developing an imaginary friend that's actually a red-eyed demonic pig-like creature and whose cloven hoof prints appear in the snow in front of the house; and the house itself being damaged by an unseen force.
Although much of what has happened in the house has been debunked as fiction, the stories have had such a lasting legacy that even the residents of Amityville, NY have tried to distance themselves from it as much as possible.
While the house looks very different today from how it looked in the movies, one can't help but wonder what they might find to exist within it if they were to spend the night there.