Ask the locals of any town in America and they’ll give you leads to hometown haunts and ghost stories. But due to gruesome and dark histories, some towns can claim more hauntings than others. We investigated and found 5 of the most haunted towns in America and explored the stories and places that earned them the title.
Pack your bags and charge your night-vision camera. Let’s go ghost hunting!
This wouldn’t be a “most haunted” list without mentioning Salem, Massachusetts. In 1692, 200 people were accused of witchcraft and 20 of those accused were executed. The mass witchcraft hysteria began when two young girls began having “fits.” Not knowing what was wrong, the local doctor blamed supernatural forces.
The girls ultimately blamed a slave woman, Tituba, Sarah Good, a homeless beggar, and an elderly woman named Sarah Osborne, for vexing them using witchcraft. Thus began a series of accusations, trials, confessions, and executions, that ranks as one of America’s darkest events.
Although the entire town is haunted by its past, specific buildings and locations are said to be particularly haunted. Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel is supposedly haunted by a female spirit, possibly Bridget Bishop, one of those tried and executed. And Salem’s Witch House, originally the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who sat on the bench during the witch trials, is also plagued with cold spots, voices, and a spirit who likes to touch those that visit.
Ask any of the modern day Salem witches on Essex Street where to find the best haunted happenings and they’ll be sure to point you in several directions.
In 1829, Philadelphia opened America’s most historic prison, Eastern State Penitentiary. It was the first prison to enforce solitary confinement with the hopes that the alone time would make prisoners “regretful and penitent.” The prison also employed questionable punishments toward prisoners that some would liken more to torture tactics.
Eastern State closed in 1971 and, for the most part, was left to decay. In recent years, the prison has been investigated by numerous paranormal investigation teams including the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures crew.
Supposedly, voices and laughter can be heard coming from Cellblock 12. Dark figures live in Cellblock 6, and people have seen full-fledged ghostly faces in Cellblock 4.
The historic town also has poltergeists at the Philadelphia Zoo, Alexander Hamilton is said to haunt the First National Bank, and lingering spirits crowd the Pennhurst Asylum.
3New Orleans, Louisiana
With its above-ground tombs and history of voodoo happenings, New Orleans has a lot to offer amateur and professional ghost hunters alike. One such above-ground cemetery is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the city’s oldest and supposedly most haunted resting place.
For over 200 years, visitors of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 have reported ghost sightings of famous New Orleans figures like Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of the 19th century. In fact, Laveau supposedly haunts most of the French Quarter and people often recognize her spirit by the red and white turban she wore in life.
Other spots to test your bravery against spirits are the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, where America’s first pharmacist haunts the third floor, and the Lalaurie Museum, where in 1834 it was discovered that Madame Lalaurie kept slaves in a torture chamber. The current owners of the mansion have reported seeing body imprints in the beds, doors slamming shut, and faucets turning on by themselves. Scary!
When you build a city atop a Native American burial ground, you’re really asking for it. The homes and businesses in Savannah sit on top of the dead. And the roads were paved over the graves of slaves and colonists. Perhaps that poor planning is at the root of the cities many alleged hauntings.
The Olde Pink House Restaurant and Tavern is said to be home to the ghost of it’s builder, James Habersham Jr., who hanged himself shortly after the death of his wife. His children still reside there as well (in ghost form), locking women into downstairs bathrooms even though the locks on the doors have been removed.
Savannah’s Hampton Lillibridge house is also riddled with spirits. During a 1963 renovation of the colonial-era house, workers would hear footsteps above them when no one was upstairs. They would then hear voices coming from the rooms below. Neighbors claimed to hear a woman’s screams coming from the house and would see a man in a black suit through the windows.
Hampton Lillibridge homeowner, Jim Williams, eventually had the house exorcised to no avail. It was revealed later that a crypt had been found underneath the home during renovations. Well, that would do it, wouldn’t it?
The Montana town of Bannack is a literal ghost town. The Wild West town was founded in 1862 during the Gold Rush. Prospectors called Bannack their home while they mined for gold in Virginia City and the road between Bannack and Virginia City became a target for crime.
Robberies and murders galore were committed by a ruthless gang of outlaws thirsty for gold and riches. And, scandalously enough, the gang was headed by Bannack’s very own sheriff.
By the 1950s, the gold had run out and most residents left Bannack, making it a casualty of the gold rush — one of the many ghost towns of the old west. It’s now a state park and mecca for ghost hunters like the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures team who visited Bannack to investigate claims of a ghostly crying baby in one of the vacant homes, manifestations in the chapel, and the appearance of a ghost named Dorothy at the Hotel Meade.
So this weekend, visit your local haunted house, park, cemetery, road, or forest. Learn the spirits’ stories and give them your well wishes. Then, get the heck out of there, because yikes! That stuff is scary!