Whether you’re a true believer, or just want a little scare, several American cities are home to hauntings and ghost stories that have stood the test of time. If you’d like to try your hand at chasing ghosts, these seven cities are home to some of the most chilling. Coincidentally, they are also some of the best places to live in the country!
New Orleans, La.
Ghosts from the War of 1812 lurk in the shadows of French Quarter mansions, but New Orleans’s most famous ghost, perhaps, is Marie Laveau. A voodoo-practicing Creole woman, Marie had an impressive following in the mid-1800s. After her death in 1881, her ghostly presence was felt throughout the French Quarter, and a favorite New Orleans destination is the tomb of the Voodoo Queen at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
Edgar Allen Poe rests in the Westminster Hall Catacombs, and his ghost is said to haunt the western parts of downtown Baltimore. Battles from the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Battle of Baltimore took place in the Fells Point area, where the ghosts of fallen soldiers are frequently seen. For a truly haunting experience, walk under riggings of the USS Constellation and listen to the mournful sounds of those who died on the warship’s deck.
Gothic architecture, Spanish moss, and a settlement built atop Indian burial grounds, what more could you ask for in a haunted city? Its most infamous attraction is the Hampton Lillibridge House, a 1790s-era boardinghouse. Purchased in the 1960s by investors hoping to restore it, work halted when the evil spirits struck. The roof collapsed, killing a worker, construction equipment moved by itself, workers heard voices, and saw a man in black wandering the grounds. Despite several exorcisms, locals insist the house is still haunted.
Over 50,000 soldiers were injured or killed during the epic battle at Gettysburg, and near-daily ghost sightings occur on the battlefields and around the town. Devil’s Den, a particularly gory rock formation where the limbs and bodies of fallen soldiers were discovered, is notorious for moans, cries, and ghostly encounters. The spiritual force is so strong there, that visitors say they can’t take pictures because they come out blurry, unfocused, and often camera batteries mysteriously die.
The hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 culminated in the persecution and bloody death of 19 poor girls, whose spirits still haunt the town. Salem embraces its reputation as haunted by ghosts and witches with a wild Halloween celebration each year. Salem’s Joshua Ward House, rumored to be the most haunted house in America, is built on the foundation of the home of George Corwin, the sheriff who oversaw the bloody trials.
Between the tortured souls who perished in the Chicago Fire, and the victims of the bloody Mafia gangs, the city is rife with ghosts and spirits. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, favored body-dumping ground during Prohibition, is the location of countless phantom sightings. Look for the White Lady, a slim woman in a white gown cradling an infant, said to roam the grounds each night.
If you’re brave enough to venture into these seven scary cities, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Jake McHenry is a travel enthusiast, blogger and family man (not necessarily in that order) living in the Chicago-area.