What better way is there to be completely spooked this Halloween than to visit a haunted house? Not the kind where people in ghoul costumes jump out at you while passing among fake spider webs and plastic skeletons, but the sort where people really believe there are ghosts. Here are some of the scariest and most haunted places in the country.
Eastern State Penitentiary: Eastern State is now a museum where visitors report hearing footsteps in the yards, the sound of someone pacing in the cells, eerie noises and lonely wails that drift through the cold, dark corridors. Cell Block 12 is famous for its disembodied laughter, and one guard tower appears, on some nights, to be occupied by a shadowy figure keeping watch over the empty prison.
Gettysburg Battlefield: The Gettysburg Battlefield around the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a place where more than 50,000 Civil War soldiers died in one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Many perished in the most horrifying of ways, so there are people who believe the restless souls of these fallen still wander the field searching for their rifles and comrades, unaware that the battle is over.
RMS Queen Mary: First an ocean liner, then a troopship, then an ocean liner again, and finally a hotel and museum in Long Beach, California, the Queen Mary is nicknamed the “Grey Ghost,” based on its color scheme and great speed. It’s said to house several haunted locations, including its engine room, where a young sailor died trying to escape a fire; its front-desk area, where visitors have reported seeing a “lady in white;” and its swimming pool, where the ghosts of children are believed to loom.
The White House: President William Henry Harrison can be heard rooting around the attic, and President Andrew Jackson haunts his White House bedroom. Meanwhile, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Netherlands Queen Wilhelmina all reported experiencing President Abraham Lincoln’s ghost in the Lincoln Bedroom. And, during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, a clerk said he saw Abe sitting on a bed, pulling off his boots.
Wrigley Field: Considered the most haunted Major League Baseball park in the country, one of Wrigley’s most renowned ghost stories centers on Charlie Grimm, the manager of the Cubbies between 1932 and 1938 and from 1944 to 1949. Grimm’s ashes are believed to be buried in left field. Several night guards at Wrigley have reported seeing Grimm’s shadow roaming the halls and somehow causing the bullpen telephone to ring.
LaLaurie Mansion: The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans is considered the most haunted place in the most haunted city in the country. It was the home of Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie and Marie Delphine LaLaurie in the 1830s. The aristocratic Creole couple was known for their decadent parties – and Delphine was known for torturing their slaves as a means of keeping them under control. One story centers on Delphine chasing a young female slave onto the roof of the house and the girl jumped to her death to escape. Residents of and visitors claim they have seen the ghost of the girl running on the roof. Many other apparitions are associated with a fire that occurred at the LaLaurie Mansion in 1834, when a number of slaves were reportedly found shackled, mutilated, and begging for mercy.
Alcatraz: The Alcatraz Island prison, which is surrounded by the San Francisco Bay, has a long history of hauntings, with one guard having reported hearing the sound of a banjo – the instrument that Al Capone played in the prison band. One especially eerie story dating back to the 1940s involves a convict in Cell 14D who was found dead one morning after screaming all night that a creature with glowing eyes was killing him. The next day, guards reported there were one too many inmates during head counts, as they saw the dead man in line, but only for a moment before he vanished.
The Winchester Mystery House: The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is as whimsical on the inside as it is on the outside. Home to Sarah Winchester, the house was believed by her to be filled with ghosts of people who died from bullets fired by Winchester rifles. Believing also that these same spirits killed her husband and daughter, Winchester had the home under constant construction for 38 years, basically turning it into a maze to confuse the ghosts and make it impossible for them to settle. The house is full of dead ends, including staircases to nowhere and doors that open onto brick walls or 10-foot drops.