Ever strolled through an old cemetery and noticed something move in the corner of your eye? While touring a historical museum, have you caught a glimpse of someone in period costume and wondered, “Is that a re-enactor or … something else?” When you frequent historic places, you’re also likely to encounter the spirits that tend to inhabit them. Sometimes they’re “Caspers”: friendly ghosts who watch over their former homes or favorite hangouts. In other cases, the spirits are tortured souls or evil presences who frighten the living. If you’re ready to mix a little Halloween into your next trip, add one of these 15 haunted historic places to your itinerary:
Interstate 65 (Evergreen, Ala.)
A section of this modern thruway is haunted. Engineers built the highway over sacred Creek Indian burial grounds, and the hills around Evergreen remain the Creeks’ spiritual home. Many believe that their ghosts haunt the white man’s highway that runs through the middle of it. The Creeks loved the land so much that they said goodbye to every tree and hill when they were forced to leave the area in the 1830s. Of the 15,000 Creeks who marched to a reservation in Oklahoma, more than 3,500 died along the way. Between 1984 and 1990, there were 519 accidents, 208 injuries and 23 deaths on this 40-mile stretch of highway. The road is even, straight and well-maintained, but the accident rate is well above average.
This “Haunted Highway” is a 40-mile stretch of I-65 that runs between Evergreen in Conecuh County and Greenville in Butler County, in south central Alabama.
Eklutna Village National Park (Anchorage, Alaska)
Denver Courthouse (Denver, Colo.)
John Dickinson Plantation (Dover, Del.)
Ford’s Theatre (Washington, DC)
The theater was renovated in 1968 and opened as a playhouse and museum.
Audubon House (Key West, Fla.)
During the French Revolution, just after his mother was beheaded on the guillotine, the 9-year-old boy was smuggled out of prison and legally adopted by a woman named Jean Audubon, who brought the heir to the French throne to America. (He was said to have died of tuberculosis in a Parisian monastery.) John James Audubon renounced all claims to the throne on instructions from his adopted father, who feared for the dauphin’s safety.
Audubon House is a museum operated by the Florida Audubon Society, off US Highway 1 in the Florida Keys.
Barnsley Gardens (Adairsville, Ga.)
The ruins of this Gothic mansion testify to the curse that followed the Barnsley family for more than a hundred years. The mansion was built by Godfrey Barnsley in 1844 on a knoll that Cherokee Indian legends said would bring tragedy to anyone who lived there. Despite the warnings of local townsfolk, the family moved onto the magnificent estate, which they called Woodland. Within months, Godfrey’s wife, Julia, died from a lung infection. Not long afterward, their infant son followed her to the grave. In 1858, one of Godfrey’s daughters died at Woodland, and in 1862, one of his sons was killed by pirates during a trip to China. The house was ransacked by Union soldiers in 1864, and several of Godfrey’s friends and relatives ended up buried on his property during the Civil War. One was Col. Robert Earle, who was killed on the property when he tried to warn the Barnsley family that the Yankees were coming.
Godfrey Barnsley deserted the cursed land and moved to New Orleans, but one of his daughters, Julia Baltzelle, stayed on with her husband. In 1868, he was killed by a falling tree on the property. Godfrey died in 1873 and his body was buried at Woodland, but vandals dug up his grave and cut off his hand for use in voodoo rites. Julia’s daughter Adelaide was living in the mansion in 1906 when a tornado tore off the roof and did extensive damage. One of Adelaide’s sons went insane and was confined to the state hospital. In 1935, he broke out and returned to Woodland, where he shot his brother in the chest. The mortally wounded man died in his mother’s arms in the living room. Woodland is said to be haunted by its unfortunate inhabitants.
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (Honaunau, Hawaii)
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is located off Highway 11 between the towns of Honaunau and Hookena on the southwestern coast of Hawaii Island.
Hull House (Chicago, Ill.)
Hull House moved to larger quarters in 1963, and the original structure was turned into a museum.
Highland Lawn Cemetery (Terre Haute, Ind.)
When John Heinl died in 1920, there was an unexpected complication at his grave site: His constant companion, a bulldog named Stiffy Green, could not be pulled away from his master’s tomb. The green-eyed dog took up a post outside his master’s mausoleum and refused to let anyone near it. For many weeks, exposed to all types of weather, the animal stood his ground. But the trauma proved too much, and one morning Stiffy Green was found dead next to a pillar at the entrance to the Heinl Mausoleum. Today, if you peer through the bronze grill of the mausoleum, you will see Stiffy sitting next to the crypt. Heinl’s wife had the dog stuffed and placed him next to her husband for all eternity. When vandals shot at the stuffed animal, she had a statue made to replace it. Sometimes, just after dark, people see the figure of John Heinl and his bulldog strolling through the grounds. They even hear his low voice, hushing his faithful companion.
Terre Haute is in western Indiana at the junction of I-70 and US Highway 41. The cemetery is east of town.
Bobby Mackey’s Music World (Wilder, Ky.)
Malevolent spirits roam this 1850s building, now a popular nightclub. At one time, the structure was a slaughterhouse, and a deep well was dug in the basement to collect animal blood and body fluids. When the slaughterhouse closed, satanists used the well of blood for rituals. In 1896, two devil worshippers beheaded a woman named Pearl Bryan and used her head in their ceremonies. Before they were hanged, the men were offered life sentences in exchange for disclosing the whereabouts of the missing head, but both refused, claiming that to do so would bring down the wrath of the devil himself. The cursed building was a speakeasy in the 1920s, and several unsolved mob murders added more violence to the already diabolic ambiance. So far, 29 witnesses have signed affidavits testifying to ghostly phenomena on the property (which is now a nightclub), and an exorcism on the premises failed to halt the harrowing activity.
The Wilder is in Kenton County, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati and just south of Covington on Highway 9.
Blackbird Hill (Omaha Indian Reservation, Neb.)
The reservation is in northeastern Nebraska, west of US Highway 75. Blackbird Hill is north of Decatur along the Missouri River.
Tillamook Lighthouse (Tillamook, Ore.)
The Tillamook Lighthouse is on Tillamook Rock, near Tillamook Head. The area is located on the Pacific Ocean, about 20 miles south of the mouth of the Columbia River in the northeast corner of Oregon.
Witches’ Hill (Berks County, Pa.)
What we know today as crop circles were called Hexen Danz by the Pennsylvania Dutch. The flattened circles of wheat were blamed on dancing witches. This mountain was where the witches gathered, especially on May 1, or Walpurgis Nacht. Their phantoms, along with strange balls of light, are still seen on this hilltop, which locals call Hexenkopf, or Witches’ Head.
The 800-foot-high mountain crest runs between Virginville and Windsor Castle in Williams Township. The area is west of Allentown and north of Reading.
Oregon Trail (Laramie, Wyo.)
The ghost of a girl dressed in green velvet, riding a black horse, is seen at regular intervals galloping eastward on this old trail. Every seven years since the early 1800s, she has been spotted wearing a feathered hat on a black stallion, which she urges on with a jeweled whip. In 1871, a cavalry lieutenant from Fort Laramie tried to chase her down, but he was never able to catch up with the phantom.
Legend says she is the spirit of a fur trader’s daughter, who got lost on horseback in the area in 1790. Despite the warnings of her father, the headstrong girl went galloping out of the stockade to explore the countryside. The army bought the fur-trading outpost in the 1840s. Since then, homesteaders, soldiers, cowboys and Oglala Indians have all reported seeing the girl’s apparition.