I find we don’t give Halloween its due.
Retailers are already putting out the dreaded Christmas displays without respect to what the over-sensitive call, Black and Orange Day.
So, for a special Top 25 list I’m offering up the 25 haunted locales that have always fascinated me. I eat up all things paranormal with a spoon as it’s great fodder for my horror-writing imagination.
There are plenty of spots left off this list, but I’ve tried to go around the world with it, and I’d love to learn more about haunted locales on the Asian continent and in Africa. I should have included the Castle of Good Hope or the Stanley Hotel or La Isla de la Muñecas. I should have also included Aokigahara Forest in Japan, but out of respect for the families who have lost loved ones within those cursed lands, I think it respectful to omit it. (If you don’t know Aokigahara, look it up, you’ll understand.)
Without further ado, here are my Top 25 Haunted Locales, just in time for Halloween.
|25.||What: Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Where: Bremen Township, Cook County, Illinois
The Story: The start of the tale begins with a farmer being pulled into the nearby lagoon by his spooked horse. Both died. This story leads to the local legend of a two-headed monster. Also, a woman in white is said to be seen cradling an infant. A white farmstead is also said to materialize in different places on the grounds.
|24.||What: Sorrel Weed House
Where: Savannah, Georgia
The Story: Francis Sorrel bought the house and married a 17-year old Lucinda Moxley. Lucinda died five years later and Sorrel married her younger sister, Matilda. After Matilda discovered Francis’ infidelities with a slave girl named Molly, she jumped from the second storey of the home. Molly committed suicide in the carriage house a few weeks after.
|23.||What: The Old Vicarage
Where: Borgvattnet, Sweden
The Story: Now a bed and breakfast, the Borgvattnet Vicarage started experiencing paranormal activity as far back as 1927. Vicars reported laundry being ripped from the clothes lines, disembodied voices, shadow figures and an empty rocking chair moving on its own volition. Travellers who make it through the night get a diploma for their efforts.
|22.||What: Pluckley Village
Where: Kent, England
The Story: Back in 1989, Pluckley, Kent, was given the title “most haunted village in Britain” by the Guinness Book of Records. There’s the Watercress Woman on Pinnock Bridge, highwayman Robert Du Bois, the Miller, the Red Lady, the White Lady, the Lady of Rose Court, the Screaming Man, the schoolmaster, the colonel, the phantom coach and the poltergeist of Black Horse Inn. It’s crowded.
|21.||What: Highgate Cemetery
Where: Highgate, London, England
The Story: The burial site where Karl Marx and Douglas Adams’ bodies lie is home to vampire lore dreamt up by magicians (read charlatans), Farrant and Manchester. It is alleged dark figures loom over the crypts of many in the overgrown western portion of the cemetery. Years of desecration to some of the burials are bound to give off bad vibes on the almost 200-year-old grounds.
|20.||What: Château de Brissac
Where: Maine-et-Loire, France
The Story: La Dame Verte is the resident spectre at this 11th century fairy tale castle. It is alleged she is the victim of a double murder — a woman named Charlotte, the half sister of Louis XI, was caught by her husband with her lover. You know the tired reactionary response from the husband. Since the 15th century, she’s been roaming the rooms with her hollowed out eye sockets — or what modern MUAs call the smokey-eye look.
|19.||What: The Ram Inn
Where: Gloucestershire, England
The Story: Want to know the most haunted spot in all the British Isles? Think it’s the Tower of London? Apparently not. The (Ancient) Ram Inn was built in 1145 and is subject to all the tired tropes in a modern spiritual horror plot: ancient pagan burial ground; built on two ley lines; devil worship; ritual sacrifice and the bodies of two children buried under the staircase. That explains the owner being dragged out of bed by an invisible force.
|18.||What: Sedamsville Rectory
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
The Story: Most horrific ghost stories come from traumatic events that occurred at a location. The Sedamsville Rectory in suburban Cincinnati definitely houses such a tale. It was the home to Catholic priests, and as we know certain priests have assaulted children. This locale witnessed this negative energy, as well as dog fighting. There are plenty of witnesses to the dark energy around the building, which still stands.
|17.||What: Hoia Baciu Forest
Where: Cluj County, Transylvania, Romania
The Story: Called the Bermuda Triangle of Romania, Hoia Baciu is rife with UFO sightings, disembodied voices and ghosts caught on camera. There have also been reports of people entering the forest, but never returning. The fauna doesn’t help either, as trees are bent in bizarre shapes, and unexplained charring afflicts the tree stumps and branches.
|16.||What: Monte Cristo Homestead
Where: Junee, New South Wales, Australia
The Story: There’s more to Australia than Elle MacPherson, Waltzing Matilda and kangaroos. The Monte Cristo Homestead is considered the most haunted local in the Land Down Under. There’s a laundry list of murders, and even more deaths that the Crawley family witness from 1885 to 1945.
|15.||What: Carleton County Gaol
Where: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Story: It was built in 1862, and many of those locked behind bars died in the building. That means they were buried on the grounds. Even though it’s been a hostel since 1973, those bodies of baddies are still there. The ol’ jail has disembodied footsteps, knocking on the walls. The ghost of assassin Patrick James Whelan is also seen at the foot of beds, sometimes with a bible in hand.
|14.||What: Banff Springs Hotel
Where: Banff, Alberta
The Story: Another Canadian classic, the Banff Springs Hotel was built between 1887 and 1888. Further expansion happened in 1928. The picturesque building is also home to three ghost stories: Sam the ’60s era bellman, the bride who fell down a staircase on her wedding day, subsequently breaking her neck, and the murdered family in the now bricked up room 873.
|13.||What: Alcatraz Island
Where: San Francisco, California
The Story: Alcatraz Island has been many things, but in its twilight it was a federal prison that was home to badasses, Al Capone, James (Whitey) Bulger and Mickey Cohen. Aside from the living, there isn’t a single prison guard who alleges they haven’t experienced the supernatural. The best story comes from the screaming inmate in D-Block who witnessed glowing red eyes. He later found dead the next morning.
|12.||What: Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum
Where: Weston, West Virginia
The Story: Built over 23 years, starting in 1858, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum began its operations in 1864. It is rife with death, mental illness and the unfortunate barbaric treatments that came with the studies of the time. It was also built to house 250 patients but ended up being home to 2,400 people. With so much pain and anguish saturating the walls of the West Virginian institute, there’s bound to be a few trapped souls left behind.
|11.||What: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
The Story: A two-storey wooden building was built in 1910, but the building that looms on the property now was constructed in 1926 to house tuberculosis patients during the height of the disease. Given some of the experiments that took place there, and the fact that many died with the heinous disease, full-bodied apparitions are not out of the ordinary.
|10.||What: Whaley House
Where: San Diego, California
The Story: Originally the hanging grounds in Old Town San Diego, the Whaley home was constructed five years after (Yankee Jim) James Robinson was hanged in 1852. He’s allegedly the first reported haunting on the property. It is also alleged members of the Whaley family, who died in the house, haunt it: father Thomas, mother Anna, baby Thomas Jr., Violet, Francis, George and Corinne Lillian Whaley.
|9.||What: Tranquille Sanatorium
Where: Kamloops, British Columbia
The Story: Canada’s big tuberculosis refuge, Tranquille, had a community built around it. It was first build in 1907, and featured a fire station, gardens, houses and a farm. It shut down in the ’50s and later reopened in 1958 to treat patients until 1985. The usual shtick of disembodied voices, footsteps, phantom children and figures seen in the tunnels that run underground from building to building.
|8.||What: New London Ledge Light
Where: Groton, Connecticut
The Story: Arguably an iconic building in New England territory, the New London Ledge Light was built on Black Ledge, welcoming all to one of the most important ports along the Long Island Sound. The house was built in 1890, and is allegedly home to a ghost named Ernie. Before the lighthouse’s automation in 1987, coast guard crew members reported plenty of eerie goings-on.
|7.||What: The Tower of London
Where: London, England
The Story: It’s been around for almost a thousand years, and there’s been plenty of blood shed on the lands within the Tower of London’s walls. Queen Anne Boleyn, King Edward IV’s two sons, Edward V and Richard, Lady Jane Grey as well as the White Lady of the White Tower are all apparitions that have been seen within the fortification’s confines.
|6.||What: Myrtles Plantation
Where: St. Francisville, Louisiana
The Story: Revenge is an act that can live on after death. Chloe was the slave and mistress of Clark Woodruff. He would end their relationship, and later cut off Chloe’s ear after she was caught eavesdropping. In retaliation, she baked a poisoned birthday cake for the family. Clark’s wife and two daughters ate the cake, died, and the other slaves hanged Chloe. She and the children of Woodruff allegedly walk the grounds to this day.
|5.||What: Bobby Mackey’s Music World
Where: Wilder, Kentucky
The Story: One of the most memorable lines uttered from a ghost comes from this former abattoir/speakeasy, “Die game”. It’s allegedly uttered by the ghost of Alonzo Walling, one of the two men implicated in one of Kentucky’s most infamous murders: Pearl Bryan. The other man, Scott Jackson, is also said to haunt the property along with a sundry of demons, as Bobby Mackey’s is also called, the Portal to Hell.
|4.||What: Winchester House
Where: San Jose, California
The Story: This Queen Anne-style Victorian home in San Jose used to be the residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester of the rifle fame. Winchester left New Haven, Connecticut and bought the unfinished farm to start her mansion. It was continually built on to as she was allegedly afraid the victims of the Winchester rifles would find her.
|3.||What: Saint Louis Cemetery
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
The Story: Voodoo is part and parcel with New Orleans. Add the burial place of voodoo queen Marie Laveau, and you’re bound to have some unexplained events happen. People have been touched by invisible hands, apparitions have been seen and even unwitting cab drivers have picked up phantom passengers.
|2.||What: Eastern State Penitentiary
Where: Fairmount, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Story: A dark figure in the guard tower. An evil laugh from cell block 12. Faces seen in cell block in cell block 4. This jail, built in 1829, is rife with paranormal activity and is consider one of the most haunted prisons in America. Given the harsh penalties doled out by the wardens, some prisoners were driven insane, while others suffered through it.
Where: Island in the Venetian Lagoon in Italy
The Story: My personal favourite from the annals of all things haunted, Poveglia Island, which nestles itself cosily into the Venetian Lagoon. It was where Italians dumped their dead and dying during the Black Plague. During the 18th century it was a quarantine zone for two ships with diseased aboard. Then the asylum came, where the usual barbaric experiments allegedly took place. Add it all up, and it’s one helluva horror movie party.