The Spookiest Abandoned Place in Every State
Do you dare visit these creepy locations? (It's OK if the answer is no—some of them are off-limits anyway...)
Alabama: Memorial Mound
Memorial Mound was a new burial concept gone wrong. The underground mausoleum (we use the term loosely) was opened by former gravedigger Clyde Booth in Bessemer, Alabama in 1992. Bessemer kept racks and racks of caskets with their occupants stacked on top of each other. Here’s where it gets really weird: relatives of the deceased were not allowed inside for visitation. After Booth died in 2009, Memorial Mound quickly became abandoned and turned into nothing more than a mound of rotting corpses. The “mausoleum” wasn’t locked and it was vandalized many times—someone even stole a skull from a casket. When the matter was finally looked into by police, they were able to identify the remains of just one infant and seven adults. Give yourself more chills by diving into the spookiest ghost story from every state.
Alaska: Kennecott Mines
The Kennecott Mines became an instant money-making institution in 1911 when it was discovered that the land held a mind-blowing amount of copper. The Kennecott Copper Corporation mined approximately $200 million worth of copper until the place ran completely dry in 1938. No one bothered to take possession of the giant mines, mills and other buildings there, so for the next few decades, the structures simply deteriorated. The National Park Service acquired the land in 1998, so it is no longer abandoned, but if you visit the historical landmark you’ll still see many of the ruins. These historic places are too dangerous to visit.
Arizona: Vulture City
The silver and gold mines in Vulture City attracted thousands of people in the mid-1800s; from its inception until 1942, the mine produced 260,000 ounces of silver and 340,000 ounces of gold. That’s when the U.S. government declared a shutdown of all “non-essential mines” in order to focus on the World War II war effort. This bustling town was then quickly abandoned and left to rot. Today, it’s a spot that is so creepy that people actually host ghost tours and paranormal events there. Be sure to check out The Hanging Tree, where 18 men were supposedly sent to their deaths for pilfering precious minerals from the mine.
Arkansas: Peppersauce Ghost Town
The ghost town of East Calico, nicknamed Peppersauce, an old slang term for moonshine, which proliferated here back in the day, is actually part of Calico Rock, a currently thriving town. The exact history is murky (drinking moonshine will do that to you), but as fires and floods ruined buildings and some businesses changed or closed down altogether, the residents moved to a new part of town on higher ground. Curiously, no one ever bothered to demolish the abandoned buildings in East Calico—now, they just sit in plain view.
What about this formerly functioning prison isn’t spooky? An island all its own off the coast of San Francisco, Alcatraz was once home to some of the country’s most notorious prisoners, including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. This was where the Justice Department sent criminals other prisons couldn’t handle, as it was believed that no one—not even the most dangerous of dangerous—would be able to survive an escape attempt in the perilous waters. It was abandoned in 1963 when the institution could no longer keep up with the costs of running the facility. Now, you can take tours of the creepy (and supposedly haunted) prison. While you can’t spend the night in Alcatraz (not that you would want to), you can stay over in these 10 luxe hotels that used to be jails.
The town of Ludlow was the site of an infamous workers’ rights battle in 1914. The families living and working in the town were employed by Colorado Fuel & Iron, owned by the Rockefeller family. When the working conditions became unbearable, the underpaid workers went on strike. Tensions between law enforcement, the Rockefellers, and the workers soon turned deadly and the National Guard massacred approximately 66 men, women, and children. Now, all that remains are a few old structures and a lonely memorial.
Dudleytown in Litchfield County is one of the scariest ghost towns in the country; founded in 1747, it was totally deserted at the turn of the 20th century after a series of terrible misfortunes befell the residents there. Crop shortage, madness, evil curses—you name it—have all been blamed for the abandonment of the village. It makes our list of spookiest urban legends from every state.
Delaware: Fort Delaware
The island of Fort Delaware (aka Pea Patch Island) had several uses in its day, including serving as a prison for more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The fort was used sporadically during the two World Wars before eventually becoming abandoned. Today, the island is a state park.
Florida: Temple of Love
Once known as the First Baptist Church, this South Florida religious building built in 1935 was bought by a man named Yahweh ben Yahweh in 1985. A prominent member of the community, Yahweh was also an accused cult leader who asked his followers to murder white people and bring back fingers or ears as proof. In 1992, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison. The church building was ultimately abandoned.
Georgia: Georgia Lunatic Asylum
“Calling all lunatics, idiots, and epileptics!” That’s essentially what Georgia’s lawmakers said when they sanctioned the building of the Georgia Lunatic Asylum (later known as Central State Hospital) in Milledgeville in the mid-1800s. Lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and even metal cages were used to “help” people who were mentally ill in what was once the world’s largest mental institution. To make matters worse, there were actually no psychiatrists on the premises. In fact, an investigation in the 1950s found that some of the patients were asked to help keep the asylum in order. And this wasn’t long ago, either; the last patients were taken in in 2010. Today, the majority of of the asylum’s many buildings sit vacant and it’s as chilling as these 25 creepiest abandoned buildings around the world.
Hawaii: Kaniakapupu Ruins
King Kamehameha originally used this location on Oahu built in 1847 as a summer getaway. As the years passed, however, it turned into a place that was riddled with anger. The people tried their darnedest to ward off the impending western invasion but eventually perished as they fought to unite the Hawaiian Islands under one banner. Now there stands nothing but ruins, and some say, ghosts of the fallen.
Idaho: Old Idaho State Penitentiary
Boise’s Idaho State Penitentiary opened in 1870 as nothing more than a one-cell prison. It grew bigger and bigger with every inmate it acquired and the inmates themselves were forced to build the stone walls that imprisoned them. The more criminals that came in, the larger the prison became. Not surprisingly, the institution fostered notoriously poor living conditions until it closed more than 100 years later.
Illinois: Savanna Army Depot
The Savanna Army Depot of Illinois is no longer active—sort of. The one-time military ammunition and weapons testing site was abandoned in 1995, but there is still thought to be a lot of dangerous debris lurking around and the entire area is classified as a Superfund site by the EPA. Don’t try to visit; that “debris” may include unexploded landmines.
Indiana: City Methodist Church
This religious building was donated to the city of Gary by the United States Steel Corporation, which is why it ultimately ended up in disrepair. When the steel industry came to a crawl, there was no more funding to keep it going and the church was closed in 1975. There was, however, enough spookiness to go around, and it ended up being a set for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and other TV shows and films. These 12 abandoned churches around the world are equally eerie.
Iowa: Villisca Axe Murder House
The house that became known as the Villisca Axe Murder House was the site of the grizzly slaying of the entire Moore family in 1912. To this day, no one knows who committed the heinous acts and the house remains abandoned. Weirdly, though, there is a nicely carved sign in front of the dilapidated home labeling it in friendly letters as the Axe Murder House. You can stay in the house overnight or visit one of these most haunted hotels in America.
Kansas: United Kansas Portland Cement Company
The Great Depression caused a great many businesses in the United States to go under, including the United Kansas Portland Cement Company in Le Hunt. The location is now just a bunch of cement structures with nature occupying every crack. Legend also has it that the soul of a worker who fell into a vat of concrete still lingers there.
Kentucky: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville opened in 1926 and was one of many medical facilities that was designed to keep those with tuberculosis away from the general public. The facility was so large it had its own post office, grew its own food and raised its own meat. When the cure for TB was discovered in 1961, the institution was abandoned and quarantined. It later opened as another type of medical services facility, but that soon closed as well.
Louisiana: Bayou Corne
There’s nothing quite like waking up one morning to find out that your home is being pulled into the earth. That’s what happened on August 3, 2012, in Bayou Corne when a large sinkhole eventually took nearly the entire community down. Almost everyone moved away, save for a couple of stubborn souls who refused to leave their home behind. Find out the other small towns known for the weirdest things.
Maine: Flagstaff Lake
This Maine town was the victim of the desire for power—as in hydroelectric power. In 1949, Flagstaff initially wanted to help the state secure this kind of renewable energy, but it ironically turned out that the most cost-effective option for the state would be to build a dam and flood the area of Flagstaff itself. Now the remains of the town are submerged in what is now referred to as Flagstaff Lake. These are more of the creepiest things ever found underwater.
Maryland: The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay
Mallows Bay is said to be the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere. Vessels from the Revolutionary War and even the biggest “ghost fleet” of World War I boats remain parked in this Maryland body of water. It looks eerie—and it is—but people often visit this landmark for fishing, wildlife watching, and even hiking in the surrounding area. It all sounds more idyllic than these haunted bodies of water around the world.
The mystery of Ponyhenge is said to have been the result of a children’s lemonade stand gone belly-up. When the two Lincoln-based children were finished working for the day, they happened to leave their toy ponies out and forgot about them. Soon, these abandoned toys started to gain company, as one by one people started anonymously leaving toy horses there. It looks part silly and part scary, but at least it’s not a collection of creepy clowns.
Michigan: Holy Family Orphanage
Prisons, asylums, and orphanages all end up having the same problem in common right before they fail: overcrowding. In this case, it wasn’t inmates or patients who suffered but abandoned children, as Jennifer Billock wrote about in Ghosts of Michigan’s Upper Pennisula. The nuns beat and tortured the children, especially if they misbehaved. They also took Native American children from their parents in order to strip them of their culture, then give them away to white families. This horrible place saw its last patients in 1967.
Minnesota: UMore Park
The remains of a once operational World War II munitions factory can be found on the edge of Rosemount, Minnesota. Fortunately for humanity, but unfortunately for the Gopher Ordnance Works company, the war actually ended very shortly after the factory was established. The location was in the hands of the University of Minnesota for decades when it was used exclusively for law enforcement training, but the WWII-era buildings are still there. There is now talk of building a new housing development on the land.
Mississippi: Ghost Town of Rodney
Rodney was once such an important town that it very nearly became the capital of Mississippi. The Clarion-Ledger reports that it was one disaster after another that eventually took down the town, beginning with the 1870 development of a sandbar that diverted the course of the Mississippi River. After losing the ease of access and business that came by river, the town was hit by major fires and diseases. Still, a few of the town’s old buildings stand—barely.
Missouri: Missouri State Penitentiary
Missouri State Penitentiary first opened its doors in 1836. Unlike some of the other large prisons on this list, this one was revered as being the best in the world. Its pristine public image faded by the 1950s, however, when inmates started having violent riots. In 1967, the prison was dubbed “the bloodiest 47 acres in America” by Time Magazine. It was only in 2004 that MSP halted operations. Today the institution can be toured and even booked for overnight ghost hunting activities. See if your experience tops the spookiest things ghost hunters have seen.
Bannack is a ghost town that is still pretty much completely intact, with more than 60 buildings to explore. The town first came together in 1962 because of a gold mine and later disbanded when the mine stopped flourishing. By the 1950s, Bannack was converted into a state park, but it still looks like a place lost in time.
Nebraska: Spring Ranch
The American West lived and died by the railroad: If a train stopped at or near your town, the economy boomed. If the train didn’t come your way or if the stop was taken away in favor of another, the town dried up almost instantly. This is what happened to Spring Ranch, Nebraska, which at its height only had 125 residents anyway. Frequent flooding also drove people out of the town. What makes the town most interesting, though, is the story of a pair of siblings who were so hated by the rest of the town that they were taken from their beds and hanged, allegedly, in 1865.
Rhyolite is a ghost town that had a lifespan of just 12 years. Thanks to the discovery of quartz, the mining town was quickly on the rise back in the early 1900s. But as quickly as its wealth came, however, so too did it disappear. Rhyolite welcomed electricity in 1907, but later that same year the town suffered great financial distress. By 1916, the town was abandoned.
New Hampshire: Livermore
The once-thriving town of Livermore was located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There was no gold, but there was wood—and lots of it. Two brothers founded a lumber company and were responsible for the town’s initial success. Eventually, though, they chopped themselves out of house and home. With no more lumber to sell and the town deeded to an inept man after the brothers’ deaths, Livermore steadily declined. Now, it is not much more than a pile of old bricks.
New Jersey: The Deserted Village on Watchung Reservation
This village originally began with a sawmill in 1736. Then came the printing presses and many other up-and-coming businesses. But when the mill was retired in 1860, those other businesses were already down-and-out. The village was deserted, but not for long. In 1882 it was resurrected as a mountain summer retreat. But when the Jersey Shore was developed into a place of amusement and leisure and the crowds flocked there, the village was abandoned a second time.
New Mexico: The Penitentiary of New Mexico
What is now referred to as the “Old Main” building was the site of one of the most violent prison riots in U.S. history. In 1980, prisoners staged a 36-hour-long riot in the New Mexico penitentiary near Santa Fe, during which 33 inmates were brutally murdered and dozens more suffered extreme injuries. Today, the building is open for tours and you can actually see the marks on the walls where people were burned and even beheaded.
New York: Seaview Hospital & Willowbrook State School
The deplorable conditions at Seaview and Willowbrook are well-documented, both by reporters and filmmakers. This part of Staten Island was home to some of the most inhumane treatment of patients on record. A 1972 exposé caught the horror and filth on camera, and the institution for the mentally disabled was shut down five years later. The terror did not stop there, however. The serial killer and urban legend come to life nicknamed “Cropsey” would make this place even more infamous. Brace yourself: Cropsey is just one urban legend that turned out to be true—there are more.
North Carolina: Stonewall Jackson Juvenile Correctional Facility
In 1907, the Stonewall Jackson near Concord became the first juvenile hall in the state. During its years of operation, the institution became known for sterilizing its mentally ill teenage inmates. But this wasn’t the work of a few runaway correctional officers—it was ordered by the state. While this is no longer the facility’s practice, some of the buildings are still operational for troubled juveniles. Most of the grounds, however, are abandoned.
North Dakota: San Haven Sanatorium
From tuberculosis treatment center to insane asylum, San Haven Sanatorium, near the Canadian border, operated as more of a prison than a medical facility. Its crude practices on thousands of patients were officially put to an end when the doors shut for the last time in 1989. Now, it is a broken and abandoned place containing nothing but the debris of its former life.
Ohio: Ohio State Reformatory
Columbus’s Ohio State Reformatory is no longer operational, but not quite abandoned: you can take tours of the former prison, where nearly 154,000 inmates passed through in its 94 years of operation. Closed in 1990, it’s said that some of the inmates who were imprisoned in its cells have never left. Take a tour if you dare.
Oklahoma: Gandini’s Circus
This traveling circus moved across state lines during the warmer months, but when winter hit it returned to its hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma. When the circus stopped running in 1930, most of its equipment was purchased by Clyde Bros. Circus. However, some of it—including animal cages and buses—is still crumbling in the town today.
Oregon: Witch’s Castle
Located in Forest Park, the abandoned Witch’s Castle is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those involved in a terrible family tragedy. In 1850, Danford Balch hired a workman named Mortimer Stump to help him build a home for his family outside of Portland. As it happened, Stump soon fell in love with Balch’s daughter and asked for her hand in marriage, but mother and father did not approve. Balch shot Mortimer dead when the couple threatened to elope. Balch reportedly said he only did it because he was “bewitched by his wife.” Apparently the judge didn’t buy this story and he became the first person to be legally hanged in Oregon. Find out the spookiest ghost stories from your state.
Pennsylvania: Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia’s famous Eastern State Penitentiary was built to be an icon for how criminal justice and punishment should be carried out. When it opened in 1829, it was a completely modernized facility with much better living conditions than virtually any prison that came before it. As happens to most prisons, however, the Pennsylvania penitentiary outgrew itself and the number of people it took in eventually put too much strain on the institution. It officially closed in 1971. Today, it can be toured for both history and gore. The gothic architecture is a marvel and a very chilling one at that.
Rhode Island: The Ladd School
The Ladd School, later named The Exeter School, was initially founded as an institution for the “feeble-minded.” Over time, it evolved from being a home solely for people with special needs to a house for criminals and the insane. Over the years, overcrowding and suspicious deaths put the school under intense scrutiny. After being open for 86 years, it finally closed down in 1994.
South Carolina: Castle Pinckney
Located on an island off the coast of Charleston, Castle Pinckney has a long history as a military fort, but it has changed hands several times. Perhaps the most notable time in the castle’s history was as a Confederate fort during the Civil War, which also doubled as a prison for Union soldiers. In the years after the war, the fort fell into obscurity. Now, it is claimed by sand and time.
South Dakota: Ardmore
Rapid City Journal reports that the ghost town of Ardmore, founded in 1889, died for the same reason it once thrived: the railroad. When the railroad first started running through the American West, towns alongside the train route sprang up all over the place. The problem with Ardmore was that it did not have any natural source of pure drinking water. The only water they had was not safe for consumption, and so they offered it to the steam engine trains in exchange for freshwater. But when the locomotive technology changed, that arrangement fell through. Without fresh drinking water, the residents were forced to abandon their homes.
Tennessee: Tennessee State Prison
The institution that once held Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassin was emptied of all inmates in 1992 when authorities found the State Prison was in extreme violation of health and living conditions. The building outside of Nashville was abandoned but remains in the possession of Tennessee’s Department of Correction. The inside is said to be hazardous and filled with asbestos, but guards continue to patrol the grounds…
The town of Bluffton, Texas was sunk when the Buchanan Dam caused the Colorado River water levels to rise. Since the dam was completed in 1937, Bluffton’s remains have sat beneath the water for decades. Creepier still is the fact that there have been droughts in this area of late, which is exposing the ruins to sunlight once more, as though rising from the dead.
Utah: Frisco Ghost Town
This mining town was a place corrupted by sin. Boasting more than 20 saloons, gambling houses, and brothels, the town, founded in 1875, also had the misfortune of being wrought with murderous intent. Killings were more of a rule than an exception, and so Frisco fell to ruin. The town is now empty, except for a very well-populated cemetery, though it’s not the oldest in the state.
Vermont: The Hayden House
According to Vermonter.com, legend says The Hayden House, once the envy of everyone in town, ultimately succumbed to a terrible family curse. The story goes that William Hayden borrowed money from his mother-in-law to help him pay off his debts, yet never repaid it. On her death bed, she cursed William, whom she suspected of poisoning her, saying, “The Hayden name shall die in the third generation and the last to bear the name shall die in poverty.” Within decades, the curse was proven true. The house then passed from owner to owner until eventually it was abandoned due to the high costs of keeping it intact. This isn’t the only place in America that’s said to be cursed.
Virginia: The Virginia Renaissance Faire
What makes the dilapidated Renaissance Faire site in Fredericksburg, Virginia so creepy is that it never even fit in with the local landscape to begin with. Renaissance faires, like amusement parks, are constructed to create joy, but when they’re abandoned the contrast of laughter and decay is enough to give a person chills. The Virginia Renaissance Faire was only up and running for a few short years before it became a total bust and was left for nature to claim.
Washington: Everett’s Boat Graveyard
Perhaps the weirdest thing about abandoned places is the fact that nobody bothers to clean them up. This boat graveyard in Everett, Washington is a perfect example of that, as dozens of boats (big and small) were simply dropped off in the channel by owners who didn’t want them anymore. Now, it is an eerie collection of dead vessels.
West Virginia: Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
One of the major rules of the horror genre is that no one should build anything atop a Native American burial ground. Why someone thought it was a good idea, then, to create an amusement park for children on the very spot where bloody murders between white settlers and Native Americans took place is totally baffling. Before it closed, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park rides killed a total of six people. The attractions are still there, rusting, today.
Wisconsin: Maribel Caves Hotel
This hotel in Manitowoc County was originally a massive therapeutic spa. It saw great success until 1915 when the hotel was forced to shut its doors. It was reopened in 1981 by a new owner, but four short years later it was consumed by a blazing fire. As if things couldn’t get any worse, a tornado ran right through the area in 2013. The remaining pieces of the historic structure are now surrounded only by ghost stories.
Wyoming: Smith Mansion
Francis Lee Smith built the most intricate (albeit strange) log fortress he could in the town of Cody. It was a passion project that would ultimately be his family’s home, but according to Curiosity.com, the mansion actually drove the family apart. Ever preoccupied with the construction, Smith died at the age of 42 when he fell off the roof in 1992. Ready for more? Check out these 10 real-life haunted mansions…if you dare.