The Spookiest Ghost Story from Each State
These stories are not only spooky, but may have even happened in your own backyard.
You don’t have to be in Halloweentown to see a ghost. There have been reported ghost sightings in the most seemingly normal places across the country that are just too strange to be anything other than paranormal. Light the campfire, pop up some corn, and get ready to have your spine tingled. Each of these stories is spooky not only because it’s ghostly but because it taps into our most terrible fears about our own human nature. See how to become a real-life ghost hunter according to these paranormal investigators.
Alabama: The Red Lady of Huntingdon College
In 1910, a young girl was attending Huntingdon College in Montgomery. A strange girl, she had trouble making friends, but what most people remember about her is that she adored the color red. After months of increasing isolation, the girl finally slashed her own wrists. Her body was discovered in a red gown, drenched in blood. From then on, the school has been said to be haunted by a woman in red—a perpetual reminder of the importance of being kind to one’s peers. Don’t miss the spookiest urban legend from every state.
Alaska: Scary Mary of the Golden North Hotel
Back during the Gold Rush, after a woman named “Mary” was abandoned by her fiancé at the Golden North Hotel in Skagway, she locked herself in her room and never came out again. Eventually, her body was discovered in the room, dressed in the wedding dress she’d intended to wear on her wedding day. And it’s in that wedding dress that “Scary Mary” haunts the guests of the Golden North Hotel, stalking the halls and searching for the man who made the terrible mistake of abandoning her. If you aren’t too scared, check out these haunted places you can rent on Airbnb.
Arizona: La Llorona of Tuscon
The “La Llorona” story (“Crying Woman”) is told throughout the Southwest, and it always involves drowned children and their mournful mother. But the Tuscon version is particularly chilling. In this one, a woman failed to save her children from drowning in a flooding of the Santa Cruz River. After the woman’s own subsequent death, her ghost remained on the banks of the river—a disheveled and frightening apparition of a mother mourning her lost children. Here are 10 ghost stories from the most haunted places in the world that will give you chills.
Arkansas: The ghost of Route 365
One rainy night, a man driving down Route 365 picked up a young girl who was hitchhiking. But when they arrived at her house, the girl… had vanished. A light appeared in a window just then, and a woman came outside. “That girl is my daughter,” she told the man. “She hitchhikes home once a year.”
“Yes, but where did she go?” the man asked.
“She’s in the cemetery,” the woman explained. “She was killed ten years ago.”
Don’t miss these creepy urban legends that turned out to be true.
California: The Lady of Stow Lake
Like La Llorona, the story of the White Lady of Stow Lake is a cautionary tale to all mothers about protecting their children from harm. Here, the story, set in 1906, has a woman pushing a baby carriage around Stow Lake in San Francisco, when she meets a friend and begins chatting away. Just moments later, she realizes… the baby carriage is gone. Ever since then, on foggy nights, people report seeing a distressed woman stalking the edges of the lake, sometimes moaning, sometimes crying out, “Have you seen my baby?” Check out these other ancient mysteries researchers still can’t explain.
Colorado: The Story of Robert Schmale
A very bad man named Robert Schmale was tried and hanged in Georgetown after he went on a terrifying and inexplicable murder spree. The townspeople were filled with so much anger and hatred, they left his body hanging for days. But Schmale got his revenge for his body’s mistreatment, as well as for the townspeople’s inability to “forgive,” apparently: he’s said to haunt the town, a thin ghostly man, flickering briefly in the darkness. For more spooky stories, try listening to these scary podcasts that will keep you up at night.
Connecticut: The Ghost of Frederick Jordan
Frederick Jordan was the keeper of a lighthouse off the coast of Bridgeport. In 1916, shortly before Christmas, he was caught in a gale while rowing home to see his family. Ever since then, malfunctions of the lights and equipment at the lighthouse are often blamed on Jordan’s ghost. If this tale didn’t scare you away, check out these beautiful lighthouses for rent on Airbnb.
Delaware: Lums Pond
Back in the 1870s, a young girl ran away from home and hid in the woods near Lums Pond in New Castle County, which is where her body was eventually found—murdered. Her killer was never apprehended, but the girl is said to haunt the pond and the bridge that crosses it—with other-worldly shrieks and sudden drops in temperature along the bridge and the banks of the pond. Don’t miss these other 14 bodies of water around the world that are said to be haunted.
Florida: Haunted St. Augustine
In St. Augustine, the building that is now home to a restaurant (Harry’s) dates back all the way to the 1700s. In the late 1780s, a young woman was one of nine siblings being raised in the house. When the Spanish gained control of St. Augustine, she bravely took back her house. The house was later destroyed by fire, but people say that the woman’s ghost still haunts the building where her house once stood—presumably because a (wo)man’s home is their castle. Discover the real meaning behind omens and urban legends.
Georgia: The Woolfolk family murders
In 1887, nine members of the Woolfolk family were murdered in their beds, and the only survivor, 27-year-old Tom, was blamed, convicted, and hanged in front of 10,000 spectators. The house in Bibb County is now in ruins, but some who make their way to it report ghostly screams, disembodied voices, and feels of desperation and doom. Find out the history behind five common superstitions.
Hawaii: The Ghosts of Pearl Harbor
In this case, it is said that the ghosts of the 1,177 crew members of the USS Arizona, which sunk during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, continue to haunt the harbor. And it could even be true, seeing as a woman in 2011 managed to capture a photo of a ghostly figure suspended in the water and seemingly crying out in pain. These are 13 of the creepiest things found at the bottom of the ocean.
Idaho: The Boise Murder House
On June 30, 1987, a man named Preston Murr was shot and killed in his own home, his body dismembered and thrown into a reservoir. This home ended up becoming a college fraternity. It’s referred to as “Murder House,” and it’s said that blood stains appear and disappear at random, the window blinds open and shut of their own volition, and eerily enough, an unknown woman in a Victorian clothing seems to watch over all these spooky proceedings.
Illinois: The ghost of Inez
A little girl named Inez Clarke died at the age of six in the 1880s after being struck by lighting or contracting diphtheria, depending on which version you choose to believe. She’s buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery, where there’s a statue in her honor. The statue, people say, is haunted. It moves, it weeps, it disappears, it reappears. “What makes all this even weirder is that Inez Clarke isn’t even buried in Graceland Cemetery,” according to Only in Your State; however, this isn’t necessarily true. Inez is buried there under the last name “Briggs,” the name of her father and her mother’ married name before she married John Clarke. Perhaps it’s the confusion that has led to Inez’s unrest? All these famous ghost stories have logical explanations.
Indiana: The ghost of Stepp Cemetery
Near Bloomington, the Stepp Cemetery is the home to many hauntings, the creepiest of which involves a Wuthering Heights–style melodrama, in which a woman, who lost her husband to a terrible mining accident becomes obsessed with caring for her daughter. Then 20 years later, the daughter is killed in a terrible automobile accident. The grieving mother is said to haunt the cemetery where both her husband and only daughter are buried. Don’t miss the oldest cemetery in every state.
Iowa: Lucinda’s ghost
North of Burlington, people tell the tale of a heartbroken woman named Lucinda, who was abandoned by her fiancé on the night they were supposed to have eloped. Lucinda jumped off a cliff just outside of town, and ever since then, people have reported seeing her ghost on Stony Hollow Road. But even when they don’t see her, if they say her name, she might appear. And if she drops a rose for you, you’re a goner… you’ll be dead within the day. No confirmation as to whether that part actually happens, but as the saying goes, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…
Kansas: The ghost in search of his father’s skull
In Ellis County, along the Saline River, they say the ghost of an elderly Native American man roams in search of the skull of his father, who had been murdered by white men in the 1840s. The first sighting of the ghost—to a cowboy camping there in 1879—was 39 years later, after the man’s son, presumably, had died an old man.
Kentucky: The unknown dancing girl
In the late 1800s, a beautiful young woman checked into the Springs Hotel in Harrodsburg—under an alias. She spent the night dancing in the ballroom…until she actually collapsed and died right on the dance floor. The unknown dancing girl was buried on the hotel grounds. Although the hotel burned down half a century ago, her grave remains, and some say she does too… twirling and dancing in the moonlight to music only she can hear. These are the most haunted hotels in America.
Louisiana: Chloe’s ghost
Clark Woodruff, owner of the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, caught Chloe, a slave, eavesdropping on him. He cut off her ear as punishment. She retaliated by poisoning his children and wife. The other slaves lynched her, and her spirit has been supposedly haunting the property ever since. According to Myrtles Plantation, now a bed and breakfast, a mysterious photograph of a woman’s figure lurking in a shaded corner taken in 1992 has perpetuated Chloe’s myth.
Maine: The grave of Jonathan Buck
The founder of the town Bucksport, one Jonathan Buck, is rumored to have accused a townswoman of witchcraft and sentenced her to hang in the town square. At the gallows, the woman vowed to dance on his grave. So it shouldn’t have been any surprise when some years after Buck’s death in 1795, the image of a leg appeared on his memorial. And whether it’s the vengeful act of a witch or the natural darkening of stone as a result of oxidization doesn’t really matter—the story makes its point about persecution.
Maryland: The Goat Man of Prince George’s County
Everyone in Prince George’s County knows about the Goat Man. They say he’s a half-man, half-goat, totally paranormal creeper who roams the area, scaring kids and occasionally decapitating small animals. No one is certain what his motivation is, however. Some say he was a goat farmer who went nuts after some teens killed his goats. Others say he’s the result of a government conspiracy to breed humans with goats. Find out 10 secret U.S. government operations revealed.
Massachusetts: Lady in Black
The Boston area is rich with stories of ghosts, bizarre legends, and baffling events, reports the Boston Globe. The one that may be the most famous (as well as the eeriest) is the story of the Lady in Black, who is said to haunt Fort Warren, which was used as a prison for disloyal soldiers during the Civil War. One such prisoner, Andrew Lanier, a Confederate soldier, attempted to escape with the help of his wife. The attempt failed, with Mr. Lanier shot dead in the process, and Mrs. Lanier hanged later for her complicity. Now, Mrs. Lanier’s ghost, dressed in the gown in which she was hanged, has been said to haunt the historic fort, tapping terrified tourists on the shoulders and becoming violent at times (supposedly, she manually choked a Fort Warren guardsman, although thankfully, he survived).
Michigan: Minnie Quay’s watery grave
On the eastern coast of Michigan, Forester is the home of its own ghost, that of Minnie Quay. Minnie died at 14 in 1876, presumably a suicide in the icy water of Lake Huron. At the time, she had been in love with a sailor, whom her parents disapproved of. Now, her spirit roams the streets of Forester and the shores of Lake Huron, crying mournfully for her lost love and occasionally trying to beckon a young girl into the icy waters… to join her in her watery grave.
Minnesota: A ghostly reminder of the horrors of war
When a young woman learned her boyfriend, for whom she’d been waiting to return home from World War II, had died in combat, she hanged herself in the woman’s bathroom at the great Art Deco Greyhound Bus Center. In recent years, there have been multiple sightings of the woman in that very bathroom, hanging from a noose, according to Minnesota Monthly. Don’t miss these haunting photos of ghost towns along Route 66.
Mississippi: The ghost of Beulah Cawthon
Beulah Cawthon lived with her family in a beautiful Victorian home at the turn of the 20th century, but by 1919, she had been committed to a mental institution as a result of severe bipolar disorder. After she died, her spirit came back to the house she loved and has never left. Seriously. A family that bought the house last year bought it despite that it was advertised as being the home of the ghost of Beulah Cawthon. While the family scoffed, it turned out they’re encountering the ghost of Miss Cawthon on a regular basis.
Missouri: Jesse James’ family farm
Considering the violence surrounding the life and untimely death of Jesse James, as well as the murder of his brother, Archie, it’s no wonder the folks of Kearney believe the farm where he grew up is haunted. “The James Family Farm has said to have been haunted for more than a century,” according to Legends of America. “Evidently, home to a number of lingering spirits, lights are said to move about both inside and outside of the property buildings. Others report hearing the sounds of pounding hooves, muffled shots, and cries that are reminiscent of the area history, dating back to events of the Civil War.” See these forbidden places no one will ever be allowed to visit.
Montana: The Moss Mansion
“Built in 1903, the historic Moss Mansion was once home to the illustrious Moss family,” according to Ghosts and Ghouls. “Legend has it they’re still there.” Apparently, the youngest Moss child died of diphtheria in the home, and now her ghost continues to roam the hallways making mischief, like slamming doors, flickering lights on and off, and making her footsteps heard.
Nebraska: The ghost of Clara Mills
Nebraska Wesleyan University is haunted by the ghost of Clara Mills, a former music professor, who died suddenly and much too young and is buried nearby. Her apparition has been seen in various buildings around campus, always wearing the same white blouse and dark skirt and recognizable by her tall, slender figure, and her long dark hair. Though she’s said to be accompanied by stale, musky air, she doesn’t seem to intend any harm. She just doesn’t seem to want to leave. Even scarier: NWU isn’t even among America’s most haunted colleges.
Nevada: the Goldfield Hotel ghosts
The Goldfield Hotel is the home of a large number of reported hauntings, but the spookiest one involves a woman named Elizabeth, who was murdered by her lover after she became pregnant. Elizabeth has never left the hotel, apparently, choosing to roam the halls, bemoaning her tragic fate and searching for her unborn baby.
New Hampshire: Jenny West’s ghost
In 1947, Jenny West was shot in her living room in Fremont. Some believe she was murdered, but no one could say for sure. Jenny, however, may have something to say about that, since she’s apparently been hanging around ever since. Subsequent tenants of the apartment where she lived have reported paranormal activity such as furniture moving and a sense of an inhuman presence. Time to reopen the case, perhaps? But when you consider that all these cases continue to baffle forensic scientists, perhaps it seems futile.
New Jersey: The ghosts of Drew University
While Nebraska Wesleyan didn’t make the most-haunted-college list, Drew University in Madison, New Jersey did. That’s because it’s not just one ghost, but many, who are said to haunt the campus. “It’s just a feeling you get; there are certain buildings you won’t walk in to by yourself—you couldn’t pay me to go in by myself,” said a graduate from the class of 1983, referring to several of the buildings on campus. These include Asbury Hall, Mead Hall, and the Craig Chapel, all of which are said to be hosts to Drew’s many ghosts.
New Mexico: The boy in the theater
In 1951, a water heater exploded in the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque killing several people, including a six-year-old named Bobby. Ever since then, his ghost has been haunting the theater, creating mischief. It’s gotten so that performers leave him offerings—often donuts—to earn his affection and trust so he doesn’t interfere with their performance. Still, when there are electrical or mechanical problems, everyone assumes it’s the mischievous work of Bobby.
New York: The Headless Horseman
It’s impossible to think of a more famous New York ghost story than that of the Headless Horseman, the spirit of a Revolutionary soldier who lost his head in battle and is forever searching for it throughout the Hudson Valley. There’s even a Halloween “Haunted Hay Ride” in Ulster Park, New York to commemorate the Headless Horseman. Here are some other haunted hayrides around the country you might want to check out.
North Carolina: The Lost Colony of Roanoke
Roanoke Colony was one of the first European settlements in the United States, having been founded in 1587 at the direction of Queen Elizabeth. Three years later, everyone was gone, and all that remained of the 117 souls that had once been there, was a signpost into which the word “Croatoan” had been carved. No wonder it’s also on our list of history’s strangest unsolved mysteries.
North Dakota: The White Lady of Pembina County
When you come upon the old covered bridge in the Tetrault Woods in Pembina County, that’s known as “White Lady Lane,” you’ll know it, locals say, because you’ll feel a sense of dread, melancholy, and an unseen presence. Supposedly, the old bridge is haunted by the spirit of a young woman, known as “the White Lady.” There are several competing versions about who the White Lady was, but all of them involve a young woman who died tragically in the 1800s… before she was ready to actually take leave of life on earth.
Ohio: The real Bloody Mary
They say if you repeat her name three times, 13 times, whatever number of times, she’ll appear… and you won’t want to know what happens next. But this version of the famous story originated in Ohio, although there are many competing theories. The spookiest one, without a doubt, is the one that involves a woman named Mary who lived near Lake Erie and resorted to witchcraft to win the heart of a man whose heart couldn’t be won. After Mary died, she continued to haunt Lake Erie, and if you’re not careful, she will drag you under water.
Oklahoma: A ghostly child
In 1907, seven-year-old Irene Houghton died of whooping cough. Or maybe she was poisoned by the nurse attending to her. And so it began…the haunting of the house that became the Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie. “The home gives off a strange first impression,” a local news outlet explains. And at one point, it was used as a funeral home. These days, there are still reports of a “mischievous ghost child” squeezing the toes of sleeping guests and tap-tap-tapping her feet on the stairs between the second and third floor. For more scary stories, pick up one of the scariest books of all time.
Oregon: Anna Marple
In the late 19th century, a local shopkeeper in Lafayette was murdered by Richard Marple, who was hung for his crime. At the hanging, his mother, Anna Marple, cursed the town, vowing that it would be consumed by fire. The next year, a devastating fire actually occurred, as well as many others over the next century. Although the fires have since ceased, the ghost of Marple’s mother supposedly continues to haunt the town, especially the cemetery where she is buried. Her moans—as well as her laughter—haunt visitors to this day.
Pennsylvania: The haunting of Piney Fork Road
Pittsburgh legend has it that a young woman was killed while drag racing in her Corvette down Piney Fork Road. Ever since then, residents say that at night, her screams can still be heard, as well as the occasional screeching tire… even with no cars on the road.
Rhode Island: The true story behind The Conjuring
Not long after the Perron family moved into their dream house in Harrisville, a haunting began. At first, it was just odd sounds. Soon, family members were pulled from their beds. Sometimes, a ghostly woman appeared. It was said she’d hung herself in the house. Attempts to exorcise her spirit from the home continued until the family fled ten years later. The true story of the Perron family’s haunting story was turned into the film, The Conjuring. Here are more horror films inspired by actual events.
South Carolina: Julia Legare’s Crypt
In the mid-1800s, Julia Legare’s family was visiting family in Edisto Beach when Julia became ill…so ill a doctor declared her dead. Fifteen years later, another member of the family passed. When the crypt was open, they found Julia’s remains crumpled up by the door; Julia had still been alive when she was placed there. Distraught, the Legare’s left, sealing the door tight. But the next day, the door was found open again. This time, a clergyman shut it. This continued over the years even after someone sealed the door with chains. Today, the door remains ajar, and Julia Legare’s spirit is “free” to roam about.
South Dakota: The haunted hotel in Deadwood
The historic Bullock Hotel in Deadwood was built between 1894 and 1896, and its original owner, Seth Bullock, who died of natural causes, has nevertheless been haunting the place ever since, or so the story goes. (It has been featured on television’s Unsolved Mysteries). Guests have reported hearing their name called out by a male voice when no one is present or being tapped on the shoulder by unseen hands. Glasses and dishes are known to rattle and a broken clock has been known to chime for no apparent reason.
Tennessee: The haunting of John Bell
Back in the early 1800s, John Bell settled with his family in Red River (later, Adams). One day in 1817, Bell saw a strange animal (half dog, half rabbit) on his property. Bell shot at it, but it vanished. Then within hours, the family began hearing strange sounds inside and outside the house. Within months, the sounds gave way to poltergeist-style mischief, then to outright violence. It didn’t stop until 1820, upon the death of John Bell, whose health had declined as a result of the stress. Not all creatures with four legs are innocent—here are 12 crimes committed by animals.
Texas: The “kiss and kill” ghost
“Betty Williams was a fast girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Mack Herring was a handsome football player with all the right friends. When he broke up with her during her senior year at Odessa High School, her world fell apart. But she asked him for one last favor: to kill her.” So goes the true story, according to Texas Monthly, but few remember Betty’s murder or her murderer. All they remember now is the haunting of Odessa High School by a teenage ghost (Betty) who roams the halls to this day.
Utah: The wandering woman of Latuda
All the hauntings around the abandoned mining town of Latuda involve a woman-in-white wandering about the ruins. But there’s little agreement over the circumstances leading to the haunting. Some say she was killed in 1927 in a rockslide. Others say she committed suicide after her child was killed in a rockslide. Still, others say it was her husband who was killed, and she haunts the town because she was never fairly compensated for his death. These 10 spooky ghost movies will give you the chills.
Vermont: Emily’s bridge
A covered bridge in Stowe, Vermont, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman named Emily, who hung herself from the rafters of the bridge when her boyfriend failed to show up for their planned elopement, although other accounts say Emily was thrown from a horse off the bridge and died on the rocks below. Either way, in the past 150 years that have followed, there have been repeated reports of ghostly voices and ghostly figures along the bridge, now known as Emily’s Bridge.
Virginia: A doomed and cursed house
Built in 1715, the Peyton Randolph House in Williamsburg had no history of hauntings until the Peachy family moved in in 1800. Soon after, people started dying there. A lot. It started with the Peachy children, one of whom died after falling out of a tree. Others died of illnesses. But it didn’t end with the Peachys. Inexplicable, untimely deaths continued there throughout the decades, including suicides and strange illnesses. But not only does the house appear to be cursed, but it also appears to be haunted by the ghosts of those who’ve died there. America isn’t the only country with paranormal activity. Watch out for these signs your house could be haunted.
West Virginia: Ghostly justice
The story of Elva Zona Heaster’s ghost is a tale of ghostly justice in Greenbriar County. Elva was found dead in 1897, and foul play was suspected, but the evidence was scant. Then one night the ghost of Elva visited her mother, Mary Jane, and explained exactly how she’d died….and who had killed her. It was her husband, and he’d broken her neck. Elva’s ghost continued to visit Mary Jane until an autopsy finally confirmed that Elva had died from a broken neck. Elva’s husband was convicted in the trial that ensued.
Wisconsin: The Ridgeway Phantom
One terrible night in 1840, two young men were murdered at a saloon in the small town of Ridgeway. One was burned to death, the other frozen to death. Their murderer was never apprehended, and ever since then, a phantom (or more than one) has been appearing in a variety of forms in Ridgeway, sometimes as a headless man, sometimes as a spectral light, but always terrifying to all who witness it. Don’t miss these 16 strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.
F.E. Warren Airforce Base is said to be haunted by a man named Gus, who lived in the barracks there in the late 1880s. As the story goes, an officer returned from maneuvers one day to find his wife in bed with Gus. Still naked, Gus jumped out of bed and jumped out a window. He died on the way down by strangulation when he became tangled in a clothesline. Ever since then, soldiers living in the barracks have reported seeing Gus’s ghost rummaging around the living quarters. They surmise Gus is still searching for his clothes. Every state has its share of unsolved mysteries. Here is the strangest one from every state.