WATCH: The Haunted History of Halloween
You may think that being haunted would be a bad thing, but for many places in the United States, it can be a tourist draw. Ghost stories attract both believers and skeptics all year-round, and especially during Halloween.
Often, these ghost stories are based on people who died under unfortunate circumstances, like an old man falsely accused of witchcraft, or a president assassinated in his second term. Many involve verifiable historical events, rumors that strain credulity or a combination of both. Below, are seven places in the United States that have a reputation for being haunted.
WATCH: Evil Places on The UnXplained on HISTORY Vault
1. Howard Street Cemetery (Salem, Massachusetts)
Salem, Massachusetts is most known for being the site of the famous witch trials in 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of witchcraft, and 19 were put to death by hanging. In addition, there was one man, 81-year-old Giles Corey, who was pressed to death with weights.
Corey’s death supposedly occurred in the present-day Howard Street Cemetery, and the brutal way in which he died sparked rumors that his ghost haunted the grounds. Salem’s seventh mayor, Charles Wentworth Upham, mentioned this “popular superstition” in his 1867 two-volume book Salem Witchcraft, though he didn’t seem to believe the superstition himself.
2. RMS Queen Mary (Long Beach, California)
The RMS Queen Mary is a retired British ship that sailed between 1936 and 1967. It was primarily a passenger ship, except for a period during World War II in which it transported Allied troops and earned itself the nickname “The Grey Ghost.”
Since 1967, the retired ship has been permanently docked in Long Beach, California, where it serves as a hotel and haunted tourist attraction. The Queen Mary hotel claims to host such spirits as an engineer who died in the engine room, a girl who drowned in the first-class pool and a “lady in white”—a type of specter that often pops up in other ghost stories.
3. New Jersey Pine Barrens (New Jersey)
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The New Jersey Pine Barrens is a National Reserve that stretches across seven of the state’s counties, and is the rumored home of the Jersey Devil. According to legend, in the early 18th century a woman by the name of Leeds gave birth to a devil-like creature that terrorized the surrounding area and has lived there ever since. But the reason this legend spread is likely due to a rivalry Benjamin Franklin had with an almanac publisher.
The American Almanack’s first publisher, Daniel Leeds, had a reputation as “Satan’s Harbinger” among his fellow Quakers. When Dianel’s son Titan took over publication of The American Almanack, Franklin used his Poor Richard’s Almanack to help spread supernatural rumors about Titan. These various accusations eventually morphed into a legend about the Leeds Devil, or the Jersey Devil.
4. The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is most famous for inspiring the haunted Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining. Although the real-life hotel has been open since 1909, it wasn’t until after the publication of King’s book and the release of the 1980 film adaptation that rumors of ghosts began to swirl around the Stanley Hotel. The hotel actively promotes the idea that it’s haunted, offering visitors a “spirited night tour” of the premises.
5. The Whaley House (San Diego, California)
In the 1850s, a man named Thomas Whaley decided to build a home for his family in San Diego, California. Supposedly, the spot he picked for his house was the site of an execution that had happened just a few years before. Since then, legend has it that the executed man—James “Yankee Jim” Robinson—has haunted the house.
The museum that now owns and operates the house claims that other spirits have since made their presence known in the residence. These spirits include Thomas himself, his wife Anna and their son who died as an infant.
6. Fort Mifflin (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Fort Mifflin—located on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—served as a Continental Army fort during the American Revolution, and later a Union prison during the Civil War. Decommissioned in 1962, the fort is now a National Historic Landmark. The site offers candlelight ghost tours, a “sleep with the ghosts” program and public paranormal investigation events.
7. The White House (Washington, D.C.)
People have long claimed to have spotted various presidential ghosts in the White House, but the commander-in-chief people claim to see most frequently is Abraham Lincoln. One of the first people to say they saw Lincoln’s ghost in the White House may have been Jeremiah “Jerry” Smith, who worked there between the late 1860s and the early 1900s. In addition to Lincoln, Smith claimed to have seen the ghosts of Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley, whose assassination Smith was present for in 1901.
Since then, many other people have claimed to see the ghost of Lincoln, including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Allegedly, Churchill saw Lincoln’s ghost after stepping out of a bath in the White House.