America's Best Ghost Stories
Whether you're a believer or not, America's towns are filled with spooky stories passed down through time. From haunted fortresses to grisly tales of suffering and death, we've collected the country's most chilling real ghost stories.
During its more than 100 years in operation, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia was one of America's most violent correctional facilities and the final stop for almost 1,000 criminals. The prisoners lived in cramped quarters, which led to riots. Many men were hanged or killed in the electric chair, while others were murdered by other prisoners. The prison closed in 1995, but according to some, the tortured spirits are still behind bars and in the bowels of the prison and may be seen or heard on a tour.
- 818 Jefferson Ave
- Moundsville, WV 26041 US
Once known as the Weston State Hospital, this asylum was home to thousands of people with mental illness, starting in 1864. Hundreds of people died here before the facility closed in 1994. The spirits that are said to haunt the site today date back to the Civil War era, when the asylum's grounds served as a military post. Paranormal tours of the facility feature 2-hour visits to the asylum's 4 main hot spots. The more intense Ghost Hunt is an 8-hour, overnight paranormal adventure with experienced ghost-hunting guides.
- 71 Asylum Dr
- Weston, WV 26452 US
On June 10, 1912, the old white frame house at 508 E Second St became a grisly crime scene. The heinous murder of Josiah B. Moore, his wife, their 4 children and 2 young girls who were overnight guests rocked the small town of Villisca, IA, and the murderer was never identified. Over the years, residents of the home reported visions of a man with an ax, children crying and unexplained paranormal activity. In 1994, the home was restored to its original condition with no indoor plumbing or electricity. These touches add to the chilling ambience during a lamplight tour from April through November or an overnight experience available by reservation for groups.
- 508 E Second St
- Villisca, IA 50864 US
Jerome, AZ, is a former copper-mining town with a paranormal reputation that dates back to the Wild West. The town is now home to just 400 residents (down from 15,000 in its heyday), but legend has it there are plenty more ghostly residents from the days of mining accidents and gunfights. One well-known spirit is the working girl Sammie Dean, a prostitute who was strangled by a customer in the old Crib District. Her beautiful spirit roams the alleys looking for her killer, who was never found.
- Jerome, AZ 86331 US
Cuban Club, also known as Circulo Cubano de Tampa, can be found in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood. In 1917, this spot was a popular hangout for Cuban immigrants who enjoyed the ballroom, outdoor band shell and cantina with a stage and dance floor. Today, the compound, which is protected by the National Historic Register, hosts concerts and special events and is the setting for many ghost stories about spirits playing the piano and riding the elevators.
- 2010 Avenida Republica De Cuba
- Ybor City, FL 33605 US
Built in 1771, Fort Mifflin is the country's only Revolutionary War battlefield that is still intact. There are 14 restored buildings on the grounds on the Delaware River and reportedly plenty of spirits from the past. Among the ghosts said to haunt the fort is a screaming woman whose cries are so loud that the Philadelphia police have been called to investigate, only to find no one there. Other characters in the local ghost stories include a faceless man wandering around the fort, a tour guide dressed in revolutionary garb and numerous children and dogs.
- 82 Fort Mifflin Rd
- Philadelphia, PA 19153 US
The Moon River Brewery brought its beloved beers to Savannah in 1999, but the building is one of the oldest in town, dating back to 1821. In its original incarnation, it was the City Hotel, a high-end hotel with a history of violence during the Civil War. Men were killed in the hotel during heated skirmishes, including a Yankee who was beaten to death by locals in 1860. Some bar patrons today say they've seen bottles mysteriously fly through the air and have witnessed guests being pushed, touched and even slapped by unseen forces. One resident apparition, Toby, is said to skulk around the billiards room looking for the next great bar brawl.
- 21 W Bay St
- Savannah, GA 31401 US
The Sultan's Palace
The house at 716 Dauphine St is a classic French Quarter beauty with classic wrought-iron balconies and a large courtyard. But in the 1800s, this residence was a house of horrors for the Sultan, a wealthy man with a depraved lifestyle, multiple wives and children, and a harem of women and young boys held against their will. Neighbors complained about the mysterious habits of this man who had a predilection for partying, opium and torture. But the greatest mystery in the house was the Sultan's demise, when he was buried alive in the courtyard after his family and harem were hacked to pieces in a bloodbath by an unknown perpetrator. Today, his angry spirit is thought to be responsible for the unusual noises, loud music and strong incense smells that waft from the home, as well as unwelcome advances on past female residents who swear the Sultan is still up to his old tricks of groping female visitors.
- 716 Dauphine St
- New Orleans, LA 70116 US
Toni Jo Henry has been the talk of the small town of Lake Charles since the 1940s, when she killed a man in cold blood. Just as notorious were her stunning good looks. The former prostitute charmed a gentleman in a pickup truck to give her a ride while she was walking the highway with a friend en route to spring her true love from a Texas prison. It took 3 trials for a jury to convict the wily Toni Jo, who had charmed the courtroom and jail staff and divided the town over her presumed guilt. In 1942, this murderous beauty known as Tiger Girl was the first woman in the state to die in the electric chair. Her spirit lingers in the courthouse today, and workers there swear they feel her presence, hear her screams and even smell her burning hair. Many believe that she tinkers with office equipment, locks doors and meddles with everyday office life at the courthouse.
- 1000 Ryan St
- Lake Charles, LA 70601 US
The Eastern State Penitentiary might be the creepiest place in all of Philly. The former prison was the first of its kind, thanks to its large size and substantial budget.
Directed by Quaker beliefs, it had infamously strict rules, which encouraged isolation and punishment. Prison guards took to hooding inmates whenever they ventured outside their cells, and the only source of light was a skylight, which was believed to bring the prisoners “the light of God.”
Tortured spirits, including “Slick Willie” Sutton, continue to relentlessly haunt the grounds today.
- 2027 Fairmount Ave
- Philadelphia, PA 19130 US