Summer typically means vacation for many of us, as we hit the road for a week or two of escape from our day-to-day routine. Be it the beach, an amusement park, a cruise, or a family visit, we welcome the opportunity to break away and catch our breath. But perhaps you’re not the tourist trap type, and are looking for a unique change of pace. Something, maybe, that takes your breath away as you try to catch it. Something…supernatural.
The lure of potentially haunted destinations is nothing new. Practically every town in America has its own spooky locale, putting it on the map as local legend spreads. So as you pack up the family car and embark on an adventure, consider the following stops along the way for a chance to beat the heat with a chill running down your spine…
The Moss Beach Distillery – featured on television’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries’, this Moss Beach, California restaurant is the alleged home of the Blue Lady ghost. Reportedly killed while walking the beach below the restaurant (at the time a notorious speakeasy) with her lover, this beautiful young spirit is said to wander the building in search of the dashing ladies’ man she left behind. Mysterious silent phone calls, levitating items, unexplained tampering with computers, rooms inexplicably locked from within, and relocated earrings of women patrons are just a few of the eerie occurrences documented at the Moss Beach Distillery.
San Angelo, Texas – supernatural sightings abound in this West Texas town, most notably the spectral appearance of a child in Officers Quarter 1 and buffalo soldiers in barracks 5 and 6 of Fort Concho, as well as the ghosts of two murdered cheerleaders in the halls of Reagan Elementary School. The Sunset Mall is said to host two young spirits, and numerous accounts tell of the haunting of Hardeman Hall at ASU by a murdered student.
The Gurdon Lights – the small Arkansas town of Gurdon is said to be the haunting ground of a railroad conductor who died on the tracks after being pushed in front of an oncoming train. Residents and visitors report mysterious flashing lights that change color in the darkness of night where the unfortunate rail man lost his life, on a stretch of track between Texarkana and Little Rock.
Haunted Charleston – this South Carolina city is practically overrun with unexplained phenomena. Old City Jail is believed to be haunted by numerous ghosts. At one time housing pirates, Civil War soldiers, and a serial-killing couple who operated a boarding house, the jail experiences sightings of lost spirits, sounds of equipment running which have long been out of operation, mysterious phone calls, unseen attacks of force, and disappearing personal effects. Many sources have reported that the cemetery at St. Philips Church is visited by the ghosts of a grieving mother seen kneeling at her child’s grave, and a mysterious Grey Man, believed to be the spirit of a gent who saved the church from burning in a fire he extinguished. The 1843 Battery Carriage House Inn is plagued by a headless, floating human torso in Room 8, as well as a Victorian gentleman in Room 10 and a Confederate soldier walking the grounds. There is no shortage of supernatural activity in Charleston.
Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania’s most haunted city boasts a wide variety of places of eerie interest. Carnegie Library is built on top of an old cemetery, and nightly visitations from displaced spirits are reported. Room 947 of Carlow College is allegedly haunted by misty apparitions who scratch on the walls. The second floor of Byers Hall on the CCAC North campus is closed off, but witnesses claim to still see visions of a nanny who hung herself as the ghost of her young charge looks on. The Civic Arena is said to come alive with the citizens of the neighborhood that was demolished to make way for its construction. Mario Lemieux, star player for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, has claimed to witness shadowy figures in ’20s-era garb wandering about the building. The Dixmont Mental Hospital is the home of multiple ghost sightings, and at the Fort Pitt Museum (the location of the Battle of Grants’s Hill during the French and Indian War), guards have spoken of people appearing on security monitors who weren’t actually there. The 10th floor of Kaufman’s Department Store is rumored to be haunted by one of the Highlanders killed in the war. And the Livermore Cemetery is said to be haunted by the victims of a flood, with reports of apparition sightings and items missing from parked cars in the cemetery.
St. Augustine, Florida – the oldest city in the United States is also considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country. Castillo de San Marcos (or The Old Fort as it is more commonly known by locals) is often spoken of as the city’s most haunted location, having been built in the 17th century and seeing more than its fair share of battle. Sightings, strange sensations, unexplained sounds and more abound in this notoriously supernatural setting. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is also a hotbed of paranormal activity, with sightings of three young drowning victims swinging on the swing set and appearing in windows. Ghost hunters have captured shadows on film believed to be the spirit of an old light keeper and have recorded an unknown woman’s voice, in addition to many other unexplained sounds. The St. Francis Inn, the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche, the Huguenot Cemetery, Flagler College, and the Ponce de Leon Hotel are just a few of the many places in St. Augustine purported to play host to the supernatural.
New Orleans. Galveston. Gettysburg. Key West. San Francisco. Chicago. Salem. Savannah – the list goes on. Obviously, there is no region of the US that is immune to visits from beyond. Wherever your travels take you this year, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll be close to someplace spooky. So go see the world’s largest ball of string next year, and take a tour of haunted Americana this summer. You never know who may hitch a ride back with you…