Have you and your friends ever swapped tales about the creepy old house down the street? Do you know someone who swears they saw a ghost on the train tracks? All around the world, communities have their own hometown legends, shared among locals and passed on to the next generation. While some stories fall on the legendary side of the truth, other tales we’ve gathered are all too real. Grab some sage and salt your doorways, because it’s about to get spooky.
The Green Man
Beaver County, PA
Tales of The Green Man and Charlie No-Face scared children in western Pennsylvania for years. Legend said that a man with no face wandered the streets at night looking for children.
Charlie was real, but he wasn't out to harm anyone. In fact, he was Raymond ‘Ray’ Robinson (October 29,1910-June 11,1985), who was liked by everyone that knew him. As a child, his face was badly burned in an electrical accident, causing a facial deformity. To avoid the many questions and stares, Ray took to the streets at night. Soon, he started encountering people, who spread the word of the 'faceless' man. While some would harass Ray, many others in the area befriended him, describing him as an incredibly kind, if shy, individual.
The Slaughterhouse Fire
Statesboro, Georgia seems like any other sweet town, but it’s haunted by an abandoned slaughterhouse. Statesboro Packing House was built in the 1920s, but tragedy struck soon after. A fire swept through the building. That’s where facts end and the legend begins. Legend says that over 20 people perished in the slaughterhouse fire, and the old workers continue to haunt the house to this day. Although never proven, it’s often claimed that the owner himself was the one who started the fire. He killed himself shortly after the fire, never admitting guilt. The building has stayed empty for almost one hundred years, but the brave few that venture inside what remains of the structure report that a woman in white wanders the halls and a man stares menacingly at anyone who dares to pass by. Enter if you dare.
Related: 11 Most Haunted Places in Georgia
In 1839, Silas Tinker fell from his buggy when his horse was spooked; he landed under a bridge and died. According to local legend, he couldn’t bring himself to leave, and he haunts the bridge to this day. Old Mister Tinker was a miner and an alchemist. He made a special metal, and rumor has it that he still guards his gold. If you’re nice to him, he might give you some. Tinker’s Hollow is well known in Ohio, and people often dare one another to peer under the bridge, where they may see Old Mister Tinker’s glowing green eyes.
If you like your dog, keep it away from this bridge. Just outside of Dumbarton in Scotland, there’s an old house called Overtoun House. There’s a bridge that leads up to the house, and it’s known to cause tragedy. Legend (and reality) say that walking your dog across the bridge may cause the dog to jump from the bridge to its death—it’s been observed over 50 times. Most people will refuses to cross the bridge, especially with a dog, but those that do cross it report feeling instantly depressed after getting to the other side. A man even threw his baby off the bridge after claiming that the baby was the Antichrist. Even if it’s not literally haunted, the place definitely has bad vibes. There’s a Scottish myth about a “Thin Place” where the physical world and the afterlife meet–the Overtoun Bridge seems to be one of those places.
Valley Center, KS
If we’ve learned anything while tracking down these urban legends, it’s that we should stay away from bridges. The mystery surrounding Theorosa’s bridge stems from a local story about a woman who had a baby she couldn’t take care of. The woman took her baby to the bridge, and, knowing she couldn’t take care of it, she threw it off the bridge into the water. Instantly full of regret and sorrow, she jumped into the water after the baby and drowned under the bridge. It’s said that if you go to the bridge and shout that you are Theorosa’s baby or that you have her baby, she will come up from the water, drag you under the river, and drown you. Don’t taunt a sorrowful ghost ...
Louisiana is riddled with wild ghost stories. One local favorite is the Loup-Garou, also known as the Rougarou. In the swamps of southern Louisiana and New Orleans, there’s a werewolf-like creature that preys on troublemakers of all kinds. It hunts down bad children and Catholics that didn’t follow the rules of Lent. Apparently a religious beast, the Loup-Garou wants other people to become a part of its pack. If you’re attacked by the monster, you will become one if you tell anyone that it happened. Another way to become a Loup-Garou? To break your Lenten promises seven years in a row.
The Texas School Bus
San Antonio, TX
Just outside of San Antonio is a stretch of haunted train tracks. It’s said that in the 1930s, a busload of children were struck when their vehicle was trapped on the tracks. Supposedly, at least 10 children were killed, along with the driver. Today, people visit the tracks because it’s said that the ghosts of the bus’s passengers still wander there. Reports say that if you stop on the tracks facing west and put your car in neutral, it will begin to roll forward across the tracks. The strange thing is that it rolls uphill. People have even reported that they found small childlike handprints on the trunk and bumper of their cars as if they were being pushed. No reports of the accident can be found, but many point to a crash in Salt Lake City that killed as many as 30 children as the genesis of the Texas-based hometown legend.
The Blue-Faced Crone
Black Annis is a well-known, extremely creepy figure of English folklore. Imagine a blue-faced witch with iron claws and a drooling mouth, ready to eat up any humans who dare cross her path. Her home is in a cave in the Dane Hills, but she focuses on wandering the hills of Leicestershire looking for children and lambs to eat. Horrifyingly, she tans her victims’ skins and then hangs them on trees and later wears them. And those iron claws? She uses them to make a home on the side of sandstone cliffs, where she’s able to snatch children more easily. A child-snatching witch waiting on the side of a cliff? That’s one way to scare your children into behaving.
Untermyer Park in Yonkers, New York, has been a destination for ghost hunters for years. Devil’s Cave is one of the park’s most widely known sites of horror. It’s an abandoned pump house hidden in the park. While no ghosts have been spotted around there, it’s said to have been a base where the Son of Sam’s demonic cult worshipped and sacrificed animals. It’s covered in demonic graffiti, a number of dead and mutilated dogs were reportedly found dead near the structure in 1976. Though there have been many efforts to clean up the park and the house, there’s still something very eerie about the location.
Ohio State Reformatory
The Ohio State Reformatory operated from 1886 to 1990. It housed first time offenders and was originally meant to be more of a rehabilitation than prison. However, the conditions of the prison were terrible. Prisoners ended up suing the prison because of overcrowding and inhumane conditions, and they won. Once the reformatory was shut down, the prison was abandoned and fell into decay. Today, the prison is used as a set for movies, including The Shawshank Redemption. The spirits of mistreated prisoners are said to haunt the building–we wouldn’t dare disturb them.
The Black Lady
Wales is home to many spooky stories, but Boverton Castle is known for the legend of the Black Lady, a ghost of a tall woman in black mourning clothes that haunts the hallways of the castle. The castle has been around for centuries, but it was abandoned in the 17th century and fell to ruins. The Black Lady has been spotted in the castle since the 19th century. Supposedly, the Black Lady is the spirit of a woman who married the Earl of Gloucester, only to be divorced when he fell in love with another woman. She retreated to the Boverton Castle, far from London and court. She still wanders her refuge to this day.
Related: 9 Most Haunted Castles in the World
In an unincorporated town in Mississippi, we meet the mystery of the Chatawa Monster. Like many stories, it comes from a place of misunderstanding. As the story goes, on a train track near Chatawa, a circus train derailed and released a variety of animals and performers. Among them was a monster. He was a cross between animal and human, and he was so evil and aggressive that he was kept in a steel cage. When the train crashed, his cage broke open and he ran into the surrounding woods. Only the monster and a few monkeys survived the accident. Should you choose to go to the tracks where the crash occurred at midnight, turn off your engine and wait. Soon, you’ll begin to hear the howling of circus monkeys and the Chatawa Monster will appear to claim you as his victim.
The Devil's Step
The legend of Der Teufelstritt, or The Devil’s Step, originates in Munich, Germany. In 1468, an architect wanted to build a church. However, he didn’t have the money to do it. So he made a deal with the Devil–naturally. The Devil agreed to fund the project if the architect dedicated the church to darkness and didn’t let any light in. When the church was done, the Devil came to check in on his deal, only to find that there were secret windows. Angry, he stomped on the tile floor, leaving a giant footprint. The footprint is still visible, and that’s why it’s called the Devil’s Step.
High School Blues
El Paso, TX
Established in 1916, it's no wonder that El Paso High School has more than a few ghost stories to share. Its most famous involves a girl who allegedly fell to her death from a balcony in the auditorium. Some claim it was an accident, while others believe it was suicide. Present-day visitors have claimed to see a figure fall from the balcony. Other local legends claim that pep rallies can be heard echoing through the building in the middle of the night.
North Andover, MA
The legendary curse of Albino Road is perhaps more sad than scary. In Massachusetts in the late 1600s, around the time of the Salem Witch Trials, it's said that a pair of twins was born. While they were healthy, they were born albino. Their parents were terrified for their safety due to a history of superstition amongst the townspeople. So, the couple raised their twins in secret. Unfortunately, years after the boys’ birth, a neighbor saw them and reported their existence. The town elders declared the boys witches and ordered that they be drowned in the lake. After the boys were dead, the townspeople burned their parents’ house–with their parents still inside. To this day, the boys haunt the road going up to their old house, and they’re still waiting for revenge.
The Little People
Carbon County, MI
The Little People are a common legend in Native American culture. In the Pryor Mountains of Montana, the Crow Nation shares tales of a species of little people no taller than 18 inches with round bellies and immense strength. They may sound cute, but legend states that the Little People have the ability to tear a horse’s heart directly out of its chests and then eat the bloody organ with sharp, animal-like teeth. Even now, many Crow people maintain that the Little People are real and exist in the mountains to this day.
Much to the anger and dismay of the people of Stull, Kansas, rumors have swirled around the graves at Stull Cemetery for decades. Even though the citizens of Stull deny any paranormal activity around their cemetery, many of the people who have wandered through the graveyard at night would beg to differ. Most notably, it’s rumored that a staircase to hell can be found inside the fences of Stull Cemetery. It’s also reported that witches were hanged from the trees near the graves, and the ghosts of the witches still wander late at night. While the residents of Stull might not agree that the Devil has made a home in the cemetery, everyone can agree that it’s a creepy place.