If you’ve been to your fair share of haunted houses and are still craving more, we’ve got your solution. Compiled below is a list of some of the scariest haunted towns in America. These towns, despite a booming history, are often desolate and abandoned today. Some even bear a few war scars – and their battles’ victims just can’t seem to leave.
Traveler, beware before stepping into these haunted towns… you may witness something you’ll never forget.
1. Shepherdstown, West Virginia
The sheer number of people in Shepherdstown, West Virginia who have reported strange happenings tells us something is definitely up. The supposed hauntings come from the town’s long and bloody history. Established in 1792, before the U.S. was even a country, Shepherdstown saw some of the most gruesome battles of the Civil War. After the Battle of Antietam, Shepherdstown was overwhelmed with the wounded, dying, and dead casualties. Another battle, days later, left more dead. 285 Confederate soldiers are buried in the local cemetery.
Local authorities today say they’ve responded to dozens of 911 calls from residents complaining about what they believe to be the work of ghosts: Motion triggers being tripped with no one present, bumps in the night, knocks on the door, loud footsteps, lights flickering on and off. In other words, all the tell-tale signs of paranormal activity. Eventually, one police officer had enough and called in the popular television show Ghost Hunters to investigate. The team’s first task was to uncover grisly history that even the town’s longest residents didn’t know, including the ghost of a young girl who drowned in the Potomac River and a wax museum featuring the real hair and dentures from those who died in the Civil War.
2. Helltown, Ohio
Helltown is the result of a proposed, ambitious National Park that flopped. After over 100 years as a quiet, peaceful town, Boston Hills, Ohio was signed away by Gerald Ford in 1974 to become a National Park. The bill forced the current landowners to uproot and relocate, giving the government their land. The NPS started boarding up abandoned homes and taping off the area.
Here’s where things started getting creepy. An upside down cross appeared on one of the abandoned churches, and graffiti associated with the occult was found on some buildings. A rumor of an oil spill causing human and animal mutations, including a reference to the “Peninsula Python”, was widely circulated. An abandoned church is said to be the home to a satanic cult – one lone light is often seen in the church’s window.
One of the most disturbing tales to emerge, cementing Helltown’s status as one of the most haunted towns in the U.S., regarded an abandoned bus. Supposedly, the kids on board were taken off one by one and murdered in the surrounding woods either by a deranged serial killer or cult. People often hear sounds of children crying in the woods near the shell of the now decaying bus. If you do find yourself braving this haunted town, maybe consider steering clear of the forest.
3. Jerome, Arizona
This little town is quite haunted, and the residents love it. The number of people who flock to Jerome each year to try to spot a ghost is astounding. The town has rich folklore, going all the way back to its birth as a gold and silver mining hub. However, after the reserves dried up, the town was nearly abandoned.
If you’re planning a visit, the Jerome Grand Hotel is where you’ll want to book a room. Odds are you won’t make it beyond a few nights. From the outside, the building looks like an old hotel done up to appeal to tourists’ idea of the Wild West. However, the site’s past is a bit darker than the exterior reveals.
The hotel was once an asylum where numerous people, including the coroner who may have been responsible for many deaths, died. Their bodies were buried in the hotel’s basement. Should you stay in the hotel, keep your eye out for Scotty, the maintenance man who lost his life after a fall down the elevator shaft. Workers at the hotel will say they can still sometimes hear him coughing or traipsing around upstairs. You may also get a whiff of some foul odors, see doors open and close, and hear stomping in halls that appear empty. While you’re in town, you can take a ghost tour or just book a night at the Jerome Grand Hotel for a truly haunted experience.
4. Sleepy Hollow, New York
You’ve likely heard the Washington Irving story by the same name. Well, there’s no headless horseman racing around these streets at night (that we know of). No, the real Sleepy Hollow has something a bit more frightening: They call her the Bronze Lady.
Sitting on a bench in a local cemetery is a statue known for crying actual tears. She’s positioned to gaze at the tomb of Civil War general Samuel M. Thomas. A legend says if you look through a hole in the wall into his tomb, you’ll suffer a gruesome nightmare that night. Together, these two make up the other legend of Sleepy Hollow.
For tourists, the town puts on a massive Halloween event complete with haunted houses and hayrides, but don’t let all the hype deter you. Who knows? If you’re one of the lucky few, one of the ghosts lurking on the grounds may make an appearance.
5. Garnet Ghost Town, Montana
Speckling a dense forest hillside are small, well-preserved wooden homes that were built to accommodate miners during the gold rush. It’s a ghost town with a twist: The government will pay volunteers to maintain and work in the town in exchange for a furnished place to life, a small food stipend and meager paycheck. You could have the chance to take up with some of the town’s oldest residents. The catch: There’s no running water or electricity. If you want the best opportunity for a one-on-one interaction with the ghost of one of the town’s original miners, we recommend you sign up. Be wary, though, of what you’re getting yourself into.