October 29, 2010
With Halloween upon us, we’re taking a trip to the dark side of Stateside. Nowhere does All Hallows’ like the USA, but most of the country’s ghostliest haunts can be enjoyed all year round. Below are our five favourite destinations for fun and frights…
The site of what was America’s most infamous prison, once home to Al Capone, Alcatraz is a San Francisco must-see and is also the city’s most spooky locale.
The Rock’s main facility may be long out of use, but the ghosts of its penitentiary past live on, according to many visitors and staff, who have talked of hearing footsteps along the upper gangways. One particular spot, 14D in the isolated ‘hole’ block was the site of an inmate’s death and is often reported to be colder – in both temperature and feeling – than any other cell.
The great capital, the home of presidents – living and dead. Yes, some say even Obama’s house is haunted – by the ghost of its 15th resident, Abraham Lincoln, whose son died there.
The spirits don’t confine themselves to the White House though, D.C. has more haunted hotspots than you can shake a bottle of holy water at. Lafayette Square (Presidents’ Park), is long rumoured to be frequented by the spectre of Philip Barton Key II, who was shot and killed there in 1859. Decatur House, at the edge of the park, had its windows bricked over after its former resident’s phantom was repeatedly seen staring out. For 150 years passers by have seen the forth president’s wife, Dolley Madison rocking on her chair outside the house that takes her name.
If you’re visiting the city and need a ghoulish guide, see Washington D.C. Ghost Tours.
While Boston is the capital and ‘Cradle of Modern America’, any visit to historical Massachusetts isn’t really complete without a trip North to Salem, the original Witch City.
The site of the infamous witch trials of 1692, the town’s shameful past is now ironically its number one draw, with a mass of museums, shops and ghost hunting tours. Whether you’re after genuinely haunting history or simple fun, the fact that its attractions are all based around real and shocking events, gives Salem a special spooky edge over many of America’s allegedly ghoulish destinations.
The famous Battle of Gettysburg during America’s Civil War, claimed the lives of over 7000 men, giving the site potential for a lot of paranormal activity. Over the last 140-odd years the field has generated more ghost stories than perhaps anywhere else in the States.
Spectres are commonly sighted and battles cries routinely heard and even recorded by visitors to the field, while tales of ghoulish goings on at the nearby Farnsworth House Inn abound. In 1993, during the filming of the movie Gettysburg, several extras spoke of being approached by an older man in Union solider uniform. After talking to them at length, the stranger left them some rounds of ammunition, which they assumed were from the props department. Later examination proved they were genuine musket rounds…
If you ever want to stay somewhere a little bit spooky, you probably won’t find better than The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. A gorgeous Georgian lodge with incredible views of Rocky Mountain National Park, the hotel has hosted its share of Hollywood stars and heads of state in its hundred years of existence.
So where does the spookiness come in? Well, Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining while staying in room 217 in the seventies. While Kubrick’s famous film of the book wasn’t filmed here, the Stanley does still beam it into channel 42 of every guest room’s TV on a permanent loop.
And all that stuff about the ghost parties in the ballroom is based on numerous stories related by staff over the years. Lock up your valuables too, as some of the hotel’s phantoms are alleged to be light-fingered.