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Scariest Ghost Stories

Summary:
From heartbroken brides to spectral oenophiles, America is a melting pot of otherworldly entities who have staked a spiritual claim in every crack and cranny of the country—as well as in the local community’s consciousness. No matter what city or state you hail from, you no doubt grew up hearing terrifying tales of one ghost or another with whom you shared a zip code. We all did. Here are the spookiest ghost stories from all 50 states. 1. ALABAMA In February 1858, a steamboat named Eliza Battle set out on a cruise down the Tombigbee River, carrying 60 passengers and more than 1200 bales of cotton from Columbus, Mississippi, down to Mobile, Alabama. But on March 1, an unseasonably cold night, the cotton caught fire and quickly engulfed the

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From heartbroken brides to spectral oenophiles, America is a melting pot of otherworldly entities who have staked a spiritual claim in every crack and cranny of the country—as well as in the local community’s consciousness. No matter what city or state you hail from, you no doubt grew up hearing terrifying tales of one ghost or another with whom you shared a zip code. We all did. Here are the spookiest ghost stories from all 50 states.

1. ALABAMA

In February 1858, a steamboat named Eliza Battle set out on a cruise down the Tombigbee River, carrying 60 passengers and more than 1200 bales of cotton from Columbus, Mississippi, down to Mobile, Alabama. But on March 1, an unseasonably cold night, the cotton caught fire and quickly engulfed the ship in flames. It was the greatest nautical disaster in the river’s history, leaving 33 passengers and crew dead. On brisk and chilly nights, people sometimes see the burning Eliza Battle rising from the misty waters where it sank, trying to complete its journey to Mobile.

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Scariest Ghost Stories

By Eugene Allen Smith (1841-1927) – The Journal of Geology, Published by University of Chicago Press, 1910. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In February 1858, a steamboat named Eliza Battle set out on a cruise down the Tombigbee River, carrying 60 passengers and more than 1200 bales of cotton from Columbus, Mississippi, down to Mobile, Alabama. But on March 1, an unseasonably cold night, the cotton caught fire and quickly engulfed the ship in flames. It was the greatest nautical disaster in the river’s history, leaving 33 passengers and crew dead. On brisk and chilly nights, people sometimes see the burning Eliza Battle rising from the misty waters where it sank, trying to complete its journey to Mobile.

2. ALASKA

At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, a woman named Mary moved into the Golden North Hotel in Skagway with her fiancé, a prospector known as “Klondike Ike.” Before their marriage, Ike set off for the gold fields to make his fortune. But Ike never returned. Mary locked herself in their room and waited, her anxious anticipation of Ike’s arrival turning to dread and despair. The innkeepers eventually broke down the door and found Mary dead in her wedding dress. Guests at the Golden North Hotel report that “Scary Mary” still roams the halls, appearing over their beds in the night to check that Ike isn’t sleeping with anyone else.

3. ARIZONA

The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, opened along Route 66 in 1927, often lodged the casts of western films shot in nearby Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon—and reportedly houses a whole host of ghostly guests. In fact, John Wayne reported one of the hotel’s first ghost sightings in the late 1950s. Ever since, guests and staff have reported dozens of spirits stalking the halls, including a phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and disappears, the eccentric specter of a boarder who liked to hang raw meat from the chandelier, and a ’70s bank robber who succumbed to his gunshot wound over a celebratory post-heist drink at the hotel bar.

4. ARKANSAS

Scariest Ghost Stories

Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During the Civil War, Union General Frederick Steele (above) commandeered the home of a mailman named John Chidester to use as his headquarters during the battle of Poison Spring. Chidester had been accused of espionage for turning over Union mail to Confederate troops. To this day, bullet holes remain in an upstairs wall of Chidester’s house, where Union soldiers fired at random, hoping to hit the alleged spy as he hid in a small closet. Paranormal investigators say his spirit remains, too, turning up in photographs and shouting “Get out!” to unwanted visitors. The home, which stands as a museum today, is open for tours so that you can see for yourself.

5. CALIFORNIA

Alcatraz was the site of reputed hauntings long before hosting the famous prison (Native American spirits reportedly roamed it then and now), but today one of the most famous stories is of a prisoner from cell 14D. The story goes that the prisoner spent the night in solitary confinement, screaming that a creature with glowing eyes was trying to kill him and pleading for help. The guards ignored him, but the next morning, they found the prisoner strangled to death—with strange wounds doctors said could not have been self-inflicted.

6. COLORADO

The Buffalo Rose Saloon in Golden, Colorado doesn’t have much choice but to admit one underaged patron: It’s believed the ghost of a girl who drowned in a swimming pool located in the saloon’s basement back in the 1920s still roams the building, skipping up and down stairs and making employees slightly nervous. The former site of the pool is said to be particularly unsettling, with the bar’s overnight custodian, Seth Barry, describing it as “very bad. Sometimes you can’t go [down] there.”

7. CONNECTICUT

In 1970, famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were called to combat the spirit of “Annabelle,” a demonic presence attached to a giant Raggedy Ann doll. For weeks the doll had thoroughly freaked out its owner, Donna, moving from room to room, leaving handwritten notes, and even attacking a friend who suggested Donna get rid of the doll, choking him in his sleep. Finally, a priest exorcised the doll and the Warrens locked it away in a special case designed to check its malevolent influence. But even that wasn’t enough to save one brash visitor to the Warrens’ museum, who reportedly taunted the doll and died in a motorcycle crash on his way home.

8. DELAWARE

Since 1965, Woodburn has served as the official residence of Delaware’s governor. But more than a century before that, it became known as a home to more than one apparition. Around 1815, the home’s owners were entertaining Lorenzo Dow, a well-known Methodist clergyman. When the group sat down to breakfast one morning, Dow asked if their other guest would be joining them … but there was no other guest. When Dow described the man he had seen the evening before, it became clear that it was Charles Hillyard III (the late father of the home’s then-owner). Rumor has it that if you leave out a glass of good wine at night, it might be gone in the morning: Hillyard was a bona fide oenophile. Sounds like the kind of ghost we could hang with.

9. FLORIDA

The Don CeSar hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida, was built by Thomas Rowe and named for a character in the opera Maritana. Rowe had attended the opera during his time as a student in London, and he fell head over heels for its star, a Spanish aristocrat named Lucinda. They regularly met at a fountain in the city and made plans to sail to America and be married. But Lucinda’s parents didn’t approve of their romance and took her back to Spain. He wrote her faithfully, but his letters were returned unopened. Only one letter of Lucinda’s ever reached Rowe. “Time is infinite,” she wrote. “I wait for you by our fountain … to share our timeless love, our destiny is time.” According to legend, Lucinda died of a broken heart; Rowe, who said he would never love anyone else, would go on to build his hotel. It was completed in 1928 and features an exact replica of the fountain where the lovebirds spent happier times. Rowe’s ghost has been spotted on the beach, on the hotel’s fifth floor and in the lobby, and in the garden, where he is sometimes seen holding the hand of a woman believed to be Lucinda.

10. GEORGIA

When the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the foothills of the North Georgia mountains to create Lake Lanier in the 1950s, 59 square miles of farmland, homes, and businesses disappeared beneath the water. In the process, the federal government relocated more than 250 families—along with 20 cemeteries and all their corpses. A nasty streak of freak accidents and mysterious drowning deaths have convinced locals that the lake has been cursed ever since. Some people who have survived near-drownings at the lake have reported feeling hands dragging them down beneath the surface.

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