Come on, America! Who wants to go to a fake haunted house for Halloween when you can experience real haunted houses (and some terrifying haunted roads) with years of ghostly visitations and paranormal happenings to their name?
This Oct. 31, let us take you through some of the scariest and spookiest haunted places that America has to offer. Our top 13 picks for Halloween 2011 cover everything from an abandoned sanitorium to a haunted highway named for the Number of the Beast. These spooky settings, complete with ghost sightings and mysterious deaths, are all (allegedly) real, with countless visitors recording their terrifying impressions of these haunted highways and horror houses.
Prepare yourself for our top 13 real haunted houses and roads across America. Remember, there's still time to turn back!
13. The Crescent Hotel (Eureka Springs, Ark.)
The Crescent, built in 1928, is home to many of the haunted. Michael, an Irish stone worker who fell off the roof, is said to roam the halls around Room 218, which was built where his body landed. Another ghost, Dr. Baker, ran the facility in the 1930s when it was a hospital and a health spa. He and a nurse in white have been spotted all over the hotel, wandering from room to room. In one reported case, a man said the nurse visited him when he was staying in Room 202, another infamous part of this haunted house. She played with the lights, touched the guest on his arm, and shook an antique mirror above his bed.
12. Boone County Roads (Belvidere, Ind.)
Never accuse Indiana of being an underachiever for Oct. 31. Boone County is home to hauntings on 10 roads, including Sweeney Road (points for the name) and Wheeler Road, the site of several true and alleged hangings, suicides, train accidents and covens. The most famous haunted roadway is Bloods Point, where a phantom car tries to run drivers off the road and ghosts from a fatal school bus crash still haunt the bridge where the children died.
11. Boy Scout Lane (Stevens Point, Wis.)
According to legend, a troop of Boy Scouts in the late 1950s or early 1960s were on an overnight expedition when their scoutmaster (or bus driver, depending on the story) murdered them in their sleep. The small stretch of road near the campsite has since been called Boy Scout Lane, and the haunted road has seen many a ghostly child covered in blood. In an alternate version of the story, one of the boys dropped a lantern and started a forest fire, and some have reported smelling smoke, hearing screams, and even seeing the boys' charred bodies.
10. Fort Mifflin (Philadelphia)
Fort Mifflin is the only Revolutionary War battlefield that is still intact, and the only fort that doubles as a haunted house. Among the ghosts said to haunt the fort are a screaming woman whose cries are so loud that the Philadelphia police have often been called to investigate. Other ghostly visitors include a faceless man wandering around the fort, a tour guide dressed in revolutionary garb and numerous children and dogs who lead tourists on a wild goose chase before vanishing without a trace.
9. Haynesville Woods, Route 2A (Haynesville, Maine)
In northern Maine, off Route 2, you'll find the Haynesville Woods, a strip so infamous for treacherous roads during winter that the Dick Curless song A Tombstone Every Mile is all about the many fatal accidents that have happened there. Not surprisingly, all this tragedy has led to quite a few paranormal spottings. Many people report seeing a young woman suddenly appear in front of their car or on the side of the road, begging assistance for a car accident involving her and her husband. Those who offer her a ride, however, are overcome by a sudden chill, and the woman vanishes from the car soon after. Others report seeing a small child, a girl killed by tractor-trailer while walking down Route 2A.
8. The White House (Washington)
Yes, that White House. William Henry Harrison has been seen rummaging in the attic, which sounds like him, and Andrew Jackson has popped in on guests in his old bedroom, which sounds even more true to form. Abigail Adams has also been seen roaming the halls, but the most frequently spotted White House ghost is Abraham Lincoln. Eleanor Roosevelt was said to have felt Lincoln's presence whenever she worked in the Lincoln Bedroom. Grace Coolidge reported seeing him standing outside her window, hands clasped behind his back in a contemplative mood, and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was once awakened by Lincoln kowcking at her door-- the specter vanished when she asked him to come inside.
7. The Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, Ky.)
This haunted house, built in 1910, has a story straight out of a Halloween horror movie script. The most infamous part of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium is Room 502, where a nurse, Mary Hillenburg, was found hanged in the doorway. Though most believe it was a suicide, as Hillenburg was pregnant out of wedlock, others whispered that a married doctor had impregnated her and staged the suicide to cover the result of a botched abortion. People didn't lend much credence to rumors that Mary Hillenburg haunted Room 502-- that is, until another nurse took her own life there in 1932, throwing herself out the window. Now, visitors report seeing shadows move across the floor, and the sound of whispers and a woman crying.
If that wasn't enough, however, this haunted house was also the home of The Body Chute, a tunnel leading from the back of the hospital to train tracks at the base of a hill. The tunnel was built to transport supplies, but during a tuberculosis epidemic, doctors also used it as a quick way to get infected corpses out of the hospital, earning it its nickname. The Body Chute is said to be haunted by the thousands of spirits who traveled the length of that tunnel (rumored to be as many as 63,000 people), and visitors often hear unidentified noises and are overcome with chills when they pass the Chute's opening.
6. Clinton Road (West Milford, N.J.)
What hasn't happened on this real haunted road? There are several tales told regularly about different areas on or along 10-mile curvy back road. The most famous is the boy and the coin: Legend has it that a boy playing on a bridge near a reservoir fell in the water and drowned. If you throw a coin in the water, or lay it in the road, the boy's ghost will return it; in less kind tellings, the ghost will push visitors in if they look over the bridge where he died.
Clinton Road is also home to many phantom vehicles, including pickup trucks that appear out of nowhere, headlights without a car attached, and a ghostly Camaro driven by a girl who died in car crash. A conical stone structure is also supposed to be the site of Druidic and Satanic rituals, mob bosses are rumored to dump bodies here, and creatures from escapees from an exotic zoo to demonic hellhounds have also been spotted.
5. West Virginia State Penitentiary (Moundsville, W.Va.)
Considered by many to be the scariest prison in America, even besting Alcatraz, the West Virginia Penitentiary was built in 1876 and underwent an endless expansion effort from 1929 to 1959. As a result, the numerous deaths recorded at the prison are credited not only to its many executions but to illness, overcrowding, and several riots.
In addition to the general feeling that something is touching or watching them, visitors report seeing three ghosts: the Maintenance Man, Robert the Inmate, and Avril Adkins.
The first, a prisoner working as a maintenance man and a mole for the guards, haunted the bathroom where we was murdered by angry inmates, though he shows no sign of recognizing the living. Robert was an inmate murdered by prison guards known to physically abuse prisoners. His remains are said to be buried in the prison walls, and his spirits walks the length of the prison by day. The story of Avril Adkins, meanwhile, is of a hanging gone wrong. Avril fell through the gallows' trap doors before the noose was around his neck; while he bled out from head injuries, the guards hoisted him back up and hanged him again. Visitors have spotted his prone body, as well as his ghost wandering the gallows.
4. Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colo.)
The Stanley Hotel has many ghosts, but none of them have ever been violent, a rarity in the U.S. haunted house business. Room 481 has the most paranormal activity, as well as the entire fourth floor on which it's located. Children are heard playing in the hall, piano music drifts from a supernatural source, and a strange man has been reported appearing in people's rooms before going into their closets and vanishing.
This haunted house also has photography on its side. Several photos taken of the hotel reveal what look to be the ghostly outline of a child or a young man, invisible to the naked eye. Although some guests have reported more active paranormal activity-- beds shaking, mirrors cracking, doors beginning to lock and unlock -- most of the haunted hotels' residents seem to be just that: residents.
3. The LaLaurie House (New Orleans)
This home was owned by the LaLaurie family in the mid-1800s. It has since become infamous as the very real site of the murder and torture of at least 86 black slaves by Marie Delphine LaLaurie, a socialite whose crimes were discovered when a fire at the mansion uncovered a dozen slaves shackled to the wall or penned in small cages, horribly mutilated and showing signs of long-term torture. Papers at the time, and many stories considerably after the events, relay tales of women with their bellies slit open, slaves whose mouths had been sewn shut, and numerous body parts strewn across the floor with paddles, knives and whips.
Following this grisly discovery, a mob of local citizens attacked the LaLaurie house, destroying almost all of it before the police arrived. Digging nearby uncovered the bodies of those slaves who had died before, and the LaLaurie family, with Madame LaLaurie pinned as the main culprit, fled the town.
Since then, the LaLaurie home has had several incarnations, none of which seemed to stick. When it became a furniture store, all the owner's merchandise kept being coated in a mysterious foul-smelling fluid that wouldn't wash out. Animals were found mutilated within the haunted house during its incarnation as a bar, and during its tenure as an ill-fated girls school, many pupils became uncontrollably nauseous, overcome with chills, or experienced near-constant night terrors that ended when they left the school. Today, visitors to what is now a historical site have reported seeing Madame LaLaurie chasing children with a whip, as well as numerous ghosts of slaves calling out from the basement or grabbing visitors' shoulders.
2. The Whaley House (San Diego)
Said to be the most haunted place in the United States, the Whaley House was built in 1857 on the remains of a cemetery, never a good idea. Frequent inhabits of the haunted house include a girl who was accidentally hanged on the property, thief Yankee Jim Robinson, clubbed to death on the stairway, and a young red-headed girl believed to be one of the original Whaleys, who appears so realistically that many initially believe her to be a living child.
Whaley House has one of the best haunted house pedigrees on our list: Ghost hunter Hanz Holtzer considers it to be one of the few truly haunted places in America, and famed psychics like Sybil Leek have said the house practically pulses with supernatural energy. Visitors have reported seeing doors and windows open and close, sudden flashes of intense cold and heat, and a strong, sudden smell of perfume or cigar smoke.
1. Highway 666 (Several States)
One of the most famous haunted highways in America, this road stretches over 200 miles in the region known as the Four Corners, encompassing edges of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The federal government renamed it U.S. Route 491 after the haunted road became known as Devil's Highway, only in part for its link to 666, the supposed number of the Beast.
An unusually high number of accidents and fatalies have occured on this stretch, and countless supernatural creatures have terrorized those who've driven across it. An evil Semi Truck and Satan's Sedan have been spotted numerous times, heading straight for travelers and even driving cars off the road before disappearing without a trace. Hounds of hell running as fast as a vehicle have supposedly shred tires, caused traffic accidents, and even attacked individuals inside their cars, red eyes glowing and teeth bared. Native American Skin Walkers who shapeshift into various animals and warn travelers away have also been spotted.
Some drivers even report a Bermuda Triangle effect. Individuals that have started down the haunted highway simply disappear without a trace, sometimes leaving their car or some personal items behind. Other return after extremely long intervals with no memory of where they've been, or simply feel they've traveled the road for days when they've only been driving a few hours.