5 Most Haunted Places to Visit
In the mood for thrills and chills this Halloween season? Follow along as CAA’s Automotive Services Call Centre Manager (and resident Ghost Hunter) Sue Miller takes readers on a spooky exploration of some of the world’s scariest places.
Sue Miller, Manager, Automotive Services Call Centre
Anyone who knows me eventually learns that I am a collector of ghost stories. I love nothing more than getting into a building that is reputed to be haunted to get an insider’s feel of what happened and why that energy seems to cling to the building. With Halloween around the corner, I have to tell you about three spookiest places that I have ever visited - and two on my travel bucket list. So, turn off the lights and get comfortable. I am sure that creak you just heard is just the house settling...
Located in the south of the state of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg is known as the location of the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg, and subsequently Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to 3, 1863, involved the most casualties of any battle during the war, with an estimated 23,000 injured, dead, and missing.
We camped in an area near what is now Gettysburg National Battlefield. It was a quiet area, and at night it was easy to picture thousands of soldiers camping out about 150 years before in the same area. Ghost stories about phantom battlefields are common in the area, with locals telling stories of driving on isolated roads late at night and coming across ghostly battles of hundreds of soldiers fighting, dressed in Confederate and Union uniforms.
Many buildings in the central area are also rumoured to be haunted, having been taken over during the battle as temporary medical facilities. One story tells of a gentleman who took an elevator to the basement of an old building, only to have the doors open to reveal the horrible scene of medics running around attempting to fix ghostly wounded soldiers, crying out in pain. The gentleman stood in the elevator, shocked, as the scene played out a few moments – and then faded away.
Eastern State Penitentiary
I came across Eastern State Pen quite by accident, during a hop-on hop-off tour of Philadelphia. Once the tour guide mentioned it was an empty prison reputed to be haunted, I was off the bus.
The location is a favorite of paranormal investigators, and when you cross the threshold, you can see why. Mostly abandoned and in disarray, you need to sign a waiver before taking the tour. The tour takes you through the main areas of the imposing structure. There are stories of Al Capone, and a Shawshank Redemption style breakout, but the ghost stories are always the most popular. One was of a locksmith who was doing work in a cell block. While he was working, he suddenly could not move, feeling he was being held in place by an invisible force. The man, paralyzed, was overwhelmed and simultaneously drawn to the negative energy he felt was holding him. Suddenly, hundreds of faces appeared on the walls of the cell block with one dominant form attempting to draw him in. The spell was suddenly broken and he was able to get away, but was fearful for years after the incident.
New Orleans is a spicy mix of tradition, culture, religion – and superstition. Ghost stories abound, and you do not have to go further than the French Quarter to hear stories that will make your skin crawl. On Royal Street, there is the story of Madame LaLaurie, a woman who lived a life of wealth there in the 1830s. A house fire in the kitchen revealed to investigators an onsite torture chamber and stories of imprisoned and shackled men and women, caged children, and amputations – with body parts strewn about. Ghosts are said to still haunt the location with many claiming to have seen LaLaurie herself in her old home. Down the road on Bourbon Street, there is also the story of French-American pirate, Jean Lafitte, who is said to haunt the former base of his smuggling operation, now a bar. It is rumoured that some of his treasure is buried within the building, and sometimes a pair of frightening red eyes can be seen staring at unsuspecting visitors from a fireplace grate.
The Tower of London
Reputed to be the most haunted building in all of England, it is no mystery why the Tower of London would be the location at the top of my bucket list. Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, this site has been witness to centuries’ worth of murders and executions. The Wakefield Tower is said to be haunted by Henri VI who was murdered there while praying, on May 21, 1471. His ghost is said to walk the grounds on the anniversary of his murder, just before midnight, fading away and disappearing by the twelfth stroke of the clock. The oldest building on site, the White Tower, is haunted by a woman in white whose overwhelming perfume has temporarily taken the breath away from more than one visitor. Another reputed haunter, the Countess of Salisbury - who refused to kneel for her executioner and was thus hacked to death - is said to have her death replayed over and over to horrified witnesses who come upon the ghostly sight.
The Myrtles Plantation
Located about 25 miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Myrtles Plantation built in 1796, now a Bed & Breakfast, is the second stop on my paranormal bucket list. Although the plantation boasts several ghosts, the most popular is Chloe, a slave girl it is believed was owned by Mark and Sara Woodruff, residents of the Plantation. After an incident (some say she was forced to be Mr. Woodruff’s mistress, others say she was caught eavesdropping on her owners) her ear was cut off as punishment and she was made to wear a turban to hide it. In retaliation, it is said that Chloe baked a birthday cake containing the extract of boiled oleander leaves, a strong poison. Sara and her two daughters ate the cake, all dying painful deaths. It is said that Chloe was hanged by the other slaves, and her ghost haunts the plantation to this day. What makes the Myrtles Plantation haunting interesting is that there is a photograph that is alleged to show the image of the ghost of Chloe at the plantation, along with a second, separate photograph of a young girl in a window of the plantation, dressed in period clothes. Although there are different views on the authenticity of the photos, they are compelling.
So, our story time has come to an end and you can turn your lights back on and investigate the creaking that you heard coming from up the stairs. Or is it in the next room? Funny how noises can move around like that…
Have a wonderful (and creepy) Halloween!