So we’ve come to the end. Hope you had a good time reading these as I have had writing them. Now throughout the series, we’ve seen haunted houses, haunted hotels, hallowed battlefields, paranormal prisons, creepy mental asylums, and what have you. Of course, some of you might go for the ghostly legends that might make it hard for you to sleep at night. But if you’re like me, you’re probably reading this series on haunted places as an excuse to read something about history at around Halloween. Yes, ghost stories are interesting and some people might really believe them. But while I’m a churchgoing Catholic with politically liberal views, I’m not a believer in the paranormal such as the ghost and monster stuff. I’m not much of a fan of horror movies either, especially the recent slasher ones advertised on TV that seem to suck. But I do love history and I do like talking about places that have some sort of interesting past, ghost stories or not. And I know that a place’s reputation for being haunted might somehow lead to someone wanting to preserve it to attract tourist. Well, unless there’s an Amityville Horror situation involved where the residents want nothing to do with the publicity. Still, in this post, I bring you my final installment of haunted American places. These consist of a hotel in South Dakota owned by a guy you might know from Deadwood, a plantation house in Tennessee owned by a famous country singer, a famous fortress in Texas, a liberal arts college in Utah, a large state university in Vermont, a very old plantation house in Virginia, a hotel in Washington state, a former state penitentiary in West Virginia, an abandoned mansion in Wisconsin, and a former state prison in Wyoming. So for your reading pleasure, here is my last post in my haunted America series.
41. South Dakota
Most Haunted Place: Bullock Hotel in Deadwood
History: Opened 1895 by Captain Seth Bullock and it’s the oldest hotel in the city, which he built from a converted warehouse. This after a fire swept Deadwood the previous year and destroyed much of the town and the original 2 story building. Bought by the Ayres family in 1976 who converted it to a hardware store. However, in 1991, was sold to Bullock Properties who restored and converted the place back to a hotel as much as modern safety standards would allow.
Present Use: It’s still a hotel but it only has 28 of its original 63 rooms. However, it also has a casino and restaurant named Bully’s after Bullock’s friend Teddy Roosevelt. Still, unlike the original structure each room has it’s own bathroom. More expensive rooms are said to contain a Jacuzzi.
Sightings: Well, many have reported hearing voices, seeing apparitions and orbs, and being tapped.
Anyone Famous?: Well, Captain Seth Bullock himself who was known in life as a lawman, marshal, frontiersman, store owner, horse breeder, hotel owner, and investor. He was also a Rough Rider during the Spanish American War. He’s actually said to do most of the haunting according to guests, workers, and employees. He’s mostly amiable and acts like he owns the place but is said to shatter plates and glasses when he’s displeased. Still, he actually died there of colon cancer by the way. Nevertheless, he and his wife Martha are best known as characters from the HBO show Deadwood.
Open to Tourists?: Yes. So if you’re a fan of ghosts and Deadwood, this is your ideal Halloween destination. Also hold ghost tours regularly.
Other Haunts: Alex Johnson Hotel, Mount Marty College, Northern State University, Pine Ridge Old Hospital, Sioux San Hospital, 1880 Hill City Train, Firesteel Coal Mines, Mount Rushmore Brewing Company, Isabel Post Office, Old Keystone Cemetery, Jackpot Bingo Hall, Rock Creek Day School
Most Haunted Place: Loretta Lynn Plantation House in Hurricane Mills
History: Built in 1876 by James Anderson who also built the new mill in town. In 1966, Loretta Lynn and her husband Doolittle fell in love with the place where they not just bought the plantation, but also the entire town. Apparently, despite that she swears there were ghosts there, Lynn doesn’t seem to mind so much.
Present Use: The plantation house is more of a museum than anything. Lynn now lives in the house she built behind it, realizing that it would be better used for tourism.
Sightings: It’s said to be haunted by the original owner, a woman in white, as well as ghosts of Confederate soldiers and slaves.
Anyone Famous?: No.
Open to Tourists?: Yes.
Other Haunts: Hurricane Mills itself, Bell Witch Cave, Carnton Mansion, Hales Bar Dam, Isaac Franklin Plantation, Gatlinburg Mysterious Mansion, Orpheum Theatre, Sheraton Read Hotel, Tennessee State Prison, Woodruff-Fontaine House, Chickamauga Battlefield, Stones River Battlefield, Ryman Auditorium, East Tennessee University, Tennessee State Capitol, Rotherwood Mansion
Most Haunted Place: The Alamo in San Antonio
History: Built in 1744 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero which functioned as a Roman Catholic mission to convert and acculturate Native Americans. But in 1793, the mission was secularized and abandoned. A decade later, it became a military fortress with its unit giving the place its present name. During the Texas Revolution, Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos surrendered the fort to the Texian Army in December 1835, following the Siege of Bexar. A small number of Texian soldiers occupied the place for months but were soundly defeated at the Battle of the Alamo in March of 1836. When the Mexican Army retreated from Texas, they tore down many of the Alamo’s walls and burned some its buildings. For subsequent years, the Alamo buildings would be used as a fortress for soldiers, a quarter master’s depot, and even a wholesale grocery store. Thanks to the efforts of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, particularly Adina Emilia de Zavala and Clara Driscoll, the place was restored.
Present Use: It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Park, and a symbol of Texas. Receives over 4 million visitors each year.
Sightings: Site is reportedly haunted by the people who died there defending the place. Many claimed to have seen apparitions either coming straight through walls or walking along the roof.
Anyone Famous?: Good luck trying to find ghosts of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis.
Open to Tourists?: Yes. In fact, it’s a huge tourist destination. And they do give ghost tours.
Other Haunts: Devil’s Backbone, Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, Houston Zoo, Miss Molly’s Bed and Breakfast, Presidio La Bahia, Catfish Plantation Restaurant, The Grove in Jefferson, Littlefield House, University of Texas in Brownsville, Baker Hotel, Haunted Hill House, La Carafe, Spaghetti Warehouse, Jefferson Hotel, Hotel Galvez, Granbury Opera House, Emily Morgan Hotel, Bragg Road, Elder Street Artist Lofts, Driskill Hotel, White Sanitarium
Most Haunted Place: Westminster College in Salt Lake City
History: A private liberal arts college established in 1875 and the only accredited one in Utah. Built at a time when Protestants flocked to Utah in order to try converting Mormons so they built private and secondary schools where they offered free tuition. Westminster belonged to the Presbyterian Church until the school officially severed its denominational ties in 1974 and it’s no longer antagonistic to the state’s Mormon establishment. Its campus is known for its natural beauty and elegant architecture. Its mascot is the griffin and its colors are blue and gold. Notable alumni include Olympic skier Maddie Bowman.
Present Use: It’s still a liberal arts college and one of the few in the Intermountain West with no denomination.
Sightings: Said to be haunted by at least 7 known ghosts, spread out over several buildings as well as known for appearing at random, making odd noises, and sometimes touching passersby.
Anyone Famous?: No.
Open to Tourists?: I think it might. You might want to check.
Other Haunts: American Fork Canyon, Clearfield Job Corps Center, Gray Cliff Lodge Restaurant, Kiwanis Park, Roy High School, Voo Doo Caves of Beaver Dam, Forest Farm House at Old Deseret, McCune Mansion, Dove Creek Camp, Southern Utah University, Latuda, Winter Quarters Mine
Most Haunted Place: University of Vermont in Burlington
History: Established in 1791 and became the state’s sole land grant university in 1862, it’s one of the first public colleges in the country as well as one of the first to admit women and African Americans. However, this didn’t stop them from using the Kakewalk and blackface in their winter celebrations, which was abolished in 1969. They also have a naked bike run at the end of the year. Its mascot is the Catamounts in NCAA Div. I sports. It’s also said to have one of the most selective medical schools in the country. Its first edifice was destroyed by a fire in 1824 and the citizens paid for a replacement with the Marquis de Lafayette laying the cornerstone on what’s now “Old Mill.” In 1924, it held the first radio broadcast in the state. Also has a long history of environmental sustainability. Notable alumni include attorney Consuelo Northup Bailey (first female lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court), Boston Red Sox pitcher Ray Collins, First Lady Grace Coolidge, philosopher and educator John Dewey, Phish bass player Mike Gordon, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, Olympic gold medalist Albert Gutterson, serial killer H. H. Holmes, doctor and American Legion founder Horatio Nelson Jackson, Pulitzer Prize winning author E. Annie Proulx, New York Times co-founder Henry Jarvis Raymond, author and cook Jessica Seinfeld (or Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld), 3-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Sharp, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams and missionary Samuel Worcester.
Present Use: It’s still a public university to this day.
Sightings: Events reported are poltergeist activity, apparitions, voices, and windows and doors slamming.
Anyone Famous?: No, but there’s a hall named after Grace Coolidge which is said to have few ghosts in it.
Open to Tourists?: Yes.
Other Haunts: Averill Stand Bed and Breakfast, Bennington College, Carbur’s Restaurant, Gold Brook Covered Bridge, White House Inn, Hayden House, Lake Bomoseen, Brattleboro Retreat Tower, Green Mountain Inn, Golden Stage Inn, Shelburne Museum
Most Haunted Place: Ferry Plantation House in Virginia Beach
History: Got its name from the ferry service that ran through the Lynnhaven waterway. Current house built in 1830 by slaves of George and Elizabeth McIntosh as well as on a property that’s been used as a plantation, courthouse, school, and post office. It’s said that a woman named Grace Sherwood “the Witch of Pungo” was tried by ducking there in 1703 and it’s now commemorated with a festival in her honor. She was the last person in Virginia to be convicted of witchcraft (but she didn’t die until 1740) All the bricks were from the ruins of the previous mansion built there which was burned two years earlier.
Present Use: It’s now a museum and educational center. It even has a history summer camp to educate youth about 18th and 19th century life.
Sightings: It’s reported to contain no less than 11 spirits reputed to be former owners, children, slaves, people who drowned, and other lost souls. It’s also reported that the lights go on during the night while unoccupied and strange balls of light are seen dancing on the roof.
Anyone Famous?: Artist and General Thomas H. Williamson is said to haunt while wearing a dirty shirt. Alleged witch Grace Sherwood is also said to haunt the premises.
Open to Tourists?: Yes.
Other Haunts: Aquia Church, Ball’s Bluff, Bremo Recess, Manassas National Battlefield, Monticello, Rosewell, Swannanoa Palace, Fort Magruder Hotel, Staunton Train Depot, Paxton Manor, Salubria Manor, Boxwood Inn Bed and Breakfast, Cold Harbor Battlefield, Major Graham’s Mansion, Historic Avenel, Weems-Botts Museum, Historic Jordan Springs, Henricus Historical Park, Exchange Hotel Civil War Hospital Museum, St. Albans Sanatorium
Most Haunted Place: The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend
History: Constructed in 1889 by retired sea captain Henry L. Tibbals. Over the years it housed an Egyptian theater, the Northern Pacific offices, a grocery store, a state liquor store, a florist shop, and several restaurants. Its current shape was achieved between 1925 and 1933 and it was operated as a brothel and hotel at the time. Has 19 rooms and suites, each bearing the names of one of the prostitutes who occupied the hotel during Prohibition. It was restored and renovated in 1977-1984.
Present Use: It’s still being used as a hotel but all the rooms have private bathrooms though. First floor is home to a restaurant and bar.
Sightings: Several female apparitions have been reported, some believed to be prostitutes. People also report being touched and having their things moved. Other spirits include a priest, a boy, an Indian woman, and a housekeeper.
Anyone Famous?: Well, Captain Tibbals himself who was one of the area’s most colorful residents. Notable exploits include carrying cargo of railroad iron across the Isthmus of Panama and testing the first US diving bell, using it to retrieve $68,000 of silver from a sunken Spanish frigate in the Gulf of Mexico. Also built Union Wharf in the city as well as served as sheriff, postmaster, and county commissioner.
Open to Tourists?: Yes.
Other Haunts: Cascade Job Corp, Butterworth Building, Manresa Castle, Montgomery House Bed and Breakfast, Point Defiance Park, Starvation Heights Sanitarium, Black Diamond Cemetery, Tacoma Old City Hall, Oxford Saloon, Spokane Campbell House, Hotel de Haro, Mount Baker Theater, Lewis County Historical Museum, University Heights, Rucker Mansion, Meeker Mansion, Tokeland Hotel, Northern State Mental Hospital
48. West Virginia
Most Haunted Place: West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville
History: Prison that operated from 1876-1995. Original state penitentiary in West Virginia (since it used to be part of Virginia before it split from the state to join the Union in 1863). The place was built by convicts and it was said to be virtually self-sufficient and said to save state taxpayers $14,000 a year. While conditions were good around the turn of the century, they would later worsen during the years that it would be among the most violent prisons in the country. One of the more infamous locations was the recreation room known as, “The Sugar Shack” which experienced incidences of gambling, fighting, and raping. It’s said that a total of 36 homicides took place in its walls as well as 94 executions from 1899-1959 either by hanging or the electric chair. A noteworthy incident involved an inmate being butchered by 3 prisoners with dull shivs for snitching. Played a key role in Dave Grubb’s book (and better known movie) The Night of the Hunter. Had a peak population of 2000 in the 1960s but it had problems with overcrowding and small cells. Saw a mass escape in 1979 and a riot in 1986. After it closed its doors, the Moundsville Economic Development Council obtained a 25 year lease on the complex. Notable prisoners are Socialist Party Leader Eugene V. Debs.
Present Use: It’s now maintained as a tourist attraction and training facility for law enforcement and corrections practitioners. Is also used as a film location.
Sightings: It’s one of the most haunted prisons in the US with ghost stories originating as early as the 1930s. Legends include the prison occupying the site of a Native American graveyard and former guards seeing phantom prisoners and a “shadowman” wandering the premises as well as unexplained noises, voices, and cold spots.
Anyone Famous?: No.
Open to Tourists?: Yes, even has a Halloween “Dungeon of Horrors.” They also have tours.
Other Haunts: Blennerhassett Hotel, Booth House at Harpers Ferry, Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Lake Shawnee, Camden Park, Darkish Knob, Grave Creek Indian Burial Mound, Morgantown, Historic Harpers Ferry
Most Haunted Place: Summerwind Mansion in West Bay Lake
History: According to popular legend, this place was built in the early 20th century. Originally used as a fishing lodge, it was bought in 1916 by a guy named Robert Lamont who renovated it into his summer home. Said to be haunted right from the time he moved in because it’s reported that he and his family left in the 1930s (though this was about the time that Lamont was appointed Secretary of Commerce under Herbert Hoover). Another set of owners in the 1970s are said to leave after a few months because the hauntings drove them insane. In 1988, it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only the foundation and chimney.
Present Use: Currently none and it’s considered private land. Might be rebuilt into a bed and breakfast someday.
Sightings: It’s been reportedly haunted for years. Lamont is reported to shoot a ghost with a pistol twice and sent it back to the cellar. When the Hinshaws lived there in the 1970s, renovators reported electrical problems, disappearing tools, and windows opening and closing by themselves. In the 1980s, it’s reported that people saw furniture appearing at random, room dimensions suddenly changing, and even dark shadows in full view.
Anyone Famous?: According to Raymond Bober, the house might be haunted by the ghost of 18th century British explorer Jonathan Carver. He basically explored and mapped much of the Midwest areas but he also thought he discovered the Northwest Passage. He didn’t. However, Bober said that Carver was searching the place for a deed sealed in the foundation that gave him rights to a third of Wisconsin.
Open to Tourists?: No, but there might be plans to restore and reopen the place as a bed and breakfast.
Other Haunts: The Rave/Eagles Club, Modjeska Youth Theater Company, Rinehart Theater, Saint Killian’s Catholic Cemetery, Scott Mansion, Pfister Hotel, Nelsen’s Hall, Elk Lake Dam, Appleton Riverside Cemetery, Brumder Mansion, Bloody Bride Bridge, Bodega Brew Pub, Plainfield Cemetery, Siren Bridge, Boy Scout Lane, Oshkosh Grand Opera House, Marquette University, Ripon Witch Road, Dartford Cemetery, Ripon College, Hotel Hell
Most Haunted Place: Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins
History: Prison that operated from 1901-1981. Incarcerated 13,500 prisoners in its lifetime, including 11 women, all before 1909. Contained several different means of disciplining inmates such as a dungeon, several variations of solitary confinement, and a “punishment pole” to which men were handcuffed and whipped with rubber hoses. They also used different execution methods like hanging and gas chamber. 14 were executed. Had a broom factory in 1901-1917 but it was burned down in a riot. After it closed, it was abandoned until 1987 when it was used for a low-budget film starring a little known actor named Viggo Mortensen. The next year, it was restored and established as a museum.
Present Use: It’s now a museum that offers tours to 15,000 tourists annually.
Sightings: It’s reported that apparitions and voices are common, as is a malevolent entity that responds with hostility to many people who try to explore certain areas of the prison.
Anyone Famous?: No.
Open to Tourists?: Yes, and they even have Halloween tours and a Christmas bazaar.
Other Haunts: Old Faithful Inn, Shoshone Bar, Historic Plains Hotel, Irma Hotel, Platte River, Meeteetse Cowboy Bar, Occidental Hotel, Frances E. Warren Air Force Base, Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Kane Cemetery, Cheyenne St. Mark’s Episcopal Church