Decaying stone walls surround you as you walk through darkened hallways, passing by the rusted doors of small cells. Prisoners once lived here in total isolation, with little to do but think about the path that led them there. It has been decades since Pennsylvania’s Eastern State Penitentiary housed prisoners, but their ghosts are said to still haunt the building’s spooky corridors.
Spooky places haunt every corner of the United States, and they make for an eerie visit at Halloween, or any time of the year. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these destinations offer history lessons and even natural beauty—perfect for the spirits said to roam their grounds.
From foreboding prisons to haunted lighthouses, here are seven of America’s spookiest spots.
Eastern State Penitentiary: Philadelphia, Pa.
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, this prison housed some of America’s most legendary criminals. The last prisoners left in 1971, and now Eastern State is one of America’s spookiest jails. Its cramped cells and cold stone walls make for a creepy tour under normal circumstances—an effect amplified from late September through early November, when the entire structure is transformed into a haunted house.
Shanghai Tunnels: Portland, Ore.
From the second half of the 19th century to the start of World War II, Portland was considered one of the world’s most dangerous port cities. Part of the reason was the Shanghai Tunnels, so called because, rumor has it, sailors would be lured in, kidnapped and “shanghaied” onto waiting ships that needed extra crewmen. Today tourists can visit the tunnels—an underground network of passages that once connected many of Portland’s bars, hotels, restaurants and docks—and imagine the things that happened there.
The Ruins Of Windsor: Port Gibson, Miss.
Along a winding road, 23 Corinthian columns stand hauntingly alone, rising into the sky—silent sentinels of a past long gone. These are the remains of Windsor Mansion, Mississippi’s largest residence when it was completed in 1861 and whose many visitors included Mark Twain. After surviving the Civil War and occupation by the Union army, the home was destroyed during an accidental fire in 1890, and only the columns remain. Walking among them, one can’t help but feel a sense that although the house is gone, the place is still inhabited.
San Haven Sanatorium: San Haven, N.D.
In the Turtle Mountains, just a few miles south of the Canadian border, sits a drab brick-and-glass building with a dark and murky past. Opened in 1912 to house tuberculosis patients seeking relief from their sickness in the cool, dry mountain air, the sanatorium was later filled with patients who had developmental disabilities. Its hallways saw pain, suffering and untold deaths. The place is now abandoned, dilapidated and sinister. Due to its condition, tours aren’t available, but it’s probably best to just view it from the outside and give these ghosts some space.
Virginia City, Mont.
In the 1860s, thousands of gold-hungry prospectors transformed a mining camp into a glittering boomtown, helping pull tens of millions of dollars’ worth of ore from the earth. But when the gold dried up, the town did too, and by the turn of the century, most people had left Virginia City. Today the main drag’s wooden homes, shops and saloons still sit as they were, playing host to the spirits of those who came to realize their dreams…and never left.
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Read More: Spooky doesn’t have to mean dangerous. Stay safe on October 31 with these Halloween Safety Tips.