In part one of this two-part series, we trekked across the great U.S. of A. from San Diego to Salem. We saw the South and traveled through some of the most haunted hallows a great cross-country trip could provide. But as with any journey, there’s always the road back, and you can bet it’s got some sites of its own for us to stalk!
CAUTION: Keep in mind before you plan a road trip that while some places may be open to the public, it may not always be the case. Check ahead and be sure to always respect private property.
Starting Point: Salem, MA. Once you’ve lived up the witchery in style, hit the I-84 due West for a four and a half hour trip into Pennsylvania. (Approx. 5.5 hours)
Checkpoint #1: The Welles House
If you’re in the market for some really haunted estate, check out the previous listing for 46 S. Wells St, Wilkes Barre, PA. While it’s currently off the market, it will probably be available soon with all the paranormal activity seemingly built into this home’s foundation. The modest two story features four bedrooms, two baths, a basement perfect for dumping bodies, and a horrific history sure to set your hair on end.
Augustus Laning built the property in around the 1860s, and tragedy seemed to follow. His nephew was killed in the barn after it was struck by lightning, trapped under a horse while fire overtook the structure. Laning’s hardships continued as he lost his fortune less than a decade after the home was built. Since, the home has mostly been a rental property – and many of the residents have suffered physically and psychologically. Along with alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and financial hardship, residents have reported having their hair pulled, being scratched, burnt, and generally tormented by what is believed to be a demonic presence. There have been four suicides and two deaths in the home over the last 140 years. In 1970, a man dropped dead in front of the house of apparent heart failure, with no history of heart problems.
While the home is currently under private ownership, just setting foot on the sidewalk is an unsettling experience. The infamous paranormal team of Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the residence in 1980, but refused to go inside. It was too reminiscent of the feelings of one 112 Ocean Avenue, more commonly known as “The Amityville Horror.” Lorraine pegged the haunting as more ghostly than demonic, however, believing a brutish, German blacksmith with a taste for gin and his abused wife haunt the grounds.
To Die For: The current owner, Tim Wood, is a self-proclaimed ghost hunter and has compiled hours of footage (available on YouTube at livescifi.tv) of paranormal activity. Phantom sounds, electromagnetic fields, balls of light, and the physical sensation of his shirt being tugged were all captured on a live stream.
Also, revisiting Season 5, Episode 1 of The Office, you’ll get a nod to Wilkes Barre’s haunted reputation as Angela turns down Andy’s choice for wedding locale. Find the clip online here.
It’s another four and half hours on the I-80 W to US-22 W from Wilkes-Barre, PA to just outside Pittsburgh, the once home of the Master of Zombies himself, for our most educational stop thus far. (Approx. 4.5 hours)
Checkpoint #2: Carnegie Library of Homestead
Walking through the stacks at the Carnegie Library feels less like a scholarly experience and more akin to a scene from Ghostbusters. Strange apparitions and moving books are common occurrences on the day-to-day. Disembodied voices, shouting and laughing, occur throughout the entire structure. The building, which consists of the library, a music hall, and an athletic center, was opened in 1898 as a sort of reparation to the Pittsburgh steelworkers, who had been forced out of jobs as a way to dissolve their union. The lockout led to a strike, and then a battle, leaving 12 dead and many wounded. After the state militia was dispatched, the turmoil ended and the Carnegie Steel Company, who backed the lockout, regretted their support of union abuse. The library became a spiritual haven, a place where the impacted souls (living and dead) could congregate recreationally. And do they ever.
Andrew Carnegie himself is said to be a prolific apparition in his namesake library. Though he built many in his time, the particularly tumultuous history of this building seems poetically appropriate to house his eternal soul. The athletic facility is home to Robert E. Peebles, who drowned in the pool in 1899 under mysterious circumstances. His splashes and cries can be heard throughout the center, but any persons brave enough to venture to save him will find an empty pool and a strong sense of unease. The musical hall has even more activity, with apparitions often seen sitting alone in the 1,000 seat auditorium. Photos taken in the hall reveal people-shaped mists, perhaps a trick of the eye, or perhaps something more supernatural.
To Die For: About a 20-minute drive from Carnegie Library is the infamous Monroeville Mall – the shooting site of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Though much of the mall has been renovated since filming (except the parking lot), a bronze bust of the director still resides in the shopping center and is a must-see for Romero fans!
Head Westward on I-70 W through Ohio to the major metropolitan Indianapolis, Indiana for a universally renowned theatrical stop! (Approx. 5.5 hours)
Checkpoint #3: Rivoli Theatre
The Rivoli Theatre was opened in 1927 by Universal Pictures, under the instruction of Carl Laemmle Jr. designed by architect Henry Ziegler Dietz. The silent picture house was the first in Indiana to show movies with sound, but only lasted 10 years under Universal’s management. In the ’60s and ’70s, it was the largest stage in Indiana-hosted rock concerts until it started to fall into disrepair. Ownership turned to showing pornography until it finally closed in 1992. It is currently undergoing renovations to reopen in the very near future.
None of the theatre’s on-paper history is particularly spooky. Disappointing, perhaps torrid, but not spooky. Not until 1976, when Charles Richard Chulchian took ownership over the dilapidated structure. He had heard what could only be called folk-tales about the possible haunted past of the Rivoli, but as many business owners are want to do, he dismissed them. The theatre was open during Mr. Chulchian’s renovations, so much of the work happened in the early morning or well into the night. And this is when the most prolific stories of the spectres of the theater come to bare.
Early morning workers would often enter the theatre and find it occupied by several free-loaders in the auditorium seats, seemingly watching a film. When the workers would approach the patrons, they would disappear. Mr. Chulchian himself would work late, and soon became familiar with a ghost he dubbed “Lady Rivoli.” A pale women in a white dress, often misty and emanating a soft white light, would visit him in the boiler room. When he acknowledged her presence, she would retreat or simply vanish. There is no account of who this women might be, but female theatre patrons explain an eerie, cold energy in the women’s restroom. The mystery of the Rivoli’s haunted origins may never be revealed, though it is speculated this is a bonafide case of being built on an Indian Burial Ground – a universal classic.
To Die For: If you’re looking for a bite, try The Slippery Noodle Inn. The oldest bar in Indiana is said to be haunted by its old caretaker, a cowboy, and a prostitute, and reportedly serves a mean Filet Mignon.
We’re sticking to the I-70 W straight across the country for a short jaunt to St. Louis, MO to visit a location known for curses and beer. (Approx. 4 hours)
Checkpoint #4: Lemp Mansion
The Lemp Legacy is not a happy one. Despite being the family that brought lager beer to St. Louis, accumulating a fortune and near monopoly on the city’s beer industry from the 1870s to around 1910, the family was fraught with tragedies and death. William Sr, patriarch of the family, purchased the Lemp Mansion – a 33 room home that also served as auxiliary office to the brewery – in 1876. The next fifteen years would be successful ones for the business, but then the horrors started.
In 1901, William’s son (his purported favorite) died of mysterious heart failure at age 28. Three years later, William Sr. shot himself in the head while William Jr. banged on the office door to stop him. William Jr. took over the business, took a wife, and sired a son, William III. He was a paranoid man, a philanderer, and an abusive alcoholic. Before his incredibly public divorce in 1908, he fathered an illegitimate son with Down Syndrome who, according to one maid, he kept in the attic and away from the prying public eye. The boy earned the moniker “Monkey Faced Boy” by those who had seen him. After Prohibition, William Jr.’s sister, Elsa, also committed suicide in the family home alleged due to her troubled marriage. Just two years later, William Jr. would follow the example of his father and sister – shooting himself in the heart on the main level of the mansion.
Where there is this much tragedy, the spiritual energy follows. Since reopening as a restaurant, bed & breakfast, and dinner theatre, guests of the mansion have reported the intense feeling of being watched. The women’s restroom in the bar is a place of particular energy, with women reporting a phantom “peeping tom” peering at them from above the bathroom stall door. B&B guests have heard heavy, running footsteps and banging on William Sr.’s office door – the disembodied sound of Junior trying to stop his father’s suicide. The attic window, visible from the mansion grounds, often contains the young “Monkey Faced Boy” gazing at the outside world kept from him. Paranormal investigators have reported that after leaving toys in the attic overnight, they return to find them moved – or I should say – played with. Other encounters include loud bangs, voices, and horses whinnying though no horses are on the grounds.
To Die For: The Exorcist fans will be happy to know that William Peter Blatty’s story-inspiration was an exorcism that took place right here in St. Louis. The old Alexian Brothers hospital was struck by lightning during the rite, and the old hospital’s burned chapel cross is on display at City Museum in downtown St. Louis.
The I-70 W is our yellow brick road as we continue West though the golden waves of grain into Iowa, a lazy state with a big cold case straight out of Villisca. (Approx. 6 hours)
Checkpoint #5: Villisca Axe Murder House
For those with a love of true crime, unsolved mysteries, and the spectral residue of haunted things, the Villisca Axe Murder House is the bottom line. On a fateful June morning in 1912 around 7am, Mary Peckman noticed her neighbors, the Moores, were not attending to the morning chores of their farm. Concerned, her knocked and received no response. She called Ross Moore, her neighbor’s brother, who came and opened the door with his key. Barely two rooms into the home, Ross found the bludgeoned bodies of Ina and Lena Stillinger, two young house guests of the Moore children, and called the police straight away. They discovered Josiah Moore, his wife Sarah, and their four children upstairs butchered by an axe. To this day, the crime has never been solved.
The details of the case get creepier. All doors were locked from the inside, and in the attic were two spent cigarettes – indicating the murderer had not only hid in the attic, but he had patiently waited for the house to go to sleep. Josiah had multiple wounds to the head, more than any of the other victims. Lena Stillinger, twelve years old, had defensive wounds on her arms, and appeared to have been sexually assaulted. Of the eight victims in the home, Lena appeared to be the only one who fought back.
Since then, the house has had seven owners, and plenty of visits by paranormal investigators. They have captured audio, video, and photographic evidence of the spirits of the Moore family that still haunt the farm today. Children crying, objects moving on their own, falling lamps, and slamming doors are par for the course on any overnight at the home. The Murder house offers daytime tours for the history and crime buffs, but for those tourists looking to be terrified, overnight stays can be booked for up to 10 people. One guest, Pat Bussen, has done multiple overnights at the house, and claims that he has experienced the paranormal with every visit.
To Die For: Just down the road from the house is another real haunting and was the prospective hideout for the Villisca Axe Murderer him (or her) self. The location is frequented by paranormal investigators who rarely come up empty handed. The dilapidated manor is a site to behold, and offers tours and investigations for even the most amateur ghost hunters!
In just under five hours on the I-80 W to NE-2, we’ve got a nice little room waiting for you in Broken Bow, Nebraska. (Approx 4 hours 40 min)
Checkpoint #6: The Arrow Hotel
The Arrow Hotel is a four and a half star hotel that had humble beginnings as a commuter stop for railroad travelers. The community embraced the hotel when it was built in 1928, and it has a quiet history as a charming cornerstone of the city. The community rallied behind it again in 2007 when restoration began, and it reopened its 25 rooms and thriving restaurant soon after. Everything about the Arrow is unassuming in its downtown location and beloved following in the township. But digging a little deeper are the unexplained apparitions that come out with a bump in the night.
The cigar room is home to a grey-haired man who enjoys relaxing in one of the rooms cozy leather chairs. A red haired woman walks the halls at night, and a man believed to be the former owner enjoys wandering around barefoot – after all, that’s how he used to get to the train station to help travelers with their bags. Staff reports unexplained happenings, like sheets being thrown from beds after turn down and furniture moving around by itself. There is little about the history of the Arrow Hotel to suggest who these ghosts are or how they got there. One can only assume the community spirit is alive in Broken Bow, and some spirits just aren’t ready to leave that behind.
To Die For: Broken Bow also boasts a haunted library that is most active during closing time when disembodied voices in the southeast corner of the building stop using their library voices and maintain a heated argument. The ghostly laughter of children has also been reported to echo through the stacks at all hours of the day and night.
Hop on the I-76 W and make sure you have your reservation booked, we’re taking some restricted roads into Roosevelt National Forest for a gorgeous, and incredibly well known, locale in Estes Park, CO. (Approx. 5hrs 50min)
Checkpoint #7: Stanley Hotel (aka, the Overlook)
If you’re not familiar with the Stanley Hotel, I can only assume you’re too young to be reading this list, or you’re very new to the horror fold. The Stanley Hotel is famously known as the inspiration for the most terrifying ghost story every put to paper: Stephen King’s The Shining. A behemoth of a hotel, it offers 140 rooms on a 46 acre estate. F.O. Stanley and his wife Flora moved to the mountainous location, with its fresh air and elevation, to help treat his tuberculosis. Upon arriving, Stanley thought the park needed an upscale hotel with fine amenities and began work. The hotel opened in 1909 and immediately gained a reputation with Colorado elite. While there are many different types of accommodation at the hotel, the main building is the oldest and most spiritual. On the hotel booking page, it offers “spirited” room – those with the most paranormal activity for ghost seekers. They’re widely sought after stays, so make sure you make your reservations well in advance.
Room 217, the “Stephen King Suite,” has a storied history of haunting. Before inspiring King’s novel after staying in the room and experiencing an all-too-real nightmare about his son’s death, the room was the scene of a gas explosion in 1911 when a maid entered the gas-filled room with a candle when the lights went out. She survived, but guests say she returns after death. She unpacks luggage, moves furniture, and speaks into the night. Some guests have even reported seeing her walk out of the room into the hall with a lit candle in hand.
If you’re looking for the biggest spook for your silver, grab a room on the fourth floor, the most haunted floor in the hotel. Rooms 401, 407, and 428 are particularly paranormal. The fourth floor used to be the attic space where nannies, maids, and other staff stayed as their well-to-do employers would stay in the floors below. Disembodied children laugh and play in room 401, opening and shutting the closet door. Room 428 is home to the ghost of a friendly cowboy who will watch you sleep from the end of the bed. The former owner of the hotel, the 4th Earl of Dunraven, haunts room 407 – his apparition has been seen by many a guest and he tends to leave the smell of pipe tobacco lingering in the fabric.
To Die For: There is a 75-minute night spirit tour hosted by the Stanley Hotel for guests and visitors that takes you through the most haunted places on the grounds, culminating in a trek below the hotel into an underground cave! Many paranormal investigators believe the accumulation of limestone and quartz in these caves is what traps the ghostly energy of the many ghosts who remain permanent guests at the Stanley.
The next long hour trek takes us across the mountains on the I-80 W to Tooele, UT for a hospital that turns into a haunted attraction in the spirit months of Autumn. (Approx 8 hours)
Checkpoint #8: Old Tooele Hospital (Sept/Oct: Asylum 49)
Originally built as the home of Samuel F. Lee in 1873, the Old Tooele Hospital was converted into a hospice style care center in 1913. The community began calling it the “County Poor House.” Being a hospital for the elderly means that many people passed within the walls of the hospital, and it’s consistently one of the most active and documented sites of paranormal activity on record. An elderly ghost, Wes, died of Alzheimers in the hospital and remains confused and scared about his between world predicament. It is also said the hospital is home of an actual spiritual portal that attracts the spirits residing there and from the graves surrounding, which is why many of the recorded ghosts did not die on site. The portal is guarded by a nurse, Maria, an apparition who will shoo the other entities away as it does not lead to a peaceful afterlife. To this date, no one knows where the portal leads, but it shows in images as a bright flood light that isn’t there when the photo is taken. EVP, shadows, unexplained mists, and orbs have been photographed and videotaped by the “Utah Ghost Organization” and other paranormal investigators who have visited the location.
To Die For: The owners of the annual haunt, Asylum 49, also sponsor monthly ghost hunts. It’s $20 a head (18 or older!) and bringing your own equipment is encouraged. If you’ve never hunted before, the team offers ghost hunting courses on equipment use, detection strategies, and field training. They even have a 6-week course for ghost enthusiasts who want to get into the hunting game. The only thing they ask is not to bring a Ouiji board – those demonic props have no place in this real haunted location.
The I-80 W winds through the desert mountain passages through Nevada, and close to the California border, we’re taking a step back in time in Virginia City. (Approx. 7hr 30 mins)
Checkpoint #9: Mackay Mansion (and many more!)
While most of this list offers checkpoints and must see spots, Virginia City has perhaps the densest population of haunted locales in its small town radius. An old mining town, the mountains shadowing Virginia City were once filled with gold and silver. The town is a shining example of the resilience of 1860s architecture. The Mackay Mansion, once owned by millionaire Comstock John Mackay, is a beacon of history and hauntings. On the first floor, the safe is haunted by two attempted thieves shot in the chest by Mackay’s armed guards. Also on the lower floor is Mrs. Mackay, who sits in the living room in her rocking chair. Upstairs, tho girls the staff have dubbed Emma and Lily like to pull on visitors’ clothing, beckoning them to play. Throughout the home, a servant ghost has been sighted fussing about with chores.
If you wish to stay the night in Virginia City, try the Silver Queen Hotel and Wedding Chapel where Rosie and Annie, the live-in spectres, tap on windows and run through the halls at night. Catch a show at Piper’s Opera House where the spirits enjoy setting up and putting on a show for tourists. The Old Washoe Club, formerly the “Millionaire’s Club,” was once a luxury bar and brothel with a storied history of murder and suicide. In 1973, 12 people died in an explosion at the club, which could account for the many volatile spirits who still frequent the exclusive space. St. Mary’s Art Center was once a hospital complete with operating room and insane asylum run by seven sisters who lived in the attic. Legend tells of the “White Nun” who roams the halls, looking for patients there. And that’s just five of the more than ten haunts that occupy Virginia City.
To Die For: The “Suicide Table” at the Delta Saloon. Before being retired and sealed in plexiglass, the table dealt three fatal hands. The first was “Black Jake,” losing $70,000 at the table and committing suicide later that same night. Two more gamblers with huge losses would fall under the table’s thrall and thus it was decided the “suicide table” would not be dealt on again. It is still one of the town’s most morbidly fascinating attractions.
Just a few more hours on the I-80 W will bring you to the beautiful, majestic Pacific where our cross country tour ends in San Francisco, CA. It’s just a short ferry forward to our last stop. (Approx 4hrs 20 mins)
Checkpoint #10: Alcatraz
The name of Alcatraz Prison has an eerie weight that feels something like Azkaban to us Harry Potter fans: a water-bound penitentiary with a storied history of holding the most notorious, most vile criminals the West Coast had to offer. It boasted being the American’s “first escape-proof prison.” Much like Eastern State Pen, punishment rooms were built including “the holes,” where no mattress or natural light were allowed. Inmates were only fed once every third day of their time in the cells. Another such place was the “strip cell,” which took the punishment one step further and stripped the inmates naked while sustaining their punishment. The prison was built specifically to break the spirit of rebellious criminals – and those broken souls reside there still today.
“Hole” cell 14D is believed to be the home of a demonic entity that strangled one of the inmates who occupied the punishment chamber. Before his death, guards said they heard him screaming about a creature with glowing eyes pinning him down. There were visible hand marks on the man’s neck, and while there was some speculation that a guard strangled him to stop his screaming – no one admitted. The cell is often reported to be immensely colder than the others on the same block, and contains a general sense of unease far beyond normal for the prison cell.
Cell Block A, B, and C offer the noisiest spirits, howling and moaning at all hours. In the 1940s, a prisoner named “The Butcher” was murdered in these halls, and mediums have felt his presence ever since. In the bathrooms, Al Capone’s banjo has been rumored to play – since he used the space to practice away from prying eyes of the guards. Near Cell Block A, phantom gun shots have been heard new the location where three attempted escapists met their demise. Other auditory anomalies have been reported, all unique in their location and timbre. Most ghosts repeat actions or sounds from a single location, but screaming, laughing, howling, and crying come from all over the island fortress, as though the broken ghosts of Alcatraz are aware. Even after death, they can never leave.
There are day tours and night tours of Alcatraz, though 6:30pm is the latest they run. Because of this, many of the best ghost stories come from park rangers and overnight watchmen.
To Die For: San Francisco’s Haunted Nightlife! 1.5 hour Walking Ghost tours are available to really immerse yourself in the city and find all the haunted locations San Francisco has to offer. You’ll see “suicide alley,” haunted speakeasies, the St. Francis hotel and its history of Hollywood deaths, and many more!
Total Drive Time: 57 Hours (Approx. 2.37 Days)
And that completes our coast-to-coast journey of the most haunted stops across the country with a peek behind the walls of the natural landscape into the supernatural! We recommend an additional two weeks for this half of the journey, so if you choose to transverse the country, give yourself about a month to experience the wonders from beyond the grave.
Related Article: 5 of the Most Haunted Places in Texas