With the spookiest of American holidays rapidly approaching (unless your family’s full of hoarders, that could make Christmas pretty ghastly) now’s the time to let your creep flag fly. If you’re anything like me, you love the mystery and mayhem of haunted houses, creepy crawlers, and wicked witches. Set the mood this Halloween season by flying to visit some of these ghoulish getaways—just make sure you don’t return home with any uninvited, undead guests.
Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
Also known as the Josiah B. and Sara Moore House, this site was the bloody scene of a mass murder in the early 1900s. On a warm summer evening in 1912, Josiah Moore, his wife, and six children (the four Moore children and two visiting neighbor girls) were all savagely killed in their beds with an ax. Although their bodies were found and suspicions were raised in the small Iowa town, this horrific crime remains unsolved to this day. Their spirits linger on in an attempt to find the killer, and grasp for some type of post-mortem justice. Visitors of the house today can spend the night, if they dare.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia
Built during the 1800s, this mental hospital was originally designed to house just 250 patients at a time. However, during its heyday, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum had more than 2,000 patients in its care. Lack of resources, inhumane treatment, and terrible medical conditions led to the asylum’s closure in the 1990s. The shutting of its doors hasn’t been able to stop spirits from wandering the asylum’s halls though, nor its ex-patients from seeking revenge on the negligent doctors who defiled them.
The Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Legend has it that this Southern plantation was once home to a rich family and their many servants. Chloe, a slave, ultimately became entangled in an affair with the plantation’s owner, Mark Woodruff. Tired of being treated like she didn’t matter, Chloe poisoned the plantation owner, as well as his family, with a cake she baked. She was hanged for her crimes, but her ghost lives on at the Myrtles Plantation. Chloe’s ghost is unsettled, and she tries to find peace by causing havoc and seeking to deliver her just desserts.
Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco, California
You can stay at the Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco, although the place has a dark history (I’ve heard they do leave those nice little mints on your pillow though). During the 1800s, the hotel was known as Mary Lake’s School for Girls. The school was a prim-and-proper boarding school known for educating young women from affluent families, with Miss Mary Lake working as head mistress. While Mary Lake called the school home and was quite committed to her pupils, the school ultimately closed several years after its opening. Mary Lake is said to have vanished completely, although her ghost has been known to play tricks on the unfortunate hotel guests who have stayed in her old office, room 410. Additionally, while most of the city lay in ruin after the massive earthquake of 1906, Mary Lake’s School for Girls, although non-operational, stood miraculously unharmed.
Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, Oregon
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, illegal laborers were smuggled through tunnels underneath the city of Portland. The tunnels are said to have connected to popular establishments, such as restaurants and bars, and led to the shores of the Willamette River. Oftentimes, people were drugged or beaten unconscious, and then dragged through the tunnels to be held in cramped cells. The captives were then sent across the Pacific Ocean to China and those who the voyage would ultimately be sent to live out their days working in Shanghai. The men served as laborers while the women were sold into prostitution. This practice is now known as “shanghaiing” and tours are conducted throughout Portland to explore this aspect of the history’s murky past.