The American South is full of history, legend, and folklore that will put a chill down your spine and a twinge in your gut. If you are searching for a spooky retreat this Halloween, look no further than your own backyard.
- The Hillbilly Beast, Kentucky
Nothing scares quite like talk of an ancient wild man-beast that roams the very forest you inhabit. Perhaps that is the reason tales of the Hillbilly Beast have persisted since colonists first laid claim to Kentucky’s hills.
Stories of the South’s very own Sasquatch date to the early Cherokee Indians and continue today in online forums. Although pictures are scarce, the description is clear: A beast which stands ten feet tall on two legs, covered in thick, matted fur, with yellow eyes and a screech of a howl that can be heard echoing across the swamps at dusk.
- Stone Lion Inn, Oklahoma
The eight-thousand-square-foot, four-story Stone Lion Inn was once the largest home in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Built for a family of fourteen, the home’s life was shorter than that of family member Augusta, the eight-year-old girl who was accidentally overdosed on cough medicine during the early 1900’s. Her family moved out and the house once full of laughter became a funeral home full of tears.
In the late ’80’s the residence was given new life and a new name as a bed and breakfast. The Inn was a Victorian hit—except for the occasional complaint of missing trinkets, rearranged objects, and a child running rampant down the halls of the estate. Paranormal Investigators explored the house and recorded several occurrences of activity, including a child’s voice questioning, “Can you find me?”
- Brown Mountain Lights, North Carolina
Some say that the red orbs which light the night sky between the Brown and Green Mountains in North Carolina are the phantom beam of a murdered woman’s flashlight luring travelers to her unmarked grave. Area folklore claims it is but an afterglow of Cherokee maiden’s torches still searching for the bodies of loved ones lost during battle 800 years ago. Others claim the lights belong to interstellar travelers snatching bodies in the dead of night.
Scientists and government agents have tried to explain the phenomenon, which has haunted the Blue Ridge Parkway for over a hundred years, and although they maintain the lights belong to trains and cars driving through the area, the theory doesn’t explain how the lights are still visible when the roads flood or railroad power is out.
- The Crescent Hotel, Arkansas
Boasting new amenities like Edison electric lights, a hydraulic elevator, and a carriage set, the Crescent Hotel was a hotspot for the rich and famous at the turn of the century. But as the economy slowed during the Depression, the hotel could not keep up and fell into disrepair.
After many attempts at revival including a school for girls, a luxury resort, and a hospital, it is no wonder that the final incarnation should be touted as America’s Most Haunted Hotel. With eight patron spirits roaming her halls—including Dr. Baker, the crook with no medical experience who had the cure for cancer (if you paid enough, of course); Theodora, one of his patients who still stops by the front desk to ask for her room key; and Michael, the Irish stone mason who fell to his death during construction of the building in 1886—you never know who might be sharing your room.
- Big Lizz and the Green Briar Swamp, Maryland
Tales of Big Lizz have haunted the eastern shoreline since the Civil War. Legend has it that the Confederate Army stashed money on farms of Southern sympathizers and Big Lizz’s master was one of them. While her master was a spy for the Confederates, she gave his secrets to the Union, and as plots of his goods went missing, he knew who was to blame.
Big Lizz’s master took her to the swamps to have her rebury his money in a new hiding place far from prying eyes. As she finished covering the last of the loot, he cut off her head and left it to rot, a warning for all traitors. Since her death, Big Lizz has been seen crossing the swamps at dusk cradling her head and calling to travelers in the distance, motioning them toward her master’s money.
- Earnestine & Hazel’s, Tennessee
The building at 513 Main Street in Memphis, Tennessee, began the twentieth century as a family pharmacy. After a brilliant success with cosmetics, the owner sold the property to two young ladies who rented the rooms above. Earnestine & Hazel quickly updated the establishment to a hip little coffee shop frequented by ladies of the night, gentlemen callers, and lots and lots of dancing. After rumors of accidental murder, suicide, and drug overdose, the café closed its doors in the 1970’s.
For twenty years the building remained vacant until it changed ownership again and was renovated just enough to pass inspection as a bar. The new dive, complete with a jukebox that plays on its own and caters to the topic of discussion by patrons, is home to spectral visitors who frequent the old rooms of the second floor, which have been left in their original un-renovated condition. Perhaps it is not Earnestine & Hazel’s bar that is haunted, but the entertainment, which refuses to stop, even when everyone else has gone home.
- Peyton Randolph House, Virginia
Since its construction in 1715, the Payton Randolph House has been home to numerous families, but none so great as the thirty spirits that roam her halls today.
Death in the house began in 1824 when Mrs. Mary Monroe Peachy’s son fell from a tree. Soon after, other relatives in the house passed away from illness, disease, and suicide. Whether the silent boy in the corner of the second floor, or the vengeful spirit in the basement, none of the ghosts’ identities are known. Perhaps it is Mrs. Peachy herself who wakes visitors in the night calling their names as she laments for hours at the foot of the bed in the master suite.
- Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana
It is said that the Myrtles Plantation was built upon Tunica Indian burial grounds, and perhaps that is why residents of the home find no peace after death. At least a dozen ghosts haunt the antebellum plantation, but none is more famous or more often seen than Chloe.
Her reasons for murder are lost to history and conjecture, but stories agree Chloe baked a cake for her master’s wife and daughters, laced with poisonous oleander leaves. Free in death to do as she pleases, Chloe is often seen wandering the plantation grounds while visitors claim to see the spirits of the women murdered trapped forever within the mirror at the foot of the stairs.
- McRaven House, Mississippi
At least six separate ghosts have been reported at the historic McRaven house since it was built in 1797. Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Howard died during childbirth in the 1830’s and still inhabits her room on the second floor; Mr. Bobb, an early owner of the house was gunned down by soldiers destroying his prized rose bushes during the battle of Vicksburg; and Andrew Glass, original builder and owner of the house, who died at the hands of his wife after a shootout with police.
A home inhabited by ghosts is spooky, but a home inhabited by angry ghosts is scary. If you’re searching for a dangerous experience with the paranormal, look no further. These angry spirits have been caught turning the alarm system on, slamming doors, and push visitors so hard that they break bones.
- Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park, West Virginia
Which is scarier? An old Indian burial ground or an abandoned amusement park? What about an abandoned amusement park built on an old Indian burial ground where a family of settlers was massacred during the 1700’s?
Welcome to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, where an Indian grave is marked only by history, a single sign reminds visitors of a slaughtered family, and multiple children perished in the 1970’s due to faulty family-fun equipment. It may not look intimidating in the afternoon sun, but that’s why the park is closed during the daytime. Check in for a tour of the grounds at night and try not to scream when a child in white asks if you want to ride the swings.