50 Spooky Graveyards Across the Country
Why pay admission to a haunted house to get spooked, when cemeteries and the paranormal seem to fit hand in glove, especially as Halloween approaches? In every state, there's a graveyard where visitors have seen, heard, or felt spirits or other unexplained phenomena -- or fallen victim to some eerie stories and their own imaginations. Almost all these atmospheric, often beautiful cemeteries are free to enter.
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What brings so many ghost-hunting groups to investigate Dallas County's privately owned Adams Grove Presbyterian Church and nearby cemetery? The abandoned church, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1853, and ghosts of Confederate soldiers and a former minister reportedly walk the site.
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Decay is slowly taking over at the Russian cemetery in the city of Sitka. It's abandoned and overgrown with moss, and broken crosses mark the landscape. Tree roots have pushed up headstones, making it look every bit like the dead are trying to claw their way to the surface.
Boot Hill Graveyard, one of the state's most famous cemeteries, opened in 1878 and closed a short six years later. Originally named the Tombstone Cemetery, it holds famous gunslingers and many unmarked graves. Some of the headstones tell short stories, such as: "Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a 44. No les. No more." Unidentified figures supposedly have appeared in tourists' photos.
"The Westminster Abbey of Arkansas," Mount Holly Cemetery in downtown Little Rock is the burial site of state governors, senators, Supreme Court justices, and Confederate generals. Every year during the "Tales of the Crypt" event, local high school students dress up and deliver speeches as one of the dead in front of that person's tombstone.
Nortonville is an abandoned coal mining town founded in 1855 by Noah Norton. It is said that his wife, Sarah, has haunted the town's Rose Hill Cemetery since being killed by a runaway horse in 1879. Some visitors to the cemetery claim to have seen her ghost.
Silver Cliff Cemetery was established in the early 1880s and is still used. (The Protestant section is called the Cross of the Assumption Cemetery.) Some visitors to Silver Cliff report seeing dancing blue lights in the cemetery at night, not unlike lanterns or spheres, and on some days that's enough to draw several carloads of people looking to experience a haunted cemetery.
A stop on ghost tours in St. Augustine, the Huguenot Cemetery near the Old City Gates was in use in the 19th century. Several ghosts supposedly haunt the area, including the ghost of Judge John B. Stickney, whose oddly well-preserved body was exhumed for a move to Washington, D.C., when two drunken men stole his gold teeth, prompting the judge's spirit to stick around searching for them.
Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah is sometimes called "Paranormal Central." The oldest cemetery in the area, it was opened in 1750, and some of its dead are people who fell ill with yellow fever in the 1820s or died after duels. Some believe the paranormal activity is the result of the dead not having received a proper burial. There are more than 10,000 bodies in the area -- some outside today's cemetery walls -- but fewer than 1,000 tombstones.
Due to flooding in the early 1900s, more than 150 graves had to be moved to the current location of Fort Boise Military Cemetery -- potentially disturbing the dead and leading to the appearance of restless soldiers, children, and a woman dressed in a black gown. As late as 1998, an additional three bodies, possibly of Civil War soldiers, were found and reburied.
The 8-foot Black Angel statue in Iowa City's Oakland Cemetery has taken on a darker color as the bronze has oxidized. Some say the darkening is due to abnormal storms, evil spirits, or a connection to the dark arts. The statue is popular on Halloween, when visitors tempt fate by touching and kissing it -- an act that is said to risk a quick death.
Stull Cemetery in Douglas County is believed by some to be near, or perhaps on top of, one of the seven gateways to Hell. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry traces the tale back to an urban legend invented by a professor at the University of Kansas in the 1950s, but others say the claim is real. Either way, visiting the graveyard serving the tiny town of Stull is now considered trespassing, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Reports from Marion's Baker-Phillips Cemetery (also known as Baker Hollow Road Cemetery) tell of a large black dog that guards the grounds -- a "Hound of Hell" -- along with inexplicable sounds of music, laughter, and screams, and mysterious spirits and orbs of light appearing in pictures.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is one of the best-known (and possibly most haunted) cemeteries in the country. It's the resting place of Marie Laveau, the "grande voodoo queen." The cemetery was closed to the public in 2015 but can still be visited by family members of the deceased and those accompanied by a licensed tour guide.
Howard Street Cemetery in Salem has ties back to the infamous 17th century witch trials, when Giles Corey was tortured to death in a Howard Street field. He cursed the town before gasping for his last breath, and his spirit is said to haunt the area.
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in Columbus was a training ground and prisoner-of-war camp during the Civil War. Several thousand Confederate soldiers died from disease, exposure, or malnutrition while detained here. Today it is a national park reputedly inhabited by spirits. One is known as the Lady in Gray, perhaps a woman named Louisiana Rainsburgh Briggs.
Some people know of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Exeter because of one of its residents: an alleged vampire named Mercy Brown. She died in 1892 at the age of 19 after the deaths of many around her, and when exhumed she seemed to have shifted in her coffin. Her tale may have been an inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula," written in 1897.
Oakwood Cemetery in Spartanburg has a reputation as a gateway to hell. Whether spirits haunt the area or not, it is a spooky cemetery, and there are police reports of vandals, drug use, and a grave robbing as recent as 2012.
Stamps Cemetery between Monterey and Algood is also known as "The Witches' Graveyard." The tombstones above the unusual tented graves have stars carved into them -- perhaps pentagrams to mark good or bad witches, or perhaps a sign the person below died of smallpox or tuberculosis. There have been sightings of animal sacrifices and hooded figures walking the grounds.
In 1900 a hurricane struck Galveston Island and killed about 8,000 people. Some of the bodies are in the Old City Cemetery, but others were thrown into the sea -- only to be washed ashore, then burned on funeral pyres. Ghosts supposedly still haunt the area. (Visitors in room 501 at Hotel Galvez are particularly likely to meet one.)
Logan City Cemetery holds a 10-foot statue of a woman kneeling and weeping -- the grave marker of Julia Cronquist, a mother of eight children, five of whom died within a two-year period. Some say the statue cries during the full moon, as the woman did every day to mourn while she was alive.
The Dartford Cemetery in Green Lake was featured on the Discovery Channel TV show "A Haunting." It allegedly houses a number of spirits: a ghost who pushes people off an old mausoleum on the cemetery's south side, an Indian chief, Civil War soldiers, and child phantoms who were polio victims.
The small ghost town of Kane lies just west of Lovell. At one time there were several stores, banks, a school, and a motel here, but the land was condemned due to rising waters after the Yellowtail Dam was built in the mid-1960s. Visitors sometimes can see the Kane Cemetery during low tide, and it's said to be haunted by the Blue Lady -- beautiful from a distance, fearsome up close.