9 Real American Ghost Stories

American history is rife with violent tales: grisly murders, massacres, tragic accidents and suicides litter the historical landscape. These kind of tragedies are apt to give rise to tales of horrifying hauntings; American folklore is chock-full of ghosts and ghouls. Many of these supposed specters are associated with violence, tragedy or unsolved crimes. Some of the places associated with these ghost tales have become well-known across the nation—and some are all the more terrifying because there’s at least some grain of truth buried in those ghastly yarns.

9. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

As far as spooky places go, you can’t get much more terrifying than an old asylum. Although many former asylums have been converted since their closure, others are abandoned—but almost all are rumored to be haunted with the ghosts of those patients who died in care there. The Trans-Allegheny Asylum, in Weston, West Virginia, has been mostly vacant since its closure in the mid-1990s, although a few small museums did operate during the early 2000s. These days, you can take a historic tour or a ghost tour during the evening. If you’re really up for a challenge, take the intensive, 8-hour ghost hunt on a Saturday night. The site also served as a post for soldiers during the Civil War, so in addition to the rumored spirits of hundreds of mentally ill patients, Civil War ghosts have also been reported to haunt the facility.

karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com
karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com

8. Moundsville Penitentiary

Like asylums, places where prisoners were held are often purported to be full of ghosts. The old Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia is one such supposedly haunted jail. These days, the former prison is a tourist attraction, used to host an annual Halloween attraction, but that’s not the only spooky thing going on here. Unexplained noises, voices, cold spots and even reports of a “shadow” man have given Moundsville a reputation as one of the most haunted prisons in America. Operating between 1876 and 1995, the facility had a violent history: 94 prisoners were executed and 36 were murdered by their fellow inmates. One such case was that of R.D. Wall, who was butchered in October 1929. In 1986, 3 inmates were killed during a riot. With stories like that, is it any wonder there’d be a few vengeful spirits still wandering here?

Moundsville Penitentiary

7. Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area

Gold was discovered in Sumpter, Oregon, in 1862, and between 1912 and 1934, 3 gold dredges operated in the valley district. The dredges weren’t overly sophisticated machines, but that didn’t make them safe. Two people were killed working on the dredges—though neither of them were “Joe Bush.” In 1918, an oiler named Christopher Rowe was greasing winch gears, when the gears started turning and Rowe was sucked in. When that dredge was dismantled to build the new No. 3, the gears were moved—and some say Rowe’s ghost moved with them. But reports of haunting didn’t pick up steam until the 1940s, when workers claimed that “Joe” would move tools and eat forgotten lunches. Some also report the ghost causes lights to flicker and doors to open and close. “Joe” is even said to leave wet footprints on the deck of the dredge.

Sumpter Valley Dredge

6. Myrtles Plantation

When Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans had been living on the land for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the new arrivals didn’t have much respect for that and often built right over important cultural sites—including burial grounds. Myrtles Plantation, in St. Francisville near Baton Rouge, is one building rumored to be right on top of a Native American burial ground. It’s also one of the scariest haunted houses in America, supposedly the home of no less than 12 ghosts. Legend says that up to 10 murders occurred in the house, but only the murder of William Winter is on record. Along with Winter’s ghost, other spectral residents include a young Native American woman, the spirits of a former owner and her 2 children, a murdered slave woman, at least 1 Civil War soldier and a young girl who died in 1868, who reportedly practices voodoo on unsuspecting guests.

"Myrtles Plantation Louisiana". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Myrtles Plantation Louisiana“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

5. Huntingdon College

The Red Lady of Huntingdon College supposedly haunts the former Pratt Hall on the Montgomery campus, and her story is one many of us can relate to. According to legend, a student named Martha arrived to begin her studies at Huntingdon at the behest of her father. Originally from New York, Martha didn’t really want to go to Alabama. The other girls thought she was stand-offish and rude and Martha was unable to make any friends. Embittered, depressed and lonely, Martha committed suicide by slashing her wrists. The student who found her claimed to have seen red flashes of light shooting out of the room as she approached. Today, students say the date of Martha’s death is marked by red flashes of light from the room, and the ghost returns to haunt the building.

"Huntingdon College Flowers Hall" by Spyder Monkey - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Huntingdon College Flowers Hall” by Spyder MonkeyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

4. Lizzie Borden House

The murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892 caused a scandal across the nation. No one knows for sure who committed the crime, but the prime suspect was Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter. The Bordens were butchered with an ax—as a popular ditty went, Lizzie “gave her mother 40 whacks.” Lizzie was acquitted at her trial, but no one else was ever charged. Today, the Lizzie Borden House, where the murders took place, is a bed and breakfast. Daily tours will take you to the rooms where Andrew and Abby were found, as well as to the basement where the ax was supposedly left by the murderer. Ghost hunters say the house is a hotbed of paranormal activity and the owners have a number of ghost cameras set up throughout the house. Some report seeing various players in the crime, including the ghosts of the victims and Lizzie.

"Borden House Present" by DkEgy - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Borden House Present” by DkEgyOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

3. Villisca Ax Murder House

Another famous ax murder case, also unsolved, occurred in the town of Villisca, Iowa, in 1912. Six members of the Moore family and 2 hapless house guests were bludgeoned to death on night in June. Several people were tried, but no one was ever convicted of the crime. The house where the murders took place is reported to be haunted: former tenants claim that they’d seen the shadowy figure of a man standing at the foot of their beds, swinging an ax, and to have heard the sound of children sobbing. Closet doors open and close, clothes are thrown out of dressers and shoes have been reported to fill with blood and move around the room. The house, which is now a museum, has been investigated by many ghost hunters, some of whom claim to have recorded a man saying things like “I killed 6 kids.”

Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go
Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go

2. Queen Esther’s Town Preserve

Many bloody battles were fought in the early days of America, making colonial history ripe for ghosts like Queen Esther. Legend says that Queen Esther, learning of her son’s death, rallied 500-plus villagers and raided a farm, killing at least 2 people in September 1778. A 200-man military force engaged the fierce Iroquian warriors of the village. The Iroquian women and children were caught and executed, and Esther was lynched. Today, near Athens, Pennsylvania, some say you can hear the screaming of the victims. Hunters report seeing a young woman weeping in an oak tree. She disappears and, after the sighting, weapons will fail to fire. Some people believe this is the spirit of Queen Esther trying to prevent more deaths. Others say Esther left a curse that would bring great misfortune to any settler who tried to live on the land where the massacre took place.

Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog
Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog 

1. The Bell Witch Cave

Although the Bell Witch might be one of the most famous stories in American paranormal folklore, nobody is quite sure who—or what—the “witch” was. Some accounts say the witch was a poltergeist, while others think it may have been the curse of a neighbor placed upon the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee. Still others say the neighbor was the witch herself. Whatever the case, the Bell family was tormented between 1817 and 1824: family members were pinched and prodded, animals were spooked for no seeming reason and unusual noises were heard. Eventually, John Bell died, but the witch went on tormenting the family; even today, Bell family descendants claim to be cursed. Although the Bells no longer own the farm property where the haunting took place, a nearby cave, called the Bell Witch Cave, is reputedly haunted and reports of paranormal activity continue to this very day.

"Bell Witch Cave" by Www78 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Bell Witch Cave” by Www78Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

America’s 12 Best Golf Vacations

Golf may have been invented in Scotland but Americans love the sport. The United States accounts for approximately 45 percent of the golf courses in the world. While golf used to be a “rich man’s” sport, today there are courses that fit every budget. With the emergence of players like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam golf has become popular with people of all ages. Along with the growing popularity of golf, weekend trips and golfing vacations have also become more popular. Couples and groups of friends have found that a golfing vacation is the best way to play some of the best courses and also enjoy a great travel destination at the same time. We have come up with our list of the best golf destinations in America.

12. Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a resort destination in the desert. The area became popular around 1900 for its hot springs. In the early part of the 1920’s the Hollywood elite would go there to get away from the crowds, but soon hotels and spas began springing up to serve the clientele. Today Palm Springs is still a spa destination but also offers great golfing. Palm Springs has over 100 public and private courses in the area. Courses are available for all levels of players and budgets. One of the best golf packages is at Indian Wells Golf Resort which has 36 holes and is ranked in the top 20 of “courses you can play” in California by Golfweek magazine. When not golfing you can enjoy the hot springs, shopping, hiking, biking or horseback riding. Great for couples looking to go on a trip, or even just a group of friends.

Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr
Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr

11. San Antonio, Texas

Texas has over a thousand golf courses to choose from. San Antonio makes our list not only for the great courses but the surrounding activities. La Cantera Golf Resort is ranked #2 in “Top Resorts in North America” and among the “top 50 Golf Resorts in the US” by Conde Nast traveler. As the site of PGA events, the resort offers great dining, luxurious rooms and is a good home base for exploring the surrounding area. Sights like the famed San Antonio River Walk and of course, The Alamo are both destinations that need to be on your must see list. Located at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio is a great destination for couples, families or that buddy trip.

Photo by: La Cantera
Photo by: La Cantera

10. Savannah, Georgia

Established in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants and River Street along the Savannah River offers visitors a unique experience. The famed 18-hole Savannah Harbor Golf Resort is a Robert Cupp and Sam Snead championship course and is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the US by Conde Nast Traveler. The Westin offers golf packages from $109 and up. The Westin also has a complimentary water ferry to take you to River Street where you can check out the brew pubs, galleries and great restaurants after a day on the course.

Photo by: Keith Allison
Photo by: Keith Allison

9. Orlando, Florida

Mickey Mouse isn’t the only thing Orlando is known for. Besides the proximity to Disney World, Orlando offers world class golf courses and resorts. Resorts like the Villas of Grand Cypress are close to Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. The resort offers exceptional golfing and has hosted such tournaments as the LPGA Tour Championship, World Cup of Golf and Greg Norman’s Shark Shoot-out. The club offers 45-holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf. With all the great nearby attractions, Orlando rates as a great golf destination for everyone.

Golf Course Florida (2)

8. Napa, California

Located in the Napa wine region, the Silverado Resort and Spa is also home to two championship courses designed by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. The resort offers several golf packages and also has Junior Golf Summer Camps. The resort also has a world class spa with wellness coaches and even a golf swing therapy session with massage and reflexology treatments.  With over 400 wineries in the region a day tour of wine tasting and sightseeing should be on your list of things to do. Host to the PGA Frys.com tournament, the luxury resort is a great getaway for couples looking to relax, golf and spend time in the wine country.

Silverado Resort and Spa, CA
Photo by: Silverado Resort and Spa

7. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island off the coast of South Carolina is known for beautiful beaches, exceptional restaurants and world class golf. With over 50 courses to choose from on the island it is hard to make a choice, but one place stands out above the rest. The courses at Sea Pines Resort home to the Heron Point Course by Pete Dye, the Ocean Course and the Harbor Town Golf Links which is a favorite among PGA players has to be the best resort on the island. Located on 5,000 acres the resort hosts the annual PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament. Accommodations range from elegant rooms at the Harbor Town Inn to homes and vacation villas. The resort has vacation packages to suit couples groups and families.

Photo by: Sea Pines Resort
Photo by: Sea Pines Resort

6. Monterey, California

Monterey, located on California’s rugged central coast, is the home of the Pebble Beach Golf Resort. Even people that don’t follow or play the sport have heard of Pebble Beach. Over the years the resort has attracted politicians such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Teddy Roosevelt, golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones and celebrities the likes of Bill Murray, Bing Crosby and Clint Eastwood. With choices of three distinct accommodations, the Lodge, the Inn and a Mediterranean-styled estate, you can relax in style and also experience one of the best known courses in the world. Five courses to include the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links will test your skills and patience.

Pebble Beach Golf Resort, CA

5. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Don’t be confused that this location is included on our list. White Sulphur Springs is home to The Greenbrier. Since 1778 The Greenbrier Resort has been welcoming guests from all over the world. Listed on the National Historic Register, The Greenbrier has hosted 26 of the nation’s Presidents and has been a favorite of royalty and celebrities. Befitting the status of the Greenbrier be prepared to dress accordingly. Collared shirts and slacks, no denim, are required on the course. With rates ranging from $300 per person and up, this is chance to experience great golf and stay at a historic resort. You never can tell who you might run into.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Situated at the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs is also home to the US Air Force Academy. Colorado Springs offers visitors great outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and of course golf. The Broadmoor was founded in 1918 and at the time had the highest elevation golf course in the United States at 6,400 ft. The resort has three courses and package rates that include accommodations, course fees and meal credits. The resort also has over 20 restaurants and lounges on the property. If you ever decide to venture away from the resort, the nearby area surrounding Colorado Springs offers a lot of things to see and do.

Golf

3. Tucson, Arizona

Located in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson is also the home of the University of Arizona. Historic old Spanish Missions, Hot Air Balloon rides, horseback riding, handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs are all available. The reason we include this on our list is the Omni Tucson National Resort, a host course for the PGA Tucson Conquistadores Classic and past host of the Chrysler Classic. Ranked by PGA pros as one of the most challenging finishing holes on the tour this course will make for a memorable trip. The Catalina course has hosted over 30 PGA tournaments throughout the years while the Tom Lehman designed Sonoran Course features 2 lakes and over 60 bunkers. After spending time on the course exploring Tucson and all it has to offer makes for a great trip.

Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates
Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With close to 100 courses in the greater Myrtle Beach area there is no wonder why it is often called “the Golf Capital of the World”. Depending on the time of year a golf vacation package can cost as low as $60 per day which includes lodging and course fees. When you’re not on the golf course you can enjoy the beach, great shopping or book a fishing charter. Myrtle Beach is a great destination for couples, families or friends alike. With courses like TPC Myrtle beach, awarded five stars by Golf Digest and the Dunes, a Robert Trent Jones signature course; Myrtle Beach has to be on your list of destination.

Myrtle Beach Golf Course

1. Pinehurst, North Carolina

While Myrtle Beach is known as the “Golf Capital of the World” Pinehurst is known as the “Cradle of American Golf”. Pinehurst has a population of less than 15,000 and is home to nothing else but Pinehurst. Since the first cottages were built in 1895, Pinehurst has expanded and grown into one of the most recognized golf courses in the world. In the early 1900’s Donald Ross was commissioned to build the first four courses at Pinehurst. Since then it has grown to nine courses total and has hosted more championships than any other course in the United States. Pinehurst has to be on every avid golfer’s bucket list and is a great trip destination.

Pinehurst Golf Course