It’s no secret that the South is rich with history—a great deal of it unpleasant. And where there’s a dark past, some believe, the present is riddled with things unseen.
The following locations are said to be home to Southern spirits, not all of them friendly. From the Southeastern coast to the Gulf of Mexico and the mountains in between, here are 22 of the most notable hauntings and unexplained presences to roam Southern soil.
Please note: Many of the locations listed below are on private property. Do not trespass! Be sure to conduct adequate research before choosing to explore these areas, and get permission before entering.
During the Industrial Revolution, America depended on the steel produced at Sloss Furnace to pave the way for the development of manufacturing as we know it. While its bustling industry, bursting into life seemingly overnight, earned Birmingham the moniker of the “Magic City,” all was not well for the workers in the plant. The main antagonist in the tales of Sloss Furnace’s sordid past is the foreman of the “Graveyard Shift,” James “Slag” Wormwood. Slag was said to have abused the already miserable workers – weary from toiling away in up to 120-degree heat – by forcing them to speed up production in risky ways, and 47 workers died under his supervision. In October of 1906, Slag met his untimely end when he lost his footing and plummeted into a vat of molten ore. Several “strange incidents” resulted in the Graveyard Shift’s elimination following the sadistic foreman’s death, including gruff disembodied voices and even physical violence toward workers.
Read more haunted history of Sloss Furnace here.
If you grew up in or near the state of Alabama, the image of the Face in the Courthouse Window is likely already etched in your mind as firmly as the haunting apparition visible in one famous pane of glass down in Pickens County. For the uninitiated, the story begins in 1876, when the “new” Pickens County Courthouse (the original was burned during Wilson’s raid in 1865) was burned to the ground mysteriously, and the blame placed on Henry Wells, a former slave freed following the Civil War. Wells fled a lynch mob, taking refuge in the attic of the third Pickens County Courthouse, by then nearing completion. It was there, as he watched the angry mob below, that lightning struck the window, etching Wells’ face forever into the glass.
When Old Bryce Hospital was founded in 1861, its principles were based on creating a refuge for the mentally ill, a place where patients could be treated with respect and kindness. However, by the late 1960s, the hospital’s reputation had become tarnished, as rumors of abuse and overcrowding began to circulate in the community. Fortunately, a landmark case settled in the 70s led to the hospital’s reformation and ultimately the closing of the Old Bryce building. Now, lights are rumored to flicker in the building which no longer has electricity. Footsteps and phantom flickering supposedly travel from room to abandoned room. Furniture moves on its own and telephones can be heard ringing. Do the ghosts of those who once suffered there still remain?
Take a look at Bryce Hospital – then and now – here.
Named America’s Most Haunted Hotel, this five-story structure atop Crescent Mountain hosts its fair share of unexplained presences. From flying objects to the wafting of phantom cigar smoke, ghosts in Victorian garb to the spirit of disgraced onetime owner and phony medical practitioner, at least eight distinct entities are said to linger in the historic hotel and spa.
Legends and superstitions abound in this historic lighthouse on Anastasia Island. Spooky sounds can be heard up and down its iconic winding staircase, and countless photos on the grounds have been shown to contain ghostly orbs and unexplained apparitions. Is the phenomena the result of a ghostly presence, or can the eerie incidents be explained away simply?
This beautiful vacation resort thrived from 1886 until World War II. It’s amenities are said to have been so charming that some guests never checked out—strange lights and shadows have been sighted along with the spirits of a railroad magnate, former bellboy and various otherworldly visitors who now call the hotel home.
Originally a tiny schoolhouse, the Board of Tuberculosis Hospital purchased the Waverly Hill property to be used as a sanatorium to fight the county’s TB epidemic as a self-contained community. The hospital quickly became overcrowded, leading to the building of a new structure—hundreds are estimated to have died there at the height of the epidemic, despite the sanatorium’s status as a state-of-the-art treatment facility. Dangerous “treatments” were used to try to combat the disease, and patients who passed away there were disposed of via a “body chute” leading from the hospital to the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill. The gruesome history continued when the hospital was closed down in 1965, and later reopened as a geriatrics sanitarium where stories of patient mistreatment and unusual experiments were rampant. It is no wonder that a building with such a dismal past is rumored to be haunted by wandering souls who suffered in life within its walls.
Considered to be the most haunted location in the French Quarter, the home of Dr. Louis and Delphine LaLaurie was once known for the lavish social functions hosted there. Though the refined Madame LaLaurie was known and revered for her social graces, the revelation of her true nature makes for one spine-tingling account of human brutality.
The city’s founders called upon France to send prospective wives – later named the “Casket Girls” for their small overnight-type bags called “caskets” – for the colonists. Upon arrival, the girls resided at the Ursuline Convent until the marriages could be arranged. By many accounts, however, the girls had among them on their ship some rather unexpected passengers—vampires. It is said that the sturdy third-floor shutters were nailed in place to keep them out—or, perhaps, in.
Known as one of America’s most haunted houses, mysterious handprints, footsteps and vanishing objects are the hallmark occurrences in reported Myrtles Plantation hauntings.
The ghost of a serving girl named Madeline still dwells in the tavern, though no one is sure what became of her. However, in the 1930s, three mummified bodies were discovered beneath the floor of the tavern’s cellar. Two were men, and the third a young girl thought to be Madeline. A jeweled dagger was found next to her body.
Legend has it that Mary, the ghost who resides in Callaway Hall, was a Civil War nurse who fell in love with a soldier being housed there. After she nursed him back to health, the soldier returned to war, never to return. Distraught, Mary is said to have jumped to her death from the clock tower above the hall.
A small girl named Mary is said to haunt this grand theater, and her playful pranks have come to be expected by employees and regular guests. In 1979, a parapsychology class from the University of Memphis visited. They insisted that evidence of at least six other ghosts existed in the building.
This palatial villa was used as a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War, and the presence of the original owner’s daughter Bettie can be felt throughout the house. In at least one case, a full conversation between Bettie and an unknown male presence was heard by a guide working in the house.
Several residual hauntings are said to occur on this ship, which is docked in Corpus Christi. Apparitions of soldiers killed aboard have been sighted, and phantom screams heard in locations around the ship where tragic accidents have occurred. In some areas, visitors have also fallen mysteriously ill.
Many distinguished guests were said to have visited the home of revolutionary leader Peyton Randolph, but it’s the ghostly sightings of modern times that have drawn the curiosity of many visitors to this stately home. Rumored sights and sounds include poltergeist activity, a curse placed on the house and its original inhabitants by a former slave and the hauntings of wounded soldiers and various beings whose mortal lives ended mysteriously in the house.
Abandoned in 1966 after the accidental deaths of two young visitors, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park’s dark past is said to go much deeper. A violent land dispute between a Native American Tribe and the Clay family, European farmers, shed a great deal of blood on the soil in 1783. In the 1920s, a businessman by the name of Snidow developed the land into an amusement park with a swing set, ferris wheel and swimming area. Over the park’s history, six people were killed in various accidents on the rides, including a little girl in a pink ruffled dress who is said to roam the property to this day.
It spawned a major motion picture, a statue, a festival and plenty of legends. So, what is the Mothman? In December 1967, a bridge connecting Point Pleasant to the city of Gallipolis, OH, collapsed. 46 people were killed, and the cause was identified as a defective link in the suspension bridge. However, strange sightings leading up to the tragedy make it an even more chilling event—sightings of a creature described by one couple as being seven feet tall with red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan—which stopped after the bridge collapsed. Was the Mothman trying to tell the people of Point Pleasant something?