17 of the most haunted places in the American South

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  • From cemeteries to prisons, there is no shortage of haunted places in the South.

  • Dozens of workers who died on the job reportedly haunt Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Visitors to the Tennessee State Prison say they've heard screams from executed prisoners.

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, has seen two centuries worth of paranormal activity.

The LaLaurie Mansion.Steve Wagner/Getty Images

Apparitions appearing, feelings of overwhelming negative energy, and being physically touched by a ghost are all unexplainable phenomena that some have claimed to experience while visiting the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans' French Quarter.

For over 200 years, the LaLaurie Mansion — the living quarters of the notoriously sadistic slave-owner Madame Delphine LaLaurie in the 1830s — has been reported to be very haunted. It isn't uncommon for visitors to hear moans coming from the room where LaLaurie kept her slaves two centuries ago, or hear phantom footsteps echoing throughout the mansion.

In her days as a slave-owner, LaLaurie would do horrendous things to her slaves in her attic, like mutilation. Her exploits were so infamous that they were covered in the "Coven" season of "American Horror Story," with Kathy Bates playing LaLaurie.

Now, spirits of deceased former enslaved people are said to roam the mansion.

Georgia's Lake Lanier is considered to be very spooky by locals.

lake lanier
Lake Lanier.Rajesh Pandit/Getty Images

Situated in northeastern Atlanta, this haunted lake has seen much tragedy. In 1958, two women (Delia Mae Parker Young and Susie Roberts) vanished after their car veered off the bridge as they were crossing Lake Lanier.

Young's body was found near the bridge just a later, but Roberts' body and their car were missing for a staggering 32 years. Locals still claim to see a ghostly Young wandering around the bridge wearing a blue dress. Legend has it, she abducts visitors to the lake and drags them to the bottom.

Between Young and Roberts' car crash, and the 200 people who have died in swimming and boating accidents since 1994, many believers view the lake as a paranormal hotspot.

The Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas, is reportedly built atop the graves of thousands who died in 1900 during a hurricane.

Hotel Galvez seen at night.
Hotel Galvez.Timothy L Barnes/Shutterstock

From the outside, the opulent Hotel Galvez in Galveston seems like an innocent beachfront vacation spot. But locals and staff will tell you there's a long history of paranormal activity. In 1900, the Galveston hurricane killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people, making it the deadliest natural disaster in US history. Some say the hotel was built atop the graves of thousands of the hurricane's dead, which haunt the hotel to this day, according to Houstonia Magazine.

The Galvez is also famous for its "ghost bride" story, which tells the tale of a woman named Audra who stayed in room 501 while she awaited her fiancé's return from sea so they could be married. One day, after hearing that her lover's ship had sunk and he would never return to her, Audra traveled to the hotel's eighth floor and reportedly hanged herself from the building's west turret. In true "Romeo and Juliet" fashion, a few days later, her fiancé returned and learned of Audra's tragedy.

Patrons of the hotel can take a guided ghost tour through the property and have a "Dinner with the Ghosts" to try their luck at feeling or spotting one of the Galvez's resident spirits.

Another haunted hotel in the state is the Driskill Hotel in Austin. Visitors have reported smelling a ghost's cigar smoke in the building.

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas.
The Driskill Hotel.Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Opened by cattle baron Colonel Jesse Driskill in 1886, the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the nation. Due to financial troubles, Driskill had to forfeit the hotel, but some believe his spirit never left. Although the hotel has been smoke-free for years, guests have reportedly smelled cigar smoke, believed to come from Driskill himself. Other ghosts, including a bride and a man who died in the hotel, have also reportedly been spotted.

The Driskill might also have a cursed painting. In 1887 US Senator Temple Lea Houston's 4-year-old daughter Samantha died after falling down the hotel's grand staircase. Today, a portrait of her hangs in the hotel, and guests say that if you stare at the painting long enough, Samantha will grin back at you.

Spirits reportedly run amok at this Hollywood-famous abandoned prison in Tennessee.

The abandoned Tennessee State Prison looks grand from the outside.
The abandoned Tennessee State Prison.Phillip Foster/Shutterstock

The historic Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, where scenes from "The Green Mile" and "Walk the Line" were filmed, is known for its otherworldly residents.

Those who have dared to wander through the Hogwarts-esque building have reported hearing the sounds of people clanging on their cells and screams coming from the lingering souls of inmates who died in the prison's electric chair. Other reports of paranormal activity include phantom footsteps.

Last year, a tornado ripped through the prison, which only adds to the spookiness of this abandoned building.

Dozens of workers who died on the job reportedly now haunt Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sloss Furnaces in Alabama.
Sloss Furnaces.Stephen Reeves/Shutterstock

During the industrial boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Birmingham, Alabama, was famous for its nearby deposits of iron ore, limestone, and coal used to make steel, earning it the nickname "magic city."

The Sloss Furnaces, now a historic landmark, is where much of that steel was produced. But James "Slag" Wormwood, the foreman in charge of over 100 workers, reportedly made his employees work in dangerous conditions, resulting in 47 of them dying on the job. According to the Travel Channel, one worker's shirt got caught on a flywheel powering a generator, and he was dragged into the gears of the machine.

The tale goes that the workers rebelled and threw Slag into one of the furnaces. Along with the screams of past workers, it's rumored that Slag now haunts the second floor of the complex and can still be heard tormenting his employees.

Patients who died in this West Virginia facility's cramped halls reportedly haunt the building to this day.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from the outside.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.Malachi Jacobs/Shutterstock

When the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, opened its doors in 1864, it was only supposed to house 250 patients. But by the 1950s there were 2,400 patients — almost 10 times its limit — leading to severely inhumane and overcrowded living conditions, according to the museum now operating there. Of the thousands of patients committed to the facility, hundreds died. Now a historic landmark, visitors can take ghost tours of the building to try and see some of its former residents, who reportedly still haunt the building.

A murder mystery is rumored to haunt this Mississippi restaurant.

People line up outside king's tavern in Mississippi.
King's Tavern.Google Maps

King's Tavern, one of the oldest buildings in Mississippi, has a dark, haunted past.

In the 1930s, the remains of three human skeletons — two men and one woman — along with a jeweled dagger were removed from the wall behind the restaurant's fireplace. The remains were never identified but rumor has it that the remains of the woman belonged to Madeline, the mistress of the restaurant's first owner, Richard King, who opened the spot in 1789. Some people believe Madeline is responsible for some of the building's paranormal activities, which include beds feeling warm and reflections appearing in mirrors.

The outlaw Wiley Harpe and a crying baby he shot and killed also reportedly haunt the hotel. Some visitors have reported hearing a crying child in the upper level of the tavern when no one was upstairs.

The infamous outlaw Jesse James is said to haunt the St. James Hotel in Selma, Alabama.

An exterior photo of the St. James Hotel in Selma, Alabama.
St. James Hotel.John Coletti/Getty Images

Built in 1837, the St. James Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Alabama. During the Civil War, soldiers used the St. James as an outpost to discuss strategy. Following the war, the hotel's new owner, Benjamin Sterling Tower, allowed Jesse James and his gang of outlaws to stay at the hotel one night. According to al.com, guests have reported seeing apparitions of the outlaw, his girlfriend Lucinda, and a man dressed in attire from the 1800s in rooms 214, 314, and 315.

Over the years the St. James has fallen into disrepair, forcing its owners to shutter its doors. But earlier this year, the Alabama News reported a Hilton brand hospitality company purchased the building and plans on restoring and reopening it this year. Who knows if Jesse James will still haunt the premises when construction finishes.

A ghost supposedly haunts the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida.

The beam from the St. Augustine Lighthouse at night.
St. Augustine Lighthouse.Smithlandia Media/Getty Images

The historic St. Augustine Lighthouse illuminates the waters of the nation's oldest port. But the picturesque structure is also known for its frequent paranormal activity. It is rumored that ever since light keeper Joseph Andreu fell off his scaffolding while painting the tower in 1859, visitors have reported seeing his ghost on the premises, according to the St. Augustine Record.

But that's not all. When the lighthouse was being built in 1871, Hezekiah Pittee, the superintendent of lighthouse construction, moved to St. Augustine and lived on-site with his family. Pittee's three daughters frequently played in a railway cart used to transport materials from the shipping docks to the lighthouse. One day in 1873, the girls were riding in the cart but fell off the dock and drowned. According to the museum, visitors say they hear the sounds of children playing around the lighthouse to this day.

Cahawba, Alabama, is the state's most famous ghost town.

The Barker House, a grand building, in Cahaba, Alabama.
The Barker House in Cahawba, Alabama.Low Flite/Shutterstock

For a short time (1820-1826), the town of Cahawba, Alabama, was a thriving riverside antebellum town that served as the state's first capital. But after the Civil War and a flood in 1865 both ravaged the town's infrastructure, Cahawba quickly became a ghost town. Today, the town is a popular jaunt for ghost hunters and supernatural enthusiasts. Numerous abandoned buildings, like the Barker house — which acted as quarters for slaves at the Kirkpatrick Mansion — are reportedly haunted by apparitions of their former inhabitants. A trail in town leads to a slave burial ground where bodies were buried between 1819 and 1957.

Perhaps the town's most famous paranormal story is that of Pegues' ghost. According to the town's website, one night in 1862 while wandering through a patch of trees behind Colonel C. C. Pegues' home, a young couple found an orb of energy, believed to be Pegues' ghost. It quickly floated away into the woods, beckoning for the couple to chase it. After finally catching up, the young man reached out to touch the ghostly ball, and it disappeared.

A portal to the other side reportedly exists at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka, Arkansas.

Crescent Springs Hotel peeks out between trees in Eureka, Arkansas.
The Crescent Hotel in Eureka, Arkansas.Bonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock

Tucked into the Ozark Mountains, the Crescent Hotel dubs itself "America's most haunted hotel." Rumor has it that when Norman Baker purchased the hotel in 1937, the businessman pretended to be a doctor and turned the hotel into a hospital for cancer treatments. For two years he offered fraudulent "miracle cures" until he was arrested for mail fraud. The patients who died at Baker's hands reportedly still occupy the building's basement, which Baker turned into a morgue during his time as owner.

That's not all. In the late 1990s, two certified mediums were hired to "read the hotel." One of the mediums, Carroll Heath, told hotel staff that he discovered a portal to the "other side" right above the former morgue in the basement. The medium said the portal was for people of the same "frequency" to communicate with the otherworldly.

The Marshall House in Savannah, Georgia, served as a hotel during the Civil War and through two yellow fever epidemics.

The outside of Marshall House in Savannah, Georgia, has green shutters and weathered brick.
The Marshall House in Savannah, Georgia.Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

Savannah is Georgia's oldest city, but it's also frequently named America's most haunted cityThe Marshall House — where numerous people died during its stints as a Union hospital during the final months of the Civil War, and a hospital during two yellow fever epidemics in the mid-1800s — is central to the city's spiritual folklore.

Guests who have stayed at The Marshall House have reported a variety of paranormal activity including seeing ghosts in its hallways and foyers, hearing children running at night, and having faucets turn on by themselves, according to its website.

The apparition of a woman struck by lightning reportedly still haunts the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina, lit up at night.
The Dock Street Theatre.traveler1116/Getty Images

At the Dock Street Theatre, located in Charleston's historic French Quarter neighborhood, guests have reported seeing ghosts roaming inside the building and on its stage. But the theatre is best known for two notorious resident spirits.

According to Ghost City Tours, the more famous of the two is Nettie Dickerson, a woman who was struck dead by lightning on the theater's second story balcony. It's rumored that she still haunts the theatre today, wearing the same red gown she wore on the night of her death. The other spectre is Junius Booth, the father of President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Although Booth's theater troupe performed at the building and he once tried to kill the theatre's manager, he didn't die at the theatre, so it is unknown why his spirit still reportedly haunts the building.

Hooded monks and faces in the walls are among the spirits reportedly spotted at the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas.

The San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, lit up at night.
San Fernando Cathedral.CrackerClips Stock Media/Shutterstock

The San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest church in Texas, is known for its colorful light projections explaining the history of the city. But the gothic-style church is also known for its paranormal activity.

Visitors have reported seeing faces in the walls on the backside of the church and the ghost of a white stallion galloping in front of the building. Other notable otherworldly guests include a mysterious man dressed in all black and hooded monks, who are the most commonly reported ghosts by visitors. If the ghosts aren't spooky enough for you, in 1936 workers remodeling the church unearthed a box of charred bones and tattered uniforms, believed to belong to soldiers fighting to defend the Alamo, according to Ghost City Tours. The remains are housed within the cathedral, perhaps contributing to some of its paranormal activity.

A voodoo queen is buried at the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans.

Grave sites at the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
The St. Louis Cemetery No.1 in New Orleans.Scott A. Burns/Shutterstock

Known as a "City of the Dead" due to its rows of above-ground graves, the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is New Orleans' oldest and most haunted burial ground. Numerous fallen soldiers and victims of the yellow fever are rumored to haunt the cemetery.

Perhaps the most famous ghost to call the cemetery home is the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Though she's buried in the cemetery, people have reportedly spotted her ghost all throughout the French Quarter, including in front of her old home at 1022 St. Anne Street. Legend has it that those who leave three Xs marked on the Voodoo Queen's grave are granted a wish and must return to her grave with a gift in exchange, though this is frowned upon.

According to the Associated Press, due to a rise in vandalism, the cemetery closed to the public in 2015, but visitors can still tour via authorized tour guides.

Chloe the ghost girl reportedly haunts Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, at night.
Myrtles Plantation.Roberto Michel/Shutterstock

To the uninitiated, Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, looks like any other 18th-century plantation. But look past its storybook Spanish moss trees and the fountain in the center of its brick patio and you'll find a disturbing paranormal past.

The plantation's most famous ghost is named Chloe, a former slave-turned-mistress by the plantation's Master Woodruff. The story goes that one day Mrs. Woodruff caught Chloe eavesdropping on her master and chopped her ear off as punishment, according to the New York Times. In an act of revenge, Chloe poisoned a birthday cake and killed Mrs. Woodruff and two of her three children. Today, visitors still spot Chloe haunting the plantation, and some have even captured her in their pictures.

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