America has a rich history with humble beginnings — and a few dark secrets in its past. Not everyone believes in the ghost stories that shape their communities, but that doesn't mean that the ghosts can't tell a few tales of their own. From the East Coast to the West, some states stand out as harboring an unusual amount of paranormal activity. Did your home state get on the list? Find out which are the most haunted and where you have the best chances of witnessing supernatural phenomena.
The Deep South is home to some of the oldest communities in America and the earliest of Louisiana Bayou legends. Former plantations that once thrived along the Mississippi River are reminders of the human cost of that success. Stories claim that the souls of slaves still haunt the area. In New Orleans, the LaLaurie Mansion has a particularly gruesome history courtesy of the home's original owner. Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie secretly tortured and dismembered slaves in the three-story house. The townspeople ran her out of town after learning of her violent tendencies. Still, that hasn't stopped the paranormal activity that continues to this day.
The state of Missouri has long been a hub for commerce and transportation. It also has its share of shady history, as is the case with the Odd Fellows Complex in Liberty. Now known as the Belvoir Winery, the building has housed an orphanage, a hospital, a senior home, and an insane asylum. It also boarded prisoners of war during World War II. Stories of hauntings at the site are so prolific it's become a hotspot for paranormal investigations. Equally as eerie is the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs. It's often regarded as the most haunted hotel in Missouri; you can spend the night to experience it for yourself.
The quiet town of Salem became infamous for its witch trials during the spring of 1692. A group of young girls accused many townspeople of practicing witchcraft, and the unfortunate victims met death shortly after. Some of their souls continue to inhabit the town. A visit to Fall River will take you to Lizzie Borden's house, where the famous murderess ended her parents' lives. Take the tour and, if you're brave enough, spend the night in the haunted room where it happened.
When it comes to New York cemeteries, the deceased aren't always resting in peace. Manhattan's St. Paul's Chapel first opened in 1766, but the earliest gravestones date back to 1704. Visitors claim to see the spirit of late actor George Frederick Cooke wandering the cemetery headless. He sold his head to science to pay debts, and legend has it that his ghost searches for it. If you're in the Washington Heights district, stop by the Morris-Jumel Mansion for a history lesson and a good scare. The Revolutionary War-era building is a favorite destination for ghost hunters.
The most haunted site in Pennsylvania is arguably Gettysburg, where the Civil War's deadliest battle saw thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers meet tragic ends. Civil War reenactors report strange encounters around the battlefield. An engine house constructed in the late 1990s is likely to have disturbed the graves of dead Confederates, which also may contribute to the constant paranormal activity. Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is infamous for its inhumane treatment of prisoners dating back to 1829. The facility closed its doors for good in 1971, and explorers have experienced strange phenomena within its walls since.
The mining town of Jerome, Arizona, thrived until the 1950s when it became a ghost town. Fewer than 100 residents remained to preserve what was left but little did they know, the ghosts decided that they would stay, too. The Jerome Grand Hotel is the haunted city's most haunted site. Formerly the United Verde Hospital, hotel guests consistently report sightings and strange phenomena around the property. Ghost hunters should inquire about Room 32, the room with the most paranormal activity in the hotel.
Cincinnati's historic neighborhood Sedamsville plays host to one of Ohio's most terrifying mysteries. The Sedamsville Rectory, adjacent to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, became notorious for stories of strange phenomena during a renovation. In addition to disembodied voices, moving objects, and apparitions, a few paranormal researchers report scratches on their bodies. The Licking County Jail in Newark is another place known for physical experiences. Visitors describe electronics behaving strangely, furniture and doors moving independently, and a mysterious tugging on their clothing. Beware the dungeon: the few daring souls who enter almost always leave in a rush, never to return.
Reports of supernatural phenomena in Jefferson, Texas, date back at least 100 years. The Jefferson Hotel in Texas may be one of the most haunted hotels in the country. The otherworldly tenants here like to tease hotel guests, throwing objects at them or locking them inside their rooms. The spirits at the De Soto Hotel in El Paso are a bit rougher at this paranormal hot spot. Ghost hunters describe meeting a friendly entity in the hallways, while visitors to the basement experience attacks on occasions. A few depart with scratches and bite marks suddenly appearing on their bodies.
Las Vegas may be a glitzy getaway, but it's also one of Nevada's most haunted places. A fire at the old MGM Grand claimed 87 lives in 1980. The hotel changed hands, and the new Bally's resort on its site is a hub of strange phenomena. If you want to get out of Vegas, head for Yellowjacket Mine in Silver City. A fire killed dozens of miners in 1869, and the ghosts of 11 reportedly stayed behind.
California is a prime destination for many reasons, including its wealth of haunted houses and paranormal activity. Alcatraz Island and the Winchester Mystery House are two of America's most famous and most haunted historic sites. The Queen Mary in Long Beach hosts haunted tours to give guests a full paranormal experience. Los Angeles is America's most haunted city, according to some paranormal experts. From the Manson and Wonderland murders to the case of the Black Dahlia, the City of Angels has a dark side that sometimes makes itself known.