Investigators of paranormal activity believe hauntings occur when a place has experienced violence, trauma, or intense emotion. In residual hauntings, fragments of an event are imprinted on the psychic space of a place. Other hauntings come from restless spirits who remain trapped near the place where they died. Most hauntings involve noises (footsteps, thumps, whisperings, animal sounds), smells, cold breezes, feelings of being touched, or articles being moved. In some cases, witnesses observe ghostly re-enactments of past events.
The site of a bloody Civil War battle during which 50,000 soldiers died in three days in July, 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania has certainly experienced violence and intense emotion. Visitors report hearing gunfire, cannons, screams, drums, music, and horses. Some smell peppermint (used by women of the day to combat the odor of rotting corpses). Others see apparitions of wounded soldiers. One group of foreign tourists witnessed what they thought was the re-enactment of a battle at the summit of Little Round Top, only to learn that no such activity had taken place that day. Haunted Gettysburg buildings include Rose Farm, Pennsylvania Hall, and Hummelbaugh House – where, it is said, Brigadier General William Barksdale of the Confederate army and his loyal hunting dog died.
The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California, is a reconditioned ocean liner that served as a troop ship during World War II. Sitting in dry dock since 1967, it is considered by some to be the most haunted hotel in America. Visitors report sensing or seeing the ghost of a young crewman named John Pedder, who was crushed to death by watertight door number 13 in 1966. Other apparitions include a woman in a white evening gown, a gentleman in a 1930’s suit, and two women in 1930’s swimsuits who supposedly drowned in the now-drained first class swimming pool. A little girl named Jackie, who may have drowned in the second class swimming pool, was recorded on electronic voice phenomena (EVP) by paranormal investigators.
Author Stephen King was inspired to write his novel The Shining during his stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1974. The luxurious hotel opened in 1909 and had developed a reputation for being haunted by the 1970’s. Lord Dunraven, the Irish earl who had sold the land on which the hotel was built, is said to haunt room 407. Lights go on and off, and visitors report seeing the man’s ghost. Ghosts of children run and play in the fourth floor hallway. The man who built the hotel, one F. O. Stanley, has appeared to guests in the lobby, bar, and billiard room. A manor house, carriage house, and concert hall on the property have also experienced paranormal activity.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium opened in 1926 in Louisville, Kentucky, to treat victims of tuberculosis. Tens of thousands of patients died there before the sanatorium closed in 1961. The building sat abandoned for years, until new owners renovated it and opened it to the public. Visitors have reported food smells coming from the kitchen, slamming doors, screams, shapes passing in and out of doorways, the ghosts of children, a man in a white coat, and an old woman with her wrists in chains screaming, “Help me, somebody save me!” Investigators including Troy Taylor of the American Ghost Society have recorded sudden changes of temperature, unusual fluctuations in EMF meter readings, and other paranormal activity.
These and many other haunted places offer visits or tours, so you can go ahead and experience them for yourself – if you dare!