Notes on Kentucky Hauntings

In my research for this blog I have amassed a tremendous amount of information in the form of books, as well as in periodical articles and blog entries. Yet, so much of this information hasn’t been utilized. When I write blog entries, I usually pour a great deal of research into my subject or subjects, which of course takes time. These entries, however, have been written in a “fast and furious” style and utilize just one or two sources. I expect that these may be used and expanded in the future. Please enjoy this “fast and furious” tour of Kentucky haunts!

For other Kentucky hauntings, see my Kentucky Directory.

Auburn

Shaker Museum at South Union
850 Shaker Museum Road

Shaker Museum at South Union Kentucky
The main dwelling at the Shaker Museum at South Union, 1969. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by E. R. Pearson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This museum and its supporting organization preserve the historic Shaker village of South Union. The village was established by the Shaker religious sect in 1807 and was occupied until 1922. In the mid-1980s, a husband, wife, and their 6-year-old son visited the village and spent part of their day exploring the many buildings. In one particular structure, the husband and his son ventured upstairs and spied a strange opening in the wall. When they peered through it, they saw evidence of damage from a fire. A moment later, the pair felt something come through the opening and surround them with a strange energy that unnerved them.

Sources

  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Shaker Museum at South Union. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 November 2020.

Barbourville

Pfeiffer Hall
Campus of Union College

Room 245 in this campus residence hall is home to a legend. In 1963, a student named James Garner attempted to close his dorm room window when he accidentally slipped out and died in the fall. Consequently, students to open the window of this room will have it slammed shut by the spirit.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Speed Hall
Campus of Union College

This building, built just after the turn of the 20th century, currently houses the college’s Office of Financial Aid. The apparition of a woman has been seen in this building and staff has experienced doors opening and closing by themselves. The identity of the woman is unknown.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Warfield Cemetery
KY 459

Legend holds that visitors to this cemetery are sometimes plagued by a spirit that follows them around and sometimes even following them home.

Sources

Bardstown

Chapeze House
107 East Stephen Foster Avenue

This large brick home was built in 1787 for Dr. Henri Chapeze, a French surgeon who arrived in this country with the Marquis de Lafayette. Local legend tells of Dr. Chapeze arriving home one day to find his wife in the arms of another man. His wife lost face and lived in shame while her cuckolded husband left town to settle in Ohio and start a new life. The house has been known for years to be haunted with the spirits of a young boy, possibly Chapeze’s son Benjamin, to whom he left this home, and a woman. The woman, who has been seen peering from the windows is sometimes seen without a face. Is this the visage of Chapeze’s unfaithful wife who lost face when her philandering was discovered?

Sources

  • Westmoreland-Doherty, Lisa. Kentucky Spirits Undistilled. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast
111 West Stephen Foster Avenue

Jailer's Inn Bardstown Kentucky
Jailer’s Inn, 2009, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the old Nelson County Jail, which was in use from 1797 to 1987, the Jailer’s Inn allows guests to sleep in a space where criminals once served their sentences. These paying guests have encountered spirits of these criminals in the form of apparitions, and spectral sounds.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park
501 East Stephen Foster Avenue

Federal Hill My Old Kentucky Home Bardstown Kentucky
Federal Hill, 2015, by Firthpond1700. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This state park preserves Federal Hill, the mansion of Senator John Rowan, which inspired the song “My Old Kentucky Home,” by Stephen Foster, a relative of Rowan’s. Spirits may roam both the house and the Rowan Family Cemetery nearby. John Rowan left instructions that following his death no memorial was to be erected over his grave. When family insisted on erecting a monument, his ghost has been blamed for toppling it.

Sources

  • Floyd, Jacob and Jenny. Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions. Seventh Star Press, 2017.
  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Benham

Benham Schoolhouse Inn
100 Central Avenue

In 1926 the Wisconsin Steel Company, which had founded the small town of Benham as a coal camp, built an all-grades school. That school closed in 1992 and was converted into use as an inn. Guests have since reported run-ins with the spirits of former students.

Sources

Berea

Boone Tavern
100 Main Street North

Boone Tavern Berea Kentucky
Boone Tavern, 2009, by Parkerdr. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A restaurant, hotel, and guesthouse affiliated with Berea College, Boone Tavern was built in 1909. A paranormal investigation in 2012 produced evidence of “an abundance of spirits.” Investigator Patti Star described the tavern to the Richmond Register as being like a “train station with spirits coming and going.”

Sources

  • Boone Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 November 2020.
  • Robinson, Bill. “Ghost hunters detect spirits at Boone Tavern.” Richmond Register. 2 April 2012.

Campbellsville

Hiestand House—Taylor County Museum
1075 Campbellsville Bypass

This small stone house is one of only 12 German stone houses standing in the state. According to Dennis William Hauck’s Haunted Places: The National Directory, residents of the home have experienced paranormal activity for years. The house now houses a county museum.

Sources

Clermont

Jim Beam American Stillhouse
526 Happy Hollow Road

Jim Beam is one of the largest producers of Kentucky bourbon producing more than a half million barrels a year. But is this famous distillery producing spirits beyond bourbon? It seems that the apparition of a woman has been seen in the old T. Jeremiah Beam House and other spirits have been encountered throughout the distillery and its grounds.

Sources

Cynthiana

Rohs Opera House
122 East Pike Street

This 1871 opera house is possibly occupied by a handful of spirits including children and a woman dubbed, “The Lady of the Opera House.” These spirits manifest themselves in a variety of ways including the children playing with people’s hair, strange noises, and apparitions.

Sources

  • Dailey, Bonnie. “The haunting of Rohs Opera House.” 8 August 2013.

Danville

Breckinridge Hall
Campus of Centre College

The spirit of a young man named Peter continues to haunt this dormitory. During a renovation in the 1990s several people saw his face on the wall of a particular dorm room. When they contacted painters to cover up the image, they could not find it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011.

Sutcliffe Hall
Campus of Centre College

A staff member working in this building reported “Sometimes I’d be in the building alone and would hear basketballs bouncing in Bowman Gym. I would go right to the gym door and look in, and there was never anyone in the gym playing basketball. But I could definitely hear the ball bounce.” The staff member also reported that during renovations workers would find their tools moved or missing.

Sources

  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011. 

Elsmere

Allendale Train Tunnel
Near East Covered Bridge Drive

This mis-named site is not an actual train tunnel, but rather a culvert that carries Bullock Pen Creek underneath a set of railroad tracks. Metal hooks protrude from above both ends of the culvert from which stems the legend that a man once hung himself here and he continues to haunt the site. However, there is no documentary to prove that the suicide ever happened.

Sources

Erlanger

Narrows Road

There are reports that drivers along this stretch of road a night have been pulled over by a police officer in an old-fashioned police car. As the officer approaches the car he vanishes, much to the surprise of the driver.

Sources

  • “Residents say Northern Kentucky Road is haunted.” 29 August 2016.

Frankfort

Buffalo Trace Distillery
113 Great Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Distillery Frankfort Kentucky
Interior of one of storage houses at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, 2018, by Jaimin Trivedi. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Quite possibly the oldest distillery in the United States, the Buffalo Trace Distillery includes the oldest building in the county, Riverside House. Reports and an investigation by Patti Star reveal strange activity in Stony Point Mansion, formerly the home of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, a former president of the company. Riverside House, which is occupied by the distillery gift shop, is home to several spirits as well. In the storage space above the gift shop, a psychic detected the spirits of four men who continue to work in the hot, confined space.

Sources

Glenns Creek Distilling
3501 McCracken Pike

Formerly the Old Crow Distillery, Glenns Creek Distilling may be the habitation of spirits. The distillery’s owner, David Meier, told Roadtrippers that he frequently hears disembodied footsteps throughout the old buildings.

Sources

Liberty Hall
218 Wilkinson Street

Liberty Hall Frankfort Kentucky
Liberty Hall, 2018, by Christopher L. Riley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After an elderly aunt, Mrs. Margaret Varick, died following an arduous trip to Frankfort to console her niece, her spirit has remained in this National Historic Landmark. This 1796 home was built by James Wilkinson, founder of the city of Frankfort, and the home remained in the family for many years before opening as a house museum. Mrs. Varick’s spirit is said to help out in maintaining the house and her spirit may have been joined in her ethereal romps by a Spanish opera star who also died in the house during a visit in 1805.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.

Harrodsburg

Harrodsburg Spring – Young Park
502 Linden Avenue

On the site of this park once stood the Harrodsburg Spring Hotel, which attracted visitors to take advantage of the spring. Early in the 19th century a young lady checked into the hotel alone. That evening, she appeared in the hotel’s ballroom where she danced all evening with a number of young men. As she danced with one eager suitor later in the evening, she collapsed and died. Since it was discovered that the young woman checked in under an assumed name, her identity remained a mystery. She was buried on the hotel property under a stone bearing the words, “Hallowed and hushed be the place of the dead. Step softly. Bow head.” Though the hotel is long gone, the young woman’s dancing apparition still appears in the park.

Sources

Hazard

Crawford Mountain Road

Author R. J. Stacy has had many experiences as he’s lived throughout the southeastern portion of the Commonwealth that he’s included them in his 2013 book, Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. In the mid-1990s, Stacy and his wife were driving this twisted mountain road one evening when they watched a bluish-white orb of light float slowly over their car and vanish in the woods on the other side of the road. Stacy reports that this road has seen a fair number of accidents, though he posits that one particular may be correlated with the orb. This accident, which occurred in August of 1975, was a hit and run with the driver at fault fled into the mountain forest. The driver was not found until several months later when he was discovered to have plunged off a cliff after fleeing the scene.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Jackson

Quicksand Road

Running south out of Jackson, the county seat of Breathitt County, this two-lane rural road was the scene of an accident in 2010 when a young man was struck and killed as he walked the thoroughfare in the early morning. Several motorists driving along this road have nearly hit a young man wearing a hoodie with the hood up and covering his face. When the driver stops to check on the pedestrian, they find no one in the road.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lawrenceburg

Anderson Hotel
116 South Main Street

When a haunted attraction was opened inside the old Anderson Hotel in downtown Lawrenceburg in 2018, 50 of the roughly 400 people who entered took off after being frightened by the very real spooks that inhabit the building. Previously, the hotel had been abandoned for nearly 30 years. A few years ago, the owner of a restaurant that operated on the first floor of the hotel building called in a paranormal investigator to check out the odd sounds she frequently heard coming from the abandoned hotel above. As he investigated, he discovered that a number of tragic deaths, including several suicides, had left a remarkable amount of paranormal activity inside the empty building.

Sources

  • Carlson, Ben. “Dozens flee during debut of Lawrenceburg haunted house.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 3 October 2018.
  • “Closed hotel still has ‘guests.’” 26 October 2015.

Lebanon

St. Ivo Cemetery
St. Ivo Road

Named for St. Ivo of Kermartin, a 13th century French saint who is also the patron of abandoned children, this rural cemetery is reported to be the home to many children’s spirits. It is said that visitors often have cameras and other electrical devices malfunction while inside the cemetery.

Sources

Leslie County

Cutshin Road (KY 699)

For much of its route through rural Leslie County, two-lane Cutshin Road parallels Cutshin Creek. As author R. J. Stacy and his stepdaughter drove this road at dusk the pair watched a “transparent black mass floating across the road” in the headlights. This section of road has been the scene of many tragedies over the years, perhaps one of these has contributed to the shadowy apparition?

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lexington

Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate
120 Sycamore Road

Ashland The Henry Clay Estate Lexington
Ashland, 2007, by Analogue Kid. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the most prominent politicians in the early 19th century, Henry Clay represented the state in both houses of Congress, served as Speaker of the House, and was appointed as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. Clay created this large plantation just outside Lexington starting around 1806. Reports note that Clay’s presence has been noted inside the large home.

Sources

  • Ashland (Henry Clay estate). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.
  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Drive

Loudoun House Lexington Kentucky
Loudoun House, 1940, by Lester Jones for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This large, Gothic-revival private residence was constructed in 1851 and has been home to the Lexington Art League for many years. Stories of its haunting include the apparition of a woman in a Victorian gown and the sounds of merriment that are sometimes heard in the empty house.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

London

Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park
998 Levi Jackson Mill Road

Formerly a state park, this city park offers history, recreation, and several ghostly children that run around. During an investigation in 2011, several investigators were locked out of a building when they left to get more equipment and a rocking chair was seen to rock on command with no one sitting in it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Louisville

3rd Turn Brewing
10408 Watterson Trail

This brewery occupies a building that was constructed in 1878 as a church in the Jeffersontown neighborhood of Louisville. According to one of the co-owners, the building had served as a Moose Lodge for some 60 previous. When the brewery moved in, a note was found instructing the little girl to behave herself and the new owners soon realized that they shared the old church with the spirits of both a little girl and a man. Co-Owner Ben Shinkle told Louisville Magazine that he once had an encounter with the man while getting ready to open on a Sunday afternoon. “I saw a guy standing there, but I was running downstairs and said, ‘Hang on. I’ll be right with you.’ I popped back up and nobody was there. And all the doors were locked.”

Sources

Seelbach Hilton Hotel
500 South 4th Street

Opening in 1905 after nearly two years of construction, the Seelbach Hotel soon became one of the most sought out hotels in downtown Louisville. For much of the 20th century it remained a glittering landmark, even inspiring F. Scott Fitzgerald as he wrote The Great Gatsby, though financial problems led to its closure in 1975. It was abandoned for only three years before a local actor bought it and began a restoration. Since reopening in 1982, it has continued to offer top notch service.

Seelbach Hotel Louisville Kentucky
Postcard of the Seelbach Hotel, 1905, by the Detroit Publishing Company.

An incident in the 1920s has led to the hotel being haunted by a “Lady in Blue” who is thought to be the spirit of Patricia Wilson. She and her husband checked in to the hotel and the couple arrived separately. Mrs. Wilson arrived, but her husband did not show up as he was killed in a car accident on the way. The unfortunate wife was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft a short time later and her spirit has continued to haunt the building for decades.

Sources

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
4400 Paralee Lane

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Louisville Kentucky
Backside of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, 2018, by Royasfoto73. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the rise of paranormal shows on television, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has established itself as one of America’s preeminent ghost-trekking locales. Construction began on this massive facility in 1911 to care for tuberculosis patients in a time before adequate treatments were available. The facility expanded and grew until streptomycin was introduced as a treatment leading to a decline in the number of TB patients. The facility closed in 1962 to reopen as a nursing home later that year. The nursing home closed in 1981 and the building has sat empty. Vandalism and the elements have caused some deterioration of the building since that time. Legends have surfaced that may explain the huge amounts of paranormal activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 January 2010.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
1 Mammoth Cave Parkway

Mammoth Cave Kentucky
Tourists explore the interior of Mammoth Cave, 2007, by Daniel Schwen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The largest cave system in the world at nearly 400 miles, the name does not refer to its linear size but rather the huge rooms and passages that form the cave’s labyrinth. Since its discovery by Native Americans, the cave has been a source of medicine and saltpeter, shelter for various people including tuberculosis patients, a tourist attraction, and a burial chamber. It’s little surprise that numerous odd experiences have been reported, though, it should be noted that the cave’s unusual environment may alter one’s senses. Nevertheless, reports from the cave include apparitions in old fashioned clothing including the spirit of Stephen Bishop, an enslaved man who was one of the earliest guides and explorers of the cave.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Olson, Colleen O’Connor and Charles Hanion. Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave. Dayton, OH: Cave Books, 2002.
  • Taylor, Troy. Down in the Darkness: The Shadowy History of America’s Haunted Mines, Tunnels, and Caverns. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2003.

Marion

Baker Hollow Road Cemetery
Baker Hollow Road

This country road outside Marion in rural Crittenden County along the Ohio River is supposed to be the site of much strangeness, especially at night. This cemetery, next to Baker Church, is actually two separate cemeteries located near the church building. People driving down Baker Hollow Road, running beside the church, have encountered a demonic dog in the road. Others have heard disembodied voices, and even apparitions hanging from the trees.

Sources

Maysville

Phillips’ Folly
227 Sutton Street

Phillips' Folly Maysville Kentucky
Phillips’ Folly, 2010, by Greg Hume. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William B. Sutton built his grand home over the course of six years between 1825 and 1831. Evidence in the home’s basement may attest to its use as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It seems that Mr. Phillips may continue to be in residence here accompanied by his loyal dog. An investigation here in 2011 by the team from the show Ghost Adventures produced evidence that there are spirits here.

Sources

  • Maynard, Misty. “Ghost Adventures episode filmed in Maysville airs today.” Maysville Ledger-Independent. 12 May 2011.
  • Phillips’ Folly. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.

Newport

Monmouth Street Antique Gallery
822 Monmouth Street

This antique store’s former name, Sin City Antique Gallery, pays homage to Newport’s rowdier days when members of the Cleveland Syndicate, operated by a group of gangsters, ran casinos and carried on illegal operations throughout the city. Housed in a building that once held a Kresge’s Five & Dime and possibly may have been used for more illicit activities, the owners of the antique shop have had multiple experiences with spirits within the building. Activity here includes disembodied footsteps and voices, alarms being tripped when no one is around, and items moving on their own accord. A paranormal investigator who has investigated this location described it as “one of the most active and haunted locations I’ve been to.”

Sources

Owensboro

Campbell Club
517 Frederica Street

Campbell Club Owensboro Kentucky
Campbell Club, 2013, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the 1880 French Empire Gillem House, this private dining club closed in 2017 after operating here since 1959. One of the recent chefs noticed a woman sitting in the restaurant staring out the window. When he asked about her, no one knew anything but when one of the staff members approached her, they found no one there.

Sources

The Miller House
301 East 5th Street

The Miller House is a 1905 home that has been transformed into a restaurant. The home is also the residence of several spirits including a little girl who plays with a ball.

Sources

Theatre Workshop of Owensboro (TWO)
407 West 5th Street

Described as “one of the most haunted sites in Western Kentucky,” Owensboro’s Theatre Workshop was originally Trinity Episcopal Church, now Old Trinity Centre. TWO has occupied this 1875 building since 1973 and many of its staff have had encounters with some of the resident spirits here. Spirits include a young lady who is supposed to have hung herself in the bell tower, as well as a priest who, after stumbling upon her body, killed himself in the basement.

Sources

Paducah

C. C. Cohen Building
103 Market House Square

For the past several decades, occupants of this building have experienced all sorts of paranormal activity. This commercial building, built in 1850, has housed a number of businesses throughout its existence, most recently several restaurants have occupied the space. The building is named for the Cohen family who purchased the building around 1900. It is perhaps spirits of members of this family who continue to haunt the building today.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Perryville

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road

The quiet stillness of rural Perryville was interrupted in October of 1862. On the 8th, Confederate forces fought Union forces in their attempt to seize control of the whole of the state. Their defeat on these farm fields led General Braxton Bragg to pull his forces all the way back to Tennessee following the bloody battle.

Perryville Battlefield Kentucky
Perryville Battlefield, 2006, by Hal Jesperson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Not only did the Confederates leave their hopes of controlling Kentucky on the battlefield, but they left spiritual scars. “Many say vivid echoes of the past remain, usually after the sun goes down, in the form of booming cannons, soldiers’ voices, flickering lanterns, phantom horses, and other ghostly occurrences.”

Sources

Windsor, Pam. “Ghost soldiers.” Kentucky Living. October 2014.

Pikeville

Pikeville Cemetery
Cemetery Road

The grave of Octavia Hatcher is marked by a large monument topped with a statue of the deceased. Hatcher passed away in 1891 after being ill for some time and falling into a coma. A few days after burial, James Hatcher began to worry that his wife may not have been dead at all when she was buried. After exhuming her coffin, it was discovered that she was indeed alive when she was buried and had tried to claw her way out of her grave. A handful of rumors have since sprung up regarding the creepy monument including that the statue may turn its back on occasion. Others have heard the sound of “mewling” near the grave and have witnessed the apparition of Hatcher strolling through the cemetery.

Sources

  • Quackenbush, Jannette. West Virginia Ghost Stories, Legends, and Haunts. 21 Crows Dusk to Dawn Publishing, 2017.

Prospect

Sleepy Hollow Road

With a name coming from Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it’s no surprise that this road is haunted. Along this stretch some drivers have been followed by a mysterious car only to discover, when it passes, that it is a hearse. In some cases, the cars may have been run off the road by the strange vehicle. The road also includes a classic Cry Baby Bridge where the wails of a child are still heard. During the Satanic Panic of the 1970s and 80s, stories of devil worshippers also sprang up along this thoroughfare.

Sources

  • Gee, Dawne. “Kentuckiana’s Monster, Myths and Legends – Sleepy Hollow Road.” 31 July 2014.

Richmond

White Hall State Historic Site
500 White Hall Shrine Road

White Hall Mansion Richmond Kentucky
White Hall, 2009, by Jim Bowen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This huge Italianate mansion was the home of noted anti-slavery Kentucky legislator Cassius Clay. It remains the home of several ghosts including the possible spirit of the famed politician.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Scottsville

Allen County War Memorial Hospital
99 Hill View Drive

Opened in 1952, this low-rise community hospital provided locals with medical attention for many years. Until it’s closure in 1994, many lives were brought into and exited life here, with spiritual reminders being left behind. Kentucky’s great collector of ghostlore, William Lynnwood Montell, notes the experiences of a nurse here in his 2001 Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. This nurse spoke of hearing the crying of an infant coming from one of the rooms, though when she investigated, no one and nothing was found.

After the building was closed and abandoned, a local man leased the property for use as a haunted attraction, only to hear the same crying of an infant as they cleared the brush. As these stories began to emerge, many other locals began to speak of their strange experiences in the old hospital. The remains of the hospital have recently been renovated for use as apartments for low-income veterans.

Sources

  • Butler, Telia. “Throwback Thursday – The Haunted War Memorial Hospital.” 8 October 2020.
  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.

Stanford

Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site
6725 KY 300

This historic site preserves the estate and cemetery of the state’s first governor and has been investigated for paranormal activity.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Stanton

Nada Tunnel
Nada Tunnel Road (KY 77)

Heading into the dramatic Red River Gorge on Kentucky Route 77, the road narrows at the Nada Tunnel. This roughly carved tunnel is only wide enough to allow a single car to pass at a time and doesn’t have lighting inside.

Nada Tunnel Stanton Kentucky
Nada Tunnel, 2010, by Patrick Mueller. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Originally carved to allow trains to carry timber to Clay City, but over time it has come to carry automobile traffic. Legend says that one of the construction workers was killed here by a dynamite blast and that both a green orb seen near here and moaning heard inside the tunnel may be attributed to his restless spirit.

Sources

Shulhafer, Rachel. “Most people don’t know the story behind this hidden tunnel in Kentucky.” OnlyInYourState. 24 October 2016.

Van Lear

Van Lear Coal Miner’s Museum
78 Miller’s Creek Road

The community of Van Lear was incorporated as a coal mining town in 1912 and named for Van Lear Black, the director of the Consolidated Coal Company. The building housing the museum was constructed a year later as an office for the coal company, as well as housing the city hall and several businesses. The community is now unincorporated, and the building now serves as a museum. Along with artifacts detailing the area’s history the museum is in possession of a number of spirits.

Sources

  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Walton

Abner Gaines House
150 Old Nicholson Road

Abner Gaines House Walton Kentucky
Abner Gaines House, 2020, by Joekaush35. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The oldest house in the town, the Abner Gaines House has served as a tavern, inn, private residence, and stagecoach stop in its early history. With so many people passing through, the house has experienced more than its fair share of violence, death, and suicide have left spiritual legacies that have manifested themselves as apparitions and odd sounds. The house has since been restored and is operated as the Gaines Tavern History Center.

Sources

  • “Mystery Monday: Real Haunted House.” 10 November 2014.
  • “Strange and Supernatural Happenings at The Abner Gaines House.” Boone County Reporter. 26 July 1899.

West Point

Fort Duffield Park & Historic Site
Fort Duffield Road

In the fall of 1861, Fort Duffield was built overlooking West Point to protect the Union’s supply base there. During the following winter, many succumbed to an outbreak of measles which took the lives of 61 soldiers. Possibly as a result, spirits of those soldiers remain around the site of the fort.

Sources

  • Coulter, Amber. “Fort Duffield tours highlight paranormal accounts.” News-Enterprise. 25 October 2012.
  • O’Neill, Tom. “Ghost walk to be held at Fort Duffield.” Courier-Journal. 31 October 2012.

Wilder

Bobby Mackey’s Music World
44 Licking Pike

Perhaps one of the most infamously haunted places in the country, this country-western bar, owned by singer Bobby Mackey, has been plagued with paranormal activity for years. While some of the legends of this place have been called in to question, there is little doubt that the activity is high, and the spirits of both kinds are plentiful.

Sources

  • Mayes, Cynthia Bard. “Just how haunted is the Bluegrass State?” com. 31 October 2012.

The Terrors of US 29—A Ghost Tour

US 29 from Florida to Maryland

US 29 LaGrange Georgia
A sign for US 29 in downtown LaGrange, GA. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

In the early 20th century, American roads were a mess. In the late 19th century, the railroad was really the only means to travel throughout the country as roads weren’t well-maintained or even necessary except for local transportation. With the advent of the automobile however, “good roads” (as the movement was called) became increasingly crucial. Car owners began to band together to form auto clubs to create roads for themselves.

In the 1910s, these auto trail organizations and automobile clubs reached even further to create the Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental highways stretching from New York’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. With its popularity among travelers and local governments alike, the idea was expanded to the South with the creation of the Dixie Highway, which originally connected Chicago to Miami. Not only did this open up the South to tourism, but it brought industry as well.

While this new network of roads was increasingly useful, the Federal Government began investigating ways to expand and organize this network. State roadway standards were introduced in 1914 with the creation of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO). Their standards eventually evolved into a U.S. Highway system over the next decade. This system, now nearing a hundred years old, continues to expand to this day.

U.S. Route 29, a north-south highway, connects Pensacola, Florida to Ellicott City, Maryland. Along its route it passes through a number of major cities including Auburn, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Danville, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Fairfax, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and some of DC’s Maryland suburbs before its termination in Ellicott City, a suburb of Baltimore.

For me, US 29 has a very personal connection. On its route through my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, it passes many landmarks from my youth and is the road on which I currently live. It also figures into several stories that I now tell on my Strange LaGrange Tour. For a few years I have wanted to take a big road trip to visit many of the haunted places I have written about and considered that driving the length of US 29 would make an excellent trip. This article covers many of the haunted locales I plan to visit should the trip come to fruition.

This article is intended to provide links to places I have written about elsewhere on my blog along with several brief entries and other suggested locations that I may cover in the future. This article is not intended as a static article, but will change as I cover more locations along the route of US 29.

Sources

Pensacola, Florida

US 29 begins at the intersection of North Palafox Street and Cervantes Street (US 90 and 98), just north of downtown Pensacola. While there are no haunted places (that I know of) at that immediate intersection, less than a mile south is a cluster of locations. The Saenger Theatre (118 South Palafox) is located at the intersection of South Palafox and Intendencia Street. A block south of the theatre is a cluster of hauntings around Plaza Ferdinand VII (which is haunted) that includes the T.T. Wentworth Museum, the portion of Zaragoza Street between S. Palafox and S. Baylen Streets, the Quayside Art Gallery, Pensacola Children’s Museum, and Seville Quarter. Just east of the Plaza is Old Pensacola Village.

Saenger Theatre Pensacola FL
Saenger Theatre, 2010, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Old Christ Church
405 South Adams Street

Old Christ Church Pensacola FL
Old Christ Church, 2008. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Old Pensacola Village consists of a collection of historic and haunted buildings important to the early history of Pensacola including the 1832 Old Christ Church. The churchyard of the church once held the remains of three of its vicars, but during renovations, their graves were obscured. Some years ago, their remains were recovered during archaeological excavations. During the service marking their reburial, one young man witnessed the three vicars walking among the guests.

Sources

  • Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Vol. 3. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2007.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Moore, Joyce Elson. Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.

The entirety of US 29 in Florida in within Escambia County. After passing through the town of Century, the highway continues north into Escambia County, Alabama.

East Brewton, Alabama

After crossing over the creepily named Murder Creek in Brewton, US 29 runs through East Brewton which features a haunting at the old Fort Crawford Cemetery (Snowden Street).

Andalusia, Alabama

US 29 bypasses downtown Andalusia which features a haunted jail. The Old Covington County Jail can be viewed from North Cotton Street behind the courthouse.

Troy, Alabama

As the highway makes its way through downtown Troy, Alabama, it passes near the first of many major institutions of higher learning, Troy University. Two dormitories on the campus, Pace and Shackleford Halls, feature ghost stories.

Pace Hall Troy University Alabama
Pace Hall, 2017, by Kreeder13. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Union Springs, Alabama

Some years ago, I took a trip to Enterprise and drove US 29 past downtown Union Springs. I wasn’t expecting to pass through this small town, but the historic downtown intrigued me. Once I got to my destination, I looked up the town and wrote an article about my trip including the three major haunted places here: the Bullock County Courthouse and Pauly Jail (217 North Prairie Street) and the Josephine Arts Center (130 North Prairie Street).

Bullock County Courthouse Union Springs Alabama
Bullock County Courthouse, 2000. Photo by Calvin Beale for the US Department of Agriculture.

Tuskegee National Forest

North of the city of Tuskegee, US 29 heads through the Tuskegee National Forest, a site of high strangeness that includes tales of ghosts and Sasquatch sightings.

Auburn, Alabama

As US 29 approaches Auburn, it joins with I-85 to bypass the city, though there is a concentration of haunted places in and around downtown and Auburn University. Two locations at the university have been covered in this blog including the University Chapel and the Ralph Brown Draughon Library, both of which are located on College Street.

Draughon Library, Auburn University,
South College Street facade of the Draughon Library at Auburn University, 2017. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Auburn Train Depot
120 Mitcham Avenue

Railroad passengers entering and leaving Auburn have passed through one of the three buildings that have occupied this site since 1847. The first building was destroyed during the Civil War while its replacement was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike. The current building was erected in 1904 and served as a rail depot until 1970. The building was left empty in 2003 after being used as a real estate office for some 20 years. The building has served as a restaurant for a number of years and rumor has it that staff has experienced a number of strange doings.

There is a legend about the building recounted in Haunted Auburn and Opelika regarding a young woman who met a young man here. The couple began to meet regularly despite the insistence of the young woman’s father that she would marry another man. The young couple planned to elope, but the young woman’s brother thwarted the plans and killed his sister’s lover. She then threw herself in front of an arriving train. Her wail intertwined with the train’s whistle are supposedly still heard.

Sources

  • Cole, Ashtyne. “City plans to renovate historic train depot.” Auburn Plainsman. 12 June 2014.
  • Serafin, Faith, Michelle Smith and John Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
  • Woodham, Brian. “Restaurant coming to Auburn Train Depot.” Auburn Villager. 3 December 2014.

Opelika, Alabama

As US 29 (still concurrent with I-85) passes into Opelika, it crosses AL 169, which has had some activity.

Opelika Chamber of Commerce Alabama
Opelika Chamber of Commerce, 2016. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Downtown Opelika also features several haunted locales including the Chamber of Commerce (601 Avenue A) and the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge in Opelika Municipal Park.

Spring Villa Opelika Alabama
Spring Villa, 2010, by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The exit with US 280 provides access to Spring Villa (1474 Spring Villa Road), a most unusual plantation home with ghosts and other strangeness. At the next exit, US 29 becomes independent and heads north through Chambers County.

Valley, Alabama

Within the city of Valley, there are several villages clustered around mills including the community of Langdale. US 29 passes between the old Langdale Mill (rumored to be haunted) and Lafayette Lanier Elementary School and the adjoining Langdale Auditorium (6001 20th Avenue) which are known to be haunted.

Langdale Auditorium Valley Alabama
Langdale Auditorium stands next to Lafayette Lanier Elementary. Photo 2016, by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The city of Valley extends up to the state line with West Point, Georgia. Just before 29 crosses that line it passes through the community of Lanett with its Oakwood Cemetery (1st Street) which is home to the dollhouse grave of Nadine Earles.

West Point, Georgia

West Point Post Office Georgia
West Point Post Office, 2012, by Rivers Langley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In downtown West Point, the Depression era U. S. Post Office (729 4th Avenue) may feature a few spirits. The area also has a small Civil War-era fortification, Fort Tyler, which was constructed to protect an important railway bridge over the Chattahoochee. The four-hour siege that was fought here in April of 1865 left many dead, including the commanders of the fort. These men were buried in Pine Wood Cemetery which is passed by US 29 as it leads north to LaGrange. Both of these locations may be home to paranormal activity.

LaGrange, Georgia

I have been a resident of LaGrange since early childhood and this town instilled in me a love of ghost stories. For the past couple years, I have been providing a ghost tour of downtown, the Strange LaGrange Tour, on which I feature the LaGrange Art Museum (112 Lafayette Parkway). Along its route through town, 29 passes LaGrange College with its antique centerpiece, Smith Hall. My tour discusses Smith Hall, Hawkes Hall, and the College Chapel, which are all spirited places. The college’s theatre, Price Theatre, off Panther Way, has an assortment of theatre ghosts.

Smith Hall LaGrange College ghost haunted
Smith Hall ,LaGrange College, 2010, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Atlanta, Georgia

In its journey between LaGrange and Atlanta, the road passes a number of haunted locations, though I have yet to cover any of them in this blog.

Fox Theatre Atlanta Georgia
Fox Theatre, 2005. Photo by Scott Ehardt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Downtown Atlanta has a number of haunted places on its famous Peachtree Street including the Ellis Hotel (176 Peachtree Street), the Fox Theatre (660 Peachtree Street), and Rhodes Memorial Hall (1516 Peachtree Street) all of these are covered in my “Apparitions of Atlanta” article.

Moving out of downtown towards Decatur, US 29 runs along Ponce de Leon Avenue. On this route, it comes near Oakland Cemetery (248 Oakland Avenue, Southeast).

Oakland Cemetery Atlanta Georgia
Oakland, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Leaving DeKalb County, the road enters Gwinnett County near Stone Mountain, home of Stone Mountain Park (1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard). Not only have there been spiritual encounters on the slopes of the titular monadnock, but the park’s Southern Plantation has a number of spiritual residents inside the historic structures.

Stone Mountain Georgia
Stone Mountain, circa 1910, from “Granites of the Southeastern Atlantic States,” by Thomas Watson.

Duluth, Georgia

US 29 runs south of Duluth where the Southeastern Railway Museum (3595 Buford Highway) is located. With a large collection of historic train cars and related things, a number of encounters have been reported within these cars.

The Superb Southeastern Railways Museum Duluth Georgia
President Warren G. Harding’s personal Pullman Car, The Superb,
now housed in the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.
Photo 2007, by John Hallett. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Watkinsville, Georgia

As the highway leaves Gwinnett County, it passes through Barrow and into Oconee County. South of US 29 is the small town of Watkinsville, where the creepy Eagle Tavern (26 North Main Street) has served customers, and now museum patrons, for more than 200 years.

Eagle Tavern Watkinsville Georgia
The Eagle Tavern. Photo by Lewis Powell, IV, 2010, all
rights reserved.

Athens, Georgia

Concurrent with US 78, US 29 intersects US 441 right at the city limits of Georgia’s historic university town, Athens. Besides many hauntings on campus, the city features many historic structures with ghosts which I have covered in my article, “Town and Gown—Ghosts of Athens and the University of Georgia.” I have written separate articles on three other locations here: the Classic Center (300 North Thomas Street), the T.R.R. Cobb House (175 Hill Street), and the Tree That Owns Itself (277 South Finley Street).

Postcard of the Tree That Owns Itself Athens Georgia
The original Tree That Owns Itself shortly before it fell in 1942. Postcard from the Boston Public Library.

US 29 passes through three more Georgia counties: Madison, Franklin, and Hart before crossing into South Carolina. Unfortunately, I have little information on these counties’ haunted places.

Anderson, South Carolina

The city of Anderson’s Municipal Business Center (601 South Main Street) was the scene of odd, possibly paranormal activity in 2009.

Greenville, South Carolina

One of the more prominent Upstate South Carolina hauntings is Greenville’s Westin Poinsett Hotel (120 South Main Street). The city’s downtown features a number of haunted locales including Connolly’s Irish Pub (24 North Court Square). The city’s Herdklotz Park (126 Beverly Road), north of downtown was formerly the home of a tuberculosis hospital.

West Poinsett Hotel Greenville South Carolina
The Westin Poinsett Hotel, 2012, by Bill Fitzpatrick. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Wofford College is one of several institutions of higher learning located in Spartanburg, nearly all of which have spirits. Wofford’s Old Main Building is the haunt of several spirits.

Old Main Wofford College Spartanburg South Carolina
Old Main Building, 2010, by PegasusRacer28, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Gaffney, South Carolina

On the way into Gaffney, US 29 passes the small town of Cowpens. A major battle of the American Revolution took place about nine miles north of town and the battlefield is known to be haunted.

In 1968, a serial killer operated in Gaffney and some of the sites where he dumped his victims’ bodies are known to be haunted. These sites include the Ford Road Bridge over Peoples Creek.

Blacksburg, South Carolina

After passing through Blacksburg, US 29 comes near another battlefield from the American Revolution with paranormal activity, Kings Mountain (2625 Park Road).

Charlotte, North Carolina

From Blacksburg, South Carolina, US 29 continues across the state line into North Carolina. I have not covered any locations in Cleveland or Gaston Counties. In Charlotte, I have covered one location, the Carolina Theatre (224-232 North Tryon), though I intend to rectify this in the near future.

Carolina Theatre Charlotte North Carolina
The hulking remains of the Carolina Theatre in 2015. Renovations have since started. Photo by Fortibus, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Salisbury, North Carolina

Some years ago, I discovered an 1898 article from the Salisbury Sun describing the appearance of a ghost on Fisher Street. In addition, I discovered that the building at 122 Fisher Street has been reported as haunted. These locations were written up in my article, “’His ghostship’—Salisbury, NC.”

Salisbury National Cemetery
202 Government Road

The treatment of prisoners by both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War was atrocious and certainly has led to very active haunted locations where the prisons operated. This is certainly evident in Salisbury where an old textile mill was turned into a prison to house 2,000, but eventually held some 11,000. With a number of deaths occurring on a daily basis, a small cemetery was established a short distance from the prison which in 1874 became the Salisbury National Cemetery. According to Karen Lilly-Bowyer, a retired educator and the operator of the Downtown Ghost Walk, the area around the old prison site and the cemetery are quite active and a Union sentry has been spotted around the trenches where the prisoners were interred.

Salisbury National Cemetery North Carolina
Salisbury National Cemetery. Photo by David Haas for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Sources

  • Lilly-Bowyer, Karen. “A war-haunted landscape.” Salisbury Post. 22 January 2011.

Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro is home to a number of haunted places including the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel (111 West Washington Street), the Carolina Theatre (310 South Greene Street), and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office (400 West Washington Street).

Carolina Theatre Greensboro North Carolina
Greensboro’s Carolina Theatre in 2008. Photo by Charles Brummitt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Yanceyville, North Carolina

As it heads north out of North Carolina and into Virginia, US 29 passes through Caswell County. East of its route is the county seat of Yanceyville with its lovely and haunted Caswell County Courthouse (Courthouse Square).

haunted Caswell County Courthouse Yanceyville North Carolina ghosts spirits
The Caswell County Courthouse, 2009, by NatalieMaynor, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Danville, Virginia

After crossing into Virginia, US 29 briefly runs concurrent with US 58. US 58 BUS goes through Danville, while the regular route takes a southern dip around the city where it meets up with US 29. Near the intersection of US 58 BUS and Riverside Drive is the site of the crash of the Old ’97 Train in 1903. This site has produced anomalous lights ever since.

Wreck of the Old 97 Danville Virginia
The wreck of the Old ’97, 1903.

Lynchburg, Virginia

While I have yet to cover Lynchburg in my blog, there are a number of haunted locales here, especially on the campus of Randolph College.

Sweet Briar, Virginia

US 29 passes through the small college town of Sweet Briar, home to the private women’s college Sweet Briar. From the tales that have been told on campus, it seems the founders of the college have remained here.

Charlottesville, Virginia 

The highway bypasses Charlottesville on its west side passing near the haunted University of Virginia, home to several haunted places including the Alderman Library. Southeast of downtown is one of this city’s most well-known monuments, Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello (931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway), where the former president may continue to reside. Nearby is also the old Michie Tavern (683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway), where Jefferson and his friends often dined.

Monticello Charlottesville Virginia
Monticello, 2013, by Martin Falbisoner, courtesy of Wikipedia.

As US 29 passes out of the city, it comes near a haunted former bed and breakfast, the Silver Thatch Inn (3001 Hollymead Drive).

Brandy Station, Virginia

This small community in Culpeper County was the scene of one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War in 1863. A small home near the Brandy Station depot was commandeered as a hospital after the battle. The patients left graffiti covering the walls and perhaps spirits as well, giving this home the nickname Graffiti House (19484 Brandy Road). A small, historic church, Fleetwood Church, nearby and the Brandy Station Battlefield are also known to be paranormally active.

Graffiti House Brandy Station Virginia
Graffiti House, 2013. Photo by Cecouchman, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Warrenton, Virginia

This small, Fauquier County town is home to several haunted places, including the Black Horse Inn, the Hutton House, and a home called “Loretta.”

Manassas National Battlefield Park

This highway cuts directly across the Manassas Battlefield in Prince William County. Through these farm fields and copses of wood, two major battles of the Civil War were fought, the First Battle of Bull Run or Manassas on July 21, 1861, and the Second Battle fought on August 29-30, 1862. As a result, this battle is known to be haunted.

Old Stone House Manassas Battlefield Virginia
The Old Stone House on the Manassas Battlefield is one of the most recognizable haunted places here. Photo by William J. Hamblin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Arlington, Virginia

Occupying the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s former estate, Arlington National Cemetery provides a resting place for some 400,000 soldiers from every conflict since the Civil War. With so many dead, there are ghost stories regarding the cemetery, Arlington Mansion, and the surrounding area.

Arlington Mansion Virginia
An 1864 photograph of the Custis-Lee Mansion or the Arlington Mansion, which is now a centerpiece of Arlington National Cemetery.

Washington, D.C.

US 29 enters the nation’s capital on the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River. It continues onto Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown before crossing Rock Creek and becoming an elevated freeway. This point over Rock Creek is significant for two reasons, the bridge itself is haunted and this crossing is at the beginning of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

C & O Canal Georgetown
The C&O Canal as it moves through Georgetown. This photograph is looking east from the Wisconsin Street Bridge. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, 2008. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The canal, which was begun in 1828, was meant to provide transportation of cargo from the end of the navigable portion of the Potomac to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the end, cost overruns ended the construction in Cumberland, Maryland, 184.5 miles from it’s beginning. From the end of construction in 1831 to 1928, the canal was used primarily to ship coal from the Alleghany Mountains to Georgetown. The “Grand Old Ditch,” as it was called, lay abandoned for many years until ownership was overtaken by the National Park Service. The canal is open as a National Historic Park with a trail alongside it. From end to end, the canal is lined with legends and ghost stories.

Along its route through Washington, US 29 comes near many haunted places. For a list of places covered in this blog, please see my District of Columbia Directory.

Montgomery County, Maryland

Montgomery County is a suburban county providing suburbs for Washington. I have discovered that my coverage of Maryland, as a whole, is lacking and I have not covered any locations within this county, though there are a number. I intend on rectifying this as soon as possible.

Elkridge, Maryland

As it wends its way towards its termination in Ellicott City, US 29 passes the town of Elkridge where Belmont Manor and Historic Park (6555 Belmont Woods Road) is located.

Belmont Mansion Elkridge Maryland
Belmont Manor, 2015, by Scott218. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ellicott City, Maryland

On its way towards its terminus, US 29 passes the haunted and quaint Wayside Inn (4344 Columbia Road).

This city’s historic district lies in the valley of the Patapsco River, with Main Street running downhill to a bridge over the river. A tributary, the Tiber River, meets the Patapsco near here and problems with severe flooding have been experienced at points along Main Street. One of these recent floods is discussed in my article on the Judge’s Bench (8385 Main Street). Housing shops, boutiques, and homes, many of the buildings along Main Street also house spirits.

Patapsco Female Institute Ellicott City Maryland
An illustration of the Patapsco Female Institute in 1857, from The Book of Great Railway Celebrations of 1857.

North of downtown are the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute (3655 Church Road).

Northwest of Ellicott City’s historic downtown, US 29 passes over I-70 before quietly ending at Rogers Avenue and Old Frederick Road.

Grief at the Adams Memorial—Washington, D. C.

Rock Creek Cemetery
Rock Creek Church Road, Northwest
Washington, D. C.

N.B. This entry was first published 23 December 2010, as part of my article, “The Haunts of Washington, D. C.,” and republished 30 October 2017, as part of “’Twas the Night Before Halloween—Recycled Revenants.” This entry has been edited and expanded.  

In a self-portrait taken around 1860, Clover Adams’ face is obscured by a large hat and she holds a small dog. From a modern vantage point, one can read this photograph as a commentary on the place of women in the mid-19th century: as something precious to be shielded and treated on the same level as a pet. While this may have not been her intention, the photograph adds to the sense of mystery surrounding Clover Adams.

Clover Adams self-portrait 1860
Self-portrait of Clover Adams, circa 1860. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Born in Boston to a prominent family, Marian Hooper, or Clover as she was called, married historian and the descendent of two presidents, Henry Adams in 1872. An exceedingly accomplished and educated woman, Clover became a leading light in Boston and Washington intellectual and social circles. She even provided the inspiration for two of author Henry James’ novels: Daisy Miller and Portrait of a Lady. She was also a gifted photographer and writer in her own right. This popularity made her sudden death in 1885 even more shocking.

A prodigious letter-writer, Clover Adams took note of much of Washington’s gossip and private life, even noting intimate details of her own life. Her letters reveal that her family life was quite joyous, and she enjoyed the “utter devotion” of her husband. At the time, the couple was occupying a house on H Street while a home designed by H. H. Richardson was under construction on Lafayette Square, across from the White House. While Clover expressed excitement over the new home and had spent time documenting the construction in photographs, she was grieving over the loss of her father in April of that year. The grief had led to bouts of depression.

On December 6th, as Henry Adams was leaving the house for a walk, a friend of Clover’s arrived to visit. Adams offered to summon his wife and going upstairs found her unconscious on the rug in front of the fireplace of her bedroom. She passed away a short time later. The newspapers of the day noted that her death was due to paralysis of the heart, omitting that she was found with a bottle of potassium cyanide, one of the chemicals she used in developing photographs. Henry James wrote to a friend that, “poor Mrs. Adams found, the other day, the solution of the knottiness of existence.”

While her suicide was a sharp, sudden blow to her friends and acquaintances, it most deeply affected her husband. In a letter to one of Clover’s friends he wrote, “During the last eighteen months I have not had the good luck to attend my own funeral, but with that exception I have buried pretty nearly everything I lived for.” Adams’ grief led him to destroy all his wife’s correspondence and even refusing to speak of her for the remainder of his life, only mentioning her indirectly in his memoir, The Education of Henry Adams, which was published just after his death.

Nestled in the Rock Creek Cemetery is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Yard, the oldest burying ground in Washington, D.C. Surrounding the churchyard is the graceful 19th century Rock Creek Cemetery, which houses graves for many of Washington’s elite, including Evalyn Walsh McLean who haunts her former home, now the Indonesian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. The work of many famous American architects and sculptors is scattered throughout this garden-like cemetery including a statue by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in a setting by architect Stanford White.

The Adams Monument, 2007, by Danvera. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Commissioned by Henry Adams several years after his wife’s death, this monument seems to be a punctuation mark ending his statement of grief. The monument depicts a solitary figure sitting enshrouded in robes. The figure’s hooded face is androgynous, as if to say that grief applies to all humans. The monument is surrounded by a ring of conifers and a lone bench to provide a place for contemplation

Saint-Gaudens named the sculpture, “The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding,” but to the public the monument became known as “Grief.” Adams hated that name and wrote in a letter to the sculptor’s son, Homer:

Do not allow the world to tag my figure with a name! Every magazine writer wants to label it as some American patent medicine for popular consumption—Grief, Despair, Pear’s Soap, or Macy’s Mens’ Suits Made to Measure. Your father meant it to ask a question, not to give an answer; and the man who answers will be damned to eternity like the men who answered the Sphinx.

Nevertheless, the public’s fascination with the mysterious monument has fueled legend. Visitors to the grave have sometimes been overcome with a feeling of grief. Others have reported that a female spirit is sometimes seen in the vicinity, which may be the visage of Clover Adams. The late Mrs. Adams may also be in spiritual residence in the Hay-Adams Hotel (see my entry on the hotel here), which was constructed on the site of the home being built for the couple at the time of her death.

A copy of this sculpture in DRUID RIDGE CEMETERY (7900 Park Avenue Heights) in Pikeville Maryland is also associated with a ghost. Druid Ridge has a number of spirits associated with it, but “Black Aggie” is perhaps the best known. The copy of Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture was created by sculptor Edward L. A. Pausch and placed on the grave of Union General Felix Agnus. For decades, the sculpture attracted vandals and the legend grew that the figure’s eyes would glow red and those looking into the eyes were struck blind. Another tale told of a fraternity pledge crushed to death when he spent the night in the statue’s embrace. Disturbed by the activity the statue attracted, the family had it removed.  The sculpture was given to the Smithsonian and now resides in the courtyard of the haunted Cutts-Madison House on Lafayette Square which faces the Decatur House across the square.

Sources 

  • Adams Memorial (Saint-Gaudens). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.
  • Beauchamp, Tanya. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Rock Creek Church Yard and Cemetery. Listed 12 August 1977.
  • Black Aggie. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2019.
  • Clark, Brian. “Clover Adams’ Memorial: From a husband who would no longer speak her name.” Atlas Obscura. 23 July 2013.
  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. NYC: Checkmark Books, 2007.
  • Marian Hooper Adams. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2019.
  • “Sudden Death of Mrs. Henry Adams.” Evening Star (Washington, D. C.). 7 December 1885.
  • Taylor, Troy. Beyond the Grave: The History of America’s Most Haunted Graveyards. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2001.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.

“Dear Mrs. Windham, it’s all your fault.”

Dear Mrs. Windham, it’s all your fault.
 –Elizabeth Parker’s dedication to Mobile Ghosts: Alabama’s Haunted Port City

 

Mrs. Windham, I can blame the following on you:

  • a deep and abiding obsession with ghosts
  • a deep and abiding love of Southern folklore
  • a library of some 260 “ghost books” including a number of your books
  • many hours spent reading ghost stories
  • my love for Christ Church and its magical cemetery at St. Simons Island, Georgia
  • an all-consuming blog
  • a conviction that storytelling can change the world

and

  • the desire to become a storyteller and change the world.

I blame all these things on you and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kathryn Tucker Windham, one of the foundations upon which Southern ghost writing is based, passed into the spiritual realm yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Windham dreamt of being a reporter in a time when proper young ladies did not do such a thing. Undeterred, she became a noted reporter and columnist, shattering a glass ceiling for millions of other women in Alabama and throughout the South. She published her first book of ghost stories in 1969, documenting and enshrining many notable Southern hauntings. Her dedication to telling and preserving these tales inspired countless young people including myself.

Kathryn Tucker Windham in 2007. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

I first heard Mrs. Windham’s story of “The Eternal Dinner Party” in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery told by a professional storyteller at the local library here in LaGrange. Soon after, I received a copy of 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey as a birthday gift from my grandparents. This book has remained a beloved treasure on my book shelf ever since. When I started this blog last year, I opened with a story I first heard from her.

I’d like to imagine that as Mrs. Windham passed over yesterday afternoon that she paused under the sprawling, moss-laden oaks of Bonaventure Cemetery. It was during a dinner party in a magnificent plantation home here at the end of the 18th century that a fire broke out. The hosts, undeterred by their personal disaster, calmly continued the party outside lit by the light of the burning house. At the end of the night, a toast was made:

“May the joy of this occasion never end,” the gentleman proposed. It seemed a strange toast on such a night.

The guests drank the toast and then, following the lead of their host, they shattered their glasses against the trunks of the Bonaventure oaks.

And here at Bonaventure people passing late at night still hear distinctly the sounds of a dinner party in progress: the clatter of dishes, the tinkle of silverware, the voices and laughter of guests, and then the shattering of crystal glasses.

Hearing these festive sounds, the passers-by nod and say,

“It’s still going on, the eternal dinner party at Bonaventure.”

Mrs. Windham, enjoy the party.

Sources

  •  “Alabama legend Kathryn Tucker Windham dies.” Montgomery Advertiser
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1973.