5 Ghostly Spots That Will Make You Scream From Tennessee To Minnesota

Every year around this time, millions of thrill-seekers visit nationally known haunted houses — the kind where actors wield fake chainsaws and shout “Raawwwrrr!” at passersby.

But there are, rumor has it, some locations that don’t practice this “Scooby Doo” version of haunting. The Midwest is full of ghostly hot spots with eerie stories. Gather ’round the bonfire and share these tales from the middle of America with your friends — if you dare.

1/ Bell Witch Cave—Nashville, Tennessee
Back in 1817, farmer John Bell began to discover odd half-breed animals that he hadn’t seen before on his property. These discoveries were followed by unearthly sounds around the family house, including chains being dragged through the house and someone choking and gulping for air. It’s said that this mysterious being gathered strength over the course of a year and finally identified herself as Kate, also known as “the Bell Witch.” She told friends of the family who came to help that she aimed to kill John Bell, and after three years of otherworldly torture and fear, Kate succeeded. Tours of the house and the nearby cave—where, in an unrelated turn of events, the bones of a Native American were found encased in stone—are offered all year.

2/ Waverly Hills Sanatorium—Louisville, Kentucky
The tuberculosis epidemic was particularly unkind to Louisville, and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium was born out of the desperate need to quarantine those infected. The hope was that the fresh air and beautiful wooded scenery would heal them. As the epidemic grew, so did Waverly Hills Sanatorium, eventually expanding to a small, self-contained town. By the time it closed in 1961, up to 64,000 individuals had died there, and many of those bodies were transported out through an underground tunnel often called the “body chute” so as not to alarm the other patients. Owners Tina and Charlie Mattingly purchased the dilapidated property in 2001 and host haunted tours every Halloween to help fund their restoration efforts. We applaud their efforts… from way over here.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Photo courtesy of Waverly Hills Sanatorium

3/ The Soap Factory—Minneapolis, Minnesota
It’s all well and good that the Soap Factory is now an experimental art gallery, but that doesn’t entirely cover up its gruesome past. Once upon a time, the Soap Factory was actually a soap factory, its floors littered with the main ingredient: animal carcasses. In fact, the city paid for stray dogs to be rounded up, strangled and deposited at the soap factory. When paranormal experts head to the factory’s basement, even they are unnerved by a feeling they can only describe as “demonic.” In case you were still curious, the Soap Factory runs a haunted basement tour that requires attendees to be 18 or older and sign a waiver before entering, so best of luck with that.

4/ John Wornall House—Kansas City, Missouri
If you’ve ever watched one of those ghost hunting shows, an October tour through the John Wornall House might be right up your alley. In the spirit of Halloween, paranormal professionals lead late-night tours through the house and teach participants how to use ghost-hunting technology as the group prowls room to room. During the Civil War, John Wornall housed soldiers from both sides, and those soldiers are prone to make their presence known these days with the smell of tobacco smoke or the sight of them patrolling the halls. If you decide to take one of these tours, be sure to duck when and if said soldiers point all the guns hanging in the house at the front door—you wouldn’t want to be caught in some paranormal crossfire.

5/ The Fabulous Fox Theatre—St. Louis, Missouri
Like any venerable theatre worth its salt, the Fox Theatre is haunted by a handful of quite active spirits: a woman dancing across the stage, an FBI agent grumping his way through the Fox Club, the original owner’s wife trying to conduct business. This year, the theatre brings back its popular Fabulous Fox Ghost Tours, which allow attendees to go backstage at the Fox to hear firsthand from employees and paranormal experts discuss the many inexplicable happenings.

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