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6 Spookiest Haunted Ghost Towns to Visit This Halloween Season

Any horror movie buff knows that small, eerie towns make for the spookiest of settings. Whether you’re running from a machete-wielding maniac, a possessed doll, or a long-haired ghost girl crawling out of your TV, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Being in a deserted town with nobody else around except for a cryptic hermit makes the experience a lot worse — just ask the residents of Jerusalem’s Lot from the iconic novel “’Salem’s Lot.”

Horror movies aside, ghost towns are actually rather mundane in real life. Initially boomtowns during the California Gold Rush, many of these settlements were dependent on the valuable resource discovered in the area (such as gold, silver, coal or oil). Then, when those resources dried up, the towns usually began to decline and many would decrease in size. In more extreme cases, settlements would be entirely deserted, thereby resulting in the creepily dubbed “ghost towns.”

Oh, and sometimes they might be haunted, too. If that’s right up your alley, here are the six spookiest ghost towns to visit this Halloween for a chance to do some ghost investigations of your own.

Bodie, CA

Just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range lies Bodie — once a prosperous mining town, now a popular destination for night photography. During its heyday the town had nearly 12,000 inhabitants, 60 saloons and, allegedly, the worst whiskey in the world. Officially reimagined as Bodie State Historic Park, it’s now preserved in a state of arrested decay and considered an authentic Wild West ghost town that’s open to the public. It’s also a hotspot for paranormal activities — shadows walking across doorways, voices whispering at night, tall figures wandering the mines until dawn… the usual fare. But Bodie’s most famous resident has to be the Woman in the Window, who is said to peek at the passersby below from the second-floor window of the J.S. Caine Residence.

Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: Relatively high given that the general ghost populace of this place keeps to themselves. Just make sure that you don’t take any article with you when you leave. Otherwise, legend has it that the Bodie Curse will bring bad luck upon you and your family.

St. Elmo, CO

Considered one of Colorado’s best preserved ghost towns, St. Elmo originally attracted people due to its prosperous mining resources before it eventually ran out of gold and silver. However, unlike others on this list, this town is still inhabited and 43 of its structures continue to be in use (except for the post office, which closed in 1952, so any mail coming from here will most likely be the work of otherworldly forces). In any case, St. Elmo’s claim to supernatural fame lies in the presence of Annabelle “Dirty Annie” Stark, daughter of the owner of St. Elmo’s Home Comfort Hotel, Anton Stark and his wife, Anna. Overly sheltered in her youth, Annabelle is said to have taken to strolling the streets with her trusty shotgun slung over her shoulder following her mother’s death. And according to sightings, she’s still doing so today!

Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: Dirty Annie’s ghostly watch over the town is said to keep away vandals and trespassers, and while she might have a playful sense of humor — slamming doors and moving objects around — she’s otherwise harmless.

Calico, CA

Despite the fact that the Official State Silver Rush Ghost Town is now a popular tourist attraction, it doesn’t make it any less haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants. Among the most famous are Lucy Lane, who ran the General Store along with her husband, and now haunts it after her death; Tumbleweed Harris, the town’s last marshal, who’s still patrolling the streets; and little Dorsey, a mail-carrying dog. What’s more, there are several paranormal hotspots in Calico — including the schoolhouse, where teachers and students will be walking around — as well as Hank’s Hotel, which is haunted by an angry cowboy. Looking at the restored buildings, it’s easy to see why the ghosts don’t want to leave: The gingerbread architecture gives the town a beautiful Western vibe, and the gunfight stunt shows, mine tours, and Ghost Town haunt held in October make for a great and spooky family experience.

Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: The friendly nature of the ghosts here (really, how many haunted spots can brag about having a ghost dog?) make it a great stop for family road trips and even the opportunity to make some spooky friends: One of the schoolhouse’s ghost children is said to appear before tourists occasionally.

Nevada City, MT

One of the lesser-known haunted hotspots on our list is Montana’s gold-rush town, now an outdoor living history museum open only during the summer season. But thrill-seekers should fear not because, during Halloween time, the Montana Heritage Commission offers ghost tours in which tourists can walk around the 19th-century-furnished buildings looking for the former residents of this place. Notably, the best spots to catch sightings of these ghosts are the Nevada City Hotel (which is said to be frequented by the ghost of a road agent who was hanged near it) and Sedman House, where the ghost of a little girl in a Victorian dress will sometimes crumple the bedding — much to the bewilderment of the employees.

Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: As long as you don’t mind spooky children keeping you awake at night as they pace the floor above your head, the only thing you should be worried about is making sure to bring a sweater with you for those unexplained cold spots.

Batsto Village, NJ

The only one on our list that was not a gold-rush town, Batsto Village was originally established as an iron ore works. It was just fully vacated in 1989, making it one of the more recently declared ghost towns. Not that its relative youth in this regard matters much, given that it’s apparently haunted by one of the most famous folklore creatures of the area — the Jersey Devil. According to legend, this creature is the thirteenth child of the so-called “Mother Leeds” and is now said to roam Batsto Village and the surrounding area. Claims about spotting strange tracks, hearing uncanny screams, and even coming nearly face to face with the creature while crossing the road are quite common!

 

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Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: Given the Jersey Devil’s penchant for tasty livestock, visiting this ghost town should pose no problem. Just make sure not to wear anything animal themed while you’re there.

Helltown, OH

Technically, Helltown is a misnomer — the settlement is actually named Boston Township after Boston, MA and only gained this moniker due to the urban legends associated with it. From the upside-down crosses that decorate the “Mother of Sorrows” Church to its equally spooky cemetery and the allegedly haunted school bus and crybaby bridge, this ghost town seems to be pulled straight out of a scary movie. What’s more, the area’s tendency to fill up with fog only adds to this image, as does the famous “the end of the world road,” which is so steep that it made drivers feel like they were driving off a cliff. Helltown also has its own ‘mascot’ — the Peninsula Python, a snake that grew to enormous proportions due to a supposed chemical spill in the area.

 

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Chances of surviving a supernatural encounter here: Its macabre name makes Helltown a perfect Halloween destination for horror enthusiasts — as long as they make sure to watch out for giant mutant snakes.

 

Adina Dragos
Adina Dragos
Adina Dragos is a creative writer at RentCafe, with a passion for reading, research and cats. As a fellow renter, Adina's articles cover various topics such as the state of the real estate market or how creative interior design choices improve the experience of living in a rental. She also enjoys exploring subjects like urbanization, green living and historical buildings. Adina has a BA in English and Norwegian Language and Literature.

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