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Paranormal placesYou don’t need to believe in ghosts to enjoy a ghost story. The tales that have grown over generations around reputedly haunted places can take on a fantastic life of their own in folklore, and the stories that surround a place can influence our experiences of them. All it takes is a creepy place, a touch of imagination and a glimpse of something unexpected, only half seen...
So prepare to suspend your disbelief for this countdown of the histories of seven of the most haunted places in the United States.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium: Louisville, KentuckySlide 2 of 15
Waverly Hills Sanatorium: Louisville, Kentucky
This grim, bat-winged building is the archetype of the haunted hospital or insane asylum. The first hospital on this windswept hill on the edge of Louisville was built in 1910 to treat victims of the "white plague" of tuberculosis that was ravaging the country.
At the time, there was no known cure and the disease was often fatal. In some cases, doctors tried experimental methods to help ease the symptoms, and stories emerged of illicit medical experiments in which the cure often proved as fatal as the disease. Certainly the sanatorium was the scene of many deaths over the years, although claims that more than 60,000 patients died there are exaggerated, according to surviving records from the hospital. Historians say the real number was likely closer to 8,000, with a total of 152 deaths in 1945, the worst year of the epidemic. [7 Absolutely Evil Medical Experiments]
Waverly Hills served as a geriatric hospital from the 1960s until the 1980s, and several stories about the spooky old hospital are based on rumors from this time that patients were mistreated, including claims that radical treatments such as electroshock therapy were used.
In the years since Waverly Hills was closed for good, wanderers, thrill-seekers and ghost hunters who found their way inside the building have told of slamming doors and strange noises in the deserted building. Others reported hearing footsteps and the screams of patients have from empty rooms. Ghostly, shadowy forms have been said to gather in the building's dark recesses and are said to follow visitors through the narrow corridors. Phantom footsteps and voices reportedly echo along the "death tunnel," or "body chute" — an underground tunnel that leads from the hospital to railway tracks at the bottom of the hill, to transport the dead away from the hospital where the living patients would not see them.
Several stories center on the fifth floor of the hospital, where tuberculosis patients with mental disturbances were reportedly treated. In particular, Room 502, where two nurses are said to have killed themselves — one by hanging, the other by jumping to her death — is said to be haunted. Some visitors claimed to have seen mysterious shapes moving in the windows, or to have heard voices telling them to "get out."Slide 3 of 15
Savannah, GeorgiaSlide 4 of 15
Home to dozens of celebrated haunted houses and hundreds of ghost sightings, Savannah is often called "the most haunted city in the United States" — especially by its many ghost tour operators, who often begin with a visit to the city's historic Bonaventure Cemetery, a tangle of stone tombs, eerie statues and spooky trees laced with Spanish moss. Among the cemetery's resident ghosts is that of Gracie Watson, a 6-year-old who died of pneumonia in 1889. Her ghost is said to haunt the life-size statue that stands over her grave, which like several other funereal statues in the cemetery are sometimes said to move as if they were alive, while the sounds of children playing or crying is sometimes heard nearby. [10 Ghost Stories That Will Haunt You for Life]
Savannah's Hampton Lillybridge House was built in 1797 and was relocated to its current location several years later — despite the discovery of a mysterious crypt beneath the new property, which has never been opened. Since then, no fewer than 26 families who have lived in the house have complained of various ghostly goings-on that forced them to move out. These strange encounters included furniture moving around and doors locking themselves.
The most famous haunted house in Savannah may be the Sorrel-Weed House, which appeared in the opening shots of the 1994 film "Forrest Gump," directed by Robert Zemeckis The Sorrel-Weed house is said to be haunted by at least two vengeful ghosts: the wife and the rival lover of shipping merchant Francis Sorrel, who built the house in the 1840s. Francis' wife, Matilda Sorrel, allegedly jumped to her death when she discovered her husband’s infidelity — but historical researchers point out that by the time of her reported suicide in a "moment of lunacy," the Sorrel family had moved out to another property next door.Slide 5 of 15
Whaley House: San Diego, CaliforniaSlide 6 of 15
Whaley House: San Diego, California
Whaley House in San Diego is "[t]he most haunted house in America," according to Life Magazine. The home was built in 1857 on the site of a former graveyard and gallows. Over the years it has served as a family home; a grain store; the San Diego county courthouse; the city’s first commercial theater; a ballroom; a billiard hall; and a school. It subsequently opened as a museum in 1960.
The oldest resident ghost at Whaley House is said to be the convicted robber “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was hanged in 1852 from a gallows that stood on the property before the house was built. According to a newspaper report, as the wagon holding him beneath the gallows moved away, Yankee Jim dragged his feet on the wagon for as long as possible, before swinging like a pendulum and slowly strangling to death.
Although Thomas Whaley, a settler and merchant, witnessed Yankee Jim’s gruesome execution, that didn't prevent him from purchasing the property a few years later and building a house there. But within a few weeks of moving in, the Whaley family reported hearing heavy footsteps, as if made by the boots of a large man.
The reports of footsteps and other sounds have persisted for more than 100 years: The youngest daughter of the family, who lived in the house until 1953, was reportedly convinced that it was haunted by the ghost of Yankee Jim, and visitors to the museum in the 1960s also reported hearing a phantom walking noise.
Other visitors say they’ve seen the ghosts of the Whaley family themselves, and the ghost of a woman in a long skirt in the former county courtroom. One parapsychologist reported that he saw a phantom dog running inside the house, similar to a fox terrier — the type of dog owned by the Whaley family.Slide 7 of 15
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery: Chicago, IllinoisSlide 8 of 15