Have you ever wanted to take a road trip to some of the most haunted places in the country? If you’re looking for a spooky adventure, look no further. This article will provide you with a list of some of the most haunted places in the Midwest. If you love a thrilling adventure, visiting historical places and always have to scratch the itch of curiosity, you have come to the right place!

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This blog entry will look a little bit different, since it’s from my notebook of road trips I have planned. I will share with you the top 12 haunted places in the Midwest I plan to visit on a “haunted road trip”. While this trip will be in the works for the future, I am hoping my readers will draw some inspiration to plan an adventure of their own with Halloween around the corner. Are any of these stories true? There’s only one way to find out!

Found the welcome medallion at Anoka’s city hall. We were able to explore the Anoka State Hospital campus.

In this blog, you will find:

  • Haunted hotels, orphanage, murder scenes, ship, hospital, hidden under water ghost town and more!
  • Haunted places you can stay
  • Haunted places to tour
  • History behind the stories of hauntings
  • Maps
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Disclaimer: Everything in my blog is based on my own opinions, experiences and perspectives. We are all different and my hope is you can go out and create experiences and perspectives of your own. I also have some affiliate links with Adobe, Back Country and Kayak.com throughout my blog and advertisements for brands I partner with and use such as Just Strong, Goli Vitamins and DIFF Eyewear. I make a very small commission if you purchase through the link & offer a discount code at no additional cost to you. Also, these traveling itineraries are shared from my own experiences and point of view & are no means an endorsement or advice.

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1. Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/missouripentours

History

The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) opened in 1836 along the Mississippi River and ranks as one of the most haunted facilities in the country. The MSP housed prisoners for 168 years and is known as “the bloodiest 47 acres in America”, and officially closed in 2004. Prisoners housed were 1930s gangsters, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin, women’s rights activists and world champion athletes. The prison was also remembered for lethal gas executions that took the life of 40 inmates from 1937 to 1989.

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/missouripentours

Hauntings

There are hundreds of documented paranormal stories linked to the MSP. I won’t go over them all, but I will give some brief examples. There are various reports of an entity known as “Fast Jack” who usually is in a hurry, with a clipboard and white lab coat. Tour guides have had experiences locking doors through the control room, only to have them unlocked.

They often say this is done by “Fast Jack” who some believe used to work in the medical wing. In the female wing of the prison, there have been sightings of a woman dressed in vintage clothing. The more common guest experiences are hearing cell doors slam, the smell of smoke, loud banging noises, shadowy figures and footsteps.

Want to plan your visit?

Click here to book your ghost & paranormal tour at MSP. There are a variety of tours available from the 2 or 3 hours ghost hunt, 3 hours ghost hunt class or choose from a selection of overnight tours.

2. Decker House Bed & Breakfast in Mason City, IA

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/TheDeckerHouse/

History

Located in the heart of Mason City, Iowa, the Deck House Bed & Breakfast was built in 1896 and fully restored in 2002. This 137 year old hotel, restaurant and bar provides some of the most beautiful historical scenery for guests in Mason City’s downtown.

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/TheDeckerHouse/

Haunting

However, with a lot of history comes a lot of wonder about who is really still there. Guests have reported a lot of experience in room 217, including a recording of someone saying “Thanks for making it colder here” while playing with a latch on a paranormal investigator’s equipment. A voice of an annoyed man saying “I tell ya” was also recorded when no one else was in the room. Besides the voices, there have been distorted images captured on camera and drastic temperature changes.

Want to plan your visit?

Book your stay here!

3. Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, IA

Photo credit? https://www.facebook.com/TheDeckerHouse/

History

As of 2022, 110 years ago one of Iowa’s most heinous UNSOLVED murders occurred in a white, wood frame house overnight on June 9, 1912. The bodies of Josiah and Sarah Moore along with their 4 children and 2 visiting girls was discovered in their beds in the Moore household.

According to investigators, the victims were killed in their sleep with an axe that the killer or killers found in the backyard. Their bodies were discovered once neighbors became concerned of the lack of activity happening in the house hold. The mirrors in the house and glass of the entry door were covered with clothing the killer(s) had found in the family’s dressers. The only person ever on trial for the murders was Rev. Lyn George Jacklin Kelly, who presumably mentioned the murders to passengers on a train prior to the discovery of the remains.

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/Villisca16/

Haunting

Naturally, plenty of paranormal stories swirl around this unsolved cold case. The home has been lived in by others over the years, although families never stayed for too long. The house was slated to be torn down until a local woman decided to purchase and preserve the home. There has been plenty of orbs photographed. Objects and toys in the home move on their own, flip on their side and the sound of foot steps echo in the home.

Plan Your Visit

Click here to book your overnight or day tour.

Click here to read more about the case & the victims. There is also information about the victim’s grave sites.

4. Whitefish Point Lighthouse in Paradise, MI

Photo credit: https://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/shipwreck-museum/whitefish-point-light/

History

Along the shores of Lake Superior lies Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Michigan’s upper peninsula, constructed in 1849. This is the most important lighthouse in the upper peninsula because all ships must pass through Whitefish. It’s also home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, open from May 1st to October 31st.

Photo credit: https://www.shipwreckmuseum.com/shipwreck-museum/whitefish-point-light/

Haunting

This area is known as The Graveyard of the Great Lakes, famous for the high number of shipwrecks in the area such as the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. Another nickname is “Shipwreck Coast,” a 40 mile stretch littered with remnants of dead ships and remains of sailors. Hundreds of ghostly sightings, a ghost ship and sightings of a young Native American girl also litter the coastline. Are any of these sightings credible? There’s only one way to find out!

Plan Your Visit

Click here for more information.

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5. Franklin Castle in Cleveland, OH

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/thefranklincastle/

History

The Franklin Castle is a Victorian stone house built for Hannes Tiedemann in 1881, a rich German immigrant. There was a lot of sadness in the house from the beginning. In January of 1881, 15 year old Emma Tiedemann passed away from diabetes. Later that same year, Hanne’s mother, Wiebeka, passed away as well. As the years went on, Hannes and his wife would bury 3 more children. Further adding to the harrowing history of Franklin castle were sexual crimes, murder and secret passageways for bootlegging during prohibition.

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/thefranklincastle/

Hauntings

The build of the dark Victorian style house itself combined with the countless tragedies that occurred make it the perfect inspiration for imaginations. Paranormal activity reported consists of foot steps, voices, moving objects, turning electronics on and off. There are also rumored secret rooms throughout the castle.

Plan Your Visit

For more information about the Franklin Castle, click here!

6. Custer House in Mandan, ND

Photo credit: https://www.ndtourism.com/mandan/attractions-entertainment/educational-attractions/fort-abraham-lincoln-custer-house-commissary-bookstore

History

Fort Abraham State Park is home to a quaint, 2-story home with a wide front porch known as Custer House. Built in 1873, the for General George Custer, the home burnt to the ground during a cold winter. Libby Custer helped to design their new home, ordering some of the fanciest furniture. Unfortunately, General Custer did not get to enjoy the home for long, as he would pass away during the Battle of Little Big Horn. Today, the visitors can explore Abraham State Park and Custer House, which has since been restored.

Photo credit: https://www.ndtourism.com/mandan/attractions-entertainment/educational-attractions/fort-abraham-lincoln-custer-house-commissary-bookstore

Hauntings

Despite only living together in the newly renovated home for 2 years, the entities of Libby and George Custer have since been reported bu visitors and workers. Cold spots, disembodied voices, doors opening and closing and light touches are some of the paranormal phenomena that have been reported. The presences are reported to be “friendly”.

Plan Your Visit

Click here to explore Custer House.

7. Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI

Photo credit: https://www.marcushotels.com/portfolio/stay/the-pfister-hotel

History

In the heart of downtown Milwaukee, WI is Pfister Hotel, a historical, luxury hotel which opened in 1893. It is located three blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan. There currently are 307 guest rooms, various dining options and serves as a beautiful venue.

Photo credit: https://www.marcushotels.com/portfolio/stay/the-pfister-hotel

Hauntings

The Pfister Hotel is known as a popular lodging option for baseball players. It shouldn’t be surprising that a large amount of paranormal experiences were shared by baseball players from various teams. One baseball player claims he heard disembodied voices in his room while he was in his shower. He knew he was the only one in his room, so he peeked out, just in time to see his iPhone turn on and turn to static, then shimmy to the edge of the table. Other accounts include apparitions and guests insisting the second floor is “completely haunted”.

Plan Your Visit

Check out more information here.

8. The West Hills State School Orphanage in Owatonna, MN

198 children are buried on the West Hills campus.

History

The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, now known as the West Hills, was created in 1885 to better support children in need of “foster placement” instead of placing them on country poor farms with adults who were mentally unstable, addicts or petty criminals. The state school was permanently closed in 1970. For almost 60 years, the orphanage housed thousands of children from around the country, with majority of them coming to the orphanage during the Great Depression. For some, the orphanage was a safe haven, but for others it was overcrowded with occurrences of abuse and neglect.

“Ghost hunting” is discouraged but day tours are available.

Hauntings

Today, the West Hills has a museum honoring the children of the West Hills as well as a cemetery with restored head stones to honor the 198 children who passed away at the orphanage. Only 33 of the 198 children buried on the West Hills Campus made it past age 10. Many died of infectious diseases such as measles, diphtheria, and TB. Other causes of death were drowning, Marasmus (failure to thrive) and accidental deaths.

With the sad history of the orphanage, it’s no surprise that people have had interesting experiences on campus. Ghostly reports include children’s laughter, apparitions, toys moving on their own, shadowy figures and cold spots. The campus also has underground tunnels below the building the go all over the campus, but have since been closed. There have been reports of shadowy figures in the basements, the floor warping and strange phone calls placed to police at odd hours of the night coming from inside the buildings.

I have taken many tours of this campus, attended art events and had my own students tour the area over the years. I highly recommend a tour to explore the campus, especially if you are new to the area!

Plan Your Visit

If you are interested in a tour of the West Hills Campus, click here for more information!

Check out the following books written by former children from the orphanage:

A Boy from C-11 by Harvey Ronglein

While the Locust Slept: A Memoir by Peter Razor

9. William A. Irvin Ship in Duluth, MN

Photo credit: https://decc.org/william-a-irvin/

History

William A. Irvin Ship was formerly a flag ship for the US Steel Great Lakes fleet from 1938 to 1975. The ship would also be used to carry iron ore, coal and guests through the Great Lakes ports. On April 11, 1964, the William A. Irvin had a boiler explosion which killed one crew member. In 1977 and 1978, the ship suffered minor damage after striking a rock cut wall and hitting a floating object. The ship was sent to the shipyard for repairs and was bought in 1986 by Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center to be used a museum ship.

Photo credit: https://decc.org/william-a-irvin/

Hauntings

Ghostly encounters reported by various paranormal investigators aboard the William A. Irvin include shadowy figures, footsteps, objects thrown at visitors, and voices. Actual experiences or just your imagination? Pay a visit to the beautiful Duluth area of Minnesota and decided for yourself!

Plan Your Visit

Interested in a Haunted Ship Tour? Click here to plan your stay and buy your tickets!

10. Anoka State Hospital in Anoka, MN

History

For exactly 100 years, the Anoka State Hospital operated to provide support for those struggling with their mental health. The state hospital opened in 1900 and was called First State Asylum for the Insane. The first 100 patients were men from St. Peter. The focus was on caring for patients, but this did not include providing treatment. The first female patient arrived in 1905, and eventually 50 women from Minnesota would be transferred to the Anoka State Hospital, with 45 of them living there until they passed away.

In the 1940s, the public was horrified at the conditions of the hospital and treatment of patients after a Minneapolis based photographer exposed the conditions. Beds were in hallways with no linens, patients were kept in restraints for long periods of time, electro shock therapy and failed lobotomies. Many patients tried to escape. In the 1950s, funding was allocated to the hospital to improve conditions. As community-based treatments were introduced as well as transitional care and outpatient treatments, the number of patients dwindled, until the last patients in 1999 were transferred elsewhere.

Hauntings

Today, some of the buildings are used by the Anoka County Corrections Office. People can visit the cemetery housing the graves of patients from the hospital and the underground tunnel connecting all buildings on the campus still exist. Many buildings still standing are deemed to be unsafe to enter & set for demolition.

It should be no surprise that the Anoka State Hospital has a reputation for being “one of the most haunted places in Minnesota” given the tragic history. (It should be noted Anoka, MN is a popular Halloween destination, dubbed as the “Halloween Capital of the World”.) Ghostly encounters include voices and an apparition in the top attic windows of one of the buildings.

Plan Your Visit

If interested, you can watch a 20 minute documentary of the Anoka State Hospital here.

11. The Hubbell House and The Opera House in Mantorville, MN

History

In 1854 (4 years before Minnesota even became a state) John Hubbell created a hotel in what is now known as Mantorville, MN. Eventually a third level was added to the building and it became a crucial stop for those traveling by horse and carriage from Winona to St. Peter. Over the years, the building would transform from a hotel to a delicious restaurant, serving some of the best meals in southern Minnesota. Some famous visitors over the years are President Dwight Eisenhower, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, the entire Vikings team in the 1990s, Roy Rogers, Fred McMurray, Minnesota Twins players and so many more over the years.

A photograph of the Hubbell House in the late 1800s. Photo Credit: https://www.hubbellhouserestaurant.com/history

Hauntings

Over the years, two people have passed away at the Hubbell House. One suffered an accidental death after falling down the stairs and the other died by suicide. So, it’s no wonder there have been some interesting experiences at the Hubbell House over the years. Staff have reported smelling cigar smoke, and music playing after it was supposedly turned off.

Some report lights flickering and hearing their names called. It’s worth mentioned that a few second down the road is the historical Opera House was built in 1918. It was also used as a club, an illegal bar or speakeasy in the 1920s and a roller rink. There has been entities of former entertainers, specifically a prominent female entity named “Ellen”.

Plan Your Visit

Check out the Hubbell House’s delicious menu here.

12. Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills, SD

Photo credit: https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/trip-ideas/story/pactola-reservoir-south-dakotas-version-atlantis

History

Pactola, also known as Camp Crook 1875-1950s, used to be an early mining town in South Dakota that drew countless individuals to the area during the Gold Rush. Over the years, the population dwindled along with the mining profits and the town became abandoned, becoming submerged in water in the 1950s. Currently, the only remnants left of Pactola lie under Lake Pactola, adding to the lure and mystery.

Photo credit: https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/trip-ideas/story/pactola-reservoir-south-dakotas-version-atlantis

Hauntings

In 1984, there was a man who passed away who used to fish in Rapid City Creek every day. He had fallen through the ice and his body was not recovered until spring time. Stories swirl around a fisherman at the creek and Lake Pactola area who appears life life, then vanishes. Fisherman also report their fishing lines being torn away or the sound of ice cracking.

Plan Your Visit

Cost: $6 per day/vehicle.

Interested in Camping? Click here for more information.

Directions: Drive 15 miles wet of Rapid City on HWY 44. Turn left/south on HWY 385 and travel 2 miles to the dam.


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