Historic forts in the US vary greatly in type and size, from simple military posts to fortresses built to protect early pioneers within its walls. Some of the oldest sites in the US and with often tragic histories, it’s little wonder forts are a breeding ground for paranormal activity!

There are hundreds of forts dotted throughout the country, and you can bet ghosts lurk in every corner of these historic sites. However, we’ve concentrated on what we believe are the 10 most haunted forts in America. Enjoy!

Haunted Forts on the East Coast

1. Fort Knox | Prospect, Maine

Haunted Fort Knox, Maine
Fort Knox, 740 Ft Knox Rd, Prospect, ME 04981

When you hear Fort Knox, you might think of the famous Kentucky stronghold where the U.S. Treasury stores all of the country’s gold. However, the ghosts reside at another Fort Knox, further north in the state of Maine.

Although the state is best known for delicious lobster rolls and blueberry soda, it actually has a fascinating military history. Fort Knox, along Penobscot River in Prospect, Maine, has famously never had a shot fired from it, even across the Civil and Spanish–American wars. Nonetheless, the entirely granite fort is considered one of the country’s best-preserved forts, and home to unexplained activity.

Staff, visitors, and Ghost Hunters have reported hearing breathing and voices in the dark passages of the fort. Apparitions include anonymous figures and the ghost of Ordnance Sergeant Leopold Hegyi, fort caretaker in the late 1800s, who appears in a duster coat around the fort. See the flickering lights and disembodied apparitions for yourself on one of their annual Halloween ghost hunts, Fright at the Fort, or stay overnight with the Fort Knox Ghost Camp periodically throughout the year.

2. Fort Warren | Georges Island, Massachusetts

Haunted Fort Warren, Boston
Fort Warren, Georges Island, Boston, Massachusetts

On the scenic Georges Island outside of Boston, the former military base at Fort Warren is open to visitors wanting to learn more about its rich history — and for ghost hunters hoping to see something spooky.

Built in the mid-1800s, this stronghold protected Boston Harbor in several wars. It was even a prison for Confederate bureaucrats and officers during the Civil War.

The famous ghost of Fort Warren, believed to be the spirit of Melanie Lanier, was the wife of one of these prisoners. She traveled from Georgia to Massachusetts to be closer to her imprisoned husband, dressed to look like a man and rowed to the island with weapons in tow. The story says that she snuck onto shore, made her way to his cell, and fought with a Union soldier, ending in an accidental misfire that killed her husband. She was executed for her breach of the prison and buried on George’s Island in black robes — the closest they could find to the women’s clothing she requested she be hanged in. Rumor says she haunts the island to this day.

3. Fort William Henry | Lake George, New York

Haunted Fort William Henry, New York
Fort William Henry, Lake George, NY 12845

Nestled along the picturesque upstate Lake George sits the historic Fort William Henry, a living history museum that stands as witness to the massacre that occurred there in 1757. When a French general conducted a siege on the then-British fort, with the help of the skilled and tactful Huron fighters, anywhere from 69 to 184 people died.

Reports testify that those who remained alive were left without clothes or food, many of them perishing in the woods in the following days. The French abandoned the fort after the battle, leaving it to the tortured spirits of the dead. Rumors state that today, visitors may see the ghost of a soldier when they take one of the ghost tours available at the museum.

4. Fort Delaware | Pea Patch Island, Delaware

Haunted Fort Delaware
Fort Delaware State Park, 45 Clinton St, Delaware City, DE 19706

Another harbor stronghold, this fort is quite similar to Boston’s Fort Warren. Located on an island outside of Delaware City, the fort was transformed into a prison for Confederate inmates during the Civil War. Prisoners were treated terribly, despite their obvious wrong of fighting for the Confederacy, to an inhumane extent.

Prisoners starved and Union officers played with them like dolls, tossing live rats into crowds of inmates to watch them fight for the rat as food. Visitors today will be greeted with much friendlier treatment and actors portraying each of the important roles on the island back in the day — and maybe some ghosts, too.

With two Ghost Hunters episodes under its belt, it’s no secret that Fort Delaware is home to some spectral beings. Some consider it one of the most haunted places in the world, with the likes of unexplained cannon fire and fleeting figures occurring during visits. Some even say they feel hands on their shoulders in the kitchen areas — perhaps one of the most fraught locations on the island considering how many were sick and starving.

5. Fort Mifflin | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Haunted Fort Mifflin
Fort Mifflin, 6400 Hog Island Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19153

Right along the Delaware River, the historic Fort Mifflin emanates American history. As one of the forts captured by the British during the Revolutionary War — though it never surrendered — and as one of many forts that served as a Union prison during the Civil War, this Philadelphia stronghold is an important one despite often being overshadowed by the hundreds of historic buildings in the area, like Valley Forge. In reality, it’s due to Fort Mifflin’s strategic location that places like Valley Forge succeeded in the first place.

It hasn’t functioned since the 1960s, but its ghosts are still alive and well. Only one soldier was ever hanged at the fort, and his ghost supposedly haunts the place despite his apparition not having a face. Ghost tours, which are conducted by the Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance, have also heard the screeches of a woman believed to be the late Elizabeth Pratt. Other ghost hunters have claimed that their flashlights mysteriously went dead onsite and that objects moved without explanation.

Haunted Forts in the Midwest

6. Fort Leavenworth | Leavenworth, Kansas

Haunted Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth, Leavenworth, KS 66027

Just on the border of Missouri, this 1800s military fort is the oldest settlement in Kansas. Fort Leavenworth was one of only a few destinations during the mid-1800s when Americans were settling out west to try for a better life.

The fort was the first stop along the Santa Fe and Oregon trails leading west — certain ghostly fodder. With the state’s oldest ever house, the Rookery, located on the base itself, spirits are sure to lurk as they do in the tunnels running beneath the nearby town.

The Rookery is supposedly home to a lady in white who likes to fly around the house in a haggard state. Families who have lived in the Rookery report furniture moving on the unoccupied floors above, disembodied footsteps, flickering lights, and spirits so haunting even the pet cats were spooked.

The fort is filled with haunted buildings, like 1 Scott Avenue and its porch-dwelling ghost believed to belong to any of the tens of soldiers buried there. Down the road at the Sutler’s House, where the general store owner loved to entertain guests, the ghost of sutler Hiram Rich haunts through lively music, boisterous laughs, and clinking glasses in the empty house. There are countless more tales of ghostly happenings at this old-as-time fort to discover on your own journey out west.

7. Fort Riley | The Kaw, Kansas

Haunted Fort Riley, Kansas
Fort Riley, Northeastern Kansas

Is there anything more terrifying than being in the middle of nowhere in Kansas? How about being in the middle of nowhere in Kansas with a bunch of ghosts? This historic, functioning fort built in 1853 was an important stronghold during westward expansion.

With tons of parties of settlers walking past the fort and using it as a place to rest up, there’s no surprise some ghostly energy remains. When ghost hunters for Old School Paranormal spent a night in the fort’s Triangle House building, they only confirmed the suspicions. They heard multiple accounts of disembodied voices, some belonging to children.

Unexplained noises reigned the night, with paranormal activity sensors reacting strongly to their questions for the spirits. They found lights they had left off turned on and ended up leaving the building around 4 a.m. because they felt it was time to leave the spirits be.

Haunted Forts in the West and South

8. Fort Laramie | Fort Laramie, Wyoming

Haunted Fort Laramie, Wyoming
Fort Laramie, 965 Grey Rocks Road, Fort Laramie, WY 82212

Originally a trading post in the 1830s, where westbound settlers parked their wagons, stocked up on food, and prepared for the long and unknown trip to the West Coast, Fort Laramie in Wyoming only became a military fort in 1849. It was frequently attacked by the Indigenous tribes who were there first, making it a place of fraught history.

But even long ago, it was reported to house some ghosts, like the woman in green who has haunted the place since its early days. She was the daughter of one of the post’s agents, and she was sick of his domineering attitude about her safety. She was a skilled horseback rider and felt she could take care of herself — so she escaped on a black horse, never to return to the fort. Her ghost has an idiosyncratic method, haunting the Oregon Trail only every seven years. She wears a green dress and rides the same black horse, though now she’s just an apparition.

She’s joined by the ghost of the Captain’s Quarters, who has opened and closed doors, made sounds of footsteps, and created spectral lights in the building since the late 1800s. Each building at this fort seems to have its own ghosts, many of them with fascinating stories and friendly demeanors.

9. Castillo de San Marcos | St. Augustine, Florida

Haunted Castillo de San Marcos, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, 1 S Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084

As the oldest masonry building in the continental states of the U.S., the history of this fort is one of our longest. It was built in the late 1600s by the Spanish and was passed from Spain to Britain multiple times before 1933.

During wartime, the roots of today’s hauntings took hold. One colonel’s wife supposedly snuck out at night to meet a captain, her lover. They were caught when the colonel smelled his wife’s perfume on the captain’s neck, and no one saw the wife or the captain after that.

Visitors report that they’ve smelled perfume with no explanation — same with the cold spots, touching, and feelings of nausea that plague some visitors to the historic site. Some even say they’ve seen an old soldier looking at the sea, pontificating that this could be the colonel’s ghost contemplating the sad end to his marriage.

Read more St. Augustine’s Haunted Places

10. Fort Concho | San Angelo, Texas

Haunted Fort Concho, Texas
Fort Concho, 630 S Oakes St, San Angelo, TX 76903

Since its inception in 1867, Fort Concho has been an important Texas stronghold along several trails and rivers. Perhaps most famously, it was the home to many of the “Buffalo soldiers,” the name that Indigenous Americans gave to the Black soldiers fighting them during westward expansion.

Interestingly, the fort became defunct all the way back in 1889 — but military ghosts still haunt the place. One ghost is that of a 12-year-old girl, Edie, who died from typhoid in 1879. People say her spirit likes to wear a peach dress, play jacks, and emanate cold spots, always giving visitors a smile when they see her.

Another paranormal being is the ghost of Sergeant Cunningham, who became the only soldier who perished at Fort Concho. They’re not the only ones — disembodied voices, apparitions, flickering lights, and wandering figures are all known to haunt the fort.

Haunted Forts 1

Zoe Hannah
Contributing Writer

Zoë Hannah is a travel journalist, editor, and professional TripAdvisor scourer. She loves finding nitty-gritty details about off-the-track locations and then discovering them for herself.