Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states and it is also one of the most fascinating. It has a somewhat creepy past that is peppered with traumatic events, murders and tragic accidents. There are also several abandoned prisons and asylums making it the perfect setting for some paranormal activity.
Let’s dig a little bit deeper into the history of the 12 most haunted places in Pennsylvania:
12. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Spring City
Pennhurst State School was in operation for around fifty years during the first half of the 20th century. It was cut off from the rest of the world and it very quickly became overcrowded and out of control. The brutal mistreatment of the mentally ill patients housed here eventually led to its closure, but not before numerous deaths which have left a mark on the building. Today it is one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. Visitors have reported all manner of strange noises and apparitions believed to be the spirits of former patients and employees alike.
11. Centralia, Columbia County
If Centralia looks familiar to you then it is probably because it was used as the inspiration for the town of Silent Hill in the horror movie of the same name. This real-life ghost town has had an underground coal fire burning for more than 50 years. The population has dwindled to less than 10 people who refuse to leave. Aside from being super creepy due to the nature of the town’s abandonment, there have also been stories of strange shadow figures and apparitions flitting around the abandoned buildings.
10. The Quality Inn, Gettysburg
The Quality Inn in Gettysburg was originally built in 1863 to serve as General Lee’s headquarters during the civil war. Over the years there have been hundreds of reports of ghostly activity from both guests and employees. Some of the most common occurrences include the sound of a drum and fife playing, phantom gunshots and cannon fire and the sound of someone walking in the attic. There are also regular reports of doors being opened and closed by some unseen force, lights turning on and off and a few objects apparently moving by themselves!
Everyone knows Betsy Ross for being the person who designed the first American flag, but people are visiting her Philadelphia home for something a little bit more than a history lesson! You see, this is also one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. The house has been featured on various television shows thanks to the paranormal activity. In fact, this house is so haunted that one former director climbed out of the window and jumped onto the flagpole to escape the spirits on one particularly terrifying night! Some visitors have reported seeing Betsy Ross herself crying in the basement while others say that they have heard cries and moans from the gift shop next door which also happens to be where a security guard was murdered in 1980.
8. Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia
Another historical site in Pennsylvania that is apparently haunted is Philadelphia’s Fort Mifflin. So many historical sites around the state have been remodelled, but Fort Mifflin claims to be the only Revolutionary War battlefield that has remained completely intact. Perhaps that is why some of the Fort’s original inhabitants have stuck around! One of the ghosts that is known to haunt Fort Mifflin is ‘The Screaming Woman’ who is believed to be the spirit of Elizabeth Pratt. Her screams are often heard in the Officer’s Quarters where it is believed that she hanged herself. The Fort is also home to another spirit known as ‘The Faceless Man’. It is believed that this is the ghost of William Howe and he is often seen around the casements where the prisoners would have been held. Visitors have also reported being grabbed, pushed and held by unseen hands!
7. Brandywine Battlefield, Chester County
Pennsylvania is well known for the Battle of Gettysburg, but there is another famous battlefield in the state which is often overlooked! The Brandywine Battlefield is an important historical site in terms of the Revolutionary War and it is also one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. Around 2000 men died here on what was the bloodiest day of the Revolutionary War and visitors say that they can still hear the battle echoing around the area. There have also been multiple sightings of apparitions of soldiers and horses.
6. The Seven Gates of Hell, York
This desolate area in York was apparently where an old asylum once stood, but it is said to have burned to the ground because firefighters were unable to reach the remote area in time. Almost all the patients perished in the fire. Seven gates were built to help capture the remaining patients who had escaped. However, since then, a local legend has sprung up stating that anyone who passes through all seven of the gates will go straight to Hell!
5. Harrisburg Hospital, Harrisburg
When Harrisburg Hospital first opened back in 1851 it was known as Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital. The huge institution continued operating as a psychiatric facility treating the mentally ill until 2006. Ever since the hospital closed there have been an increasing number of reports of paranormal activity that have contributed to the building’s reputation as one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. There have been strange noises, screaming, footsteps, shadows and apparitions. It is especially haunted in the morgue, the basement and the underground tunnels.
4. The Old Jail Museum, Jim Thorpe
Located at the edge of the Pocono Mountain, the Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, formerly the Carbon County Prison, was built in 1871 and served as the county prison until 1995. It is an imposing structure built into the side of a rocky mountain and is now open to the public as a museum. It is also home to a famous ghost story regarding what has become known as ‘The Day of The Rope’. On June 21, 1877 four Irish coal miners accused of being Molly Maguires were hanged in the Old Jail at one time as punishment for fighting for better treatment and working conditions. The leader of the group, Alexander Campbell, placed his hand on the wall of Cell 17 and swore that his handprint would remain as proof of his innocence. True to his word, the handprint still remains visible on the wall. Over the years it has been scrubbed clean. painted over. and the wall has even been demolished and rebuilt, yet that mark attesting to Alexander Campbell’s innocence still remains!
3. Hotel Bethlehem, Bethlehem
Hotel Bethlehem is one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania and it is probably of the state’s most popular spots for ghost hunting! The building was once the very first house in Bethlehem before being transformed into a hotel. It is said that there are at least 4 ghosts to be found here, all of which have strong historical ties to the hotel. The first of these ghosts is said to be actor/singer May Yohe who was born in the hotel! She has been heard singing in the lobby and guests have seen her apparition in the exercise room from time to time. Another of the ghosts is Francis ‘Daddy’ Thomas who worked in Bethlehem as a tour guide prior to his death in 1822. Finally, the remaining two ghosts are the buildings original landlords Mr and Mrs Brong. Much of the activity seems to be focused on room 932 where people see lights going on and off, apparitions in the mirror and a male spirit who wakes guest in the night asking why they are in his room! On occasion, guests have even opened the bathroom door to find a whole different room on the other side!
Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles in American history with nearly 8000 soldiers losing their lives across a 3-day period. It is no surprise at all that Gettysburg Battlefield is one of the most haunted places in Pennsylvania, maybe even one of the most haunted in the world! There is a wide variety of paranormal activity that has been reported here including the sounds of the battle echoing around the area, phantom gunshots and cannon fire, the agonizing screams of the dying soldiers and many different apparitions of soldiers and horses. However, what is even more interesting is that this battlefield was apparently haunted even before the first shot was fired! It has been said that as the Union soldiers made their way to Gettysburg, the ghost of George Washington appeared and led them into battle!
1. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
One of the most terrifying places in all of Pennsylvania must be Eastern State Penitentiary. This was the first penitentiary in the United States and it was designed specifically with the intention of placing prisoners in a situation where they spent time silently reflection on their crimes without interaction with other people. Those incarcerated in this prison were subjected to both physical and psychological torture. Some of the famous methods used here included the ‘Mad Chair’ where prisoners would be strapped tightly in and be left sitting completely motionless for days without food and water – often driving them to insanity. Other methods included clamping their tongue with the ‘Iron Gag’ which would cause severe pain and bleeding if they tried to speak, and throwing prisoners into ‘The Hole’ where they could be kept in a dark pit for weeks at a time. Needless to say, many men held here went completely insane and many of them died. It is no surprise that visitors hear footsteps, screams, moans and other unexplained noises. Visitors also report being grabbed, scratched and followed in the prison. These days the building houses a museum and is used as one of the most terrifying Halloween haunted houses in the country!