Famous Ghost Stories: Most Haunted US Locations

Everyone loves a good ghost story. Some of the spookiest tales are passed down through cities across America. Whether you’re paranormal obsessed or just a casual believer, there are plenty of reasons to be captivated by supposed spirits who haunt the earth. On your next vacation or stop over in one of these haunted US locations, places that are based on real people and actual events. These famous US ghost stories will definitely make your trip a memorable one.

Most Haunted US Locations

The Chelsea Hotel, New York City

A call to the front desk at the Chelsea Hotel in NYC came in around 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 1978, from someone outside the hotel. The unknown man said, “There’s trouble in room 100.” The bellboy ran up to the room, and meanwhile from inside room 100, Sid Vicious called the front desk, “Someone is sick. Need help.” The bellboy found a 20-year-old platinum blonde lying on the bathroom floor in her blood-soaked underwear. Nancy Spungen had a one-inch knife wound in her lower abdomen. She was dead.

Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Haunted US Locations
Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Flickr: Chicago Art Department / CC BY 2.0

Built in 1884, the Chelsea Hotel is a famous, historic New York City landmark that was once a mecca for famous artists, writers and musicians. Dylan Thomas, Thomas Wolfe, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and many others have all spent time there. It’s now considered one of the most haunted US locations in the nation, and hotel residents report regular encounters with a variety of ghosts.

By 1978, when Nancy Spungen and boyfriend Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols moved to the Chelsea, the hotel’s reputation as an artist’s den had subsided. People were more into partying like rock stars than actually performing like rock stars. As the Sex Pistols’ bassist, Vicious apparently didn’t know how to play the bass. The first floor was known as the “junkies” floor, and after Vicious collapsed in the lobby from a drug overdose, the hotel manager moved the couple to the first floor.

The Hotel Chelsea, New York City. Haunted US locations
The Hotel Chelsea, New York City. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Paranormal Activities Seen at the Hotel

For years, residents and visitors of the hotel claim to have seen the ghost of Sid Vicious close to the first floor elevator. In some cases, guests have reported paranormal activity in and near room 100, including large temperature fluctuations and floating orbs. Some guests have even reported loud music coming from room 100. Others have heard the loud voices of a couple arguing, but after checking, they find the room empty.

Vicious was arrested for Spungen’s murder. However the case never went to trial because he died from a heroin overdose four months later. In a movie made about Sid and Nancy in 1986, the actor playing him told the Associated Press that the Chelsea Hotel “. . . is a vortex – an artistic tornado of death and destruction and love and broken dreams.”

The LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans

No ghost story is complete without mentioning New Orleans, one of the most haunted US locations in America. It has all the elements for paranormal activity to thrive.  It’s an ancient, below-sea-level port city segmented by the mighty Mississippi. New Orleans has a history of seamen, privateers, and pirates passing through it.  “It’s where a cultural mix of people came in exile or to escape, putting down roots in fragile land surrounded by shadowy, primeval bayous of the Mississippi delta.”

LaLaurie mansion is the most famous haunted house in the French Quarter. In 1834, socialite Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie, owned the mansion at 1140 Royal St., located at the dark and quiet downriver end of the Vieux Carre.
Madame LaLaurie's Mansion. Haunted US Locations
The LaLaurie Mansion. Flickr: Reading Tom / CC BY 2.0

How They Found Out the Torture Chamber

Firefighters in New Orleans were called to extinguish a blaze that started in the kitchen. They were shocked to find a torture chamber in the attic where the madame slowly murdered chained slaves. After the fire, more tales of LaLaurie’s cruelty surfaced, including an incident in which she reportedly chased a slave girl with a whip until the scared girl jumped from the roof to her death.

The LaLaurie legacy remains because of sightings of a small child wandering the building’s rooftop, as though seeking escape from long-ago brutality, only to plummet toward the ground and vanish. The LaLaurie story even inspired an entire season of American Horror Story.

The original chronicling can be found in a report by the New Orleans Bee newspaper, which states a mob stormed the mansion, ripping out walls and ransacking furnishings. The madame ran away to Paris and never admitted to any of her crimes.

The Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg (TN)

Areas surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains are some of the most haunted US locations in the state of Tennessee. Regional ghost tours continually make top 10 lists. Folklore traditions are at the root of Smoky Mountain ghost stories.

One of the favorite ghost haunts in Gatlinburg is the Greenbrier Restaurant, which is also home to the spirit Lydia. In 1939, the building was a lodge that catered to wealthy hunters. Lydia was a resident of the lodge.

She planned to marry a handsome young man in town. They were happy and in love, but legend has it that on their wedding day Lydia was stood up at the altar of a Gatlinburg church. She ran back to the lodge, threw a rope over a rafter and hung herself still wearing her dress. She died broken-hearted, a jilted lover. He didn’t stand her up, however. A mountain lion attacked him, and his mangled body was found a few days after Lydia killed herself.

Greenbrier Restaurant, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Haunted US Locations
Greenbrier Restaurant, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Restaurant staff have reported seeing food knocked off the shelves of the kitchen pantry. Guests report seeing her on the stairs of the second floor landing and feeling a sad presence.

There are many more cities all over the country and the world with haunted tales. People’s fascination will never wane. The best ghost stories are passed down from one generation to the next. Maybe this is what writer David Foster Wallace meant when he said: “Every love story is a ghost story.”

About Melissa Davidson

Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. Her favorites topics to write about are travel, mental and physical health, and endurance sports. Find Melissa on Twitter @madtris

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  1. Things to Do in New Orleans - Go4Travel Blog

    […] one of New Orleans’ most haunted locations is the notorious Lalaurie House located in the French Quarter. It was the previous home of Madame […]

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