The Five Creepiest Towns in America - Page 2

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Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts
Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts  (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
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Salem, Massachusetts
Few American cities are so famous for a sordid past as Salem. Its nickname “Witch City” comes from the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when 19 men and women were accused of witchcraft and hanged, and 150 more were arrested and charged. Today, this town of 41,000 residents throws one of the country’s biggest Halloween celebrations, including the annual Festival of the Dead which “explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals.”

Salem is also home to the Joshua Ward House, said to be one of America’s most haunted houses since being built atop the grave of the witch trials’ malevolent high sheriff. The grave was eventually relocated, but the ghostly phenomena persist.

Key West, Florida
Once the richest city in North America, Key West was long a prime layover point for pirates terrorizing the Gulf of Mexico and looting the wrecked ships along the Florida reef. The island was remarkably isolated until a new railway linked it to the mainland in 1912. That meant years with buccaneers and rum-runners free to plunder as they liked, with local authorities only occasionally catching up with them. Executions were the only recourse for these savage souls, and bodies wound up in the local morgue, where now stands the allegedly haunted Captain Tony’s Saloon. The “hanging tree” outside made for a short distance to transport the bodies.

Creepy Key West also got a bump from one of the island’s most legendary residents: Robert the Doll. Many claim this oversized doll is possessed, and spent nights pacing and throwing furniture around the room where he lived in the early 1900s. Drop by the Art and Historical Society to see him, and be ready for your hair to stand on end. Don’t forget a quick visit to Ernest Hemingway’s former abode, where some say you can still hear his typewriter ticking away.

Savannah, Georgia
Local lore says that plenty of centuries-old ghosts have settled in Savannah among the great mossy oak trees, Gothic mansions, and aging cemeteries. Once voted America’s most haunted city by the American Institute of Parapsychology, this seaport has served everyone from pirates to bootleggers to Civil War soldiers, many of whom were buried here. The only problem is that much of the city was built atop some of those centuries-old graveyards, making it a busy scene for ghostly sightings.

The Moon River Brewery and Mercer House (setting for the 1997 film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) have their share of ghost stories, but it’s the 1796 Hampton Lillibridge House that had to call in the exorcists—apparently to no avail.

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