With Halloween right around the corner, people are out and about this month looking for a good scare. From haunted houses, to hayrides, to carnivals — there are tons of options out there. The opportunities for some great photos are also boundless when it comes to October. Here’s our countdown of eight of the scariest and most haunted places to photograph in North America.
ST. LOUIS CEMETERY
This surprisingly picturesque cemetery is located in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. A city that is no stranger to stories of ghosts and hauntings — the infamous St. Louis Cemetery may be one of the spookiest of them all.
Built in 1789, within the high walls of this area is the final resting place to over 100,000 people. Due to the city’s issues with high ground water, almost all of the graves are above-ground vaults. Through the years there have been numerous claims of paranormal activity, and restless spirits who protect the honor of the inhabitants.
The most famous resident is arguably Marie Laveau — the Voudou priestess with a dark power. She is said to wander the area of her unmarked tomb, often seen chanting curses and at times even exhibiting violence to those who come near her.
WAVERLY HILLS SANATORIUM
Constructed in 1926 at the edge of Louisville/Jefferson Country, Kentucky, Waverly Hills served as a tuberculosis hospital when the disease was at its height in the United States. It is widely speculated that over 63,000 patients met their end there.
Regarded as one of the most haunted buildings in all of the US, many tales of mistreatment and unsavoury experimental procedures on patients have emerged over the years. The sanatorium has been featured on numerous ghost hunting shows, one of which claims to have captured footage of the ghost of a young boy wandering through the hallways.
Stories that detail visions of full bodied apparitions, strange shadows, screams from empty rooms, footsteps, cold spots, and voices seem to be endless. Waverly Hill’s creepy exterior, deserted hallways, and forgotten relics would be the perfect setting for some memorable shots.
THE STANLEY HOTEL
If you’re a fan of psychological horror film The Shining, then you’ll recognize The Stanley Hotel as the setting of Jack Torrance’s mental breakdown. The gorgeous, neo-Georgian structure can be found within sight of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado.
The outside of the hotel and its surroundings alone make for beautiful photography subjects. Inside you’ll find spacious rooms, vintage décor as well as some terrifying ghost stories. The highest amount of ghostly activity has been spotted or heard from the great ballroom.
Staff members have reported hearing parties in the empty ballroom, and have often seen a female spirit playing piano. Guests have woken up to men standing over their beds, have reported their possessions mysteriously disappearing, or have heard the disembodied laughter of children in the hallways.
We’d bet that almost any penitentiary hold many horror stories within its walls. Built in 1876 in West Virginia, this gothic style prison certainly has its fair share of stories to tell. With a violent past that includes numerous executions, harsh punishments, horrible living conditions, and prison riots it’s no wonder the building is rumored to be haunted.
Over the years, Moundsville has become a popular destination for those who study paranormal activity. Many experts claim that the prison is home to a residual haunting, meaning some past and tragic events are constantly replayed. Certain “hot spots” of activity within the prison walls include the chapel, shower cages, and execution area. Some even say that the circular entrance gate is known to move by itself, signalling the spirits of criminals that are still arriving at the prison.
FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL
Located in stunning Banff, Alberta, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a favored tourist spot as well as a photographer’s haven. Surrounded by a serene setting and breathtaking mountain views, many find it surprising to learn that the hotel is one of the most haunted places in Canada.
Opened to the public in 1888, the hotel has a long history of tragic and violent occurrences. A bride who lost her life tripping down a staircase haunts the ballroom and is often seen dancing in her wedding gown. Room 873 was rumured to be the scene of a family’s murder where a child’s fingerprints would continuously appear on the room’s bathroom mirror. The room has long been boarded up, and no one has set foot inside since.
The architecture and style of Craigdarroch Castle alludes to something sinister. It’s as alluring and unique as it is foreboding, making it the perfect structure to capture in a photo. Located in Victoria, British Columbia and built in 1887, this beautiful house has a sad past.
Now a museum, Craigdarroch Castle was once home to a Scottish immigrant, his wife, and daughter. All of whom met their untimely deaths within the castle’s walls. Ghostly encounters have included sightings of a woman in a ball gown on the main staircase, a small girl roaming the basement, cold spots, strange smells, and unexplained piano music.
PLAINS OF ABRAHAM
A historic and scenic site, the area located just outside Quebec City in Canada was once home to a ferocious battle. Here in 1759, French and British troops fought over the land and hundreds of lives were lost. There are some photogenic structures, monuments, and landscapes still located on the land to this day.
At night, visitors often report sightings of soldiers in the tunnels or on the battlefield. Claims of cannon sounds and smells, screams, and uncomfortable feelings, have also been numerous.
ISLAND OF THE DOLLS
Is there anything creepier than an island inexplicably filled with old, hanging, decaying dolls? We think not. You can find this enclave of horrors just outside of Mexico City where there will be no shortage of spooky things to photograph.
Legend has it that a man named Julian Santan Barrera moved to the Island of the Dolls (Xochimilco) in the 1950s to be a recluse. It was there he claims a little girl, who had drowned playing near the island 30 years prior, began speaking to him. She told him that she was trapped on the island, so Barrera began collecting dolls for her to play with. As time went on, her demand for more dolls became too much to keep up with.
Barrera was soon found dead, face down in the same spot where the little girl had drowned all those years before. Tourists who visit the island today speak of the dolls watching them, whispering to them, and have also spotted strange figures wandering aimlessly.