Haunted Places in Pennsylvania: A Guide to the State’s Most Haunted Locations

  • By: Timothy Rose
  • Date: 15 August 2023
  • Time to read: 20 min.

Pennsylvania is a state with a rich history, and with that history comes a plethora of stories of haunted places. From haunted inns to historic sites, Pennsylvania has no shortage of locations where paranormal activity has been reported.

One of the most famous haunted places in Pennsylvania is the Farnsworth House Inn located in Gettysburg. The inn was used as shelter for Confederate sharpshooters during the Battle of Gettysburg and later as a makeshift hospital. It is now known as one of the most haunted inns in America and has been featured on the Travel Channel. Visitors have reported seeing apparitions, hearing strange noises, and feeling cold spots throughout the inn.

Farnsworth House Inn
Farnsworth House Inn

Another haunted location in Pennsylvania is Hill View Manor in New Castle. The building was originally a poorhouse and later a nursing home, and it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former residents. Many paranormal investigators have visited the location and reported experiencing strange occurrences such as doors opening and closing on their own, unexplained noises, and apparitions. Hill View Manor has been featured on several paranormal TV shows, including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

Historical Haunts

Pennsylvania is a state steeped in history, and with that history comes a plethora of haunted locations. Gettysburg, Old Jail Museum, Jennie Wade House, and Betsy Ross House are just a few of the historical haunts that are worth a visit.


Gettysburg is a name that resonates with history and the supernatural. The town and its surrounding areas have witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in American history, and with that, a plethora of ghostly tales have emerged.

In the heart of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1 to 3, 1863, during the American Civil War. This battle saw the Union and Confederate armies clash in a fierce confrontation, resulting in significant casualties on both sides. The aftermath of the battle was so profound that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the iconic Gettysburg Address during the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

However, the echoes of the past don’t just reside in history books. Many visitors and locals have reported paranormal activities around the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District and the Gettysburg National Military Park. Ghostly apparitions of soldiers, unexplained noises, and eerie sensations are common tales. Some believe that the spirits of the fallen soldiers still roam the grounds, unable to find peace. Whether you’re a history buff or a paranormal enthusiast, Gettysburg offers a unique blend of the past and the mysterious, making it a must-visit destination.

Old Jail Museum

The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is a site steeped in history and shrouded in mystery. This imposing structure has stood the test of time and has witnessed events that have left an indelible mark on its walls.

The museum is renowned for its ghost stories and paranormal activities. Visitors have reported numerous eerie experiences within its confines. Tales of apparitions, unexplained noises, and chilling sensations are common among those who’ve dared to explore its depths. One intriguing account mentions a photograph taken by a neighbor across the street that captured a ghostly figure hovering over the line of visitors waiting for the tour. Another tale speaks of a mysterious writing that appeared in a mirror, visible only when a visitor reviewed her photos at home. The spirits that roam the Old Jail Museum are said to be friendly, often making their presence known to unsuspecting visitors, especially those not actively seeking them out.

While the museum has organized ghost tours in the past, they have been put on hold due to staffing challenges. However, the regular daytime history tours offer just as much potential for a paranormal encounter. After all, as the museum itself claims, you don’t have to be on a ghost tour for a ghost to find you. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a seeker of the supernatural, the Old Jail Museum promises an experience like no other.

Jennie Wade House

The Jennie Wade House in Gettysburg stands as a testament to the tragic events of the Civil War. This historic home has become one of America’s most haunted sites, drawing visitors from all over to experience its eerie atmosphere.

Jennie Wade House - Credit Marion Doss
Jennie Wade House – Credit Marion Doss

On July 3rd, 1863, a bullet pierced through the doorway of this house, tragically ending the life of young Jennie Wade. This unfortunate event marked Jennie as the only civilian casualty during the Battle of Gettysburg. The house itself seems to remember this sorrowful event, as many visitors have reported encounters with resident spirits, ghostly soldiers, and heartbroken women. The cellar, in particular, is said to house an unhappy entity, adding to the house’s haunted reputation. Over the years, the ghostly tales associated with the Jennie Wade House have been documented in numerous books and television specials, even earning it a spot on the Travel Channel’s list of the most haunted houses.

Today, guided tours take visitors on a 90-minute journey through the house, sharing its rich history and chilling paranormal tales. Those who venture inside are often encouraged to bring their cameras, as many have captured inexplicable images that hint at the presence of the supernatural. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a seeker of the paranormal, the Jennie Wade House promises an unforgettable experience.

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is a significant landmark in Philadelphia, believed to be the residence of the famed seamstress and flag-maker, Betsy Ross. It’s here that she is said to have crafted the first American Flag. This claim, however, traces its origins to stories from her relatives, especially her grandsons, William and George Canby, during the Centennial celebrations of 1876. While some archival evidence suggests that Ross might have lived in a house adjacent to the current Betsy Ross House, the exact location remains a topic of debate among historians.

Today, the Betsy Ross House stands not just as a testament to a pivotal moment in American history but also as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors are taken on a journey back in time, where they can hear tales of the resident spirits, ghostly soldiers, heartbroken women, and even whispers of the ghost of Aaron Burr. Whether or not one believes in the ghostly tales, the house’s connection to the origins of the American flag and its rumored paranormal residents, including Burr, make it an essential visit for history enthusiasts.

Pennsylvania is home to many historical haunts, and these are just a few of the locations that are worth a visit. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these locations offer a glimpse into the history of the state and the country.

Haunted Hospitals and Asylums

Pennsylvania has a long history of haunted hospitals and asylums. These places were once home to patients who suffered from mental illness and other afflictions. Today, many of these buildings are abandoned and are said to be haunted by the spirits of those who once lived there. In this section, we will explore three of the most haunted hospitals and asylums in Pennsylvania.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP), located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stands as a testament to America’s evolving approach to crime and punishment. Operational from 1829 to 1971, this massive structure was once the largest and most expensive public building in the U.S. Its innovative design, resembling a wagon wheel, housed notorious criminals like Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. The penitentiary’s primary goal was reform over punishment, emphasizing solitary confinement to encourage inmates towards spiritual reflection.

Eastern State Penitentiary – Credit Shannon O’Toole

However, the prison wasn’t just about reform. Over time, tales of ghostly apparitions and eerie sounds have emerged, making it a hotspot for paranormal enthusiasts. Some claim to hear disembodied laughs, whispers, and footsteps echoing through the empty cellblocks. Others report seeing shadowy figures darting around. The most chilling stories revolve around Cellblock 4, where ghostly faces are said to materialize, and Cellblock 12, known for echoing cackles. The prison’s long history of death, despair, and isolation makes it a prime candidate for hauntings.

After its closure in 1971, the prison faced potential redevelopment plans, including being turned into a mall or luxury apartments. However, nature took over, with a “forest” growing within its walls and stray cats making it their home. In 1994, the prison was opened to the public for tours, allowing visitors to experience its rich history and perhaps encounter some of its spectral residents. Today, besides its historical tours, the penitentiary is also known for its annual “Halloween Nights” event, which adds a layer of theatrical horror to its already eerie ambiance.

Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Pennhurst State School and Hospital, originally known as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, was a state-run facility for mentally and physically disabled individuals in Spring City, Pennsylvania. Established in 1908, it was designed to cater to the needs of the “feeble-minded” and epileptic residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania. However, its history is marred with controversy. By 1968, local news reports exposed the deplorable conditions at Pennhurst, revealing overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and instances of patient abuse. This exposure led to a landmark lawsuit, Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital, asserting the constitutional rights of patients. The lawsuit revealed that residents were often classified based on their mental and physical health, and even their dental condition. The institution’s approach was influenced by the eugenics movement of the early 20th century, which viewed disabled individuals as “unfit” for society.

The dark tales from Pennhurst don’t end with its history. Over the years, stories of paranormal activity have emerged. Whispers of ghostly apparitions, eerie sounds, and unexplained phenomena have been reported by visitors and investigators alike. Some claim to hear the distant cries and laughter of former residents, while others have reported seeing shadowy figures wandering the abandoned hallways. Given the institution’s troubled past, it’s no surprise that many believe the spirits of those who suffered there still linger.

Pennhurst was eventually closed in 1987 after the Halderman case exposed widespread patient abuse and determined that the institution’s conditions violated patients’ constitutional rights. The closure marked a significant shift in the treatment and perception of individuals with disabilities, emphasizing community-based care over institutionalization. Today, while parts of the Pennhurst campus have been repurposed or demolished, its legacy remains. The site has been transformed into a haunted attraction, drawing visitors eager to experience its chilling history firsthand. However, this transformation has been met with controversy, as many believe it’s inappropriate to make entertainment out of such a dark chapter in history.

Dixmont State Hospital

Dixmont State Hospital, originally known as the Department of the Insane in the Western Pennsylvania Hospital of Pittsburgh, was a significant institution located northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Established in 1862, Dixmont was initially hailed for its state-of-the-art facilities and its self-sufficient, park-like campus. However, as time progressed, the hospital’s reputation was tarnished by overcrowding, financial difficulties, and allegations of patient abuse. By the 1920s, the hospital faced challenges due to the influx of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients from World War I. Financial troubles plagued the institution, especially during the Great Depression, leading to its eventual takeover by the PA Department of Welfare in 1946. This period saw the introduction of controversial treatments like lobotomies and electro-shock therapy.

Dixmont State Hospital
Dixmont State Hospital

The paranormal tales surrounding Dixmont are as haunting as its history. Over the years, the abandoned hallways and rooms of the hospital have been said to echo with the sounds of unseen entities. Whispers of ghostly apparitions, disembodied voices, and unexplained phenomena have been reported by those who dared to explore the facility after its closure. Given the hospital’s long history of suffering and despair, many believe that the souls of those who once resided there still linger, trapped between the realms of the living and the dead.

Dixmont’s doors were officially closed in 1984, with the remaining patients transferred to other institutions. Post-closure, the hospital faced potential redevelopment plans, but none materialized. After years of abandonment and deterioration, the majority of the hospital was demolished in 2006. Today, the land stands as a silent witness to the memories of Dixmont, its patients, and the stories—both real and supernatural—that it once housed.

Overall, Pennsylvania has a long history of haunted hospitals and asylums. These places were once home to patients who suffered from mental illness and other afflictions. Today, many of these buildings are abandoned and are said to be haunted by the spirits of those who once lived there.

Paranormal Experiences

Pennsylvania is known for its rich history and dark past, which has led to many paranormal experiences. Visitors to some of the state’s most haunted places have reported seeing apparitions, hearing footsteps, and experiencing cold spots. Some have even claimed to have had ghostly encounters that left them shaken.

Ghost stories abound in Pennsylvania, and many of the state’s historic sites offer ghost tours and ghost hunts. These tours take visitors to places where paranormal activity has been reported, and often include stories of the supernatural. Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters can also be found throughout the state, using their knowledge and equipment to try and capture evidence of the paranormal.

One of the most famous ghost stories in Pennsylvania is that of the Screaming Woman. Legend has it that the ghost of a woman who was murdered by her husband haunts the town of Gettysburg. Visitors to the town have reported hearing her screams and seeing her apparition.

Another well-known ghost story in Pennsylvania is that of the Faceless Man. This ghost is said to haunt the Hill View Manor in New Castle, and has been seen by many visitors to the site. The Faceless Man is said to be a former patient of the hospital who died during treatment, and now haunts the building.

While some people are skeptical of the paranormal, others have had experiences that they cannot explain. Voices, footsteps, and cold spots have all been reported by visitors to haunted places in Pennsylvania. Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, the state’s rich history and dark past make it a fascinating place to explore.

Haunted Hotels and Inns

Pennsylvania has a rich history, and with that comes many stories of ghosts and hauntings. Some of the most haunted places in the state are hotels and inns that have been around for centuries. Here are a few of the most famous haunted hotels and inns in Pennsylvania.

Farnsworth House Inn

Farnsworth House Inn, located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a structure with a rich history and a reputation for paranormal activity. Built around 1810, this establishment has seen its fair share of historical events, especially during the tumultuous times of the Battle of Gettysburg in the 1860s. The land was initially owned by Reverend Alexander Dobbins and later passed through various hands, including John F. McFarlane and the Bank of Gettysburg, before being acquired by the Shultz family in 1972. The Shultz family was the first to report paranormal entities within the residence.

The inn’s historical significance is deeply intertwined with the Battle of Gettysburg. During the battle, Confederate forces occupied the Farnsworth House Inn, using it as a makeshift hospital and headquarters. This practice was common during the war, with many buildings in the vicinity being repurposed for military use. On the third day of the battle, Union soldiers stormed the inn, eliminating many Confederate snipers stationed within. These snipers had been strategically placed to target Union soldiers crossing nearby Cemetery Hill.

The Shultz family claims that the inn is home to 16 spirits, each with its distinct personality. These spirits range from an 8-year-old boy to soldiers and a midwife. Given the inn’s use as a hospital during the battle, the presence of a midwife and soldiers lends credibility to these claims. Guests have reported various paranormal experiences, from hearing heavy breathing and the scent of cigars to witnessing apparitions and feeling tucked into bed by unseen hands. The inn’s reputation as a haunted location has made it a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts. Today, the Farnsworth House Inn offers ghost walks, tours, and even weekend ghost hunts, allowing visitors to delve deep into its haunted history.

Located in Gettysburg, the Farnsworth House Inn is known for its ghostly inhabitants. The building was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and it is said that the spirits of soldiers who died there still haunt the place. Guests have reported seeing apparitions, hearing strange noises, and feeling cold spots throughout the inn. The Farnsworth House Inn also offers ghost tours for those brave enough to explore the haunted halls.

Hotel Bethlehem

The Hotel Bethlehem is a historic hotel that dates back to 1922. It is said that the spirit of a former housekeeper named May Yohe still haunts the place. Guests have reported seeing her ghostly figure in the halls and hearing her footsteps at night. The hotel also offers a ghost tour that takes guests through the haunted areas of the building.

Jean Bonnet Tavern

Jean Bonnet Tavern, also known as Old Forks Inn and Bonnet’s Tavern, is a historic inn and restaurant located just outside Bedford, Pennsylvania. The establishment’s roots trace back to the mid-18th century when the British first recognized the lands as being owned by Robert Callender, a trader with the Native American tribes of Pennsylvania. The land was transferred to Callender in 1762, and by 1763, the large stone structure was erected. Intended as a safe haven for settlers and the site of a French fort and trading post, the tavern was frequented by many travelers passing through the area. Jean (John) Bonnet purchased the land and building in 1779, transforming it into an inn and tavern. Notably, during the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, local farmers protesting the federal tax on whisky gathered at the tavern, raising a Liberty pole as a symbol of their defiance.

Jean Bonnet Tavern – Credit TM Weddle

The tavern’s history is intertwined with tales of the supernatural. During the ownership of the Enyeart family in 1957, stories of paranormal events began to emerge. Local folklore speaks of guests and employees witnessing a lone figure roaming the building and enjoying a drink at the tavern bar. This entity is believed to be the ghost of Jean Bonnet himself. The tales of the supernatural have added to the allure of the inn, making it a popular topic of discussion among visitors.

Today, the Jean Bonnet Tavern operates as a bed and breakfast, tavern, and gift shop. Its rich history, combined with the tales of the supernatural, makes it a unique destination for both history enthusiasts and those intrigued by the paranormal.

These are just a few of the many haunted hotels and inns in Pennsylvania. From the Farnsworth House Inn to the Hotel Bethlehem to the Jean Bonnet Tavern, these places are full of history and ghostly tales. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a stay at one of these haunted hotels and inns is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Haunted Prisons and Jails

Pennsylvania is home to several haunted prisons and jails where the spirits of former inmates and guards are said to still linger. These eerie locations have become popular tourist attractions for those seeking a spooky experience. Here are two of the most haunted prisons and jails in Pennsylvania.

Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin, located on Mud Island on the Delaware River below Philadelphia, has a storied past that intertwines with the very fabric of America’s history. Commissioned in 1771, it played a pivotal role during the American Revolutionary War. The British Army, in their conquest of Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777, bombarded and captured the fort. Later, it was renamed in honor of Thomas Mifflin, a Continental Army officer and Pennsylvania’s first post-independence governor.

Fort Mifflin - Credit kinglear55
Fort Mifflin – Credit kinglear55

The fort’s paranormal tales are as rich as its history. The intense battles and numerous deaths have left an indelible mark, with many claiming to have encountered restless spirits. Whispers of ghostly soldiers, eerie footsteps, and unexplained noises are common. Some visitors have reported seeing apparitions of soldiers in Revolutionary War attire, while others have heard the agonizing screams of men who once fought and died there. One of the most famous ghosts at Fort Mifflin is the “Screaming Woman,” who is said to haunt Cell 17. Legend has it that she was a prisoner who was tortured and killed in the cell, and her screams can still be heard echoing through the halls.

The aftermath of the battles and the passage of time saw Fort Mifflin undergo various transformations. It served as a prison during the American Civil War, housing Confederate prisoners. Later, during World War II, it was used to station anti-aircraft guns to defend the nearby naval installations. Today, while parts of the fort are still in use by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it stands as a National Historic Landmark, a testament to its enduring legacy and the spirits that many believe still reside there.

Allegheny County Jail

Allegheny County Jail, situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is not just a historical landmark but also a hub of paranormal tales. The walls of the old jail, if they could speak, would recount numerous intriguing stories. One such tale revolves around a love triangle that unfolded over a century ago. In 1902, inmates and brothers Ed and Jack Biddle, known for their criminal activities, managed to charm Kate Sofel, the wife of the jail warden. Despite their notorious reputation, Sofel fell deeply in love with one of the brothers, leading her to assist in their escape. However, their freedom was short-lived, as both brothers met their end in a shootout in Butler County. Today, it’s believed that the spirit of Mrs. Sofel still lingers in the old jail, moving papers and occasionally touching unsuspecting guards.

Allegheny County Jail - Credit Onasill
Allegheny County Jail – Credit Onasill

But Mrs. Sofel isn’t the sole spirit haunting the premises. The jail, which witnessed 58 hangings, is said to be home to numerous ghosts. After every execution, there were reports of ghost sightings. One particularly chilling account is of William Culp, who in 1907, haunted the prisoners by re-enacting a gruesome murder every night. This nightly horror became so consistent that all the inmates on death row claimed to witness the same event between 12 and 1 a.m. Their terror was so palpable that the warden decided to relocate murderer’s row to a different section of the jail.

While parts of the old jail have been repurposed, the chilling tales associated with it continue to captivate and terrify those who hear them. Whether you’re a history buff or a paranormal enthusiast, the stories of Allegheny County Jail are bound to leave an indelible mark on your psyche.

These are just two examples of the haunted prisons and jails in Pennsylvania. Visitors to these locations should proceed with caution and respect the spirits that may still reside there.

Ghostly Tales and Legends

Pennsylvania is a state rich in history and folklore, with its fair share of ghostly tales and legends. From haunted cemeteries to abandoned asylums, the state is home to a wide variety of spooky locations that are sure to send shivers down your spine. Here are some of the most famous ghostly tales and legends of Pennsylvania.

  • Helltown: Located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Helltown is a ghost town that is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who died there. According to legend, the town was abandoned in the 1970s after the government bought up the land to create a national park. However, some residents refused to leave and their spirits are said to haunt the town to this day.
  • New Castle: The town of New Castle is home to a number of haunted locations, including the Hill View Manor. This former nursing home is said to be haunted by the spirits of former residents, who can be heard moaning and crying in the night. Other haunted locations in New Castle include the Cascade Park and the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
  • The Devil’s Den: Located in Gettysburg National Military Park, the Devil’s Den is a rocky outcropping that was the site of a bloody battle during the Civil War. Legend has it that the area is haunted by the spirits of soldiers who died there, and visitors have reported hearing ghostly whispers and feeling cold spots.
  • Crying: The abandoned town of Centralia is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl who died in a mining accident. According to legend, the girl’s ghost can be heard crying in the night, and some visitors have reported seeing her ghostly figure wandering the streets of the town.
  • Seven Gates of Hell: Located in York County, the Seven Gates of Hell is a series of abandoned buildings that are said to be haunted by the devil himself. According to legend, the gates were built to keep the devil trapped inside, but they were opened by a group of teenagers in the 1970s. Since then, the area has been plagued by strange occurrences, including ghostly apparitions and unexplained noises.
  • Silent Hill: The town of Centralia is said to have inspired the video game series Silent Hill. The town was abandoned after a coal mine fire started in 1962, and it is now a ghost town that is said to be haunted by the spirits of former residents. Visitors have reported seeing ghostly figures and hearing strange noises in the abandoned streets of the town.
  • Suicide: The Betsy Ross Bridge in Philadelphia is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. According to legend, the man’s ghost can be seen walking along the bridge at night, and some visitors have reported feeling his ghostly presence.
  • The Screaming Woman: The abandoned Pennhurst State School and Hospital is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who was mistreated and abused by the staff. According to legend, the woman’s screams can still be heard echoing through the halls of the abandoned building, and some visitors have reported seeing her ghostly figure wandering the grounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the most haunted locations in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is home to many haunted locations, including Eastern State Penitentiary, Gettysburg, Betsy Ross House, and the Farnsworth House Inn. These locations are known for their paranormal activities and have been the subject of many ghost stories.

Are there any ghost tours available in Pennsylvania?

Yes, there are many ghost tours available in Pennsylvania. These tours take visitors to some of the most haunted locations in the state and provide them with the opportunity to learn about the history and paranormal activities of these places. Some of the popular ghost tours in Pennsylvania include the Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours, and the Ghost Hunts of Eastern State Penitentiary.

What is the history behind Eastern State Penitentiary?

Eastern State Penitentiary was once one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world. It was built in 1829 and operated until 1971. The prison was known for its strict solitary confinement system, which was designed to reform prisoners by forcing them to reflect on their crimes. However, the system was criticized for its inhumane treatment of prisoners. Today, Eastern State Penitentiary is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist attraction.

Have there been any reported paranormal activities at Gettysburg?

Yes, there have been many reported paranormal activities at Gettysburg. The town is known for its role in the American Civil War and is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. Visitors to Gettysburg have reported seeing ghostly apparitions, hearing strange noises, and feeling cold spots. Some of the most haunted locations in Gettysburg include the Farnsworth House Inn and the Gettysburg Battlefield.

What are some of the most haunted hotels in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is home to many haunted hotels, including the Farnsworth House Inn in Gettysburg, the Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, and the General Wayne Inn in Merion. These hotels are known for their paranormal activities and have been the subject of many ghost stories.

What is the story behind the abandoned town of Centralia?

Centralia was once a small mining town in Pennsylvania. In 1962, a fire broke out in a coal mine beneath the town and has been burning ever since. The fire caused the evacuation of the town and has been burning underground for over 50 years. Today, Centralia is an abandoned ghost town and a popular destination for ghost hunters and urban explorers.

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