By Terrance Zepke
If you’re looking for some spooky fun this fall, you can tour a real haunted house or participate in one of the special seasonal events offered by some -- if you dare!
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
1. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston, West Virginia) is one of the most haunted places in America. The 242,000 square foot building is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and the second largest in the world. The enormous and creepy-looking structure definitely does not look inviting to anyone but ghosts, but it reportedly has plenty of lingering spirits. In addition to their year-round history and ghost tours, they offer special events during October.
First, there is a Fall Festival from 10/11 -- 10/13. The festival takes place on the front lawn of this haunted edifice. It includes carnival rides, concessions, crafts, and more. Secondly, there is a Haunted “Aberration” House. A manmade haunted house is created inside one of the buildings that comprise the old mental hospital. The entrance fee is $20 and the haunted house is open nightly from 9/27 -- 11/2.
Lastly, there is an Asylum Ball on 10/26. Tickets are $10 in advance or $25 at the gate. It is for ages 21 and older. There is live music, a costume contest, and more. www.theasylumwv.com
2. Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia, PA) is among the most haunted places in our country. This is the first penitentiary in existence in the world, but it is better known for one of its infamous inmates, Al Capone. In addition to its normal tours, this historically “preserved ruin” hosts an annual Terror Beyond The Walls. This nightly attraction runs from 9/20 --11/9. The cost is $13+ and includes six attractions, such as The Gauntlet and the 3-D Experiment. www.easternstate.org
3. Waverly Hills Sanitorium (Louisville, KY) began as a TB hospital in the early 1900s but is now known as one of the most haunted places in the United States. In addition to historical and paranormal tours, the sanitorium offers special events every fall. www.therealwaverlyhills.com
4. Ohio State Reformatory (Mansfield, OH) has been featured in many Hollywood movies, such as Air Force One, Shawshank Redemption, and Tango and Cash. With its blend of Gothic, Queen Anne, and Romanesque style architecture, it is not surprising that it is popular with film makers. Nor is it surprising that it is home to many ghosts given that it housed more than 150,000 inmates during its 100 years in operation.
Visitors can see grave markers for 215 of those inmates. Visitors that come during October can also participate in Halloween: Supernatural
. This is a man-made haunted house created into the old prison. The cost is $17 plus a nominal parking fee. www.mrps.org
5. Spend the night inside a real haunted house. For those who have no fear of ghosts, you can spend the night with a house full of ghosts. Two of the most haunted houses in our great nation offer overnight stays: Villisca Murder Axe House (Villisca, Iowa) and Prospect Place (Dresden, OH). Eight unsolved murders took place one night inside the Villisca Murder Axe House, which explains its name and why it is haunted. Up to six guests can stay overnight for $400 from 3/1 -- 11/1. Anyone seven years and older can take a day tour. Seniors and ages 7 -- 11: $5. Adults: $10. www.villiscaiowa.com.
Prospect Place was once a thriving plantation and an Underground Railroad station. Nowadays, no one lives here but ghosts. Day tours are permitted on select days and overnight stays are allowed but they book up fast, especially during October. See their website for specifics, www.prospectplace-dresden.com.Award-winning writer/photographer Terrance Zepke has a B.A. in Journalism and a Masters degree in Mass Communications and has studied parapsychology, which is the study of paranormal phenomena, at the renowned Rhine Research Center. She is the author of two dozen ghost books and travel references. She is in demand as a speaker and has appeared on The Learning Channel, PBS, History Channel, NPR, and Travel Channel. Information for this article was compiled from Zepke’s latest books, A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to The Most Haunted Places in America (Safari Publishing, 4/12) and A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to The Most Haunted Houses in America (Safari Publishing, 4/13). These books discuss the most haunted places and houses in America. Each chapter includes detailed histories, photographs, fun facts, and visitor information, including accessibility, tips, addresses, and websites. One of these houses has been declared officially haunted by the U.S. government! Learn more about this author and her books at www.terrancezepke.com.