A pro ghost hunter’s road trip to 6 of America’s most haunted places

From cemeteries to abandoned asylums, Syfy's Steve Gonsalves' itinerary is not for the faint of heart

Salem, MA

Louisville, KY

Total distance:
1,400 miles

Ghost hunting at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts.
The Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. | Photo: Fletcher6 / Wikimedia Commons

1. The Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts

I figured starting this road trip off with a place that is known as a haunted town—like Salem, MA—would be a good idea. If this road trip is taken during the fall months, Salem will be the perfect starting point. The town becomes a celebration of all things haunted and spooky during fall, which perfectly sets the scene for a haunted road trip.

Related Salem’s Satanic Temple hosts macabre art and movie nights in a former funeral home

Though the town is famous for witches and halloween celebrations, it is also rich in history and some of it is quite dark. Room 612 at the Hawthorne Hotel is said to be quite haunted with multiple reports of a female apparition being sighted—this same apparition has been reported in the adjoining hallways as well. When I investigated the Hawthorne Hotel, I witnessed a chandelier swaying without apparent reason in room 628. I’d love to go back and see if I can find any signs of the apparitions that have been witnessed.

Ghost hunting at Union Cemetery in Eason, CT
Union Cemetery in Eason, Connecticut. | Photo: Karl Thomas Moore / Wikimedia Commons

2. Union Cemetery, Easton, Connecticut

Sitting right next to the Easton Baptist church in Easton, Connecticut is the Union Cemetery. This cemetery is famously haunted by an apparition of a lady dressed in all white, aptly dubbed “the white lady.” She has been seen on the road connected to the cemetery and floating among the gravestones. Researchers believe the white lady is the spirit of a woman that was murdered sometime in the 1940s.

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, famous for their connection with The Amityville and The Conjuring hauntings, conducted extensive research at the cemetery and captured of video what they believe to be the white lady. I have seen this footage myself at a conference with Ed and Lorraine in the nineties. I was also fortunate enough to investigate Union Cemetery with Ed and Lorraine. Aside from the white lady, there are multiple reports of red eyes being seen in the graveyard and in the nearby woods.

Side note: I love graveyards and cemeteries but it is important to show them the proper respect. Never vandalize or trespass. There are ways to investigate graveyards without breaking the law.

Ghost hunting at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Photo: Andrew J Simcox / Shutterstock

3. Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I absolutely love Fort Mifflin. I love history and this beautiful property is full of it. Established in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, Fort Mifflin has been utilized during the Civil War as well as World War I and II. With that kind of history and lineage, you can image why this is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America.

There are claims of apparitions seen and heard all over the property, from figures dressed in soldier’s uniforms to screaming ghosts. During one of our investigations at the fort, we captured some audio recordings of a male voice asking for some water. One of my fellow investigators even saw a human silhouette roaming the grounds, and then vanish before his eyes.

Ghost hunting at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. | Photo: ehrlif / Shutterstock

4. Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

Ohio State Reformatory is a prison that was known for harsh punishments, and it has 215 marked graves on site. This type of trauma and tragedy tends to be directly relating to some paranormal phenomena. And its savage past is one of the reasons I love investigating this prison.

Related Celebrating 25 years of ‘Shawshank Redemption’ at the once-abandoned prison where it was filmed

Not only is it renown for being the filming location for many movies, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” it is also famous for its resident spirits that are said to be roaming the cell blocks and corridors. “The hole,” as it’s called, in the basement is the perfect spot to spend a little time for some spirit communication. When I investigated there, the hole is where I heard cell block doors opening and closing, resonating through the entire building—super eerie.

Ghost hunting at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. | Photo: Steve Heap / Shutterstock

5. Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia

The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) is a place that gave psychiatric care to the insane and criminally insane between 1864 and 1994. The hospital was known for cruel patient treatment. Patients were reportedly subject to intolerable living conditions. Some residents, it’s rumored, were kept in cages. Worse yet, some were reportedly given ice pick lobotomies. That’s the kind of darkness we’re talking about at TALA.

A resident spirit named Lily, a young girl searching for her playmate, has been reported many times. Apparitions and shadow-like figures have been seen all over the hallways.

Investigating the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum gets more exciting every time I do it. My favorite place to investigate is in the forensics building. In fact, I’ve had two very intense paranormal experiences in there. Once, I heard noises as if people were running out of the building around me. I even caught all of those sounds on my video camera. In that same building I heard a woman screaming.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. | Photo: Aaron Vowels / Flickr

6. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, Kentucky

Waverly Hills is my all time favorite place to investigate. The history, the frequency of activity, and the sheer magnificent beauty of this building keeps bringing me back again and again. The history behind this former tuberculosis hospital is grizzly, but it’s also very interesting. Over 60,000 people died on the property, so many and at such a high rate that they had to build a “death tunnel” to cart them all away. There are reports of apparitions being seen in just about every hallway and in most of the rooms. Shadowy figures are seen everywhere and disembodied voices are heard in the death chute—and on most of the floors.

I have been to Waverly Hills over a dozen times and every time I have had some very interesting and unexplained things happen to me. I have felt the sensation of air and energy spinning and whipping around my shoes and pants. I have seen legs—just a pair of legs—that were walking next to me disappear right before my eyes. I also heard voices coming out of thin air while I was on the fourth level. All of these experiences were startling but never scary; they were thought-provoking and very fun.