Not everyone believes in ghosts and paranormal activity, but those who do not cannot deny the strangeness of events in places all across the United States. Those who seek rational explanations for unusual events which some label as paranormal are at least acknowledging the existence of the activity. Often their explanations fall short. For those convinced in the existence of ghosts and their ability to haunt certain locations no other explanation is acceptable. A 2008 poll conducted by the Associated Press revealed that just over one third of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts. Ghost hunters and ghost tours are big business, as are the skeptics who work to prove that paranormal believers are practitioners of pseudoscience.
Throughout the United States, places have been identified as hubs of hauntings and other paranormal activity, usually as the result of traumatic events which occurred there. Battlefields are a common subject for hauntings, as are theaters, abandoned houses and farms, graveyards of course, and the sites of violence such as murder or accidents. Former hospitals, prisons, and asylums for the insane are commonly named as haunted by ghost hunters, who often use equipment of questionable scientific value to justify their claims. The owners of allegedly haunted sites are often recipients of fees for the paid tours offered by ghost hunters, and thus help promote the paranormal activity reported therein to increase revenues.
Whether believer or skeptic, here is a list of some of the sites reputed to be among America’s most haunted.
1. The Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts
“Lizzie Borden took an axe”, the children’s ditty goes, “gave her mother forty whacks”. Someone did murder Lizzie’s mother (actually stepmother) with an axe, after which the killer did the same to her father, in a double murder notorious for its violence and brutality. Lizzie was charged with the crime, tried, and acquitted. Officially the crime was never solved, and following her acquittal Lizzie lived the rest of her life in Fall River, despite being largely ostracized by the community. Theories and speculation over the perpetrator of the crime and the motives for it have never ceased. Both Lizzie and her sister Emma moved into another house in a fashionable neighborhood of Fall River, supported by her parents’ estate. In 1905 Emma moved away, and the sisters never saw each other again. Lizzie Borden died in July, 1927, Emma nine days later, and they were buried in the family plot in Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery.
The house where the murders occurred at 92 Second Street (today 230 Second Street) in Fall River still stands, purportedly haunted, and operates as a bed and breakfast and museum. The most popular room for those staying at the house is the upstairs bedroom where Abby Borden, Lizzie’s stepmother, was murdered. Ghost hunters and tourists have reported strange activity within the house, such as doors opening on their own and unusual sounds at night, indicating the building is haunted. The house also sells materials promoting the notion of the house being haunted, either by the ghosts of the victims or by Lizzie herself, or both. Supposedly, registered guests have been reported to have fled the house in terro after encountering some sort of fearsome activity while spending the evening in the house.