People love telling stories about some of the scariest places in America – it’s a tradition at campfires and sleepovers all over America.
While some stories, like Bigfoot, have entered mainstream pop culture, others have stayed local, like the poisoned girl at Centennial Hall in Nebraska.
Keep scrolling to read the creepiest urban legend from your state.
ALABAMA: Hell’s Gate Bridge
The generally accepted story of Hell’s Gate Bridge starts in the 1950s. A young couple driving over the bridge somehow drove their car off the bridge one night and both drowned.
There are two legends associated with Hell’s Gate Bridge – one, that if you drive your car out to the middle of the bridge and turn off the lights, the couple will magically appear in your car and leave a wet spot on the seat. The other, which is how the bridge got its name, is the belief that if you drive over the bridge and look over your shoulder halfway through, the scenery behind you turns into a portal to hell engulfed in flames.
Potentially to curb ghost hunters and bored teenagers, Hell’s Gate Bridge is closed to cars, and in such disrepair that walking across is strongly discouraged.
ALASKA: The Kushtaka of the Alaskan Triangle
Everyone knows the story of the Bermuda Triangle, but you might not know about the Alaskan Triangle. On average, 5 of every 1,000 people go missing in Alaska according to the LA Times, so even if there’s nothing supernatural going on, it’s easy to get lost in the Alaskan wilderness.
The Tlingit tribe that lives in Juneau has their own explanation for the high amount of missing people – evil spirits called the Kushtaka. The Kushtaka are shape-shifters (half-man, half-otter) that lure women and children to water with fake cries in order to steal their human spirit – and drown them.
ARIZONA: The ghosts of Slaughterhouse Canyon
The story of Slaughterhouse Canyon takes place during the Gold Rush. During the 1800s, there was a family who lived down in the canyon. They were very poor, so the father would venture out into the canyon for food for his family. As you might have guessed, one day the father did not return, so his family slowly starved and descended into madness. The mother, unable to bear listening to her children’s cries anymore, put on her wedding dress, murdered her children, and then threw them into a nearby river. The next day she succumbed to starvation herself.
The legend states that if you go down to Slaughterhouse Canyon at night, even now, you will hear the loud, anguished cries of the mother who lost her mind.
ARKANSAS: The Boggy Creek Monster
The Boggy Creek Monster of Fouke is Arkansas’ version of Sasquatch. He’s commonly accepted to be around seven or eight feet tall and covered in hair. Legend says that he roams the creeks of rural Arkansas. He was first spotted in 1834, when people reported seeing a “wild man.”
CALIFORNIA: The Char-Man
The Char-Man’s origin story is gruesome – a father and son were both caught in a house fire and horribly burnt in 1948. After the fire, the son became so mentally unstable that he flayed and hung his father. When the police found the son, he was so unrecognizably burnt they didn’t realise he was alive, so he ran away before they were able to arrest him for the murder of his father.
Ever since then, the Char-Man is still spotted wandering the woods surrounding Ojai, occasionally approaching tents of innocent campers, or pretending to be a hitchhiker and then attempting to attack them.
COLORADO: The many legends of Riverdale Road
Riverdale Road is the site of not one, but eight creepy stories. Ranging from a Hell Gate, to ghosts of slaves hanging from the trees, the stretch of road is decidedly spooky.
The creepiest story, though, is that of the phantom jogger. One day, there was a driver who hit a jogger, freaked out, and left him for dead. Now, it’s said that if you park at the site of the crash, you’ll hear disembodied footsteps getting closer and closer to your car. People have reported hand prints on their windows and banging noises as if someone was kicking the outside.
CONNECTICUT: Hannah Cranna
Known as the “Wicked Witch of Monroe,” Hannah Cranna gained a reputation as a witch in the 19th century when her husband died by mysteriously falling off a cliff – and locals reportedly believed that she had bewitched him. People also believed that she would cast spells on people she didn’t like.
Hannah lived till the age of 77, but right before she died, she asked to be carried down to the cemetery in her coffin by foot, not wagon. After her death, the people of Monroe tried to wheel her coffin down the hill but were unable – the coffin kept falling off – so they were forced to carry it.
When the townspeople returned to her home, it was found to be engulfed in flames, sealing Hannah’s reputation of witchcraft.
DELAWARE: The ghost of Mr. Chew
While not a particularly mean spirited ghost, the story of Samuel Chew is still disconcerting. Chew was the chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court in 1741. While he was alive, he didn’t always get the respect he deserved – people frequently made fun of his name by mimicking sneezes while he walked by.
After his death, people reported seeing his ghost sitting under a poplar tree, wandering the courthouse, and generally creeping out the residents of Dover. Chew would also pull on men’s coattails and give women a cold, icy feeling.
FLORIDA: The gravity-defying Spook Hill
The phenomenon that happens at Spook Hill is real: cars that are parked in neutral will appear to roll uphill.
Legends say the hill is either the site of a Native American burial ground or an epic battle of a Native American chief against a crocodile.
But the truth is it’s actually just an illusion created by the hill’s surroundings. While cars appear to be rolling uphill, they are still just rolling downhill.
GEORGIA: The ghost town of Lake Lanier
At the bottom of Lake Lanier lies (almost) fully intact towns, ferries, a racetrack, and multiple cemeteries. The government, in their determination to create Lake Lanier, bought up entire towns in order to clear the space for the lake after they received Congressional approval in 1946. However, they just decided to let the water cover up the towns, rather than demolishing them.
Now, Lake Lanier has a decidedly eerie feel about it. There have been an unusual amount of freak accidents and deaths on the lake – in 2011, there were 17 deaths alone. Many of the people who drowned have been recovered. People have reported feeling arms and legs in the water, but have not been able to find them right after, leading people to believe that spirits still roam the lake.
HAWAII: Night marchers
Night marchers, according to Hawaiian lore, are not evil spirits, but they do demand respect. They are spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors who march around the islands to protect sacred areas.
Legend says that if you look directly at a night marcher you will be marked for death. And, if by some chance, you find yourself in the middle of a procession, you are supposed to lie down in the middle of the road.
IDAHO: The water babies of Massacre Rocks
Water babies are a Native American legend that are found in a couple of different places in America, but most famously in Pocatello at the Massacre Rocks State Park.
The Shoshone tribe was first recorded in 1805 and were roaming the Great Plains as early as the 1500s, so it’s not clear when exactly this legend originated. But the story goes that the Shoshone experienced an extreme famine, and mothers were forced to drown their babies in the river rather than watch their children starve.
Today, some people claim that if you sit quietly at the river by Massacre Rocks you’ll hear the sound of babies crying. Other stories say that these babies grew gills and fins and survived – and now they seek revenge on their mothers by luring unsuspecting victims to their deaths in the river.
ILLINOIS: Homey the Clown
All throughout the suburbs of Chicago in the ’90s, there was a consistent rumour going around elementary schools: there was a creepy man dressed as Homey the Clown (yes, from “In Living Colour“), driving around in a white van trying to lure kids into it with candy and money.
In some variations he was a kidnapper, in others he was a rapist. But in all variations, Homey left a mark on young Chicago kids in the ’90s.
INDIANA: The 100 Steps Cemetery
The 100 Steps Cemetery is located in the town of Brazil, though the official address is actually disputed. While it’s not clear when the stories about the cemetery being haunted began, there are gravestones that date back to the 1860s.
The legend states that if someone finds themselves in the cemetery at midnight, they must climb the steps and count to 100. At this point, a ghost of an undertaker will appear and show the person a vision of their death. On the way back down, the visitor is supposed to count the steps again – if they count the same amount of steps, the vision was false.
People who visited the cemetery in the past have tried to outsmart the supernatural forces in 100 Steps by avoiding the steps altogether. They have reported being knocked or shoved to the ground by an unseen force.
IOWA: The Black Angel
The Black Angel stands over eight feet tall in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, and is eerily black due to oxidization. Most likely because of her dark appearance, multiple legends have cropped up around her.
One legend says that a pregnant woman should never walk under her, or she’ll lose the child. Others say that if you touch or kiss the statue, you’ll be dead within six months.
Whether haunted, cursed, or completely harmless, the statue is definitely a somber sight to see.
KANSAS: The Devil’s Chair
The legend of the Devil’s Chair goes like this: an old farmer in Alma refused to sell his land to the city in order to build a new cemetery. Someone got a little too tired of waiting for him to sell, so he was pushed into his own well. Eventually, someone said that there was a terrible smell coming from the well, so the city sent someone to investigate. It was ruled that the well was empty, and it was boarded up.
Now, if you make your way to Alma, you can actually sit on the boarded-up well, but legend says that people who have sat on the well have been known to mysteriously disappear.
KENTUCKY: The Goat Man of Pope Lick
There’s no clear consensus on how the Goat Man came to be – some say he was a circus freak, others say he was a farmer who tortured his goats for Satan, and in return was transformed into a hideous goat monster. However, everyone does agree on his appearance: dark fur, pale skin, goat legs, and horns.
The monster is said to hide under the bridge at Pope Lick Creek in Louisville and lure people onto the train tracks, only to see them be hit by oncoming trains.
Sadly, this urban legend has had some dangerous consequences. In 2016, an Ohio woman fell to her death from the bridge while looking for the Goat Man.
LOUISIANA: The Grunch
Grunch Road is an old dirt road that leads deep into the woods, and eventually to a dead end.
It was a favourite place for teenagers to go and do whatever teenagers do, until they learned the about the Grunch.
The Grunch are rumoured to be a group of deformed half-human, half-monsters that resulted from years of isolation in the Louisiana bayous.
In the present day, it’s said that if you find yourself on Grunch Road, don’t get out of your car if you see a goat who looks injured. The stories say that the Grunch use goats to lure people out of their cars so they can eat them and drain their blood.
MAINE: The stain on Colonel Jonathan Buck’s tomb
The tomb of of Colonel Jonathan Buck in Bucksport bears a mysterious leg-shaped stain. The story goes that Buck sentenced a woman to burn for witchcraft, and while she was burning, her leg rolled out of the fire. It’s also been said that the witch cursed Buck’s tomb to always bear a stain for this injustice.
It is said that people have tried to get rid of this stain twice, but the stain keeps reappearing.
MARYLAND: Chessie the Chesapeake Bay monster
Chessie sightings have been around since the 1930s, but really started to pick up steam in the ’80s, when photographic evidence became more readily available. Chessie is said to resemble a snake, measure around 30 feet long, and is the approximate thickness of a telephone pole.
There haven’t been any recorded attacks from Chessie, but a 30-foot-long snake does not sound like something most people would want to run into.
MASSACHUSETTS: The spirits of Hoosac Tunnel
In the 24-year-long construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusetts, approximately 200 men died. Death was so associated with the tunnel that it was actually nicknamed “The Bloody Pit.”
After a particularly gruesome explosion in either 1867 or 1868, 13 miners were trapped inside the tunnel. The other workers assumed that the miners had died, but eventually it was discovered the miners had lived, built a raft to combat flooding, and eventually died due to poisonous gas inhalation.
It’s said that these 13 miners haunted the tunnel for years, moaning and briefly appearing as ghosts.
MICHIGAN: The little girl on Knock Knock Road
The legend of Knock Knock Road says that there was a little girl who was murdered on Knock Knock Road in the Detroit area, and now she appears to drivers at their car window, knocking, trying to find the person who killed her.
MINNESOTA: The Kensington runestone
In 1898, a Swedish-American farmer found a gigantic slab of rock on his farm that had symbols that appeared to be Norse. And since then, no one has figured out where it came from.
While official historians have debunked that the Vikings made an appearance in North America before Columbus did, the myth has persisted. And, if it wasn’t the Vikings, who did leave this mysterious rock? And what does it say?
MISSISSIPPI: Deer Island’s haunted treasure
The Ghost of Deer Island originates from an old pirate story. The story says that back in the 1920s, two men were fishing on Deer Island when they heard rustling in the bushes, which they assumed was wild hogs. Eventually, they decided to check it out and an encountered a headless skeleton. They ran back to their boat, and the skeleton followed them all the way there.
According to the pirate story, there was a ship that sailed into Biloxi Bay and buried their treasure on Deer Island. The crew decided to behead one of their own, and left his body behind to guard their treasure.
MISSOURI: Momo the Missouri Monster
Momo is Missouri’s version of Bigfoot/Sasquatch. He’s been said to have terrible body odor, a pumpkin-shaped head, and eats dogs. In 1968, Momo allegedly tried to abduct a four-year-old boy, though no evidence was ever found.
MONTANA: The story of Sacrifice Cliff
The story of Sacrifice Cliff comes from an old Native American legend. Two members of the Crow Tribe arrived in their village from a trip to find that almost everyone there had been infected with smallpox and died. So heartbroken about the loss of their loved ones, the two decided to blindfold their horses and ride off of the cliff to join the tribe on the other side.
Sacrifice Cliff is visible from almost anywhere in Billings, so it’s sad (and a bit spooky) to think about this story while the cliff is looming over the entire city.
NEBRASKA: The poisoned girl at Centennial Hall
When INSIDER chose the most haunted place in each state, Centennial Hall was a no-brainer. People claim that there are multiple ghosts roaming the halls.
But the creepiest story of Centennial Hall originates in the 1940s, when it used to be a high school. The story says that a student was playing her clarinet, suffered a heart attack and died – because her reed was poisoned. Now, people claim to feel cold spots, hear disembodied music, and to have witnessed an empty rocking chair start to rock.
NEVADA: The truth about Area 51
There is perhaps no urban legend, myth, or conspiracy theory more famous than Nevada’s Area 51, a mysterious government facility that is rumoured to be associated with aliens. The US government officially states that Area 51 is classified due to national security, which only fuels the fire.
The secrecy surrounding Area 51 is what makes it inherently creepy, and with the government admitting to a program investigating UFOs, the theories about what’s actually going on inside continue to become more plausible.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The witch of Hampton, Goody Cole
When she died and when her body was recovered, the townspeople were rumoured to have to staked her through the heart to prevent her from haunting their town.
People continue to blame Goody Cole for the misfortunes of Hampton citizens for the past 300 years. For example, a boat full of Hampton residents overturned, and everyone on board drowned, even though they were in swimming distance of shore. People blamed Goody Cole for the crash and for cursing the passengers by having them forget how to swim.
NEW JERSEY: The Jersey Devil
The story of the Jersey Devil has been around since the 1700s. The legend states that a woman named Mother Leeds became pregnant with her 13th child, and said “Let this one be [a/the] devil.” Once the child was born, it grew hooves, wings, horns, and a tail.
NEW MEXICO: La Mala Hora
La Mala Hora, which translates to The Evil Hour, is an entity that you don’t want to run into on a dark road. Legend says that at first, it appears as a ball of black energy, constantly moving and changing its size and shape. If you look at it, it will drive you insane and will slowly kill you.
At other times, it appears as a scary-looking woman. It’s said that if you see her at a crossroads, you or someone in your family will die.
NEW YORK: Cropsey
The story of Cropsey has many iterations, but it generally tells the story of a man who stalked a sleep away camp/mental institution/children’s hospital, had a hook for a hand, and killed children who were wandering alone at night. Every single person who went to camp in New York State has heard about Cropsey.
Things took a more sinister turn when a documentary posited that Cropsey was actually real – a convicted child kidnapper named Andre Rand.
NORTH CAROLINA: The beast of Bladenboro
In the 195os, multiple dogs were found dead and drained of blood in the North Carolina town of Bladenboro. People believed that there was a vampiric beast in the woods, an they tried to hunt the animal.
Today, the town of Bladenboro has embraced their history, and actually holds a Beast Fest every year. But it’s never been confirmed exactly what was stalking their town.
NORTH DAKOTA: White Lady Lane
The story of White Lady Lane is a tragic one. The legend states that a young woman became pregnant out of wedlock, and her religious parents forced her to marry the father. The baby ended up dying after their wedding. The girl, so upset about her baby and her forced marriage, hung herself from a bridge in her wedding dress. Locals claim to still see her ghost hanging from the bridge.
OHIO: The werewolf of Defiance.
During the summer of 1972, the people of Defiance claimed they were being terrorised by a werewolf. The sightings always happened at night, generally by the train tracks. A couple of women said it would try to get into their houses by rattling the doorknobs. The animal was said to be huge, hairy, and dressed in rags.
But after summer ended, the beast disappeared, never to be heard from again. But the story lingers.
OKLAHOMA: The mysterious Shaman’s portal
The mysterious occurrences in Beaver Dunes Park have been attributed to the fact that it was built upon ancient Native American burial grounds – which is why it’s called the Shaman’s portal. It’s also known as the Oklahoma Bermuda Triangle.
Mysterious things have happened in the park, starting with the Spanish conquistadors who went missing while searching for gold in the 1500s. Since then paranormal activity seekers flock to the the dunes. Some people claim that a UFO crashed there, and a group in the ’90s who tested the soil said it was abnormal.
OREGON: The Bandage Man of Cannon Beach
The Bandage Man is the American version of a mummy. He is rumoured to be the ghost of a logger who died in a sawmill accident, and now terrorizes teenagers who hang out at a deserted area of a highway near Cannon Beach. Stories say that he knocks on car windows to try and get in and smells really, really bad.
PENNSYLVANIA: The bus to nowhere
In Philadelphia, there’s rumoured to be a bus that doesn’t have an end destination. The story says that the bus only picks up passengers that are at their lowest moments who need to get away from their problems. Once the passenger is ready to face the world, they can get off the bus.
But, the passenger has no idea how long they have been on the bus for – it could have been hours, days, or even years.
RHODE ISLAND: The Devil’s footprints
There is a rock on Devil’s Foot Road that appears to show a normal human footprint, and a cloven hoof. The story goes that a Native American woman murdered a white man, and fled the scene of the crime. While running, she was stopped by another man. She cried out for the Devil to save her, when the man admitted that he himself was the Devil, and stomped his feet on the ground to prove that he had a cloven hoof, which the rock still shows to this day.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The death of Julia Legare
In the 1800s, the Legares were a well-to-do South Carolinian family that had homes on the mainland and on Edisto Island. The daughter, Julia, got sick, was pronounced dead, and was buried inside their family mausoleum.
Years later, another member of the Legare family died, and when their tomb was opened up, the remains of Julia were found outside of her coffin. The story says that Julia had been in a coma, and had woken up to try and escape her tomb, but sadly died.
After the first re-opening of the Legare mausoleum, the door can’t seem to stay shut. The Legares tried multiple different doors, and every single time the door was found open. People believe that the ghost of Julia didn’t want to be locked in that tomb any longer.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Walking Sam and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Purportedly over seven feet tall and very slim, Walking Sam is said to appear on the streets of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at night, and he tries to convince teenagers to commit suicide.
Whether or not Walking Sam is real, something tragic is going on at the reservation. From December 2014 to May 2015, there were 103 suicide attempts at Pine Ridge.
TENNESSEE: The boy in the bathroom at Pine Haven School
The Pine Haven School, located in Jamestown, is old and abandoned, and it’s said to be haunted.
A tragic story supposedly took place there, where a boy was cornered by a group of bullies in the bathroom and shoved into a mirror, which shattered and killed him.
To avoid getting caught committing murder, the story says that the bullies decided to bury the body underneath the floorboards. Today, people say that if you go inside the school you can see the reflection of the boy if you look in the mirror.
TEXAS: The Candy Lady
In the early 1900s, children in an unnamed rural town in Texas started to go missing and the residents blamed it on the Candy Lady. The story says that she would go around leaving candy on children’s windows and eventually she’d lure the kids out with notes attached, promising more candy.
The story picked up steam when a farmer allegedly found rotten teeth on his farm, and later found the body of a boy with his pockets stuffed with candy.
While little is known about the origin of this story, some have speculated that the Candy Lady was real and that her name was Clara Crane.
UTAH: The curse of the Escalante Petrified Forest
While it is illegal to take anything from the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, there is a legend that says that anyone who takes pieces of petrified wood from the park will be cursed with bad luck, sickness, and accidents.
Park manager Kendall Farnsworth stated in 2014 that he gets about a dozen packages every year containing a piece of wood from the park and an apologetic letter detailing the sender’s misfortunes.
VERMONT: The frozen people
First appearing in a diary that was published in the late 1800s, the legend of the hibernating old people recounts the tale of a poor family outside of Montpelier that couldn’t afford to feed and clothe the oldest members of their family, so they froze the people and buried them. According to the tale, when spring rolled around, the elders thawed out and were just fine.
VIRGINIA: The Bunnyman
The Bunnyman’s legend starts with what every good urban legend starts with: an insane asylum. The people of Clifton were so up in arms about the asylum that they were able to get all of the patients transferred. The patients were being moved on a bus that crashed, and the police were able to catch all the patients except one – the Bunnyman.
According to the tale, the Bunnyman lived in the woods and sustained himself from woodland creatures (like bunnies), but eventually he attacked humans. Some people reported being attacked by a man with a hatchet. Other tales say that groups of teens would see a bright light and then would wind up dead and strung up over a bridge.
Bigfoot is an internationally recognisable name, and has been spotted all over the country. But, Bigfoot has been spotted the most in Washington state.
Bigfoot is essentially a gigantic giant ape-creature who is either a ferocious beast who attacks loggers and hikers, or a gentle giant who wants to be left alone. Either way, there’s something creepy about an undiscovered species of animal wandering around the Pacific Northwest, evading capture.
WEST VIRGINIA: Mothman
In 1966, stories say that West Virginia was visited by an insectoid flying creature with bright red eyes who resembled both a moth and a man. He was spotted flying around the town of Point Pleasant, along with shining lights and the Men in Black.
Mothman’s origins have been claimed as supernatural, alien, or government experiment gone wrong. But Point Pleasant has embraced the monster, erecting a statue, creating a museum, and even dedicating a festival to him.
WISCONSIN: Boy Scout Lane
The story of what exactly happened at Boy Scout Lane varies, but they all end with the same conclusion: a group of Boy Scouts dead on the road. In some stories, there was a bus crash with no survivors, or they were murdered by their bus driver, or they just mysteriously vanish into the woods one by one.
Visitors have reported seeing a swinging body in the trees, feeling as though they are being watched, and finding child-size hand prints.
WYOMING: Devil’s Tower
There’s no scientific consensus on why Devil’s Rock looks the way it does, but one Native American creation story attributes the landmark’s shape to a tragedy.
According to the story, a large group of Cheyenne girls are brutally attacked and killed by a bear. Two escape and find help from two boys, who convince the girls to act as bait. They climb to the top of the tower, and the bear tries to follow. The boys shoot arrows at the bear, and it finally gives up, leaving scratches all the way down the rock as it slides down.
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