Where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains, Wyoming has long been considered a wild state, home to some of the most beautiful public lands in America. Settled by the Crow, Arapaho, Lakota and Shoshone, the initial white explorers through the region felt the expansive state was uninhabited. Settled by the Spanish and French before the Lewis and Clark expedition, Wyoming later became central to the Oregon migration and later home to the first national park.
More than just the buffalo roam in the wild ranges of Wyoming. Restless spirits can also be found in this wide open state and sometimes in places least expected. A ghost ship known as a harbinger of death sails along the plains while a helpful ghost helps tend bar at a hotel named after the first western novel. A Japanese internment camp still haunts a community named for a famous American explorer and guests at a national park hotel might get more than they bargained for during their stay. A ghostly hotel housekeeper is still tucking guests into their beds long after her death. No one is truly alone on the range in Wyoming.
Just like the early pioneers, the spirits of the Beehive State haven’t given up easily. The sounds of women wailing and a headless miner are spied in a ghost town where one of the deadliest disasters in Utah history occurred. A ghost train awakens hikers staying overnight at a former Chinese labor camp. The hoofbeats of ghostly horses are heard stampeding through a national park. The eleventh floor of a historic hotel has a reputation for strange deaths, and a ghostly murder victim is blamed for the arson of a university building.
Everyone knows everything’s bigger in Texas, and the ghost stories follow suit. Dancers are still cutting a rug at a former dance hall off Route 66. The agoraphobic wife of a Civil War veteran haunts both her former home and the dormitory that bears her name. A World War II sailors enjoys giving visitors a tour of the vessel he once served on. Spirits of the Texas Revolution still roam where they made their last stand. A seaside hotel is known for the appearance of a ghost bride. It seems spirits are never far away, even in the massive Lone Star State.
From the rolling plains to the sharp rocky outcroppings of the Badlands and Black Hills, there are plenty of places for secrets to hide in South Dakota. The ghosts of native peoples roam the site where they were massacred and a former school and hospital known for its past abuse. A famed wild west town is haunted by spirits from its rowdy past. A public park has a haunting history going back to the days of Lewis and Clark. Two ghostly lovers are said to be looking for each other at a site known for a death-defying feat by a famous outlaw.
Oregon has always attracted colorful characters from different backgrounds, which is perhaps why the supernatural residents of the Beaver State have chosen to hang around. One of the state’s most photographed lighthouses is also the source of one of the state’s most famous ghost stories. A murdered girl haunts the park where the state’s Shakespeare festival is held. A vampire, a cross-dressing miner and a famed American author are all said to haunt a historic roadside tavern. A dead volcano is said to be a gathering point for witches and demonic entities. A popular hotel and performance venue has a haunting history as a former almshouse and hospital. Things in Oregon aren’t always what they seem.
Political turbulence arising from racism, the Great Depression and Dust Bowl continued to haunt the Sooner state and in many ways still do. Perhaps this is why Oklahoma has so many ghosts clinging to their past. A strange phenomena lights up a corner of the state known as the Devil’s Promenade. The ghost of a murdered woman is still looking for something: either her baby or her head. The King of Western Swing is still belting out tunes at the venue that launched his career. One of the most popular hotels in Oklahoma City is also known for giving out-of-state teams the fright of their lives when they come in for away games. The spirits of Choctaw girls can still be seen on the grounds of the government-sponsored school where they were killed and secretly buried. It seems not everything in Oklahoma is A-OK.
While many consider it a remote state, North Dakota is more than just the geographical center of the country. It has a rich folklore and strange tales involving both the infamous and obscure. A teenage girl murdered by a peddler is said to haunt a bridge over the Pembina River. The restless spirits of native children forced into a boarding school at a former reservation fort may be behind the dark presences felt there. A pioneer mother keeps watch over a children’s museum and the home of a murderous French marquis is known for its strange phenomena. When in North Dakota, it might be best to watch who you let in from the cold.
While nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, the state of New Mexico could also be named the Land of the Supernatural. Star-crossed lovers are said to haunt a restaurant that dates back to the 1840s while a murder mystery still haunts a historic ranch house. A cowboy cheated of his winnings harasses visitors to his favorite hotel room, and a ghost town that appears from the bottom of a lake at low tide is not the only eerie sight at one popular recreation area.
With so many lively characters in its history, it’s no wonder Nevada seems to be a haven for some of the afterlife’s more lively spirits. Spirits roam historic ghost towns, both those immortalized in film and lost to obscurity. The mine at the heart of the Comstock Lode is still haunted by one of the worst mining disasters in Nevada history while spirits linger in a county courthouse. A prominent businessman haunts his dream home in Nevada’s capital city, and the spirits of gangsters and their mistresses are said to roam one of the oldest Las Vegas casinos.
As the American West opened, many people settled here in the hopes of building a farm, buying cheap land or just because they gave up halfway to Oregon and California. Today, the Cornhusker State is still battling some of the demons of its past, including the push for Civil Rights, the pressure put on immigrants from Americans of English descent and the Native American tribes forced off their ancestral lands by farmers and ranchers. The ghosts of the past are alive and well here, finding their homes everywhere from cemeteries to theatres to parks to the seat of the state’s government.
Spooky stories and terrifying tales found along the road less traveled.