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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Halloween – and in honor of my favorite holiday, here is a countdown of 5 of the scariest places I’ve personally investigated. Best of all, you can go to any or all of them yourself…if you dare.

5. Sedamsville Rectory, Cincinnati, OH. The rectory was built in the late 1800s and when you enter, it’s basically a big, run down, spooky house with a cramped basement, numerous bedrooms, and a large attic. Alleged ghosts here range from phantom dogs (from the days when the building was possibly part of a large dog fighting ring), to the young victims of a pedophile priest, to a dark, malevolent, maybe even demonic entity that has supposedly scratched and pushed the owners. To me, the scariest part of my evening there was the neighborhood, which was bleak and poverty-stricken. Some of the houses were inhabited, but many windows were broken out, grass was growing through the uneven sidewalks, and menacing looking people lurked on the shadowy corners, occasionally bursting into near-maniacal laughter or rants. The rowdiness of the neighborhood and the ever present, if distant, roar of downtown Cincinnati traffic basically contaminated any potential audio evidence. We pretty much left with no real evidence. And yet…after my investigative partner left for the comfort of his hotel, I bunked down on a couch in the downstairs parlor, ostensibly to sleep for a few hours. But after dozing fitfully for about an hour, I awoke at 4 AM and my imagination started to churn. Moments later I was in my car and getting out of that neighborhood as fast as I could. Haunted? Maybe. Creepy? Definitely. http://www.sedamsvillerectory.com/

Sedamsville Rectory

Sedamsville Rectory

4. Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA. Basically this entire town is haunted, as the fighting on July 1-3, 1863 raged through the existing town and surrounding areas. The reports of paranormal activity are extensive and range from apparitions of soldiers to sounds and smells of battle to heart-rending EVPs. The battlefield itself is free to visit and investigate as long as you abide by park rules. And keep in mind, you can stay in bullet-ridden B&Bs like the Farnsworth House, but even the chain hotels in town are built on land that was soaked in the blood of Confederate and Union soldiers alike; activity can occur anywhere and everywhere, and has. This is a location steeped in history and allegedly teeming with ghosts.

Gettysburg Battlefield

Gettysburg Battlefield

3. Old South Pittsburg Hospital, South Pittsburg, TN. Located on the site of an old plantation, on land previously inhabited by the Cherokee and utilized by troops from both sides during the Civil War, it is allegedly haunted by everything from phantom nurses and doctors to forlorn children to aggressive shadow figures. I can attest it’s a thoroughly scary place to spend the night. http://osphghosthunts.com/

Old South Pittsburg Hospital

Old South Pittsburg Hospital

2. Rolling Hills Asylum, East Bethany, NY. This building opened in 1827 as a poor house and also served as a sanatorium and retirement home, among other things. Many hundreds of people lost their lives here and lots of them allegedly linger. Featured on numerous paranormal TV shows, including Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Asylum, the facility offers several different tours and “lockdowns” for the brave of heart. My time there was mostly spent in the Porta-John thanks to a non-ethereal virus, but it was still a fun place to visit. For further information, check out their website at http://www.rollinghillsasylum.com/.

Rolling Hills Asylum

Rolling Hills Asylum

1. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY. By far my favorite place to visit to date, mostly because it was spring when I went, so the night air was gentle and smelled faintly of honeysuckle, and the bathroom/gift shop facilities are some of the nicest I’ve run across at a haunted location (and these things are important to a girl – clean bathrooms and chocolate). Just two of us investigated, which the staff said was the smallest group to ever investigate this hulking behemoth of a building. I loved every second, even in the infamous body chute. This is another location that has starred in nearly every ghost show out there, even the British show Most Haunted, and it definitely lives up to its creepy hype. Visit their website at http://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/ for the location’s history and options for you to experience it for yourself.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

** Honorable mention: Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, WV. I’ve already waxed ecstatic about this place twice in previous blogs, so won’t do it again. Except to say: Go there. http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/

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