Best Haunted Places to Visit in Alabama
Best Haunted Places to Visit in Alabama
Known as the 'Heart of Dixie' and the 'Cotton State', the state of Alabama is rich with history—everything from war to launching rockets to the moon! But what many don't know is that Alabama also houses some of the most terrifying haunted locations in the country—some of them with pretty gruesome stories. Let's have a look at some of the best and scariest haunted locations in the Yellowhammer state!
Known for producing and supplying steel all over the country after the Civil War, Sloss Furnaces was in operation from 1882-1971. The site became a National Historic Landmark in 1981 and is also the only blast furnace to ever become a museum. On top of all that, it's probably the all-time most haunted place in Alabama! Why is there so much paranormal activity? Well, it has to do with a lot of death and Sloss Furnace's very own Hitler!
In the early 1990s, there was a notorious foreman named James 'Slag' Wormwood on the night shift who led and supervised a team of over 100 steel workers. In addition to putting them in severely dangerous situations just to speed up production, he would never allow his workmen any breaks or time off. During Slag's time as a foreman, a staggering total of 47 workers lost their lives due to his tyrannical behavior. Many others completely lost their ability to work after suffering horrific accidents, including one particular incident of an explosion that left 6 men blind. That all changed one day when Slag mysteriously came up missing in October of 1906, only to be found in one of the furnaces, completely consumed by molten iron. Some say he slipped, most say he was pushed by a workman who was fed up. Whatever the case, Slag is the most prominent ghost to haunt Sloss Furnaces.
Right after the death of Slag, many workers continuously reported a presence on the job site, including being pushed by some sort of unnatural force or hearing a mysterious voice yelling at them to "get back to work!" One documented incident involves three supervisors who were found unconscious and locked up in a boiler room who then frantically emerged screaming that a burned man was shouting at them to "push more steel!" Over the years, more than 100 reports of paranormal activity have been reported at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham police records and the local police are often called to the site. Many watchman of the site have reported being pushed from behind and even reported severe burns showing up on their bodies. Slag is most often seen walking around on the catwalks.
Sloss Furnaces is currently the site an interpretive museum of industry, while also serving as a concert and festival venue. You can also come and visit it as a Halloween haunted attraction or take a walk around the entire site on one of their historic night tours!
Location: Gulf Shores
This historic and large masonry fort in the beautiful gulf shores of Alabama was built in 1834 after the War of 1812 to strengthen its forces along the seacoast, replacing the old Fort Bowyer. It served its purpose all through the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, and WWII. Fort Morgan was named after Daniel Morgan, a revolutionary war hero. The fort has stood for over 150 years all while being abandoned and left to deteriorate numerous times and also suffering deep destruction by two hurricanes. It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is one of the most endangered battle sites in the country.
In its current state of ruins, many have stayed behind. Visitors of the site report hearing the screams of men late into the night hours. The most common report is the apparition of a woman supposedly searching for justice after accidentally being killed at Fort Morgan. Another common report is an uneasy feeling and an immediate sense of dread or fear, followed by seeing soldiers dressed in Confederate uniforms in the shadows. Many visitors have reported seeing strange lights, mists, hearing voices and cries, and having doors slam shut. But it is the old barracks that is said to be the most haunted spot in the fort after a prisoner reportedly hung himself in that spot in the 1900s.
If you're looking for a gorgeous spot to immerse yourself in some history—and maybe even catch a few ghosts—then a visit to Fort Morgan is a must!
Did You Know?
Alabama is the 22nd State and nicknamed the Yellowhammer state after the state bird!
GainesRidge Dinner Club
The Black Bottom Pie isn't the only thing this unique southern home turned restaurant is famous for, it also has a resident ghost! Located next to Highway 10 on the outskirts of Camden in Wilcox County, is a long gravel road. Follow that and you will descend upon a beautiful historic Antebellum house filled with southern charm and a warm and friendly atmosphere. The owner Betty Gaines Kennedy cooks for you as if you were her own family!
Although the house was built in the late 1870s, the original builder is unknown. But we do know that one of the earliest owners was a man by the name of Reverend Ebeneezer Hearn who was a Methodist Circuit Rider and who was also a soldier in the War of 1812. The house used to be named 'The Hearn Place'. After he died, the house became owned by the ancestors of the current owner in 1898. Generations of the Gaineses called it home until some time after WWII where it was then rented out. It stayed as a family residence until 1985, when Betty Gaines Kennedy and her sister acquired it and opened the home as The GainesRidge Dinner Club restaurant.
Considered the most haunted restaurant in Alabama, you can also find it listed on the Alabama Ghost Trail. Items often disappear in there and is blamed on the ghosts that haunt it, but Miss Betty doesn't mind as she has come to accept the spirits as part of the old houses southern charm! Other reported incidents include hearing babies crying when there are no children present and the ghost of an unidentified woman is often seen floating past windows. There is one room that is constantly filled with the aroma of pipe tobacco although there is no smoking in the restaurant. In that same room, guests claim to see the apparition of a tall, bearded man dressed in black. Many believe it to be the spirit of Reverend Ebeneezer Hearn.
But the most prominent ghost of all is a lady who screams out "Miss Betty". Check out the video below of Miss Betty Gaines Kennedy recalling one super spine tingling experience!
Miss Betty Gaines Kennedy
Bear Creek Swamp
Local ghost tales are never complete without a local legend, and Bear Creek Swamp holds that title. Off of County Road 3 there is a long dirt road covered in a eerie mist. Turning on it, you will find yourself traveling in a dark marshland realm. Keep your eyes peeled as this wetland road is home to ghostly lights, Civil War soldiers, phantom vehicles, and famous creepy porcelain dolls!
The land was originally occupied by the Creek Indian Tribe who are often blamed for it being such a creepy, haunted location. Locals claim to see cars traveling at a high rate of speed down the road only to vanish into the darkness late at night. Others claim to see apparitions of the Creek Indians, Civil War era soldiers, and early white settlers near the swamp. But the most famous lore is the spirit of a woman who is looking for her lost child. It is said that if you call out "we have your baby" three times, her spirit will come out and attack you!
In 2014, the police were called out to the swamp by the locals. What they found was completely unsettling. They descended upon 21 porcelain dolls hanging by bamboo stakes sticking up out of the swamp water. To this day, no one has figured out who created the creepy doll graveyard, but the police believe it was some sort of Halloween prank. The locals, however, are not so sure.
Did You Know?
Alabama built the first rocket to put humans on the moon!
The Drish House
Few ghost stories are sadder than the heartbreaking tale of The Drish House. This historic stucco brick mansion is located at the center of a 450-acre plantation in Tuscaloosa. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. The plantation house was built is 1837 for one of the earliest settlers in the town, Dr. John R. Drish.
After his wife died, Drish moved from Virginia to Tuscaloosa and married a wealthy widow in 1835 by the name of Sarah Owen McKinney. By this time, he was a well established and successful physician while also working as a contractor and he had a crew of very skilled slave artisans who built the famous Drish House. But there was one major problem; Drish was a raging alcoholic and gambler with an extremely violent temper. In 1867, after a night of extensive drinking, it was reported that Drish was completely drunk and threw himself from the upstairs balcony. He died instantly. It has been said that Sarah was so heartbroken after the death of her second husband that she became completely obsessed and eccentric. She even saved the half burnt candles from his funeral, and her last dying wish was to have those same candles burnt at her own funeral. When Sarah died in 1884, no one in her family could find where she hid the candles resulting in her dying wish never coming true.
Starting right after Sarah's death and for centuries after, people report seeing the top tower of the house on fire and even call for help. But when help finally arrives at the house, no fire is present! Many believe this extraordinary claim of phantom fire is that of a mournful Sarah in the tower burning the candles of her dead lover that were never burned at her funeral.
The house has changed hands many times throughout the years before being completely abandoned and falling into serious disrepair. In 2016, the house was purchased and renovated where it now serves as an event venue.
St. James Hotel
Overlooking the serene Alabama River in the beautiful historical district of Selma is the antebellum St. James Hotel. Before if was the St. James Hotel, it was called The Brantley and it was constructed in 1837. The hotel was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War and the Battle of Selma. However, the Confederate Army had a much wider range of arsenals and burned down most of the city. Fortunately, the hotel along with very few other buildings in the city were spared from the fire and destruction. Following the war, the hotel changed hands to the first ever African American elected to the U.S. Congress by the name of Benjamin Sterling Turner. You may know him for housing the legendary outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse James in 1881.
The hotel eventually fell into hard times and by 1892, it closed down. It stayed abandoned and closed for a century before a group of investors bought and restored the hotel in 1997 where it officially reopened as the St. James Hotel. But upon opening it doors, it was quickly discovered that the hotel was never completely uninhabited. The hotel is bustling with ghostly spirits of the past!
Who is the most famous ghost of the St. James Hotel? Jesse James himself! He is mostly seen in the rooms he stayed in which are 214, 314, and 315. James is also frequently seen at the table he would often sit at in the hotel bar. In addition to James, many believe his girlfriend Lucinda also haunts the hotel. It is a well known fact that Lucinda loved the scent of Lavender and wore it often. Guests claimed to randomly smell lavender in spots throughout the hotel with no explanation. Other ghostly sightings include residual hauntings in the courtyard of people who are dressed in 1800s era clothing who seem unaware of the fact they are dead. Many hotel guests complained to the front desk of a dog constantly barking and running up and down the halls when there were no dogs present in the hotel. An interesting fact is that Jesse James owned a black dog who stayed with him at the hotel.
Unfortunately, the St. James Hotel has closed down once again and currently owned by the city of Selma and is falling into serious disrepair.
Highway 5 Ghost
Just north of Jasper is another famous story of legend and lore. Considered the most haunted road in Alabama, what exactly scares truckers nearly half to death that they eagerly take the long way around to completely avoid this road? The story goes a little something like this:
Many years ago on a weary rainy night, it was prom for the local high school in Lynn, Alabama. A teen girl and her boyfriend were on their way home from a fun night when they got into an argument in the car. Angry at her boyfriend, the girl asked for him to stop and let her out. He did as she wished, and she got out of the car and started walking while he continued on driving. But she never made it home. While walking along Highway 5, and 18-wheeler did not see her and ran her over, killing her instantly. The driver panicked and took off and her body was found the next morning in a ditch.
Legend has it that if you drive any sort of truck down Highway 5 on a rainy night, the teen girl will jump onto the side of the truck to see if you are the driver who killed her! Seems a bit far fetched right? As crazy as it sounds, there have been several truckers from all over the country who have claimed to have this happen to them as well as many other claims of seeing a girl in a fancy dress walking along the side of the road. It has terrified the trucking community so bad that many of them resort to bypassing this road completely and driving Highway 13 instead. In fact, the story of the Highway 5 ghost was featured in an interesting book called by Anne Wilder. It is a terrifying read that I highly recommend. Trucker Ghost Stories
Bill Sketoe's Hole
Alabama's most well known ghost story is that of Bill Sketoe's Hole. Located in John Hutto Park right along Highway 23, this hole is a staple in southern folklore. A minister by the name of William "Bill" Sketoe was a soldier during the Civil War. It is said that Sketoe left the war to come to the bedside of his sick and dying wife, but he was charged with desertion and considered AWOL and was hanged. Others claimed he was killed for aiding Union renegades.
Sketoe was a very large man and his giant frame was not taken into account by the men in charge of his lynching. On December 3, 1863, they went to hang him from his infamous oak tree, but he bent the tree branch from which his noose hung so far down to the point where his feet were touching the ground. In order to properly hang him, they had to dig a shallow hole beneath him and that gave birth to this decades old tourist attraction of the hole that won't stay filled!
According to history, witnesses claimed that no matter what they filled the hole with, when they would come back, the hole would still be there in its original state. Failed attempts to fill the hole included rocks, dirt, and other debris. These claims stayed relevant for the next 125 years! Even though the hole has recently disappeared due to flooding, the location still continues to attract hundreds of visitors per year.
If that wasn't eerie enough, many of the local townsmen reported that Sketoe began to haunt the town, mostly the men who tortured and executed him. Even more spooky? Those same men began dying mysteriously one by one.
Today, you can find Bill Sketoe's Hole in Newton right next to the Choctawhatchee River where a monument has been built in his honor.
Close your eyes and envision yourself in the roaring twenties with flappers, huge extravagant parties, musicals, gangsters, and just an all around Great Gatsby vibe. Open your eyes and you might find yourself back in time at the Redmont Hotel in Birmingham. This fourteen story, 120 room towering hotel is the oldest and most historic one in the city that is still operational today. Built in May of 1925, it was well known for drawing in both the most famous and most notorious of its prime. One former employee claims famous mobster Al Capone stayed there and was involved in shootout with the FBI over bootlegging whiskey. Supposedly the bullet holes can be seen on the lobby staircase. In 1937, the hotel debuted the Rainbow Room that was used for the prestigious politicians, bankers, and businessman of the city. They became known as the "Knothole Gang". Clifford Stiles purchased the hotel in 1946 and was known for throwing the most influential and glamorous parties in the Redmont Hotel’s history. He equipped the hotel with extravagant silk curtains, ginormous chandeliers, and breathtaking musical performances. The Redmont was the absolute hot spot for all in the roaring twenties elite. Even today, the party still lives on with the hotel's many ghosts!
After Stiles died in 1975, many say he haunts his top floor penthouse suite. One of the most famous ghosts is that of country singer Hank Williams. Williams was en route from Montgomery to Charleston, West Virginia but stopped at the Redmont along his journey. He spent his last night on earth in room 301 in 1953 before dying the next day in West Virginia due to a combination of drugs and alcohol. Many reported seeing his apparition and footsteps in room 301 shortly after his death. A woman who died in the hotel is said to haunt the halls on the 9th floor in a misty white dress. Other ghostly incidents include a phantom dog who roams the halls, tools in the basement levitating, opening of doors, and movement of baggage and furniture in the hotel rooms.
Redmont Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. If you are planning a visit to Birmingham, take a trip on either the Birmingham Ghost Walk or the Birmingham Trolley Tour where the Redmont Hotel holds a special place.
Locations of the Most Haunted Places in Alabama
GainesRidge Dinner Club
Bear Creek Swamp
The Drish House
St. James Hotel
Highway 5 Ghost
Bill Sketoe's Hole
Want more haunted places in Alabama? Check out my honorable mentions below that are full of spooky ghost stories and a truly haunted history! Feel free to leave a comment if you have visited any of these amazing places and tell me your experience. If you feel there is a location that should be on this list, let me know!
The Tutwiler Hotel
Old Bryce Hospital
Jack Cole Road
Oak Grove Plantation
- Deep South Magazine
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2019 Brianna W