As most people know, ghosts are most commonly thought to be the trapped souls of people that suffered in life or faced a grizzly death. And because of its extensive, blood-filled history, the Keystone State is believed to be the final resting place of all sorts of ghosts and spirits.
Local residents have generally accepted the presence of the wayward spirits and enjoy talking about the legends and myths surrounding them. Several of the most haunted locations in Pennsylvania have been turned into year-round tourist attractions, and others house haunted attractions in the months leading up to Halloween.
Top 7 Spookiest Pennsylvania Ghosts
- Eastern State Penitentiary Ghosts
- Spirits of The Pennhurst State Asylum
- Fort Mifflin Ghosts
- Midnight Mary
- Confederate Ghosts of Daniel Lady Farm
- The Spirit of Jennie Wade
- Mercenaries of The General Wayne Inn
1. Eastern State Penitentiary Ghosts
The Eastern State Penitentiary is world-renowned as one of the most haunted places on the eastern seaboard.
During its 142 years in operation, the prison was the home to countless stories of suicide, murder, disease, and torture. Prisoners were often subject to harsh punishments reminiscence of torture devices used in medieval times. The prison had a strict code of silence and isolated cells which had a way of driving prisoners insane from the prolonged periods of solitary confinement.
Today, the crumbling prison has become a tourist attraction, showcasing the cruel methods of punishment used in the not-so-distant past. But despite the number of visitors, the prison is still believed to be the home of all sorts of agonizing ghosts of past prisoners.
The most commonly seen of these Pennsylvania ghosts is Joseph Taylor. While locked away in Eastern State Penitentiary, Taylor viciously murdered a prison guard and calmly returned to his cell. To this day, visitors to his cell claim to see him lying in his bunk.
Cellblocks 6 and 12
Other areas of the prison are also known for distinct types of paranormal activity as well. Visitors have commonly claimed to hear voices in Cellblock 12 and see shadowy figures along the walls in Cellblock 6.
Even Al Capone Saw a Ghost Here
While imprisoned in Cellblock 8, the famous gangster Al Capone claimed to see visions of one of the men murdered in the Saint Valentine Day Massacre. With such a grizzly past, it isn't hard to believe that the infamous prison has at least a few lingering spirits roaming its corridors...
2. Spirits of The Pennhurst State Asylum
Pennhurst State Asylum was a school for the developmentally disabled from 1908 until it was forcibly closed in 1987.
For the 79 years it was in operation, the asylum was the home of numerous allegations of patient mistreatment. Due to extreme overcrowding, most patients were confined to small unhygienic rooms and physically abused by cruel staff members.
The horrible treatment associated with the location has earned it the nicknames "Hell on Earth" when it was in operation and "the Shame of Pennsylvania" after it was closed.
Ever since the mental hospital closed its doors, there have been countless reports of ghosts being seen and mysterious noises being heard. Most people have come to believe these are the tormented souls of patients unable to make peace with the severe suffering they faced in life.
Haunted Tunnels Beneath the Hospital
Most supernatural activity is reported to take place in the tunnels beneath the hospital, where patients were taken by the staff to be abused. Today, the old building operates as a haunted house around Halloween and offers ghost tours the rest of the year.
3. Fort Mifflin Ghosts
In the 300 years since it was originally built, Fort Mifflin has held many purposes for the military. It was first used as a defensive bastion for the Delaware River by the Navy, but after being destroyed by the English it was later rebuilt and used as a garrison in the War of 1812 and a prison during the Civil War.
As you would expect, with such a history the location has witnessed its fair share of suffering and death. But ever since the historic fort was reopened as a tourist attraction, there have been numerous reports of mysterious sightings and paranormal activity.
The most prominent of these Pennsylvania ghosts are the Faceless Man and the Screaming Woman.
The Faceless Man
The Faceless Man is believed to be the ghost of a war criminal named William Howe found guilty of murdering his superior officer and deserting the army. His faceless appearance is believed to be caused by the black bag worn over the heads of deserters as they were put to death.
The Screaming Woman
The Screaming Lady is another ghost of Fort Mifflin that is never seen but often heard. This sad spirit is believed to be Elizabeth Pratt, a woman accused of abandoning her newborn daughter and later committing suicide out of guilt. Her cries are often heard bellowing from the old captain's quarters.
4. The Lady of the Lake, Midnight Mary
Midnight Mary, or the lady of the lake to some, is just one of the Pennsylvania ghosts believed to haunt the town of Bristol.
According to the legend, Mary was a beautiful young girl invited to the high school prom by an older boy. Unfortunately for her, the young man had been drinking alcohol before picking her up. On the way to the dance, the man lost control of the car and veered off the road directly into Tullytown Lake. After finding the wreckage, the police searched the lakes but only found the body of the young male passenger.
To this day, the people of the area claim to see the young girl strolling along the side of the road in her pretty pink dress. In one sighting, the young ghost reportedly accepted a man's offer for a ride, only to disappear, leaving behind a puddle of water.
Most local residents believe the girl's spirit to be harmless, merely attempting to get to the dance she never reached all those years ago.
5. Confederate Ghosts of Daniel Lady Farm
If you are unaware, the town of Gettysburg is the site of the largest and deadliest conflict of the entire Civil War. Over the course of a few days, endless lines of soldiers were sent to their bloody deaths as both sides of the battle attempted to gain the upper hand. Experts have estimated that the total number of deaths during the famous battle totals more than 50,000 people.
Today the grounds are believed to be the home of countless Union and Confederate ghosts, cursed to roam the battlefield forever. Due to the sheer size of the battle, numerous locations across the town have been the sights of supposed paranormal activity.
One of the places to see the most paranormal activity is the Daniel Lady Farm. During the slugfest, The farm was used as the Confederate army's field hospital and saw the final moments of many injured soldiers. The ghosts of the fallen, along with the ghost of General Richard Ewell (the man held responsible for the Confederates losing the battle), are still reported to appear in the farmhouse and barn. Anyone visiting the farmhouse should keep their eyes open and heads on a swivel.
Exploring the Daniel Lady Farm
6. The Spirit of Jennie Wade
Another of the most popular Pennsylvania ghosts from Gettysburg is the Spirit of Jennie Wade. According to the record, Mrs. Wade was the one and only citizen to lose their life in the entirety of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Jennie was en route to visit her sister when the conflict broke out and took refuge in the McClellan home. Most versions of the story claim Jennie was struck through the window by the bullet of a Confederate sniper while baking bread for the famished soldiers. The young lady passed away on the floor of the McClellan's home, never to reach her sister.
Visitors of the home often claim to feel the presence of Jennie when standing in the kitchen where she reportedly lost her life.
Other versions of the story claim Georgia McClellan was her sister, and she was helping her give birth at the time of her death and not baked bread.
Whichever version is true doesn't seem to matter, as everyone agrees her spirit remains—unable to cross over due to the injustice of her tragic and unexpected death.
7. Mercenaries of The General Wayne Inn
The General Wayne Inn is a small tavern and inn that originally opened its doors in 1704. Over the years it was in operation, the Inn has seen its fair share of famous guests, including Edgar Allan Poe, William Penn, and George Washington.
It has also been the unfortunate home to all sorts of horrific acts, such as murder and suicide. The most recent of these atrocities happened in 1995, when one of the co-owners killed his partner in an attempt to collect a hefty insurance payout.
After numerous sightings of ghostly apparitions within the building by tourists, psychics were brought in to hold a seance and convene with the trapped souls. Several of the ghosts were Hessian mercenaries that were killed at or near the Inn.
Wilhelm, the Murdered Mercenary
The most prominent ghost belonged to a mercenary named Wilhelm, who was killed in the woods nearby and brought to the Inn. At the Inn, his body was unceremoniously and disrespectfully stripped naked by greedy soldiers before being buried in an unmarked grave. This indignity caused his soul embarrassment and anger, causing it to remain on the earthy plane.
Can Pennsylvania Ghosts Really Exist?
The existence of ghosts has always been a highly controversial subject in today’s society. Despite being provided with all sorts of scientific evidence (including photographs), people still tend to believe they don't exist. Even people that have had their own personal paranormal experiences tend to search for more "logical" explanations.
But just because people do not want to believe in ghosts doesn't mean they don't exist. With such a blood-filled history, Pennsylvania is one of the most likely locations for spirits to be trapped.
© 2022 Ricky Rodson