Posts Tagged ‘travel’

A couple of years ago, I published a couple of lists about haunted locations I wanted to visit before I die and become a ghost myself (click here and here to read those lists). And yes, I am planning on becoming a ghost after I die. I’ll hang around a century or so as a wandering spirit, see some sights, and then ascend to heaven. And if you don’t read at least one of my books and leave a review before I die, I WILL HAUNT YOU!!!

So anyway, it’s been about two years since that last list, and I figured now would be a good time to come out with a new list. Especially since I’ll be visiting a few haunted locations this summer (more on that in a later post). So without further a-BOO! here’s even more haunted places that I plan to visit before I also become a ghost.

BEWARE!!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

1. Old Licking County Jail

Location: Licking County, Ohio

I swear to God, as soon as I get a car, I’m going to visit the ones that are located in my home state. It is so hard to get to these places when you know basically no one who’s willing to go with you and drive you!

Old Licking County Jail is a prison in Licking County, Ohio. Like the Ohio State Reformatory, more than a few inmates died here, some under violent circumstances. There were also corrupt guards, beatings, and everything else you can think of when it comes to jails in an era more prone to punishment than correction. It’s been shut down for a number of years, but since then, there have been claims of full-body apparitions, voices from nowhere, and even spirits following paranormal investigators home.

I’m not going to say throw me in and throw away the key, but do throw me in for a night.

2. Double Eagle Restaurant

Location: Mesilla, New Mexico

I’m hungry. How about you? At the Double Eagle Restaurant, you not only get dinner, you get dinner and a ghost or two! The building the restaurant is housed in used to be the family home of a wealthy Latino family. The family’s eldest son reportedly fell in love with a servant girl, which ticked off his social-climbing mother. One day she returned home early from visiting friends, and caught the two lovers in bed. In a rage, she murdered the girl, and accidentally wounded her son, leading to his death three days later. The mother later was committed and died in an insane asylum. Years later, the house has become a restaurant, but apparently it’s also become a home for various kinds of spirits. Poltergeist activity has been recorded, and there have been voices and even full-body apparitions too.

Not only that, but the room those two lovers were killed in has since become a private dining room with two chairs kept in there for the lovers. It’s said that anyone who sits in those chairs will have horrific nightmares.

Um…waiter? Ghosts please!

3. Goatman’s Bridge

Location: Denton, Texas

According to local legend, back in the 1930’s a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn moved across the Old Alton Bridge, where he ran a successful goat farm, and became known to the locals as the Goatman. He apparently took that in stride, putting up a sign on the bridge that said, “This way to the Goatman’s.” And because white racists get upset very easily, in 1938 they hung him from the bridge, only to find that the noose was empty when they looked over the side. These men, dressed up as Klansmen, later went and murdered Washburn’s wife and kids.

Since then, there have been reports of a demonic, satyr-like figure stalking the bridge and the surrounding woods. Glowing eyes have been seen, people have been attacked, and women have reportedly suffered attachments that have tormented them all the way home. There have also been reports of Satanic activity in the area, leading to a negative charge about the bridge.

This sounds like one billy goatman I’d love to meet trip-trapping on a bridge!

4. Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

You guys know I’m a big Ghost Adventures fan and the team’s lead investigator, Zak Bagans. Well, apparently he’s bought a 30-room mansion in his home city of Las Vegas, and he’s been converting it, room by room, into a museum for paranormal objects he’s collected over the years. There’s a room devoted to haunted dolls and puppets, a room devoted to the Kevorkian van and the hospital room where Dr. Kevorkian did assisted suicides, to skulls, and to all sorts of weird and interesting things. I even hear the famed Dybbuk Box, whose previous owner I know and which inspired a short story of mine and The Possession, is in the museum.

All this is sure to create a rather interesting mix of paranormal energy, which would make for a very interesting visit. Don’t you agree?

5. Dorothea Puente Murder House

Location: Sacramento, California

Dorothea Puente was a serial killer who used her job as a caretaker for the elderly to kill off her charges, dispose of the bodies, and collect on their rent checks. Several of her victims were later dug up in the yard of her building. She was sentenced to life in jail, still insisting on her innocence, and died in 2011. Since then, her home/boarding home has become something of a tourist spot, part private home, part attraction with weird stuff in the front yard. There are also reports of paranormal activity in the house, and thus a few paranormal investigators have been allowed inside the house.

How about a novelist with weird interests?

6. Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose, California

Weirdly enough, this show hasn’t been featured in any episode of Supernatural. Too bad. I think Sam and Dean would have a blast in a house that shares their last name.

The Winchester House was built starting in 1884 and going on around the clock for thirty-eight years. Its owner, Sarah Winchester, was the widow of William Hart Winchester, owner of the Winchester Rifle Company, maker of the famous guns. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Winchester became convinced that the ghosts of those her husband’s guns had killed were haunting the Winchester family, and had even been the cause of her husband and infant daughter’s deaths. A medium later confirmed this, and told her move out West and continually add onto a house so that the spirits would get lost and never find her. This she did, buying property in California and having a mansion built there until her death in 1922, after which work ceased immediately.

The house is well-known for its massive size and oddities, including staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open to the outside…on the second floor. Windows at odd locations, glass doors on the bathrooms, and even rooms that have yet to be discovered (they actually found a new room in 2016). It’s also become a paranormal hot spot, with plenty of documented activity taking place there (some think the activity might even be slightly demonic).

Sam and Dean, I’ll meet you there! Bring the Impala and your hunting gear. I’m bringing the humor and the beers (oh, if you’re a Supernatural fan, that line’s hilarious).

7. The Clown Motel

Location: Tonopah, Nevada

The name says it all. It’s a clown-themed motel, with tons of pictures, dolls, and even a life-sized clown mannequin! Worst place to read or watch Stephen King’s It ever! And if that’s not all, it’s right next to a graveyard! Yeah, talk about creepy! And a great source for the supernatural activity that has been reported at the motel.

Yeah, I’ll take whatever you have available.

8. Moonville Tunnel

Location: Moonville, Ohio

Moonville was a small mining town in Southeastern Ohio during the late 19th century. It was small as heck, it was never prosperous, and it was dead by the 1950’s. The only thing keeping it from falling into obscurity is the train tunnel built into the side of the mountain. Supposedly, a train engineer was hit by a train (or possibly two, the record’s not exact) one night, and since then, glowing lights and white mists have been spotted in the tunnel. There have even been rumors of further deaths.

ROAD TRIP!

9. Haunted London

Location: London, England

I know. I’ve already been to London. I’ve even visited the Tower of London, which has a few ghosts in it. But I WANT TO SEE MORE! I never saw as much of London as I wanted to, and that includes haunted locations. There are haunted hotels, Highgate Cemetery, and so many more! There are even supposedly haunted Underground stations.

Cool guv’nor! Let’s go!

10. Akasaka Mansion

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Now known as Akasaka Weekly Mansion, it’s a hotel with more than one building, and it’s Building #1 that has been known for the paranormal activity. There have been reports of figures standing at the end of the beds, noises being heard at night, guests being touched (sometimes sexually), and a woman being dragged from her bed. Even creepier, there’s supposedly a woman who crawls from room to room on her hands and knees. That’s something right out of a J-Horror film!

I’ll go, but I’m not watching any Ring or Grudge movies right before I do.

What haunted locations have you been to recently?

Have you been to any of these? What were your experiencces?

Last year I made a list of haunted places I wanted to visit before I died and became a ghost (and yes, I plan on becoming a ghost. If you don’t buy at least one of my books and leave a review, I WILL haunt you!). Since I made that list (and visited the location I most wanted to see), I’ve come across a few more haunted places I’d like to visit. So I did what any good horror writer with a blog who believes in ghosts would do: I wrote a list and now I’m transcribing it down here.

This list isn’t in any particular order, and they span all over the United States, Mexico and even parts of Europe (parts I’m nowhere near at the moment, unfortunately). I hope you enjoy it, and that if this list or the previous one influences your travel plans in any way, shape or form, it’s in a positive way.

BOO!

1. Island of the Dolls

Location: Xochimilico, Mexico

Located in Xochimilico’s extensive canal network is La Isla de la Munecas, or the Island of the Dolls. According to the history of the place, a hermit named Julian Santana Barrera lived on one of the chinampas, or artificial islands, in the canals. One day, Barrera found the body of a girl who drowned in the canals, and was reportedly hit very hard by it (some locals believe a water spirit was responsible for the girl’s death). Not too long after that, Barrera started finding dolls around the island, and hanging them up all over the place, on tree branches and in his own hut. He said it was because the dead girl hung around, so he was giving her a whole playground of friends, and to keep evil spirits away as well (the water spirit, perhaps?). Over the years hundreds of dolls were hung up, leading to the island’s nickname. Even after Barrera died in 2001, the dolls still hang about, some of which are purported to talk or walk around on their own. The place has been investigated by ghost hunters with some interesting results.

If I ever get to Mexico, I’m heading there. Ghosts and spirits and creepy dolls? Sounds like fun.

2. The Villisca Ax Murder House

Location: Villisca, Iowa

Properly known as the Josiah B. and Sara Moore House, this charming little house was the spot of a brutal ax murder in 1912 on eight people, the Moores, their four children, and two young friends of the children. Several suspects were considered for the murder, and one was even tried and let off twice, but so far the murders remain unsolved. Since then, there have been several reported hauntings of the place, including seeing shadows of a man wielding an ax, children crying, and other freaky stuff. One family reportedly left the house screaming one night and never returned. Since 1994, the house has been a museum dedicated to its dark history, and several ghost-hunting crews, including the Ghost Adventures Crew, have investigated the house, finding some very interesting evidence. This is definitely a place I’d like to visit.

Villisca also happens to be the town where my friend and colleague Joleene Naylor lives. So Joleene, if I ever make it out to Villisca, I hope you wouldn’t mind showing me around for a day. It’ll be a spooktacular good time.

3. Sedlec Ossuary

Location: Sedlec, Czech Republic

What looks like the Paris catacombs but is above ground and is part of a working church? The Sedlec Ossuary, located beneath the titular town’s Cemetary Church of All Saints. In the 13th century the abbot of the local monastery visited the Holy Land and brought back with him some dirt he’d picked up while over there and sprinkled it around the abbey cemetery. This made it a premiere spot to get buried and, along with the number of people dying of the Black Plague, caused the cemetery to be expanded several times. Of course, there was no way to keep up with that many bodies, and in the 16th century bodies were exhumed and their bones stacked inside the cathedral that had grown up around the spot. In the 19th century a woodcarver was hired to take the bones, roughly 40,000 to 70,000 bones’ worth of skeletons, in order, which he did, creating several macabre furnishings, decorations, and religious objects out of human remains. As you can imagine, this place has become quite the tourist destination, and ghost sightings or photos are not unheard of.

Sounds like my kind of furniture-shopping destination.

4. Leap Castle, Massy Woods, Montpelier Hill, The Stewards House, and Loftus Hall

Location: All over Ireland

I couldn’t leave these off the list, and they’re all in Ireland, so I figured, why not just group them as one big entry/tour of the nation? Leap Castle has a history of dark and mysterious deaths, almost like something out of a Shakespeare tragedy, and is also reportedly the home of an elemental spirit that hides in a pit deep in the castle. Montpelier Hill is the home of the Irish counterpart of the Hellfire Club, which supposedly did some very strange rituals, possibly Satanic ones. There’s even a story of the devil actually visiting the premises one evening.

Down the road from the Hellfire Club Lodge is the Massy Woods, which supposedly have several different kinds of spirits within, including a banshee, and the Steward’s House, which is said to be frequented by a demonic cat. If you look at a painting of the cat the wrong way, or if you hang it up wrong, you might bring something malevolent upon yourself.

And Loftus Hall is supposedly the most haunted house in all of Ireland. As the story goes, in the 18th century the Loftus family went on vacation, and the Tottenham family, consisting of a father, a mother, and a daughter, came to take care of the place. During their stay a ship broke on the coast nearby and a man from the ship came to stay at the mansion. During this time the man and the Tottenham daughter Anne became quite close. One night, during a game of cards in the aptly named Card Room, Anne dropped a card under the table. When she went to retrieve it, she discovered their guest had a cloven hoof. When she pointed this out in alarm, the man supposedly flew through the ceiling, leaving a nasty hole where he went, and was never seen from again. To this day people claim that the devil stayed at Loftus Hall, and that the hole he left through has never properly been repaired, that part of the ceiling is different from the rest.

Anne herself later went mad and was confined in the Tapestry room, where she died some time later. Years later a child’s skeleton was found in a hole in the Tapestry Room, leading to speculation that Anne had a baby while in confinement and that it was killed because it was a bastard and the possibly the devil’s spawn. Since these strange events, the house has been the site of poltergeist activity and visions of Anne walking down hallways looking for her lover. There have been several exorcisms performed on site over the years, which have only done so much to quell the spirits in this haunted place.

In any case, I’d like to make a trip to see these places!

5. Grand Canyon Caverns

Location: Peach Springs, Arizona

In the 1920’s, Walter Peck (not the actor) discovered a deep hole that went underground for quite a distance, in both depth and length, and discovered some skeletons down there while he was at it. He quickly turned the cavern into a tourist attraction, saying the bones he’d found there (and which were removed for scientific study) were of cavemen. Turns out they were Native American, but that never stopped the tourism industry.

Today, the caverns are a popular tourist spot with a restaurant, hotel, and museum. You can even tour the caverns and even stay overnight down there in an equipped hotel suite if you wish. Just be aware that you might be sharing the caverns with some Native American spirits who are upset about having their burial grounds disturbed by tourists. They may throw rocks at you.

When can I make my reservation?

6. The Bell Witch Cave

Location: Adams, Tennessee

This is one of those locations where people, even ghost hunters, are on the fence about the veracity of the reported hauntings. According to the legends, the Bell family lived in the area in the early 19th century and came under attack by a witch (though the events described sound more like a poltergeist or a malevolent spirit). Supposedly the witch did everything from tapping on walls, pinching people and other harmless stuff to full-on assaulting family members and even appearing as a creature that was half-dog, half-rabbit and all black. She makes a certain cave her home and will attack anyone who takes rocks or shows disrespect in her cave, hence the name “Bell Witch Cave.”

The thing about this legend is that all sources about the witch come several years after the Bells are supposed to have lived in the area. Even secondhand witnesses would’ve died out by the time the earliest known sources of the legend were published. Regardless, there have been reports of people being attacked by spirits after visiting and occasionally taking rocks from the cave, and there are rumors that the cave may have held some spiritual significance to local Native Americans. And a few paranomrla groups have investigated the cave with interesting results.

Whatever the case may be, this is definitely a place where I would like to visit and maybe see for myself if there’s any truth to the stories. Just as long as it doesn’t come home with me, I don’t think the witch would like Ohio winters.

7. Bannack Ghost Town

Location: Bannack, Montana

Ghost towns. There’s something about a town that’s totally been abandoned, something so…enchanting. So is the case with Bannack, which was founded in the 1860’s during a gold rush, but died out in the 1970’s. Today, the town is mostly a tourist attraction, once a year being revitalized for a festival called Bannack Days that recalls the time when it was a boom town and the seat of the county.

The rest of the year though, the town is populated by spirits. Some say that the sheriff ran a gang that killed anyone who looked at them the wrong way, making for a rather lawless town and for the events that would cause several hauntings. There is also reports of the ghost of a drowned girl being sighted, and even following people home.

Sounds like a good excuse to visit Montana, if you ask me. It even inspired a scary story I’d like to write someday. Better get some firsthand experience, right?

8. Linda Vista Hospital

Location: Los Angeles, California

Originally a hospital for railroad workers, the hospital saw a definite decline as the railroad industry and the neighborhood changed. The number of deaths increased, mainly ones associated with gang violence. With most of their patients being uninsured or under-insured, the hospital was forced to close its doors in 1991. Today, part of the hospital has been renovated into an assisted living facility, while the rest is a frequent set for movies and TV shows and a historic landmark.

However, some patients are said to have never left the building, and there have been multiple investigations into the hospital’s paranormal residents. To which I say, “Nurse, I’ve got a bad case of ghost obsession! Can I stay overnight for monitoring?”

Also influenced an idea for a story I had a while back. Hope I get to write that too.

9. Targoviste and Hundeora Castles

Location: Romania

These were the castles where Dracula lived. The former is where he impaled over two-thousand of his enemies, while the latter was where he was imprisoned for seven years of his life. It’s said at one of these that some Satanists did a ritual and ever since weird stuff has happened. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s Dracula, so I have to check it out.

And then I will have some blood! Mwa ha ha!

10. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Location: Paris, France

I did not know about this cemetery when I visited Paris last year, or I would have made an effort to visit it. One of Paris’s most famous cemeteries, it has flowers, graves and mausoleums that look like little houses or very interesting sculptures, and its fair share of famous folk, from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison. There’s actually a waiting list to be buried there, and if your family doesn’t renew the lease on your burial plot every thirty years or so, they dig you up and put someone else in your place.

Over the years, plenty of ghosts have been reported around the graveyard, including famous folks, Morrison himself, and even a few wandering lovers. As someone who visited the Paris catacombs and loved it, this seems like my sort of place. Vive le cemeteries francais!

Have you been to any of these places? What were your experiences like?

Wewelsburg castle. Magnificent to behold.

Wewelsburg castle. Magnificent to behold.

Well, I finally did it! I got to visit the castle I’ve been dying to see since I first heard about it while researching Nazis and the occult prior to last year’s study abroad trip. And today, I spent a good part of my day uploading most of the photos I took to Instagram and Facebook. Honestly, it sucks when that ends up taking a longer time than it should, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Wewelsburg Castle, it’s a triangular castle in the small village of Wewelsburg, part of the town of Buren. During the Nazi era, the SS, led by Himmler, began doing renovations on the castle with the purpose of turning it into the ultimate Aryan production center, a place where the Nazis’ ideological beliefs could be made real. Some people even believe that Himmler, who was a big believer in all that Nazi mysticism stuff, conducted ceremonies in the castle, and hoped to make it into a sort of SS Hogwarts. I personally think that the SS could’ve been doing some magical rituals while they were there, and there is some evidence to suggest that’s what they were planning on doing or did there.

Of course, if you ask the museum staff about it, they will deny that anything like that occurred at the castle, but maybe they want to keep the right-wing nuts and the Satanists and pagans away (yet they still have a small display in the museum to the mystical side of the SS in the exhibit). The staff also deny any sightings of ghosts or anything else paranormal, but maybe they want to keep away ghost hunters too.

Weird occult stuff. Don't ask me what each stands for, I couldn't give you a definitive answer.

Weird occult stuff. Don’t ask me what each stands for, I couldn’t give you a definitive answer.

Anyway, the castle is divided into two permanent exhibits. One exhibit, the Ideology and Terror of the SS, is mostly housed in a separate building, with a path leading to the Crypt and the Group Leader’s Hall in the North Tower (more on that below). It’s very similar to the exhibit at the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin, which I visited last year: lots of white columns and display cases, with photos and artifacts talking about the history and the beliefs of the SS. Some of it was in English, but most of it obviously was in German, so I didn’t spend as much time there as I might have liked.

Still, it was interesting to be there. I got to see a lot of artifacts, including a few books on mysticism and some occult memorabilia, some uniforms, and a lot of other cool stuff. And at a certain point, you could walk along a footpath to the North Tower, where two of the rooms the SS renovated are available to look at (sadly, no photos are allowed in those areas). The Crypt is a dark and eerie space, and definitely had a ritual purpose, though not necessarily a magical one. The walls are covered with paintings of stylized depictions of victims of SS tyranny, as if to say that the space is now a memorial to them than to the SS and the Aryan man. On the floor above is the Group Leader’s Hall, which was incomplete at the end of the war and was probably meant to be a meeting room of some sort (but for what purpose?). The most interesting part of that room is that in the center of the room is a Black Sun symbol, which has both esoteric connotations and–because the SS used it as a symbol of power–neo-Nazi connotations. I stood on top of it as if to say, “Yeah, I’m Jewish and you’re worth shit.”

Entrance into the castle proper.

Entrance into the castle proper.

The other exhibit discussed the castle’s history, when it was the second home of the Prince-Bishops of Paderborn. You basically go throughout the whole castle–down hallways and up and down staircases–seeing its history from prehistory to the early 1900’s. That was interesting too. Part of the exhibit displayed what creatures lived in the area in the Ice Age or earlier, and another area talked about how important agriculture was to the area. In one room they had the actual road traders used displayed where it had been uncovered during renovations, and in another section there was a small tribute to the Jewish community that lived in the area. And in one part of the East Tower is a basement room where witches were kept and tortured during the one recorded set of witch trials in the area. Believe me, I’m definitely going to email those photos to my History of Witchcraft teacher in the morning.

The castle courtyard, facing the direction of the North Tower.

The castle courtyard, facing the direction of the North Tower.

At the end of it all, I had a really great time and was really glad I’d gone (though before I ended the tour of the castle I had to take off my coat because I was starting to get really warm from all the physical activity). It’s definitely going to be one of the highlights of my time here in Germany, and I took a lot of photos so that I’ll remember it long after I’ve left the country. I even had an idea or two for stories while I was there, and I bought a few books in the gift shop so that I’ll have plenty to reference should I ever need to look up some info. Definitely check out the castle if you ever get the chance. It’s well worth the trip.

Of course, I doubt this’ll be the last adventure I have in Germany. While my time here is becoming limited, there’s still one place I’d like to visit, and I think I might have the opportunity this coming weekend. Oppenheim is a town not too far from me, with an underground ossuary and labyrinth, which sounds a lot like the Paris catacombs, and they have a wine museum too. With Oktoberfest starting, sounds like the kind of place I could have a bit of fun before I say goodbye to Deutschland, don’t you think?

A model of the synagogue that used to be in the village, located in the small Jewish display in the castle.

A model of the synagogue that used to be in the village, located in the small Jewish display in the castle.

Well, I wanted to write more posts today (I’ve got plenty to write about), but it’s getting late and I’ve got an early morning tomorrow. I guess I’ll just say goodnight for now and see what I can post tomorrow.

Goodnight Followers of Fear! Pleasant nightmares!

The entrance to the Louvre, surrounding by many fountains.

The entrance to the Louvre, surrounding by many fountains.

The other night, I was watching the classic Doctor Who serial City of Death (one of these days I will have to write an article on Classic Who from a writer’s perspective, because it deserves one), and I found myself freaking out because the serial takes place mainly in Paris, about thirty-five years before I myself was there. (Fun fact: City of Death was the first Doctor Who serial to be filmed abroad, filming between April and May of 1979. So yeah, 35 years before I would visit the city itself).

It was delightful for me to see all those sights in the actual episode, because I’d been to those places and I remembered what it was like to be there. I found myself reliving riding the Metro after a long day, trying to navigate my way back out onto the street after taking a twenty-minute train ride, because those stations can sometimes be little mazes in themselves. Or walking along the river Seine during a leisurely stroll and then sitting in a café near the Champs Elyesees and having a crepe and Orangina (I miss that brand of soda, by the way. It’s so hard to find here in the States).

The Eiffel Tower at night.

The Eiffel Tower at night.

The serial also had scenes set at the Eiffel Tower and in the Louvre. Both those places hold a lot of memories for me. For the Eiffel Tower, it was one of the very first places I visited when I was in Paris. My friend Ramsey Hardin and I decided we go on a late-night jaunt to see the Eiffel Tower at night, and we ended up somehow climbing all the way to the second level (not the top, because that was closed that late at night). It was an amazing view. From every angle you could see Paris at night, a lovely city of lights and mystery. There are hardly any skyscrapers in Paris, mostly due to the French’s distaste for them, so we had a clear view of the city at night. The tower itself starts having a light show with flashing bulbs bright enough to give people seizures about every hour or so, and that was fun to watch. While there we also had the opportunity to talk to a family from the States who were there for a special birthday celebration (the mother’s) and a group from a technical school in Texas that were there for their own study-abroad trip. If the Tower hadn’t had to close, I’m sure we would’ve spent another hour or two there talking to people and enjoying the views.

Ramsey and I at the Eiffel Tower.

Ramsey and I at the Eiffel Tower.

The Louvre has an altogether different feeling. There is more nudity depicted in that museum than in the world’s biggest strip club, and yet there’s just as much religious iconography and scenes to rival the Vatican. And through it all is an air of strange reverence, as if everyone is aware that they are in a temple as holy as any shrine. Even as people take photos of the Mona Lisa or Madonna on the Rocks or paintings so big they take up an entire wall or ones small enough to fit on a cramped bookshelf, there’s a subdued air, as if people are paying their respects to the products of old history and culture. It’s very strange, and you can only really get a sense of it by actually going to the museum itself.

My most artistic selfie.

My most artistic selfie.

But compared to Notre Dame, the Louvre might be a funhouse. I went there after the Louvre, and it’s a very amazing place. From the moment you arrive, you are struck by the very detail of the building. The entrances have so many figures carved into them that you could spend an hour just looking at them and guessing who they are. And once inside, it is very dark and quiet, with people looking around or praying. You can’t help but feel a strange holiness to the place, a sense of godliness no matter what your religious beliefs (or lack of them) are. I even met a couple of OSU alumni there (we’re everywhere!) and they agreed with me on that. I might’v spent more time there if I didn’t have to be back to the hotel by a certain time to meet up for dinner.

See any hunchbacks behind me?

See any hunchbacks behind me?

What does all this rambling have to do with anything? Well, I guess it’s the power of memory. Although sometimes very fallible, the power of memory can transport you through time and space, landing you in a totally different age and location. Just watching that Doctor Who serial was enough to bring me all the way back to France and those five or six lovely, idyllic days of study and learning and wonder and fun, faster than even the TARDIS, even. And I was so happy to return too, because it’s an experience I’ll never be able to relive again, and the memories and photos are what keep the memories alive.

And I hope they stay alive for a long, long time.

Jones, Jones, let me borrow your bones

Jones, Jones, let me borrow your bones

 

Oh, I’m so excited to tell everyone about my trip down into the catacombs! As you may well know, the catacombs occupy the prime spot on my list of haunted places to visit before I become a ghost myself. And I got in this morning! It’ll make a great beginning to a new sub-category of posts, “Tales from Abroad” (I figure with all the stories I have to tell, a category was needed for it).

CIMG2795

Well, this morning I woke up early. I’d heard that the lines for the catacombs were insanely long, and I decided to get there early. So I got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed to the Metro. Right across from the exit from my stop, was the entrance to the catacombs, with a small line already forming. I rushed to it and got in before anyone else could. It was about fifty minutes before the catacombs opened at that point, and it was also the time when I made new friends: Andrew and Maria, an engineer and sketch artist from Florida whom I talked to while waiting in line. Subjects ranged from WWII history to our travels to the history of the catacombs themselves to our individual aspirations and dreams. During the tour I often saw them and we took photos of each other at various points along the tour.

When ten o’clock hit, the doors opened and we went in. By that point the line had snaked around the block and out of sight (average wait time is around two hours apparently. So remember kids, if you’re in Paris and plan to tour the catacombs, arrive as early as I did so you can get in quickly). The tour was self-guided (audio guides cost extra, and tour guides are only available to groups), so you basically walked down a circling staircase to a first room that dealt with the history of the catacombs (originally mines and underground quarries, later the home of six million of Paris’s dead as corpses were moved from cemeteries to underground for health reasons) and the geological history of the catacombs. Later you moved into the catacombs proper, a series of passageways and tunnels (only a section available to the public; anything else, you’d have to find a cataphile, a catacomb enthusiast who can access illegal entry points and go down to explore).

Andrew and Maria in the Kingdom of the Dead.

Andrew and Maria in the Kingdom of the Dead.

It was very interesting, being down there. You could see niches where rocks were carved out or where things could be stored, as well as metal gates blocking the way to passageways not open to the public. In two places there were these amazing sculptures of beautiful building that a worker from the original catacomb project in the 18th century had carved from memory, recreating his home in the Balkans. There was a deep well that went even deeper into the ground, and a series of archways and niches set along an incline, as if to let us now we were entering sacred ground.

Can you say new author bio pic?

Can you say new author bio pic?

And then came the best part of all. Over a doorway, written in French and carved with precision was the warning, “Beware, for you are about to enter the Kingdom of the Dead”. And what a kingdom it was! The walls were lined with the bones and skulls of so many dead. And even though we were told by signs not to use flash or touch the bones, many did anyway. I won’t say whether or not I did, but I will admit that I am aware of what bones feel like when you hold them (bones from 300 years ago feel like light, brittle rocks in your hands). Some of the bones were arranged in interesting shapes, such as representations of crosses, men, or churches. Others had been arranged to help support different structures, such as around this column. Or this well, which strangely made me think of a portal to Hell rather than a catch for water. And plenty of coffins, crypts, and tombstones.

The bones went on for ages and ages. Every moment I was in a sort of heaven (so to speak). As you can guess, I am quite the lover of the macabre, so this definitely got me excited. If you look at each of the photos carefully, you’ll see me with such glee and excitement on my face.

But sadly it had to end. And end it did, with the doorway to the land of the living coming all too soon. There were a few more sights to see, including some lovely vaulted ceilings, and then we had to resurface, taking another winding staircase up. All told, I spent about an hour and a half down in the catacombs, twice the normal amount estimated for a tour, and I covered two kilometers and over 200 steps going up and down. And I would do it again if given the opportunity, because it is just a wonderful place to be. At least, for me it is.

Afterwards, I went to the gift shop (yes, they have a gift shop) and got a couple of souvenirs to remember the trip below by (there’s only so much photos can do, and for obvious reasons I couldn’t take the bones with me, even if I was the kind of guy to try to take bones with me). I got a small booklet about the catacombs for easy reference in case of a story (of which I have one or two ideas for), a sticker for my laptop, and a skull ring, something I’ve always wanted for myself as a horror author.

How you like the sticker and the bling-bling?

How you like the sticker and the bling-bling?

I’m not sure if I actually witnessed any ghosts. I certainly don’t remember seeing anything out of the ordinary, except possibly some evidence of cataphiles in a restricted section. But I certainly had a great time down there, and I’ll definitely treasure those memories of that hour and a half for as long as my memory works (though I’m not sure sometimes that it does now). It certainly has become my favorite part of Paris.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll try to upload the rest of the photos of that night when I get the chance. In the meantime, I’ll send Andrew and Maria the photo I took of them as well as the link to this post. Have a good night, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.

BOO!

For those of you who read the title and are thinking to yourselves, “He plans to become ghost?”, yes, I do. I plan to become a ghost and haunt people as I like. Nobody’s safe, too. I plan to haunt everyone and anyone! Mwha ha ha!

Anyway, most people who know me know that besides being a fan of horror stories, I’m also a believer in ghosts and have had a few experiences as well that terrified and excited me (though mostly terrified). I thought it’d be interesting if I did a list of ten places purported to be haunted that I want to visit and see if I can capture ghostly evidence. And it’s possible that I might be able to go to a few of those soon, so I’m super-excited for them!

The list isn’t in any real order, except my number one is last and I REALLY want to go there when I have the chance. The rest of the list is pretty random in order. I didn’t intend for that to happen, it just did. Or did it?…

So without further ado, let’s get this list started!

10. Longfellow’s Wayside Inn
Location: Sudbury, Massachusetts, USA

The oldest working inn in America, the Wayside Inn gained its name as it was the place that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his collection of poems, Tales of the Wayside Inn, back when it was the Howe Inn. There is another tale though of this historic inn: the inn is reportedly home to Jerusha Howe, the daughter of the inn’s original owner who fell in love with a sailor who disappeared at sea. She died pining away for her missing lover. Today, male guests at the inn report being visited by Jerusha in two adjoining rooms she is said to frequent, leading to some amorous ghost stories that have been collected in a trunk full of love letters in one of the rooms. You can see why I’d want to go there. It’s the making of a great supernatural romance story, among other things.

9. Lizzie Borden House
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts, USA

Lizzie Borden was a woman living in Fall River, MA with her family in 1892 when her family was brutally murdered with an axe. The violence of the massacre and Lizzie’s subsequent strange behavior afterwards made her seem like a prime suspect, but bungling on the part of the local investigators led to her acquittal at trial. The case gained quite a lot of attention in its day, making it one of the most infamous murders in American history. Today the house is a working bed and breakfast, and guests have reported being dragged from beds and other unpleasant happenings. Doesn’t that sound like it’s right up my alley?

8. Alcatraz
Location: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California, USA

America’s most famous federal prison, it held numerous famous criminals, including Al Capone, from 1934 to 1963. Today the prison is a landmark and a museum (and it was also a short-lived TV show), but it’s also reportedly haunted by former inmates who died here, sometimes under mysterious circumstances. Not only that, but the island was called by Native Americans “the Evil Island” and rumors of demonic activity continue to this day. I can imagine wanting to spend a night in the big house if it was this one!

7. Ohio State Reformatory
Location: Mansfield, Ohio, USA

I’m proud to say that this one is in my state, and haunted tours are regularly given there around Halloween, so I’m definitely going to visit it one of these days. During its heyday, this prison housed over 155,000 prisoners, and there were several mysterious deaths, murders, and suicides. Since it closed, it has been used by film crews for a variety of films, including the Shawshank Redemption, but it has also been the home of some very nasty spirits who are said to touch prisoners and even become violent. Maybe I should visit there this Halloween. Anyone care to come with?

6. The Stanley Hotel
Location: Estes Park, Colorado, USA

The inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, the Stanley Hotel has been the site of many paranormal experiences, with people becoming so frightened they’ve had panic attacks and have been sent to the hospital. Some of the most famous haunted rooms are the ballroom, where music is said to be heard, and Room 217 (any King lover knows why). There’s also a reported ghost thief that steals luggage, jewelry, and othe valuables from right under the guests’ noses, and there’s been no proof it might be a maid. They had me at Stephen King.

5. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Location: Weston, West Virginia, USA

One of the most haunted sites in America, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was one of the busiest insane asylums in the nation, housing 2400 patients at its peak. It was forcibly closed in 1994 due to treatment of its patients, but popular belief states that some guests haven’t left. There have been screams, doors opening and closing, and a bunch of other weird happenings there, and it has been investigated by numerous paranormal investigators, including the Ghost Adventures Crew, who did a live seven-hour long lockdown during which viewers on the Travel Channel website could view and examine evidence in real time. And I think it’s about time I got committed there, don’t you think?

4. Pennhurst State School
Location: Spring City, Pennsylvania, USA

An asylum for the physically and mentally handicapped, Pennhurst was plagued by overcrowding and not enough staff members for all its years. There are reports of children five or six years old not being taught to walk because there weren’t enough staff members to teach them, and of patients lying in their own feces or delusions for hours on end. The facility was finally closed when an investigative news team exposed the overcrowding and abuse there, leading to a public outcry. Today the facility is reportedly haunted by patients who never left its walls, and tours and investigations there have yielded some interesting findings. As one of those investigations inspired a novel I plan to write someday, I hope to get a tour someday. Road trip!

3. Aokigahara
Location: Honshu Island, Japan

An ancient forest at the base of Mt. Fuji, the forest is nicknamed “Suicide Forest” due to its popularity as a place for suicides, despite official’s efforts to stop visitors from killing themselves. It is said that in addition to the suicides, the forest is haunted by demons and yurei, spirits who have been unable to move onto the afterlife. If I ever tour Japan, I’m making this place a sure location to visit. Only Godzilla could keep me away!

2. Hellfire Caves
Location: West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, UK

A series of man-made caverns that extend very deep underground, the Hellfire Caves were once the stomping grounds of the Hellfire Club, a group of politically and socially affluent figures led by Sir Francis Dashwood, who reportedly held a number of pagan rituals in the caverns. Some accusations against the group say that these rituals were satanic in nature. To this day there are reports of dark spirits in the caves, as well as reports of Sukie, the ghost of a woman who was accidentally killed by three village boys who lured her to the cave and a rock fight broke out, as well as the ghost of Paul Whitehead, a friend of Dashwood’s who asked that his heart be put in an urn in the caverns upon his death. When the heart containing his urn was stolen in 1829, reports of a man in 18th century garb sighted in and around the caverns started to crop up. I wonder whose heart he’s looking for? Because these caves have certainly stolen mine.

1. The Paris catacombs
Location: Paris, Il-de-France, France

A series of underground ossuaries in the heart of Paris, the catacombs were once a series of ancient mines before becoming the homes of nearly six million corpses and skeletons when Paris officials needed to do something about the health problems caused by poor burial practices. Today certain sections of the catacombs are open to the public, and the legends about them never seem to cease, including that of the ghost of the man who oversaw the transfer of the bones below, of a man who got lost while going down to drink liquor and became a wandering ghost forevermore, and a bizarre tale of a woman who was kidnapped and tortured by a werewolf below, among others. I’ll be visiting France for my study abroad trip, so you can bet I’ll be making a visit to the catacombs before I leave the City of Light. And I’ll be taking plenty of photos.*

*This location was visited on May 21, 2014. For a full account of that experience, click here.

Have you ever been to these or other haunted locations? Has anything happened to you? If it did, could you give us some detail?