In this season of ghost stories and haunted houses, you may find it harder and harder to get that ultimate scare from a couple popup witches and people wearing masks at a “haunted” house. If you’re looking for a real scare, you’ll want to visit these 10 bone-chillingly haunted spots in Iowa – you’re guaranteed to get the heebie-jeebies.
1. The Villisca Ax Murder House
In 1912, the town of Villisca became notorious when an entire family was murdered in their sleep by an unknown assailant with an ax. The house is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of the murdered family, and the house is available for lockdowns if any paranormal enthusiasts are looking for a thrill.
2. The Independence Mental Health Institute
Built in 1873, the Independence Mental Health Institute has a dark history, like many old mental hospitals. Countless people have died here, and are buried on site. Employees report eerie feelings, hearing voices, and feeling nervous or uneasy. There have also been cold drafts reported, and people have felt things grab them.
3. Edinburgh Manor
Located in Monticello, this 150-year-old building is rumored to be haunted by "The Joker," a violent ghost known to choke visitors. It has been a mental institution among other things, and at least 80 people are said to have died here. The building is available for lockdown for any brave souls looking for a scare.
4. The Mason House Inn
This historic 1846 hotel in Bentonsport is said to have several spirits living there. In Room 5, the ghost of a young boy pulls on people’s clothing at night. His apparition has also been seen on the landing. In Room 7, a man named Knapp was murdered, and his spirit lingers about the room. In Room 8, a floating head has been seen. Also, in several 3rd-floor bedrooms, the ghost of an elderly woman has been spotted. The hotel is open for business, so you can go see yourself next time you're in the area.
5. Nora Springs Bridge
This bridge in Nora Springs is said to be haunted by a man who hung himself off of the bridge. The rumor is that if you park under it at night, there will be pounding on the car and hand prints on your windows.
6. Oak Hill Cemetery
Oak Hill Cemetery in Cedar Rapids is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Tillie, a witch who roams the cemetery with a candle, granting wishes or bad luck to visitors who see her.
7. Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
Located in Palo, this cemetery has 12 steps running up to it, but the rumor is you can see 13 in the moonlight. Visitors have also reported seeing apparitions, and being touched by something.
8. The Farrar Schoolhouse
This former middle school in Farrar has been a private residence since 2008. Witnesses have seen the ghost of a small boy in the stairwell; one has also appeared in a photo sitting on the edge of the auditorium stage. Voices of children talking and laughing have been picked up on recorders, and one witness even reported an unseen hand steadied when she was about to fall on the stairs.
9. Stony Hollow Bluff
Located on Stony Hollow Road in Burlington, the Stony Hollow Bluff is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman named Lucinda who threw herself off the bluff when her lover didn't run away with her. It's said that if you go to the top of the bluff at night and say her name three times, she will appear. If she drops a rose at your feet, you will die the next day.
10. Lovers Leap Swinging Bridge
Lovers Leap in Columbus Junction is reportedly haunted by a young Indian woman who leaped to her death after she mistakenly thought her lover was dead. She is rumored to be buried at the bottom of the cliff where she jumped.
Have you had any paranormal experiences at any of these places? What are some more haunted spots in Iowa you would add to this list?