What better way to get in the spirit of the season than a haunted road trip across Massachusetts? We’ve gathered some of the spookiest, creepiest locales in the state and organized them into a journey that is sure to make you shiver.
You can find directions and a map of the trip here. The total journey comes out to about 8.5 hours, but you’ll want to budget some time to actually get out of your car and explore these spots.
1. USS Salem, Quincy
The USS Salem in Quincy is regarded as one of the most haunted vessels in the world. In 1953, the ship served as a makeshift, floating hospital during a massive earthquake in Greece. Hundreds died onboard, and some rooms in the ship were stuffed to the ceiling with the corpses of the deceased. Reports of hauntings and paranormal activity have abounded ever since. Today, you can tour the ship and learn about its haunted history, as well as test your bravery at the “Ghost Ship Harbor” haunted attraction, which runs through the end of October.
2. Dogtown, Gloucester
This is definitely the creepiest ghost town in Massachusetts. Founded in 1693, Dogtown was once home to about 100 families. After pirate attacks and tensions with local native peoples drove the settlers further inland, the town became a haven for vagrants, criminals…and some say, witches.
Dogtown gets its name from the packs of feral canines that roamed its streets after the town was abandoned. One resident of Dogtown was particularly notorious. Thomazine "Tammy" Younger was known as "Queen of the Witches,” and it was said that she cursed teams of oxen and local farmers who refused to pay her tribute. Today, Dogtown is covered with inscribed boulders bearing strange, motivational messages. The stones were commissioned in the 1920s by the late Roger Babson, the founder of Babson College. The add an additional layer of spookiness to a ghost town that many believe to be haunted by its former residents.
3. Danvers State Hospital, Danvers
This mental hospital opened in 1878, and was the birthplace of the infamous pre-frontal lobotomy. This medical procedure involved thrusting a long rod (resembling an ice pick) through the corner of a patient’s eye and wiggling it around in order to sever important neural connections.
Conditions at the hospital were terrible, and there were reports that some patients were left chained to beds for days, or allowed to wander the halls covered in their own filth. The hospital closed in 1992, and many of the buildings were converted to apartments. However, mysterious fires began to break out in the apartments in 2007. The original facade of the main Kirkbride building, in addition to the cemeteries, several barricaded tunnels and the brick shell of the administration and the D and G wings remain. The ruins of the hospital were used as the setting for the 2001 horror film “Session 9.”
4. SK Pierce Mansion, Gardner
This mansion is so haunted, visitors are required to sign a waiver before entering the home. It has a history of death and tragedy that spans over 130 years. Built in the late 1880s by Sylvester Pierce, a wealthy local businessman, the mansion is reportedly haunted by numerous members of the Pierce family, many of whom died in the home from illness or accident. The ghosts here are known to get physical, with some guests reporting being pushed down stairs or compelled towards open windows against their will.
5. The Hoosac Tunnel, North Adams & Florida
The Hoosac Tunnel is nicknamed “The Bloody Pit,” and with good reason. Over 200 people have died in the tunnel, and it was one of the most deadly construction projects in Massachusetts history. The story of one incident, in particular, will make you shiver. After an explosion in the tunnel, 13 men were presumed dead abandoned at the bottom of a deep shaft. A makeshift raft was later discovered, along with evidence that the men had survived for days after the search was called off. Note: the tunnel is private railroad property, and trespassing in the area is not permitted. To check out the Hoosac Tunnel, hop aboard a train at the North Adams station.
6. Houghton Mansion, North Adams
The Houghton Mansion has been called the scariest place in New England, and a bit of research will definitely show you why. Albert Charles Houghton, a former mayor of North Adams, built the house in 1890. Houghton was injured in a car accident and died on the property. Soon after, Houghton’s driver shot himself at the mansion, supposedly out of guilt over the accident. The estate has been plagued with reports of disembodied voices, ghost sightings and strange screams ever since. Walking tours of the property are available for $5 per person.
7. The Belchertown State School, Belchertown
This school was built in 1922 to serve the “mentally defective.” Maximum capacity was meant to be 400 occupants, but by the 1970s, over 1,500 patients were crammed into the school. Conditions were deplorable. Local judge Joseph L. Tauro described the school as “a warehouse for humans,” saying that he “saw a little girl drinking from a feces-filled commode” during one of his visits. The buildings were infested with rats and insects that would bite patients, especially those who were tied down to their beds. The school closed in 1971, and reports of hauntings have abounded ever since. You can check out the decaying buildings and overgrown grounds from the outside, but access to the inside of the buildings is not permitted.
8. Spider Gates Cemetery, Leicester
This place is officially known as Quaker Cemetery, but unofficially known as Spider Gates Cemetery, or "The Eighth Gate to Hell. Founded in 1740, local tales assert that the cemetery is a gateway to another dimension. Reports of hauntings abound, and satanic rituals are said to be performed on a stone area of the cemetery known as "The Altar."
9. Freetown Fall River State Forest
This forest just may be the most haunted in America. Part of the infamous “Bridgewater Triangle,” a triad of places in Massachusetts that exhibit unusual levels of odd happenings and paranormal activity, this spooky forest has played host to multiple documented murders, suicides and assaults. It’s also rumored to be the favorite haunt of Pukwudgies, humanoid creatures from Wampanoag native tradition. President Ronald Reagan himself reported seeing strange lights in the sky within the forest. In May of 2016, and escaped emu was reported to be wandering around the forest and attacking visitors.
10. The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River
The Lizzie Borden House is one of the most infamous murder scenes in America. In 1892, Lizzie Borden of Fall River was accused of the violent murders of her father and mother. They had been viciously slain with an axe, and though Borden was ultimately acquitted of their murders, most locals believed she had committed the crimes. Many guests have claimed to feel ill upon walking into the home, saying that they experience an oppressive feeling and a sense that they are being watched. If you're feeling courageous, you can rent a room in the Borden home for the night.