During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
There have been several state mental institutions in Iowa that have closed their doors over the years, and each one has it’s own chilling history. One of the most notorious institutions is the Edinburgh Manor in Scotch Grove. The Manor, as it’s called, has a history of horror dating all the way back to 1850. And what’s more – it’s still standing to this day.
Squirrel Cage Jail
The Pottawattamie County Jail in Council Bluffs is also known as the Squirrel Cage Jail, due to its unique structure of 3 floors of 18 revolving, circular, or lazy Susan, jail cells. It’s believed to be haunted by the people who died in the jail, as well as former jailers who had lived in the 4th floor apartment of the building. There was also a report of a sighting of a mournful little girl dressed in gray inside one of the cells, as well as the voice of a little girl on the 3rd and 4th floors. Visitors over the years have also reported a feeling of someone tugging at them and just an intangible feeling of a presence with them. Whether or not these reports are true will remain a mystery, but there’s no denying that this building has its share of darkness in its past.
Malvern Manor originally started out as a hotel in the early 1800s, and then served as a nursing home and a group home for the developmentally disabled. The manor is now the subject of many paranormal investigations, and there are many claims of paranormal activity throughout the manor, including hearing disembodied voices and seeing mysterious shadows and apparitions.
Iowa is full of beautiful, historic buildings, hotels, restaurants, houses and mansions. You might be surprised by how many of them have haunted pasts and reputations for the supernatural. Dodge House, in Council Bluffs, is just such a place. There have been reports of all kinds of unexplained activity that would chill you to the bone. So take a trip through this haunted mansion…if you dare.
One of the creepiest classic horror movies is about a malevolent creature referred to as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” and the cult of children who do his evil bidding. Since our state’s iconic landscape is rolling cornfields as far as the eye can see, it’s no surprise that “Children of the Corn” was filmed right here in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, among other locations.
Gitchie Manitou State Park
On November 17, 1973, there was a brutal attack on a group of five teenagers at the Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon County, Iowa. Four of the teenagers were killed, and the fifth was raped.
One of Iowa’s most chilling legends dwells in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City. Oakland’s black angel is surrounded by much lore and many legends, many surrounding the angel’s mysterious color change from bronze to black. There are even people who camp out at the angel’s site on Halloween, just to test the legends.
Roseman Covered Bridge
We hear often about chilling stories of haunted houses and restless spirits, but what’s a little more unusual is a tale of a haunted covered bridge. Turns out, we have one right here in Iowa. The covered bridges of Madison County are enchanting. So enchanting, they even served as the set for the movie, “The Bridges of Madison County.” But one of those bridges has a darker history than the others. Roseman Covered Bridge is a hotbed of supposed supernatural activity.
Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa, and it has many interesting historic buildings and stories. One of the most interesting is the Hotel Julien. The hotel has hosted many famous guests, including the infamous gangster, Al Capone. Originally built in 1839, the building’s history stretches back over 150 years, and there’s plenty of intrigue, with fires, criminals, renovations and even ghosts.
Iowa’s Most Haunted Restaurant
Editor's Note: Chuck and Edna's Maid-Rite is permanently closed.
One of the creepiest haunted spots in our state has to be Chuck and Edna’s Maid-Rite in Cascade, Iowa. Not only have they witnessed supernatural activity themselves, they’ve caught it on film!