Massachusetts has plenty of scenic spots and gorgeous landscapes, but it also has its fair share of shadowy corners. There are plenty of places in this state that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention, and send a chill creeping up your spine. From haunted forests to the scenes of ghastly murders, come along as we highlight the most terrifying places we’ve explored so far.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Harold Parker State Forest, Andover
The stories about this old state park are beyond creepy. With over 35 miles of shady trails and colonial-era roads, plenty of misty swampland and unexpected caves, this place can get exceptionally spooky as the daylight fades. One of the creepiest legends tells of disappearing bridges that allow travelers to cross a brook or creek, but vanish as the sun goes down, leaving the bewildered hikers stranded on the wrong side of the water as darkness rises. Campers also report seeing and hearing the ghosts of the families that once farmed the area that is now the park in the 18th century. (133 Jenkins Road, Andover)
2. The S.K. Pierce Mansion, Gardner
This Victorian manor is so haunted, visitors are required to sign a waiver before entering the home. It has a history of death, murder and hauntings that span over 130 years. Even though the stunning mansion is valued at over a million dollars, it sold in 2015 for a mere $329,000. The reason? The owners were so disturbed and frightened by the supernatural activity in the home that they wanted it off their hands as soon as possible. Today, the mansion is undergoing renovations and has been transformed into a haunted attraction. Even before it was an official haunted house, visitors would report feeling the pressure of ghostly hands on their bodies, or being overwhelmed by the compulsion to throw themselves from certain windows.
3.The Rattlesnake Island, Quabbin Reservoir
Formally known as Mount Zion island, this island is slowly being transformed into one of the most dangerous and terrifying places in Massachusetts. You won't find any ghouls or ghosts here, but you will find hundreds of venomous rattlesnakes. The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has designated the island a sanctuary for the endangered snake, and has been releasing the deadly creatures onto the island in order to bring their numbers up to snuff.
You don't need to be too alarmed, however. The snakes are known to be pretty shy, and don't strike without provocation. Actually, there have been no fatal rattlesnake incidents in Massachusetts for at least 100 years. Still, the island's neighbors are a little nervous. The rattlesnakes can swim, after all.
4. Danvers State Hospital, Danvers
Danvers State Hospital was one of the most notorious and controversial medical centers in American history. It was the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy, a procedure where an ice-pick is shoved through the eye to the brain in order to render patients more docile. Conditions in the hospital were said to be abysmal, with patients suffering terrible abuse and left to wallow in their own filth.
The hospital closed in 1992, and most of the structure was converted to apartment buildings. However, the original facade of the main Kirkbride building, several blocked tunnels and the hospital cemeteries remain. In 2007, strange, unexplained fires began breaking out in the apartment complexes, and residents began to report seeing unusual "people" roaming the halls.
5. Minot's Ledge Light, Cohasset
This lighthouse has a terrifying history and a deadly reputation. Built in 1860 to make the dangerous waters around Cohasset a bit safer for sailors, the keepers of Minot's Ledge Light warned the the structure was unstable and wouldn't withstand a fierce storm, but no one listened.
In 1861, the lighthouse was destroyed by a massive storm. The two young keepers of the light kept the bell tolling in the tower until the end, and the next day, a chilling message in a bottle washed ashore: "The lighthouse won’t stand over to night. She shakes 2 feet each way now. God bless you all. J.W. + J.A." The lighthouse was rebuilt, but later keepers often reported seeing ghosts, and one keeper even went insane after insisting that he could hear the bell tolling at all hours.
6. USS Salem, Quincy
This historic battleship has been turned into a 60,000-square-foot haunted attraction that capitalizes on the vessels bloody and haunted past. Nicknamed "The Sea Witch," the USS Salem was sent to aid victims of a 1951 earthquake in Greece. It is said that the ship's morgue overflowed, and that bodies were stacked to the ceiling in large rooms in the ship's belly. Today, visitors can tour the ship and participate in terrifying haunted experiences through "Ghost Ship Harbor."
7. The Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston
This is one of the oldest operating theaters in the country, and has a lengthy history of hauntings to match. Built in 1903 by the son of the found of the Jordan Marsh department stores, the Cutler theater is said to be haunted by the ghosts of former patrons and performers. The specter of a little girl is frequently reported to dash across the halls of the theater. Even more spooky are the claims that a certain room backstage, known as "The Nightmare Room," exerts such an evil aura that visitors find it hard to breathe.
8. Freetown-Fall River State Forest
The Freetown Fall River State Forest is often regarded as the most haunted forest in the country, and with good reason. Part of the fabled "Bridgewater Triangle," the forest is known for the incredible number of strange sightings and bizarre happenings that have occurred within its borders, including multiple murders and suicides. From Native American legends of wandering spirits and creatures, to UFOs and ghosts, and the infamous "Fall River Cult Killings" that occurred in the 1980s, this is one terrifying forest.
9. The Lizzie Borden House, New Bedford
Most Massachusetts schoolchildren know the old rhyme: "Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." The home where the murders took place is still standing in New Bedford, and actually operates as a bed and breakfast. Brave ghost hunters can spend the night, and try their luck at spotting the spirits of the unfortunate Borden family.
10. The Hoosac Tunnel, North Adams
This old railroad tunnel in the Hoosac Mountain Range has a dark and terrible history. Nicknamed "The Bloody Pit," almost 200 men lost their lives during the tunnel's 24-year construction in the mid 19th-century. One incident involved an explosion that threw a number of men down a dark, narrow, flooded shaft. Believing the men to have died, the railroad company didn't make an effort to retrieve them. Months later, searchers made a gruesome discovery: the remnants of a makeshift raft at the bottom of the shaft. Apparently, the doomed men had survived the explosion and lived for days in the pitch black, trying to stay alive. Today, the tunnel is said to be haunted by the spirits of the old railroad workers.
These places are definitely some of the spookiest spots you’ll ever venture. If you’re looking for more thrills, check out
this terrifying Massachusetts urban legend that may have some basis in reality.