With such a rich history in the Twin Cities, it’s no wonder that there are such truly spooky ghost stories to match. These are just a few of the famously haunted spots in the area, and their stories are sure to send shivers down your spine.
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. Minneapolis City Hall
There are several spooky stories of ghostly happenings in the Minneapolis City Hall, particularly on the 5th floor. One of the most famous is the spirit of John Moshik, convicted of murder and robbery and hanged in 1898. Visitors report seeing his ghostly form wandering the halls or over in the Minneapolis Police Detention Center, always accompanied by a chilly breeze.
2. First Avenue Nightclub
First Avenue Nightclub is one of the most famously haunted spots in the Twin Cities. The land now occupied by the club has quite a varied history. It was first a school playground, then later a livestock stable and slaughterhouse. After the stable closed, it was turned into a bus depot where many homeless people would sleep on the sheltered benches - several of which were repurposed and remain in the bar.
There are several legends surrounding the ghostly presence at First Avenue. One of the most commonly seen apparitions is a barefooted woman wearing an army green jacket, thought to be the spirit of a young woman who overdosed or committed suicide in the bus station. Visitors also report hearing the lowing of livestock in the basement, and performing DJs often hear creepy unusual sounds blast through their headphones.
3. Fitzgerald Theater
The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul is the oldest theater in the state (built in 1910), and the home of Garrison Keillor's beloved 'Prairie Home Companion' performances. Those who work in the historic theater believe a former stagehand named Ben still haunts backstage, creating freezing cold pockets of air and mysteriously moving tools, as if he is still helping to put on the shows!
4. James J. Hill House
Several different spirits are said to haunt the James J. Hill House. The beautiful historic mansion may just be afterlife home of the former residents. Maud Hill, the daughter-in-law of original owner James J. Hill, is said to frequently show up for the small concerts held at the estate. Visitors also report the appearance of a playful puppy on the third floor, once the favorite play area of Hill's children.
5. The Soap Factory
Today, this old warehouse serves as an experimental art space, but in the 1880s, it was a large soap factory. Back in those days, one of the main ingredients in soap was animal fat - which may left the gloomy mark of death at this location. Performers and visitors alike often report a dark, demonic presence and the a sourceless smell of sulphur.
6. Wabasha Street Caves
The history behind this unusual location certainly seems to set the perfect scene for a haunted spot. These sandstone caves built into the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul were first used as a mine in the 1840s, but most famously served as a sneaky speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. The mobster activity (and possible visits from famous gangsters like John Dillinger) have led many to suspect spiritual unrest in the caves.
The Wabasha Street Caves have been transformed into one unique underground bar, modeled after the era that made it famous. Between the 1930s era decor and the frequent big band performances, some speculate that the ghostly residents (who often appear wearing clothing styles popular during the heyday of the speakeasies) simply don't know they are dead - everything looks exactly the same as they left it!
7. Roselawn Cemetery
By day, the Roselawn Cemetery in Roseland is quite beautiful. By night, it's a completely different story. The most famous ghost here has been nicknamed "Smiling Jack," after an image in a stained glass window of a mausoleum that seems to be the central hotspot to many of the spooky legends. Stories of mysterious calls to the Roseland Police reporting people trapped in the mausoleum (which was always found to be empty) have persisted, and some people claim to have captured 'Smiling Jack' on camera, but he seems to make only rare appearances. Most paranormal enthusiasts just find spooky floating orbs.
A note to those interested in visiting the cemetery: please remain conscientious and respectful to those (and the families of those) who are memorialized here.
8. Grey Cloud Island
Just about a half hour southeast of Minneapolis, you will find haunted Grey Cloud Island. This area, which was named after a Native American chief, is thought to have one of the highest densities of burial mounds in the country. Green orbs are a pretty common sight here; however, the most frightening apparition is that of a ghostly white pickup truck that will flash its high-beam headlights and tailgate drivers, sometimes running them off of the road in fear.
9. Anoka State Hospital Tunnels
Even the paranormal professionals warn of this terrifyingly haunted spot. The former Anoka State Hospital, about 30 minutes north of Minneapolis, served as a mental asylum for thousands of patients between 1900 and its closing in 1999. Above ground, the boarded up buildings still stand, but the most disturbing parts of this haunted place lie out of sight and off limits. Beneath the hospital grounds, a network of tunnels were built and used to transport patients between buildings. The tunnels were ultimately the site of countless suicides and are said to be overflowing with the dark energy of tortured souls.
It is illegal to go into the tunnels, but we wouldn't go down there, even if they were open to the public. Those who have explored the area return with truly terrifying reports that warn others of following their lead into the darkness.
10. St. Paul City Hall/Ramsey County Courthouse
As with Minneapolis City Hall, the ghosts of St. Paul City Hall and the Ramsey County Courthouse seem primarily to be spirits of the criminals and convicts who came through the courts, even though many were sentenced to die and hanged before the current building was constructed.
11. Washington Avenue Bridge
This bridge, located at the University of Minnesota, is a campus legend that has persisted for decades, passed down by students via scary stories. Many of the urban legends stem from the number of suicides committed here by jumping from the bridge. One of the most famous of these tragic deaths was of John Berryman, a university professor and poet who lept to his death in 1972. Witnesses to the spooky happenings report the sound of footsteps following them as they cross, only to turn around and find themselves alone on a deserted bridge.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, these legends are pretty amazing and each provides a small glimpse into the history of Minneapolis’ most unique spots. While some of these hauntings are a little more harmless than others, we still might need to sleep with the lights on after hearing these spooky stories!