Wisconsin seems to be particularly adept at creating a ghost story. Tragic deaths, more than 250 years of history and a love for old buildings mean our state is a breeding ground for the paranormal. Every county seems to have their own legends, but these are some of the most documented and agreed-upon places in the state with apparitions and the unexplained.
1. Pfister Hotel - Milwaukee
Arguably Milwaukee's nicest lodging, the haunting of the Pfister is so famous throughout Major League Baseball that players try to find other accommodations. The original owner is apparently the culprit and he's visited many guests over the years.
2. Summerwind Mansion - Vilas County
Most of the places on this list are haunted by some of the original owners or residents, but US Secretary of Commerce Robert Lamont built this place as a summer escape and apparently stirred up some unhappy spirits, as he himself was the first to see ghosts. The legend of this abandoned property, which is closed to the public, has only grown in the 100 years since it was built.
3. Eagles Ballroom - Milwaukee
The building dates to 1920 and the location used to be a men's only gym, hall and gathering place. There's the remnants of a pool and bowling alley to prove it. Since the 1990's, it's been a stalwart of the Milwaukee music scene and many patrons and performers have reported paranormal activity.
4. Hwy 12 - Baraboo
Perhaps one of the spookiest stories, there are reports of the ghost of a hitchiker along this stretch. Drivers will see the man and then see him again a few miles later. It's giving me goosebumps just to write this out for you.
5. Broadway Theater Center - Milwaukee
The legend goes that the theater used to sit further up Broadway and for years people tried to get owner Clair Richardson to move it. He said over my dead body. You can guess where this is going. After he passed, the theater was moved and his ashes were carried down the street in a New Orleans-style second line parade. His ashes lie beneath the floorboards and are meant to be illuminated with a spot light at all times. Whenever that spotlight goes out, for whatever reason, folks here report all kinds of happenings.
6. St. Nazianz
Frankly the whole town is said to be inhabited by otherworldly beings, though most of it is centered at the former sanitarium that became JFK Preparatory. The city was founded by a man fleeing Germany after he was labeled a heretic by the Catholic Church. He brought some of his followers with him and they were known to have mystic beliefs and were sometimes called a cult. Father Oswald had plenty of unexplained happenings surrounding his death and burial and the area continues to expereince the occult.
7. Bloody Bride Bridge - Steven's Point
The legend says a newly married couple were killed when their car went over the bridge into the Plover River. Drivers have reported seeing her specter along the road while others say that late at night you will experience the couple sitting in your back seat, staring at you in your rearview mirror.
8. Marquette University - Milwaukee
Perhaps the culprit is too many years of creative college students, but multiple buildings on campus are said to be haunted, mostly by the priests who lived and taught there. A newer set of dorms are in a former YMCA building and they say a boy who drowned there haunts the residents.
9. Grand Opera House - Oshkosh
The opera house has been in operation in some form or another since the late 1800s; the ghost that most frequently manifests here appears to be a stage manager, Percy Keene, who worked there from 1895-1967.
10. Sanitarium Hill - Madison
The former tuberculosis treatment center sits atop one of Madison's best sledding hills, but plenty of folks avoid going to the home of the former Lakeview Sanitarium. But it's the woods surrounding the building that seem to house all the paranormal activity. Some speculate about the Native American uses of the land and wonder if the occult happenings here are related to disturbing those spirits.
11. Ripon College - Ripon
A fire in one of the campus theaters in the 1960's seems to have beget Rapahel the ghost. Another ghost seems to like taunting the football players. For a small campus, there seems to be an abnormal amount of the paranormal here.
12. Boy Scout Lane - Stevens Point
The legends of this road vary a bit, but typically involve a group of Boy Scouts who were killed. Reports say you can see their shadows roaming the woods and flickers of their lanterns through the trees.
Have you visited any of these spooky locations? Or have you spotted a specter somewhere else in Wisconsin? Let us know in the comments!
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