The Broughton State Hospital & Its History of Hauntings

Updated June 1, 2021
Haunted Broughton

Hospital staff and patients at Broughton State Hospital in Morganton, North Carolina see ghosts are seen on a regular basis. There has never been any paranormal investigation conducted at the facility since it is still operating as the state's psychiatric hospital.

Dark History of Abuse and Neglect

Built in 1883, Broughton State Hospital (BH) is considered one of the most haunted places in the state, although the existence of ghosts isn't officially acknowledged. That stamp of verification isn't needed by eyewitnesses or the resident ghosts. Anyone who has worked at the hospital for any length of time will tell you - the hospital is downright spooky at night. Many believe it's the hospital's dark history that makes it such a hotbed for restless spirits and some very scary entities.

At one point in the 1920s, the understaffed hospital was overwhelmed with patients. There was only one doctor for every 355 patients! This spawned patient neglect, abuse, and worse. Patients died under these horrific circumstances, with reports of torture and highly questionable experiments being performed. Soon, stories about the hospital being haunted began to surface. According to WSOCTV, the hospital's past is shrouded in these atrocities and numerous patient suicides.

Spooky Underground Torture Tunnels

Another layer to the hospital's fright factor is what's underground. The hospital complex feels as though it were designed for the set of a horror movie with its abandoned and neglected underground network of tunnels. It's believed the tunnels were used to transport patients to different buildings on the hospital campus. It was rumored that wealthy families used the tunnels to admit family members and later to visit them undetected by the public.

Carrying a lantern, the steward and matron of the asylum would move about the complex via the tunnels. There were also tracks in the tunnels leading from the kitchen and laundry room in order to transport supplies back and forth. But the tunnels are also said to be places of torture, hidden from the prying eyes of the outside world. It was reported that difficult patients were chained to the walls of the unlit tunnels as punishment. However, there's no physical evidence to back up such claims, yet employees who were brave enough to venture into the tunnels claim they heard the rattling of chains, moans, and wailing.

Hospital Graveyard

Located on the hospital grounds was the patient graveyard. This remaining artifact is a stark reminder of the many people who never left the hospital. Over the years, photographs taken of the graveyard have revealed strange unexplained anomalies, such as odd mists, wispy apparitions, and spooky dark human figures in the background. The gated Broughton Hospital Memorial Cemetery is located along the edge of the property and is open to the public.

Ghosts Haunt Hospital Staff and Patients

According to eyewitnesses, paranormal activity is a common occurrence at the hospital, especially during the graveyard shift (3rd shift). Just ask Margaret Langley, a registered nurse, and she'll tell you about the many ghosts walking the halls of the hospital at night. Her ghostly encounters prompted her to write a book, Haunted Broughton, Tales From the Graveyard Shift, that includes real life ghost stories about the hospital. "I felt that these events should be documented," Margaret said. She went on to write two more books about the hospital.

Some of the things witnessed by workers and patients include:

  • Sounds of slamming doors
  • Cold spots
  • Apparitions in darkened hallways and corridors
  • Disembodied voices calling patients by name
  • Chilling screams heard from abandoned areas of hospital
  • Mists and blue orbs traveling along hallways

Employees working late at night have seen frightening and strange anomalies. The least used areas or places no longer used, such as areas for violent, uncontrollable patients and the wards where the criminally insane were once housed have the highest ghostly activity. Margaret stated, "BH is a totally different place at night. You see shadows out of the corner of your eyes and hear things that can't be explained."

Patients report seeing ghosts, and many have been terrorized by what they've seen. Two male patients told Margaret about a blue light floating just outside their windows. "The light floated over the trees and through the leaves. It moved around and around until it disappeared. They were very adamant about what they saw," she said.

Female patient with intravenous drip

Margaret and a co-worker witnessed a vaporous cloud floating down the hall about five feet off the floor. "As we stood there in amazement, the cloud sort of melted away," she said. They quickly investigated and could only come to one conclusion: it was a ghost or spirit.

People have reported hearing disembodied voices calling their names. One night as Margaret was working alone in Bates Building, she heard a woman call out her name in a loud whisper. Margaret had a strange sensation grip her. "I never had a fear of being there alone prior to that night. It scared me so bad that it felt like an iron prod was shoved up my spine into the base of my skull," she said.

The Ghost of Ward 8

Margaret's co-workers have seen ghosts when they least expected it. Ward 8 has a regular ghost visitor witnessed by night shift nurses. It was late at night when one nurse finished her paperwork and decided to stop to chat with another nurse in the sitting area. She began talking with her co-worker when she noticed a shadow suddenly appeared to be sitting on the sofa at the end of the hall.

The other nurse revealed that the ghost regularly pops up, and he had nervously grown accustomed to the dark shadow lurking about. They watched as the dark shadow appeared to be playing solitaire. The other nurse watched in disbelief for what seemed like a long time, until the shadow man simply vanished.

Ghosts Haunt Broughton State Hospital

The paranormal activity at Broughton State Hospital seems to be a mix of residual energy and intelligent ghost activity. There are many similar stories told by those who are patients or work at one of the scariest places in North Carolina.

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The Broughton State Hospital & Its History of Hauntings