Kentucky is known for its many frightening tales of haunted places. Some of these places have vast numbers of resident ghosts that provide chilling stories of paranormal activities and supernatural encounters.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The former tuberculosis hospital Waverly Hills Sanatorium is one of the most haunted places in America. The haunted underground tunnels were once used to transport the dead out-of-sight of other patients so they didn't become distraught over the massive number of fellow patients dying. It was aptly nicknamed Death Tunnel.
Visitors have ample opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of the reported shadow people lurking near the body chute. This was where the dead were sent to land underneath the hospital in the morgue and later transported along the freaky tunnel network.
The spooky room 502 is a favorite ghost hunting area since it's supposedly where a 29-year-old nurse hanged herself in 1928. Her ghost and the many ghosts of patients who died at the sanatorium haunt the halls. A little boy is said to play ball with ghost hunters. Numerous videos and photos have captured ghost orbs, shadows, and other possible ghostly manifestations.
The hospital opened in 1910 in response to the tuberculosis outbreak. A 1920 expansion of the facility allowed the hospital to serve 400 patients. When a cure for tuberculosis was discovered, the sanatorium was converted to serve mentally ill patients and also geriatric ones. It was eventually closed and abandoned. The Waverly Hills Historical Society rescued the building and conduct various historical and paranormal tours. You can even hold a private overnight paranormal investigation.
Bobby Mackey's Music World
Bobby Mackey's Music World is said to be the most haunted nightclub in America. Its dark past stretches back to the 1850s, when it was a meat slaughterhouse and meat packing plant. Often simply referred to as Hell's Gate, the basement of the slaughterhouse was reportedly used to perform sacrificial satanic and dark magic rituals. These macabre activities centered around a well located in the basement. Although the well has since been filled in with debris and dirt, it still lends a spooky essence to the basement.
Patrons can take a tour of the catacombs underneath the club and while there you might bump into one or more of the 40 plus resident ghosts reported over the years. Visitors hear phantom boot steps when touring the basement. Many patrons claim the ghost of Pearl Bryan appears to guests. Her full-body apparition and those of other spirits are said to be malevolent energies.
Poor Pearl Bryan. Is she looking for her severed head, rumored to have been tossed into the basement well? She was five-months pregnant when her lover Scott Jackson brought her to the club for the sole purpose of forcing her to undergo a brutal abortion that went wrong, or so he and his pal told the court.
The legend claims there never was any abortion and that Jackson and his friend murdered Pearl. They killed her in the forest across the Ohio River. It's said they cut off her head while she was alive and left her decapitated body lying on the forest bed. Legend claims the two men tossed Pearl's head into the basement well.
Another prominent ghost is Johanna, a dancer who fell in love with a singer at the club and became pregnant. She discovered her dead lover hanging in his dressing room--her father having murdered him. Overcome with grief, Johanna took her life by drinking poison. While the stories of Pearl and Johanna can't be proved historically, they are part of the many ghostly tales of the haunted Bobby Mackey's.
There's an angry bartender and perhaps several gangsters haunting the bar, not to mention the satanic forces raised through the rituals and sacrifices. People hear phantom music and see various full-bodied apparitions. The piano plays by itself, and patrons claim to be harassed by invisible forces.
In fact, one patron sued Bobby after he was violently attacked in the men's restroom. The man emerged beaten, scratched, clawed, and suffering from various injuries. In his lawsuit, he admonished Bobby for not posting a warning to patrons about the malicious resident ghosts. The judge dismissed the case, but Bobby's lawyers advised him to put a warning sign at the entrance of the club. Since then, all patrons see the sign warning about ghosts when they enter the club.
Kentucky's bloodiest and biggest battle during the Civil war happened in what's known as the Perryville Battlefield (October 8, 1862). Visitors to the battlefield have seen ghostly figures wandering about the fields, and not just during the night. Some eyewitnesses have seen apparitions in broad daylight!
Witnesses frequently report hearing phantom sounds of cannon and rifle fire, as well as battle cries and screams of pain. However, the ghosts aren't confined to the battlefield. They have been seen wandering about the town, in shops, and in homes.
Tragically, around 6,000-7,000 soldiers were either wounded or killed that day. Most of the confederate bodies rotted on the battlefield for three days, while the victorious Union army buried their dead in a trench. The confederate soldiers were buried on the Bottom family's farm. After the war, the Union soldiers' remains were moved to Camp Lebanon and Camp Nelson cemeteries.
Kentucky State Penitentiary
Inmates aren't the only ones who report seeing things of the paranormal at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. Guards also have seen these often terrifying apparitions, shadow people, or hear the disembodied screams of horror. Other paranormal activities include orbs and phantom footsteps.
In his book, Hauntings of the Kentucky State Penitentiary, Steve Asher, tells about a new prison guard conducting his rounds and checks the death row cells. He sees a prisoner in a cell reading the Bible and nods when the prisoner looks up at him. The guard continues his rounds and upon returning to the office, asks his supervisor if the prisoner received his meal for the evening. Perplexed, the supervisor replies there are no prisoners in that section, and it had been empty for over a month.
The oldest prison in Kentucky, the Kentucky State Penitentiary, also known as the Castle on the Cumberland, was opened in 1898. It's a maximum and Supermax prison with an 856-prisoner capacity. Located on Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River, this operational prison is said to be one of the most haunted places in Kentucky. Many prisoners died in the prison and some of them remain even after death.
Cave Hill Cemetery
The 1848 Cave Hill Cemetery was planned as a garden cemetery that spreads over almost 300 acres. The cave is off limits to visitors, but is where the spring that formed the lakes originates. Some of the celebrities buried in the cemetery include Harland Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken mogul) and champion boxer, Muhammed Ali.
There are many tales of the cemetery history that include grave robbers who procured fresh bodies as medical cadavers. Some of the spooky happenings occur at night, such as different colors of orbs floating about, disembodied voices, various strange types of lights, and phantom footsteps.
Mammoth Cave National Park
For a different type of paranormal encounter, you may decide to venture into the giant Mammoth Cave that features several tunnels. With over 150 documented sightings of the unusual and paranormal, it's no wonder that visitors report seeing apparitions inside and around the main cave and tunnel system. Phantom footsteps and disembodied voices are heard. There are many stories about the phantom lights, and orbs are seen floating about.
Park rangers have reported all manner of ghostly encounters, along with visitors touring the caves, such as being touched, shoved, or grabbed, and hearing phantom footsteps. Disembodied voices cry out for help while ghostly mists suddenly appear, then disappear.
Visitors and park rangers report seeing phantom figures and odd shadow figures. The disembodied coughing of tuberculosis patients is often heard. Fifteen patients were housed in the cave during an ill-conceived hospital setup by Dr. John Croghan that proved fatal to several of his patients and including himself.
These passages were used during ancient times as burial sites, in fact, mummified corpses that are believed to be thousands of years old have been discovered in the caves. The caves were mined by the Confederates during the Civil War, using slave labor to make gunpowder from the mined saltpeter. In fact, one of the park rangers reported seeing the apparitions of an African American family dressed in Civil War era clothing, who disappeared in front of him.
Old Talbott Tavern
The Old Talbott Tavern is steeped in history, touted as the oldest tavern in Kentucky, circa 1779. Guests report hearing disembodied voices and phantom footsteps as well as spotting the ghostly apparitions of a man and woman in the tavern. Doors open on their own, surprising unsuspecting guests.
The tavern was once a stagecoach stopover that was frequented by Jesse James. In fact, one of the rooms has bullet holes where Jesse was attacked and had a shoot out with his assailant. The dead would-be assassin is said to still haunt the tavern. Shadow people are often seen emerging from the dark, but disappearing the moment they step into a lit area.
Guests have witnessed paranormal activity in the dining room where drinking glasses or silverware move on their own. People have seen self-illuminated orbs in their rooms and flashes resembling camera flashes and furniture bouncing about. The front desk has a problem of keeping the keys often discovering them on the hall floor.
Sleepy Hollow Road
Sleepy Hollow Road is a very dark stretch of road that's spooky and treacherous with its winding curves. The road is absent of any type of artificial light to ensure you stay in your lane or maneuver the wicked curves. If you're brave enough to travel this stretch of road at night, you may be haunted by the ghostly dark hearse.
It's said that the hearse will approach you from behind at rapid speed, having appeared out of nowhere. The menacing hearse will tailgate you with its lights on bright as you try to keep your vehicle in the road, while speeding up to keep the phantom car from rear-ending your vehicle. In this mad chase along the treacherous curving road, many drivers loose control around the twisting road and plummet down the 30' ravine below, killing the driver and occupants.
Other travelers have reported some kind of time warp when traveling the road. These unfortunate souls claim that when they emerge from the stretch of road, hours have passed and they cannot account for the missing time. If you must travel along Sleepy Hollow Road, you may want to wait until daylight to set out.
Camp Taylor is a neighborhood, today, but in 1917, it served as a training camp for soldiers during World War I. It was closed three years later at the end of the war. In 1918, the Spanish Flu pandemic found its way into Camp Taylor and 1,500 soldiers died. It's no wonder that ghost stories about the camp remain today, even though there's no visible sign left of the former camp, having given over to a modern neighborhood.
However, witnesses have spotted ghosts wandering about the area over the years. Neighborhood residents have also seen soldiers marching in formation in the streets and the nearby park. A beautiful blonde woman appears in various areas, always wearing a blue dress in a Victorian style. Occasionally, a young girl is seen then vanishes.
Liberty Hall (circa 1796) was the home of Kentucky's first senator. The mansion has been the place of many deaths over the centuries including family members and slaves. There are three most prominent ghosts frequently seen on the estate.
The Gray Lady is believed to be Margaret Varick, a family member who journeyed over 800 miles to attend a family funeral, only to suffer a heart attack after she arrived. Her body was first buried in the garden, but legend states it was later dug up and interred elsewhere. It's said her spirit searches for her body, and her apparition is seen wandering about the property. She also moves about inside the mansion with doors opening and closing in her wake. She's always seen dressed in gray clothing.
One of the more unnerving resident ghosts is a young man who startles people when he suddenly appears outside a window, peering inside. He's described as having a pining look, as though in search of a lover.
Another resident ghost is the spirit of an opera performer from Spain. He visited and somehow disappeared in 1805, never seen again. He's seen wandering about the property as though lost. Sometimes, he walks with a soldier. Perhaps the soldier is trying to help him get to his destination.
Spooky and Haunted Places in Kentucky
There are many haunted places in Kentucky that will provide spooky paranormal experiences. You may decide to venture to one of these haunted places at night, just make sure you take someone with you.