Did you know most of the old forts, museums, historic sites and hospitals hide some grisly truth associated with their past? These heart-ripping stories could be poignant yet absolute ghastly. Now that Indiana holds too many historic sites and demolished old buildings, we took a long leave and visited almost all the haunted places in Indiana listed below. I visited Indiana as a little kid, and I remember it as a gentle tree -filled state, that always had a fair on or a quiet walk in the woods to look forward to. Even its name is breezy – the Hoosier state. But make no mistake, Indiana’s haunted places number in the hundreds. From schools to bridges to the beautiful Notre Dame University, the dead and the ghostly refuse to leave creek-filled, leaf-dappled Indiana in peace.
100 step Cemetery, Brazil, Indiana
This graveyard, dating back to the 1860s, often finds mention as one of the haunted places in Indiana where you’ll find a clairvoyant entity- but a malicious one. The task is very simple- you just walk up the stairs on a moonless night, and count them while you climb. If you get a100 steps, an entity is reported to appear and show you a vision of how you are going to die. On the way down, you need to count a 100 again. If you do, you’re safe. If you don’t, you will die in the same, probably hairy way the entity said you would. Very few people can match the number both ways. And in broad daylight, only 45-60 steps can be counted. If you try to cheat and walk up or down the grassy hill, you may be pushed down. Dark red handprints will then appear on your chest or back.
Haunted Bridge, Avon, Indiana
The railroad bridge that spans White Lick Creek in Avon, Indiana has two horrible legends associated with it. The bridge was being constructed in 1907 by immigrant Irishmen. Cement was swirled in huge vats to make pylon supports. One day, one of the men slipped and fell into one of the vats from a badly-constructed wooden platform. He kept sinking deeper and deeper, knocking at the walls of the vat. But his fellow-workers could not rescue him. The company in charge of building the bridge didn’t want to break open the pylon, so they continued building the bridge, ignoring the trapped soul within.
Another tale told is that of a mother that was going across the bridge to take her infant to a doctor, who found herself trapped on the tracks, stuck to the rails. Struggling to get her foot free as a train hurtled near, she couldn’t escape beyond the bridge and had to jump off with her infant in her arms. The baby died as she couldn’t keep her arms around it, while she, sick with grief, survived the fall. She died a few weeks later, enable to bear the pain of her child’s death. Her ghost is rumored to walk along the bridge, on the high edge. Screams are also heard reverberating around the bridge, and along its arched tunnels, the bridge is silent and dark, filled with cold spots and mystic whirlpools of energy that disconcert the visitor. These tunnels are closed off to visitors.
University of Notre Dame du Lac, South Bend, Indiana
Notre Dame is a top notch college, with an interesting history dating back to 1842 and involving even clashes between the Catholic student body and the Ku Klux Klan. It even has the Modern Gothic buildings. It would almost be an insult if it didn’t make it onto ‘the haunted places in Indiana’ list.
George “Gripper” Gipp was an epic football player for the Fighting Irish football team, under Coach Knute Rockne, Notre Dame, when he died of pneumonia in Washington Hall, in 1920. He caught that pneumonia by sleeping on the steps, because he violated curfew and he would rather freeze than face the stern brother (allegedly a Brother Maurilius) who was in charge. He pled with his coach in his deathbed that the boys should ‘win one for the Gipper’. The unscrewing of light-bulbs, friendly pushes and taps on the back, inexplicable door-slamming and phantom footsteps on the roof can be heard in Washington Hall.
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Another ghost used to play the trumpet in a slow, rich baritone at all kinds of odd hours, till silenced by an exorcism. Since trumpet-playing wasn’t part of the Gipper’s skill-set, it was probably another, less famous dead person who refused to leave. Founder Father Soring is also reputed to have stayed back for a few more years after his death, to serve in an unidentified (and paranormal) capacity.
Willard Library, Evansville, Indiana
The Grey Lady of Willard Library has actually been caught on camera. Spotted first in the 1930s by a custodian who quit after seeing a spectral woman, dressed in the style of the 1880s (when the library opened), no one knows who she is. But the cameras don’t lie. Quiet, pale, and non-malevolent, she lurks among the books, and library staff meets her ever so often. A very elegant and ladylike haunting, Indiana natives could proudly say.
Historic Hannah House, Indianapolis, Indiana
The spirits of the tortured don’t rest, they say. In the historic Hannah house, the basement was once used as a stop on the famous Underground Railroad used to smuggle slaves to freedom. Many weary souls used to be hidden, under the watchful care of the worthy abolitionist Alexander Moore Hannah, who placed himself contrary to the law to be of service. One night, however, he failed. A lantern was overturned, and the people in the basement, unable to escape the fire, and desperate to stay hidden to prevent authorities from finding them, died a horrible death in the fire. Now, unquiet moans and whines are heard all throughout the house, and once upon a time, a horrible stench would float around the house, with no reason attached.
Story Inn, Nashville, Indiana
The aptly named Story Inn has a lovely Blue Lady haunting it. Of all the haunted places in Indiana, this is one touching little interlude. She was the wife of Dr. George Story, who affectionately buried her with blue flowers and candles when she died. Now she remains in the Story Inn, a gentle prankster, moving things about and occasionally shimmering at the top of the banisters in an ethereal way.
Indiana Central State Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana
If any place is sadly, desperately, irrevocably haunted, it is Indiana’s oldest mental asylum. In 1848, a “Hospital for the Insane” opened in Indianapolis, out of a genuine concern for the health and care of the clinically insane. The problem was that this term included without fine distinction, all types of mental disorders. Schizophrenics, psychotics, depressives, imbeciles, all under one facility. The more violent patients were often chained in dungeons that were not even fit for animals, without proper food, light, air or company. The Superintendent in 1870, Dr. Evert’s, would plead for their improvement, for proper funding. But real improvement only began in 1890. The facility was shut down, finally in 1994, after 146 years of existence, and one building now houses the Indiana Medical History Museum, while the rest is under the State Board of Health and guarded by the Capital Police force. Many former employees and even police officers have stories to tell of haunting. Sobs from the cellars, where the manacles clank, without any person visible. Machinery that switches itself on. Marks left on necks, like strangle marks. Torches falling dead in the middle of the night. And a ghostly female shadow that can be seen from the peripheral vision.
Culbertson Mansion, New Albany, Indiana
The Culbertson Mansion and its carriage house are famous haunted places in Indiana, known mainly for their Halloween conversion to ‘haunted house’. The owners of the mansion were plagued with missing items, flickering lights and constant cold spots, so they decided to convert a horrible occurrence to their benefit. The story goes that in 1934, Dr. Harold Webb was found to have killed, after torturing, his entire family; and in tunnels below the house, many patients who had been missing were found, victims of some terrible experiments the doctor had performed. After the tale of Belle Gunness though, Indiana haunting can’t revolt us anymore.
Rivoli Theatre, Indianapolis, Indiana
Theatres are perfect places to expect a ghost. Like the Phantom of the Opera, The Rivoli Theatre, built in 1927, kept changing hands, until in 1976; it was bought by a Mr. Chulchian. Stories abound of ghostly patrons, dressed in tuxedo and beautiful dresses, which sit in for screenings and disappear in front of people’s eyes. Lights are known to project themselves onto the screen. And workers kept resigning because of spectral pushing, before the theatre shut down in1992.
Diana of the Dunes, Dune National Park, Chesterton, Indiana
After haunted mansions and haunted hospitals, here is Indiana’s haunted national park! Off the shore of Lake Michigan, back in the early 1900s, a beautiful woman used is seen by the locals, diving into the clear waters, wearing not a stitch of clothing. Fascinated by her reclusiveness and her loveliness, they began to call her’ Diana’, after the Roman Goddess of the moon and the hunt, a sworn maiden. She was actually Alice Mable Gray, a graduate of the University of Chicago, a student in Germany (in the University of Gottingen and the Wander Vogel), who did not like city life and in 1915 moved to a deserted cottage to write and dream, as her eyesight deteriorated. It was the newspapers that made her into a ‘water nymph’, ‘a bronzed goddess’, and ‘Diana’, in a tribute to mad hunting skills and the fact that she pulled a rifle to frighten away a few men who had been staring at her. In 1920, she met a man named Paul Wilson, a vagabond and a boatswain, and they lived together in her house, till it all changed in 1922. The story goes like this:
The burned and beaten body of a man was found on the beach, and Wilson was suspected, but never arrested. The couple left for Michigan City, where Alice had two daughters, but was abused badly by her husband, who beat her. She died in 1925, of uremic poisoning complicated by beatings around her stomach and back. No one knows what happened to her daughters. While the real Alice Gray was an intelligent woman and a ‘crusading environmentalist’, as stated by the Chicago Tribune, Diana of the Dunes lives as a legend, a lonely, heartbroken, beautiful, tragic woman who haunts the dunes that she once fought to protect, seeking the peace of the wilderness. Locals report seeing her swimming, or lying on the beach. Or standing, staring with intense eyes, hair flapping in the wind at intruders on her dunes.
A fascinating place to visit, even if non-haunted (by Indiana standards at least).
French Lick Springs Hotel, French Lick, Indiana
You won’t lack in hospitality at the French Lick Springs Hotel. A hotel in the Grande Olde style, the dedication of the owner Thomas Taggart is such that he will operate the elevator for you- except that he’s completely dead, and the elevator, called the ‘red’ elevator, moves of its own volition. The entire 6th floor is supposed to be haunted, with wild and incessant laughter, groans and the shout of a man who hung himself there long ago. On it is a room with a bathtub where a bride killed herself after discovering her lover’s infidelity, where a red stain creeps in along the edge of the bathtub slowly. In photographs taken in the lobby, apparitions may be seen. If you look at the spot without the lens, there will be a quaint, old-fashioned lobby. In the photograph, orbs or an elderly, shadowy African American man might put in an unwanted appearance. Whether or not it’s haunted, this beautiful hotel is so old (built in 1845, rebuilt after a fire 1897) that it deserves to be haunted, and we give it a place of honor on our list of haunted places in Indiana.