The Quick Report

The Creepiest Urban Legend from Each State

Ghost stories have a strange power over even the most stoic people. It doesn’t matter how tough you are, some tales just make your skin crawl. Here are the scariest urban legends from each state.

Content warning: The following article contains some rather disturbing urban legends. Read on at your own discretion.


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People in Abbeville, Alabama tell stories about “Huggin’ Molly.” She’s a ghost who stalks children who stay outside too late at night and grips them in her spectral grasp before screaming in their ears. Interestingly, Molly doesn’t actually harm her victims, she just scares them senseless.


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The native Inuit people of Alaska have a legend that will make any sailor or fisher think twice before walking near the shore. Creatures called qalupalik are described as mermaid-like aquatic monsters who would lure children to the shore before scooping them into a pouch and vanishing beneath the waves.


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There’s nothing scary about a place called Slaughterhouse Canyon, right? This Arizona legend tells of a missing gold miner’s family who began to starve without their dad’s income. The mother of the family chopped her children to bits and tossed them into the river, and, as the story goes, “you can still hear her wailing cries echoing in Slaughterhouse Canyon.”


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The Arkansas legend of the Gurdon Light exists in a few variations. In one telling, a railroad worker is decapitated by a passing train and his spirit wanders the tracks looking for his lost lamp. In another, the worker murdered his employer and now the felled foreman wanders the track. Either way, locals insist the Gurdon Light is a real phenomenon.


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You can picture a group of kids huddled around a campfire swapping stories about the “Char Man of San Antonia Creek,” right? In this Californian tale, a father and son are trapped in a fire and the father perishes in the blaze. The son, mentally scarred by this event, skins his father and now haunts the a bridge in Ojai as “the Char Man,” wearing the burnt flesh of his departed kin.


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The Ridge Home Asylum is a real mental asylum that operated in Arvada, Colorado from 1912 to 2004. It was reportedly the site of terrible abuse, and local legends hold that many of the asylum’s “patients” were mentally competent people who were simply being tortured by the staff of the asylum.


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Dudleytown, a real place in Connecticut, has a dark reputation. The town has been so unlucky that it’s largely considered “the Village of the Damned” by locals. It’s been deserted in the modern era, but it’s been the site of suicides, disappearances, and murders that have only darkened its reputation.


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During the Civil War, Fort Delaware was a Union prisoner camp that housed Confederate soldiers. Locals say that the thousands of Confederates who died in the prison continue to haunt the region to this day. Tales of Civil War-era hauntings are common, largely because the war was so taxing on the entire country.


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Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West might sound like a relaxing place to stop and grab a drink before you hit the beach. However, locals in the Keys will tell you the establishment is haunted. If you ask around, folks say the haunting is due to the saloon’s location atop the former site of a hanging tree used for pirates.


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In 1848, married slaves Elleck and Betsy were attacked by their master. Elleck defended himself, and, in a bizarre accident, their master fell from a ladder and died. Even though Elleck turned himself in and explained the situation, he was unjustly imprisoned and executed for the “crime”. Legend tells you can still hear the “song of the cell” that Elleck’s ghost sings from the Old Lawrenceville Jail.


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Legends in Hawaii hold that Pele, the volcano goddess, had a falling out with demigod Kamapua’a, a pig-man deity. Pele told the boar that she never wanted to see him again and she’ll go out of the way to keep anything reminiscent of pigs away from her mountain. As such, visitors are advised to never bring pork with them as they travel over the Pali Highway in O’ahu!


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Pocatello was stricken with famine in 1875 and, legend goes, mothers resorted to drowning their babies in nearby rivers rather than letting them starve to death. Today those same infants are now imp-like fish monsters who lurk beneath the surface of the water, intent on killing unaware travelers who wander too close.


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Locals near Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Illinois say it’s a haunted graveyard. People have said they’ve seen a ghostly farmhouse, a shimmering “White Lady” in the distance, and other unexplainable visions. While skeptics say these are just brought on by poor lighting and overactive imaginations, believers know what they saw.


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The town of Brazil, Indiana is home to 100 Steps Cemetery. Legend has it that if you climb the hundred steps on a moonless night, when you reach the top you’ll meet the phantom of the departed caretaker of the cemetery who will offer you a glimpse of your eventual death.


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Burlington, Iowa is the site of an urban legend regarding “Lucinda,” a scorned woman who went to meet her fiancé but was stood up. She threw herself off the cliffs along Stony Hollow Road after her lover abandoned her, and her ghost is said to appear to people and leave a rose at their feet if they’re destined to die in the next 24 hours.


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Many older urban legends from the US are tragically linked to the country’s racist history. That’s the case with Molly’s Hollow, a location in Kansas where a black woman was murdered by townspeople for having a relationship with a white man. The legend holds that her spirit haunts the hollow, screaming at the injustice she faced.


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In Cherokee Park, Kentucky, there’s a fountain depicting a Greek deity named Pan. The Satyr god is known as a trickster in his original myths, and Kentucky legends say that the statue on Hogan’s Fountain inherited this mischievous streak. On a full moon night, the statue is said to wander the park and cause mayhem.


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The Carter Brothers of New Orleans were suspected vampires who were executed in the 1930s for abducting women and feeding on their blood. After their executions, legend has it that their coffins were empty. The legend of these supposed vampires may have influenced many “Southern-style vampire” stories that have appeared in recent years.


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A common visual shorthand for Maine is the sight of a lonely lighthouse on a distant shore. In the 1800s, the caretaker of the Seguin Island Lighthouse and his wife were isolated for months at a time in the distant region. Legend has it the caretaker grew tired of his wife playing the same song on the piano night after night, and so he snapped and hacked both the piano and his wife into tiny pieces.


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Many urban legends from the American South revolve around the Civil War. For instance, in Maryland, the scary story of Bigg Lizz and the Greenbriar Swamp tells of a slave who becomes a spy for Union troops. When her master catches wind of her “traitorous” activity, he lures her into the swamp and murders her among the bog. The legend holds that Bigg Lizz’s spirit still haunts the area.


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Sheriff George Corwin, well-known for his role in the Salem Witch Trials, is said to still haunt the Joshua Ward House where his house was located. According to local legends, Corwin can be seen in the windows of the home and his hands can be felt grasping for the throats of visitors!


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The “Nain Rogue” of Detroit is a mythical creature whose name is French for “red dwarf”. This creature reportedly causes mayhem whenever it appears in the city, including presaging disaster. He’s famously accused of being responsible for the downfall of car companies in the region.


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Many people have heard of the wendigo legend due to its prevalence in pop culture. The creature is a Native American myth that is supposedly the end result of cannibalism. Legend has it that if you eat other people, you’ll become a massive, beast-like monster yourself—you become a wendigo.


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It’s a bit difficult to be afraid of something called “the Witch of Yazoo,” but people from Mississippi will warn you that this tale is no laughing matter. An old witch reportedly lured sailors to their deaths along the banks of the Yazoo River in the 1800s and was killed by a local sheriff for her crimes. She reportedly cursed the town, which was hit by a devastating fire in 1904. Locals say the fire was the result of the witch’s curse.


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If you ever visit Springfield, Missouri, check out the Landers Theater. It’s supposedly haunted by the ghosts of the many people who have died in the building. Legend has it that people have been stabbed, died in fires, or simply died accidentally while in the theater. Locals say you can still see their ghosts haunting the historic building.


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Chico Hot Springs Hotel in Pray, Montana is reportedly haunted by a grisly specter. The entity is called “the Lady in White” by people in the region, who say it commonly leads people to room 349. When they arrive in the room, they’ll find nothing but a rocking chair slowly swaying back and forth and always facing the window.


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The Hatchet House of Portal, Nebraska is a classic ghost tale. A schoolteacher reportedly snapped and decapitated her entire classroom in the 1800s and placed all their heads on their desks. She then took their hearts to a bridge and threw them into the water below. Supposedly when you walk over this bridge, you can still hear the heartbeats.


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Area 51 is a real military base, not an urban legend. However, the site is heavily classified and the exact details of what goes on there are tightly guarded secrets—just like every other military base out there. Locals are convinced that the site is home to research regarding aliens and their spacecraft, but the military insists Area 51 is just an advanced weapons research facility.

New Hampshire

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Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire was named for a Native chieftain in the early 18th Century. The local lore says that Chocorua left his son with a family called the Campbells while he traveled on official business, and his son died while under their care. The chief killed everyone in the Campbell family except for the father, who followed him to the top of the mountain that now bears his name and shot him dead. With his dying breath, the chief is said to have cursed the land.

New Jersey

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Clinton Road in New Jersey is said to be home to a spectral boy who haunts the underside of a bridge in Passaic County. Interestingly, the ghost is reportedly good-hearted and honest. If you drop a coin into the water where he’s said to linger, he’ll reportedly return it to you within 24 hours.

New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico was the site of what the government classified as a weather balloon crash. Locals instead think the crashed object was an alien spacecraft. Whatever the case, Roswell has now developed a reputation among UFO enthusiasts looking for ways to get closer to the stars without leaving earth.

New York

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“And he had a hook for a hand!” Everyone’s heard this classic campfire tale, but the legend of Cropsey started this trend in the ‘70s in Staten Island. The “real” Cropsey was allegedly a patient at Willowbrook State School and would sneak out at night to terrorize kids with his hook hand and menacing presence.

North Carolina

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Be careful when wandering the woods of North Carolina at night: you might encounter the cat-like Beast of Bladenboro. The mythical monster is said to look like a panther, but larger and much more vicious. Locals attest that the creature has killed pets and humans alike in the region, but no one has ever offered definitive proof of its existence.

North Dakota

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Locals in North Dakota tell tales of a monstrous creature you can spot on the banks of the Missouri River. The Miniwashitu is allegedly a massive red monster, covered in hair and possessing a massive horn, one eye, and spikes all along its back. If you glimpse it, it’s said you’re likely to go blind and lose your mind. How inspiring!


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With a name like “Gore Orphanage,” what could possibly go wrong? Well, in the 1800s there was a fire at the unfortunately named orphanage in Lorain County, and all of the children died. Legend has it the kids can still be heard if you stand in the spot where the orphanage burned down—and some even say you can catch a glimpse of their ghosts.


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Oklahoma’s Shaman Portal might sound ridiculous, but locals swear it’s real. This spot in the dunes of Beaver Sands reportedly swallows people whole, causing them to vanish into thin air as though they stepped through a portal. Skeptics say that quicksand or hidden caves are the likeliest culprit, but legend has it a UFO crashed in the region, opening a portal to a distant planet.


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Cannon Beach, Oregon is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a man who was chopped into pieces at a nearby sawmill. Locals say the ghost looks like a mummy and is called the “Bandage Man,” as he appears to be covered from head to toe in bandages that keep his chopped-up body together.


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There’s nothing legendary about the real-world Eastern State Penitentiary, a real prison that was shut down over concerns regarding the staff’s cruelty toward prisoners. The building’s still there, and locals say you can still hear the screams of the tortured prisoners if you tour the prison at night.

Rhode Island

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Cult horror classic The Nightmare on Elm Street was reportedly inspired by the legend of Fingernail Freddie from Rhode Island. The local legend holds that Fingernail Freddie was a woodsman with ridiculously long fingernails who would jump out of the wilderness to attack campers.

South Carolina

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South Carolina was home to the country’s first female serial killer, Lavinia Fisher. She reportedly killed many guests at an inn she ran alongside her husband John. They would poison their guests and drop them in a trap door. One lucky would-be victim survived the poison and contacted the authorities, resulting in the couple’s hanging. Lavinia’s ghost reportedly now haunts the Charleston jail.

South Dakota

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South Dakota’s legend of Walking Sam might have been the inspiration for Slenderman. Both are lanky, woods-dwelling cryptids that cause those who directly witness them to want to take their own lives. Walking Sam is reportedly somehow connected to the mythology of the indigenous Lakota Indian tribe, too.


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Here comes another classic campfire horror tale: Tennessee’s Lover’s Lane is reportedly haunted by Skinned Tom. Tom met with a woman on Lover’s Lane one night in the 1920’s without knowing she had a husband. When the man found them, he murdered his wife and skinned Tom. Now, the skinless ghost of the would-be lover boy kills any adulterers who hang out on Lover’s Lane.


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Be careful if you have a few drinks in South Texas. Legend has it that a witch’s son was killed by a drunk, and now she stalks the region as The Lechuza, a magically-empowered massive owl that swoops down on drinkers who leave the bars late at night.


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Visiting Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is a really fun idea if you find yourself in Utah. However, the locals say you shouldn’t take any souvenirs with you from the area. Even taking something as small as a rock or piece of petrified wood with you is said to curse you. Those who fail to heed these warnings are said to break bones, lose jobs, and even die in car accidents after leaving the park.


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Architects know that part of safe design is making sure that people can’t easily jump from towers. Unfortunately, the people in charge of Brattleboro Retreat didn’t know that when they built a tower on the asylum grounds in the late 1800s. Patients at the asylum reportedly jumped from the tower at such a high rate that the staff had to close off access. Locals say you can still see the ghosts of these departed patients falling from the tower, over and over.


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What’s so scary about a place called “Bunny Man Bridge?” Well, people from Virginia will tell you that the harrowing story won’t put a smile on your face. Legend has it the “Bunny Man” was an escaped criminal who left half-eaten rabbit carcasses hanging from the Fairfax Station Bridge, and eventually did the same to a group of teenagers who gathered under the bridge late at night.


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Maltby Cemetery in Maltby, Washington is home to a dark urban legend regarding a set of stairs leading to an underground crypt. The myth goes like this: if you descend the thirteen steps into the crypt at night, you’ll be granted a brief vision of hell that will drive all but the most mentally stoic people mad.

West Virginia

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Perhaps one of the best-known regional urban legends of the US, West Virginia’s Mothman is supposedly a massive moth-like cryptid that causes disaster. The Mothman was allegedly spotted before the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant and Gallipolis. Forty-six people died in the accident, which locals blamed on the Mothman.


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An ironic tale from Wisconsin holds that a woman named Kate Blood murdered her husband and children before taking her own life. You can visit her grave at Riverside Cemetery in Appleton, Wisconsin. Legend holds that it drips with blood on the night of the full moon. Notably, her headstone quickly proves that this legend is nothing but a ghost story, as Kate Blood’s husband outlived her!


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Another well-known cryptid, the Jackalope, is the most famous urban legend from Wyoming. The story goes that a species of horned rabbits lives in Wyoming, though no biologist has ever found a living or deceased specimen. Still, some locals swear they’ve seen such a creature with their own eyes.