The top 5 most haunted sites in the U.S. and Canada and what they have in common

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This Halloween, we researched some of the most haunted sites in the United States and Canada. While you might have heard about the background story behind these haunts, have you ever wondered what’s so special about their location? Get ready to dig into what makes a home haunted and which characteristics these homes have in common.

What makes a haunted site… “haunted?”

A Bankrate survey found that one in three Americans believe that ghosts exist while one-fourth believe they have seen one and live in a haunted house. But what makes a place “haunted?” Haunted sites often exhibit signs of a presence that manifest itself in various forms — whether it’s the spirit of the deceased or residual energy left behind.

According to Greg Newkirk, a professional ghost hunter from Planet Weird, some telltale signs that a location may be haunted are:

  • Full-bodied apparitions
  • Things moving without being touched
  • Bumping and scratching on walls
  • Unexplained shadows or movements in the corner of your eye
  • Mysterious noises, like soft whispers or conversations without anyone there
  • Creepy sensations on the back of your neck or the feeling that you’re being watched
  • Distinct smell with an unidentifiable source
  • Abrupt changes in temperature and cold spots

Using Location Scores to analyze haunted sites

Using our hyperlocal insights, we looked at which characteristics the scariest haunted sites have in common. We turned to the following Location Scores for insights:

  • Quiet: Level of noise nearby
  • Vibrancy: Level of street activity nearby

These scores are typically used to evaluate the desirability of a location and are available for any location within 5 km of a named road. They are ranked for each individual location on a scale of 0-to-10.

The five most haunted locations across the United States and Canada

Based on their notoriety, we’ve examined these five sites:

  1. Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts
  2. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
  3. LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana
  4. Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia
  5. St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts

230 2nd St, Fall River, MA 02721, United States

This New England B&B was the scene of a gruesome murder in 1892. In response to years of cultivating a contentious relationship with her stepmother, Abby Borden, and her father, Andrew Borden, Lizzie Borden is said to have hacked them up with an axe. Although Lizzie was acquitted due to a lack of evidence, many still believe she committed this violent act.

Today, you can sleep in this late Victorian-style property where the crime scene unfolded. The house even remains furnished as it was that morning, adding to its eerie appearance. During your stay, you’ll be able to taste the deceased’s infamous last meal (Johnnycakes and eggs), sleep in the bedroom where Lizzie’s stepmother was found dead, or join one of the site’s Paranormal Nights to hunt for ghosts.

Screams, sinister laughs, apparitions in Victorian clothing, weeping, footsteps, conversations in empty rooms, and sightings of Lizzie Borden’s ghost have been reported by guests at the Lizzie Borden House.

Quiet: 8 (Fall River average: 9.4) — some sources of noise nearby
Vibrancy: 4 (Fall River average: 0.4) — quiet atmosphere most of the day

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803, United States

Photo via Visit NC

Built in the 1800s, the Biltmore Estate was the former vacation house of George Washington Vanderbilt II. The home started experiencing paranormal activity after Vanderbilt died and his heir opened it to the public.

With its impressive 135,280 square feet, the largest private property in the United States is said to be haunted by the ghost of George himself in the library after his passing. Throughout the 250 rooms, visitors have heard disembodied voices, heard echoes of laughter, and seen his late wife Edith wandering around, calling out his name. There is also a headless orange cat roaming the gardens.

Quiet: 9 (Asheville average: 6.2) — few sources of noise nearby
Vibrancy: 3 (Asheville average: 2.2) — quiet atmosphere at all hours

LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana

1138 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Photo via Atlas Obscura

The LaLaurie Mansion was once the residence of Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a socialite and serial killer who constructed a torture chamber at the Royal Street home in the early 1830s. She inspired a character played by Kathy Bates on American Horror Story: Coven, a tv show that reignited interest in this French Quarter.

A series of incidents led to the discovery of Madame LaLaurie’s dark secret. In 1833, a woman died falling out a window. A year later, after a fire broke out in the attic, the police found the mutilated bodies of several enslaved people who were starved and bound in chains. Among her horrendous torture methods, it was believed that LaLaurie drilled holes into heads, broke bones, and removed intestines.

To this day, ghostly faces can be seen in the upstairs windows of the mansion, haunted by the spirits of her victims. Moans, screams, and weeping are said to resonate within the home, which is now privately owned. The deed to the house was claimed by a wealthy oil tycoon after Nicolas Cage lost it to foreclosure in 2009. While you aren’t able to step inside, you can arrange a pit stop during a New Orleans Ghost Tour

Quiet: 8 (Victoria average: 7) — some sources of noise nearby
Vibrancy: 4 (Victoria average: 4.2) — quiet atmosphere most of the day

Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia

1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5

Between 1887 and 1890, Robert Dunsmuir, a coal miner and wealthy Scottish immigrant, commissioned the construction of the Craigdarroch castle. He wanted to live there with his wife Joan and their 10 children but tragically died in 1889 before the mansion was completed. Becoming one of the most haunted places in Canada, the castle’s supernatural activity is often attributed to Dunsmuir’s untimely death.

Several ominous sightings of a ghostly woman dressed in white roaming the ballroom (believed to be Joan Dunsmuir) have been reported over the years. The house is also said to be filled with the sounds of a mysterious piano that plays on its own, whispers, and children crying.

The castle has served as a home, a military hospital, a college, and finally a museum. It is now a National Historic Site that offers visitors a glimpse into a privileged life in the 1890s.

Quiet: 8 (Victoria average: 7) — some sources of noise nearby
Vibrancy: 4 (Victoria average: 4.2) — quiet atmosphere most of the day

St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia

4130 University Ave, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5

Built in 1853, St. Francis Xavier University merged in 1984 with Mount St. Bernard College (a Catholic school for girls founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame). The legend goes that one of the nuns fell in love and had a relationship with a priest. Since her religion forbade it, she was humiliated and guilt-ridden. In despair, she leaped to her death from a balcony in Gilmora Hall.

Staff and students now refer to her as the Blue Nun. She is believed to haunt campus halls and residences, turning on taps and hoses, knocking on doors, causing books to fall over, and sometimes even appearing.

Quiet: 10 (Antigonish average: 9) — very few sources of noise nearby, if any
Vibrancy: 2 (Antigonish average: 1.8) — quiet atmosphere at all hours

So, what do these haunted sites have in common?

Quietness

To no surprise, the Quiet and Vibrancy scores for each of these locations indicate that they are situated in calm, remote areas with little or almost no noise or street activity nearby.

Scores fell within the upper bounds on the Quiet range and lower bounds on the Vibrancy range:

  • Average Quiet score: 8.6 — very few sources of noise nearby
  • Average Vibrancy score: 3.4 — quiet atmosphere most of the time

Our investigation confirms what most of us suspected already — the scariest haunts are often set in quiet neighborhoods. 

While this knowledge proved useful, we wanted to learn why some haunted houses seem to attract more ghostly visitors than others. According to Andrew Nichols, the executive director of the American Institute for Parapsychology, there are two main reasons why some areas may be more haunted than others: history and geology.

History

A lot of old cities, particularly those in the South such as New Orleans and Asheville, have a great deal of history behind them — and reported more than their fair share of supernatural activity and ghost sightings.

The older a place becomes, the more likely it will be perceived as haunted. Since more time has passed, the likelihood of tragic events would increase. An area dating back centuries might have seen a number of atrocities.

Our Historic score measures the presence of heritage buildings in the area and the age of those buildings, though it is currently limited to a few select cities. Developing more access to this data will help us better understand the history behind neighborhoods.

Geology

Nichols goes on to say that, “areas that have unusual magnetic field properties are particularly conducive to ghosts and hauntings.” There are many factors that could lead to an unusual magnetic field, including electricity lines, underground water, iron ore deposits — and earthquakes.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “large changes in atmospheric pressure caused by major storms like hurricanes have been shown to occasionally trigger what are known as ‘slow earthquakes’ which release energy over comparatively long periods of time.” Though the risk is minimal, these large low-pressure changes could potentially trigger a damaging earthquake.

As part of our location insights, we also provide climate risk information for the United States based on data from our partners Climate Check. Therefore, we analyzed some of the haunted locations’ climates to see if there is a connection between earthquakes, weather, and supernatural phenomena. Here is what we found:

Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana

Storm risk at each of these locations ranges from very high (64) to extreme (92-94), perhaps hinting at the weather’s influence on haunted areas and their correlation with thunderstorms.

Are there other spooky sites that you are curious about? Our 18 Location Scores can help you learn more about a specific location and its surrounding. To run your own investment thesis based on location characteristics you are interested in exploring, book a live demo with our team.

As for us? We’re perfectly content learning about these haunted houses from a distance.

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