[FL] Real Haunted Places in Florida

Florida has an interesting history, and the ghost stories to go with it.  Here are just a few haunts I’ve explored in sunny (and sometimes not-so-sunny) Florida.

Cassadaga: Cassadaga Spiritualist Settlement

I’d heard good reports of Cassadaga for ghost hunting. It has a long history of Spiritualism… and spirits. However, during my first visit, the Cassadaga did not seem profoundly haunted.

I’ll give the community a second chance, and visit Cassadaga for another investigation. Sometimes an area offers more on a second visit.

2016 update: I did return to Cassadaga, and had an opportunity to investigate a couple of buildings. Both seemed to have their own, unique spirits.

The Cassadaga visitors’ center has some good material, including free literature in their conference room (just before you reach the rest room entrances). And, it is a lovely setting if you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk, browsing New Age shops and consulting psychics.

I took many pictures at Cassadaga on a rainy day, and what’s notable is what we didn’t get on film: Orbs.

With that kind of moisture in the air, I should have had dozens — if not hundreds — of orbs. Is that an anomaly? I don’t know. It reminds me of the damp evening at The Myrtles, when Margaret Byl and I photographed no orbs at all.

Odd.

If you walk to the edge of Spirit Lake towards the middle of town, you’ll see a wooded area with trails to your left. If any part of Cassadaga remains haunted, it’s probably those woods.

While you’re visiting Cassadaga, there is a cemetery just outside the town line, due west, possibly on Kicklighter Road. I had just a few minutes to visit it, and plan to return to collect more information, but — on our first visit — this cemetery seemed far more haunted than nearby Cassadaga.

Cassadaga Spiritualist Settlement is about 30 miles north of Orlando, just off Hwy 4. settlement websitespirit tours

Orlando area: Rouse Road Cemetery

Legend claims that the small, rural cemetery on Rouse Road and nearby woods are haunted by a ghost from the 1840s, Benjamin Miles, whose nightly presence is signalled by an owl screeching. Mr. Miles, often in tan-colored work clothes, was buried in an unmarked grave, and is an angry ghost.

I visited this cemetery during the day, and while my photos didn’t capture anything significant, I can confirm that there is a strong, unsettling presence there.

In my photos:

  • In the top photo, even the cheerful flowers couldn’t seem to lift the heavy energy in this cemetery.
  • In the middle photo, there is a huge tree in this cemetery, and it seems to hold some strange energy. The area around it feels angry and perhaps even malicious.
  • The lower photo shows some of the toppled headstones, now sunken into the ground.

Individuals who scare easily, or new ghost hunters, should probably avoid this location. It feels profoundly hostile.

Rouse Road Cemetery is in a rural setting, between 3400 & 3621 Rouse Road, Orlando, Florida, on the MapQuest.com maps. It is a gated cemetery, and I recommend only daytime visits. Check local laws and cemetery hours before planning a night visit.

 

Orlando theme parks

Almost every theme or amusement park has urban legends, including attractions that supposedly have ghosts. I cannot verify these tales, but include them as anecdotes:

Universal Studios theme park, Orlando: Reports of a small, hooded ghost with glowing red eyes, at one attraction.  It’s such a cliche, I don’t take that seriously.  For all I know, it was a child in an Ewok costume or something.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom: At least two different reports of ghosts at — of course — Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Also, some people report a ghost in slightly-dated clothing, strolling in front of the castle at the end of Main Street.  Pirates of the Caribbean used to have a ghost or two in the early 2000s, but I’ve heard no reports of hauntings there, more recently.

Disney/MGM Studios: At least one ghost reported at Disney’s Tower of Terror, in the lobby. Watch for fluttering movements in areas not affected by the fans.  I’ve seen that phenomenon myself, but I’m not sure it indicates anything paranormal.

If you can add more to these legends, let us know. I’m looking for first-person sightings only. (In other words, I want to know what you have seen or witnessed, not a story that you heard from someone. Thanks.)

Orlando: I-4 “Dead Zone”

There’s an overpass on I-4 that’s supposed to be very haunted and have more than an average number of accidents. It’s just north of Orlando, at the St. John’s River in Seminole County. According to legend, the highway was built over the graves of Yellow Fever victims, who lived (and died) at St. Joseph’s Colony, established on this site in 1887.

In the daytime, the intersection has some strange energy, but how much of that is due to it being a shabby neighborhood? (Or, is it a faltering neighborhood because it’s too haunted for businesses to thrive there? It should be prime real estate.)

If anyone has more first-person information, let us know. I do not recommend investigating this area on your own, and particularly not at night.

And, do not slow down, drive irregularly, or park on the road (or roadside) and contribute even more to the high number of accidents at this intersection.

[NH] Nashua – Gilson Road Cemetery – Odd Flowers

A photographer contacted us on 20 Apr 2002 to report three daffodils tied to a sagging tree branch towards the back of Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH.

I visited, and he was right about the flowers.  Those are the flowers in the photo, below.  (The branches and rocks aren’t really purple.  It’s just the color of the light, the day I took this picture.)

flowers at Gilson

Why would someone do this? There are several possibilities.

3 flowers at Gilson - another angleOne is for sentimental reasons; there are many unmarked graves at the back of Gilson Road Cemetery.  Someone might know who’s in one of those graves, or feel a connection with one of the rumored ghosts back there.

Perhaps this was done for respect.  After all, it’s a nice thing to do in remembrance of the many people in marked and unmarked graves at this rural cemetery.

Perhaps someone found some flowers and just wanted to do something quirky.

Maybe they used them in a photograph. (I’m pleased with my own photos of the flowers.)

Or, perhaps some prankster thought this would be something strange and noteworthy to do. We’ve seen a lot of that, and generally ignore the efforts.

[NH] Hollis – Blood cemetery – Odd, Misty Photograph

In an earlier post about Blood Cemetery, I described an unusual daytime photo with a ‘ghost orb’ in it.

On that same day, at least one other photo was odd.

misty photo at Blood Cemetery
Misty looking photo on a crisp, sunny day. (Blood Cemetery, Hollis, NH)

The black-and-white photo above looks like it was taken on a dreary, misty New England day.

However, our photographer shot it at about 3 p.m. the same day as the rest of the photos on this page, when the sun was still bright and the sky was nearly cloudless.

There was no fog or mist at the graveyard. The trees were nearly leafless, so this wasn’t taken in a shadow.

The cemetery was grassy, with no dusty areas to create a hazy image. It was a warm day (60 degrees F), so there was no mist from the photographer’s breath, and no ground fog.

The photo below — from the same roll of film in the same camera — shows the contrast of the light and the depth-of-field from this camera. This crisp photo was taken within three minutes of the misty-looking one, and no more than thirty feet away in identical lighting conditions.

This is a slightly baffling anomaly. It’s not enough evidence to call Blood Cemetery ‘haunted’, but it’s intriguing. That makes me want to return for further research.

contrast1

 

[NH] Hollis – Blood Cemetery evening (2001)

No matter what you’ve seen on TV, ghost hunting isn’t filled with drama or apparitions.  Most of the time, the energy is subtle and your experiences will reflect your patience and sensitivity at the site.

Here’s one researcher’s true experience at Blood (Pine Hill Road) Cemetery in Hollis, NH, in October 2001:

Headstones at Pine Hill (Blood) Cemetery, Hollis, NH

On this evening, I felt far more confident that I would capture something. I was using more sensitive film than in the past.

However, for some reason, I also felt more welcomed in the cemetery.

I don’t like going to cemeteries alone. That’s not because of ghosts, but because it’s foolish for a woman to be alone in a deserted place. Using a flash camera can attract the attention of anyone passing by.

This time I arrived alone. Another young woman was in the cemetery. She said she was taking a walk, and always liked to pause at Pine Hill (“Blood”) Cemetery.

We chatted about the history of the cemetery, the missing gravestones, and then she left while I took the photos.

I did not feel ‘alone’ in the cemetery this time, but I also didn’t fear whatever was with me.

Some stones seemed to attract me more than others, but I was also conscious that I needed to click the shutter at just the right moment, to catch the elusive images.

I left, feeling certain that I had at least one anomaly on film, but sad that I didn’t have more film. I felt that the cemetery was getting comfortable with me, and vice versa.

Several photos had odd lights in them, but I’m fairly certain they are just reflections of an animal’s eyes in the low shrubs that surround the cemetery. The quality of them is very different from the orbs.

Next time I will arrive earlier and wait longer before taking photos. And I probably won’t go alone, for normal (not spectral) safety reasons.

Graves that people are drawn to: I particularly like the headstone of ‘Mrs. Elizabeth’ in the oldest section of the cemetery (southwest corner).

The young woman on an evening walk commented that she’s drawn to the Farley sisters, whose stones disappeared about seven years ago.

Modern markers have replaced those stones, in the southeast side of the cemetery.

Those are two areas you should explore if you visit Pine Hill (“Blood”) Cemetery in Hollis, NH.

And, in general, it’s a truly nice, rural location.

[NH] Nashua – Gilson Road Cemetery – Odd Hole in Gravestone

This is an odd gravestone. It’s unique because I can’t find a reasonable explanation for it.

Walter Gilson's headstone.
Walter Gilson’s headstone.

Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire is eerie enough. However, this early 19th-century headstone has a hole in it. The marker is very old slate and the hole is like something drilled, not a bullet hole.

Does anyone know what this might be?

The headstone says:

Walter Gilson
son of Mr. Joseph & Mrs. Lucy Gilson
died August 28th, 1811
age 5 yrs 8 mos 25 days

The stone is old and dry. There are no cracks radiating from the opening to suggest that anything impacted it. The back of the stone is not fragmented in chunks as it would be from a bullet. No other headstones or signs in the area have been shot.

Here is a b&w photo showing the opening in the stone:

Walter Gilson's headstone

And here is a close-up of the opening:

Close-up of Walter Gilson's stone

That’s lichen on the inside edge of the opening, not highlights.

The surface is quite smooth, especially considering that the stone is rugged and ancient slate.

People who’ve examined this headstone on site, believe that the hole was probably drilled. But why…?

The lettering doesn’t go around the hole, so the damage occurred after the stone was carved.

And, the stone is in the middle of the cemetery, so — even if we could explain this as a careless shot by a vandal — the stone is too far from the road for that to make sense.

It’s very odd.

This cemetery more than earns its creepy reputation.