If you’re looking for some of the spookiest-sounding places in Pennsylvania, you’re in the right place!
From Hell’s Hollow to the Shades of Death Trail.
From hooded graves to a deserted superhighway to a haunted church.
Forget about fake haunted houses and characters in Halloween costumes -here are 12 REAL spooky-sounding places you can explore in Pennsylvania!
Legal Disclaimer: By voluntarily exploring these locations, YOU assume the risk of any personal injury or damage to personal property, and shall not hold the author liable for any injuries, loss, or damages that may occur while visiting these locations.
1. The Hooded Grave Cemetery
The Hooded Grave Cemetery in Columbia County is home to what may be the only two hooded graves that exist in the United States.
Hooded graves, also known as “mortsafes”, were prevalent in England and Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries as a means of preventing body snatchers from stealing the corpses of the newly-deceased, which they would then sell to medical schools, doctors, and anatomy instructors.
Despite urban legends, the hooded graves WERE NOT constructed because the deceased were believed to be vampires!
2. The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Do you dare step foot into one of the two ominous-looking, unlit tunnels along the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike?!
This 13 mile-long hiking and biking trail in Bedford and Fulton counties gives off a serous post-apocalyptic vibe, and certainly deserves a spot on any list of Pennsylvania’s spookiest-sounding destinations.
From the foreboding tunnels to the long stretches of eerily-silent highway in between, the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is truly a remarkable destination to explore.
3. The Abandoned Alvira Bunkers
The abandoned Alvira bunkers in Union County are literally built on top of a ghost town – how’s that for spooky!
In 1942 the US government used the courts and eminent domain to force the residents of Alvira to sell their land and homes, so that the town could be leveled and converted into a TNT factory and munitions storage facility for the war effort.
But less than a year after the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works opened, it was shut down and eventually abandoned.
All that remains of the town now are the cemeteries, the remnants of roads, and 149 concrete bunkers that were built to store TNT.
Wandering the abandoned, overgrown roads of Alvira gives you a disquieting feeling that you’re not alone.
And of course the cemeteries are a reminder that some of the original residents really are still here, if only in spirit.
The abandoned Alvira bunkers on State Game Lands 252 are another deserving member of the “spookiest-sounding places in Pennsylvania” club!
4. The Abandoned Nuclear Jet Engine Bunkers
In something right out of a James Bond flick, the secretive nuclear jet engine testing bunkers in Cameron County were originally built with intentions to develop a Cold War super-weapon – jet-powered fighter planes and bombers that never needed to land for refueling!
By 1960, the project had been scrapped and the testing area abandoned.
Now all that remains where scientists once worked are stark concrete walls, creaky steel doors, and 60 years worth of graffiti.
Time and the Earth are slowly swallowing up the abandoned nuclear jest engine testing bunkers in the Quehanna Wild Area, only adding to the spooky vibe this destination gives off.
5. Hell’s Hollow Trail
Despite the spooky-sounding name, the Hell’s Hollow Trail at McConnells Mill State Park is short, mostly flat, and leads to a very heavenly scene.
The name Hell’s Hollow refers to the limestone kiln that once operated in the hollow near the falls, giving off a foul odor, belching smoke, and producing an ominous red glow as limestone was burned in the kiln to produce lime.
Today the only thing spooky about the Hell’s Hollow Trail is the name itself – the hike itself is quite pleasant!
6. Shades of Death Trail
One of the spookiest-sounding places in all of Pennsylvania, the Shades of Death Trail is actually a peaceful stream-side hike with numerous idyllic scenes along the way.
The highlight of the Shades of Death Trail at Hickory Run State Park is Stametz Dam, a man-made spillway that looks more like a graceful waterfall.
The most frightening thing about the Shades of Death trail is trying to find a parking spot on a summer weekend – the hike itself is a sheer pleasure!
7. The Ghost Town of Scotia
On the outskirts of State College in Centre County lie the remains of the ghost town of Scotia.
This iron-mining boomtown prospered for nearly 30 years, then disappeared as the quantity and quality of iron ore dried up, leaving the ruins to be reabsorbed by what is now State Game Lands 176.
Scotia and the area around it is supposedly haunted by the ghost of confessed murderer Bert Delige, the last person publicly hanged in Centre County and buried in an unmarked grave nearby.
The so-called “Black Ghost of Scotia” is rumored to be most active around the anniversary of his hanging, which occurred on April 25th, 1911.
8. The Abandoned Cresson State Prison
The massive, decommissioned Cresson State Prison complex in Cambria County is one of the spookiest places I’ve ever personally explored!
And now thanks to new, private ownership, you can LEGALLY explore this maze of buildings, some dating back more than 100 years.
With dozens of buildings to see, spread out over acres of land, a visit to the abandoned Cresson State Prison makes for a fantastic adventure.
9. The Austin Dam Ruins
When the Austin Dam in Potter County burst on September 30, 1911, it lead to massive devastation downstream and the deaths of at least 78 people.
Today, 110 years later, the ruins of Austin Dam still stand in a park dedicated to the memory of those victims.
Austin Dam Memorial Park is a beautiful but sobering destination to explore, with trails through the towering ruins of the dam providing an up-close look at what caused the second-deadliest flood disaster in Pennsylvania history.
A hiking trail leads from the ruins of the dam to the ruins of the Bayless paper mill a mile downstream, the reason the dam was built in the first place.
The now-abandoned paper mill was rebuilt after the flood in 1911, but ultimately succumbed to fire in 1944.
10. The Ghost Town Trail
A natural fit for a list of the spookiest-sounding places in Pennsylvania, the Ghost Town Trail is composed of 46 miles of rail trails in Indiana and Cambria Counties.
The Ghost Town Trail gets its name from numerous mining towns that once existed along this railroad corridor turned rail trail, and while it sounds spooky, it’s actually quite pleasant!
11. Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is America’s most-historic (and some say most-haunted) prison!
This was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true remorse, in the hearts of prisoners.
Opened in 1829 and known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, Eastern State Penitentiary closed in 1971, and slowly descended into ruin over the next 20 years.
Saved from the wrecking ball and now owned by a non-profit organization, Eastern State Penitentiary operates as a year-round museum and historic site.
12. The Haunted Quaker Church
The “haunted Quaker Church” just outside of Perryopolis in Fayette County is much more famous for what allegedly happened there than what actually happened there!
During the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, rumors surfaced that a local witch had been secretly tried and executed in the former Quaker meeting house, and that (predictably) the ghost of the witch now haunted the current chapel and cemetery in Fayette County!
To this day, if you look closely at the boarded-up back window, you can see what appears to be a Shroud of Turin-like image of a woman’s face, with a pronounced mouth, nose, eyes, and hair burned into the next-to-top board.
So there you have it – 12 of the spookiest-sounding places in Pennsylvania!
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