From yellow fever victims and Civil War soldiers to J P Morgan and a murdered lighthouse keepers, Georgia is home to its fair share of ghost stories. Taking a trip to the Peach State and in the market for some serious spooks? Here are seven of the most haunted places in Georgia – but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Scariest places in Georgia
1. The Marshall House Hotel (Savannah)
Rumoured to be one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, the Marshall House Hotel started life as a hospital dating back to the Civil War. It’s survived two yellow fever epidemics and some suspicious deaths too. Visitors have reported bumping into ghosts in the hallway, the sounds of children’s footsteps racing down the corridors at night and a man holding his severed arm. There’s so much spooky stuff going on that staff keep a record of any potential paranormal activity too.
2. Historic Worley B&B Inn (Dahlonega)
The former mining town of Dahlonega is no stranger to scary stories. It’s hosted some of the country’s most tragic events, from the Trail of Tears to the Civil War. Locals have spotted moping soldiers meandering around Mount Hope Cemetary and lots of people comment on the sinister energy at the Fred Jones Building. But Historic Worley B&B Inn is the town’s scariest spot. In fact, US Today voted it the second scariest place in the United States.
Built in 1845, the Worley was a popular spot for soldiers passing through. Most left soon after, but not everyone took the hint. In one of the B&B’s five guestrooms, someone managed to capture an image of a man laying back on the bed. Paranormal investigators claim that it’s the ghost of Claude Worley who died after getting hit by a train.
3. Central State Hospital (Milledgeville)
If there’s one place in Georgia guaranteed to house a few vengeful ghosts, it’s Central State Hospital. Once one of the world’s largest mental institutions, the building opened in 1842 as the ‘Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum’. Thousands of patients were mistreated here and there are 25,000 patients now buried in the 2,000-acre site. According to Jack Nelson, only 48 doctors actively treated thousands of patients at one time, and many of those doctors were actually hired off the mental wards.
4. Panola Hall (Eatonton)
Eatonton’s most famous ghost is a woman called Sylvia. Unsurprisingly, there’s a sad story behind her sticking around. She’s said to be the daughter of Panola Hall’s first owners. She flung herself out of her bedroom window (other stories claim she threw herself down the stairs) after hearing about her fiance’s death. The hall’s second owner reported spotting her shortly after moving in and even wrote a poem about her which begins. “Sylvia’s coming down the stair—Pretty Sylvia, young and fair. Oft and oft I meet her there, Smile on lip and rose in hair.” Visitors claim she still wears a white hoopskirt dress and a rose in her brown hair.
5. Old Candler Hospital (Savannah)
The first hospital built in Savannah is, unsurprisingly, its spookiest. Built in 1804, thousands of patients have passed through its doors. In 1876, it face a particularly grizzly outbreak of yellow fever. Thousands died in the Candler Hospital. So many, in fact, that they dug tunnels between the hospital and Forsyth Park to transport the dead and diseased bodies. The giant Candler Oak, known as the ‘hanging tree’, is said to be haunted too.
6. St Simon’s Lighthouse (St. Simons Island)
Built in 1872, the current lighthouse replaced one destroyed during the Civil War. Just eight years later, it became the site of one of Georgia’s most famous ghost stories. According to local legend, Frederick Osborne and his assistant John Stephens kept the light operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Osborne lived on the ground floor and his assistant lived on the floor above, connected by a staircase. After an altercation over the assistant’s wife, Stephens shot Osborne and he was charged with murder, but soon acquitted.
Soon after, strange reports of a ghost on the island started circulating. Some say he still haunted the place, turning the lights on and off, creating havoc for visitors and spooking anyone he doesn’t take a shining (excuse the pun) to as well.
It might be swish, but that doesn’t mean it’s not spooky. Founded in the 19th century, the private members club has hosted plenty of famous faces over the years. Banker JP Morgan lived here and famously smoked his cigar at 5am every morning in the annexe. Guests frequently report the mysterious smell of cigar smoke coming from the annexe today. Then there’s the ghost of a former railroad magnate who likes to read the morning paper and pick up a morning coffee to freak out guests. It’s not all a scare affair though – in room 301, you’ll find a friendly ghost called Charlotte who reportedly advises visitors on how to live their lives.