By Ben Gross
Facing lines at local costume shops, sticker shock from candy prices and traversing seasonal haunted houses can all send a shiver down your spine this Halloween, but if you are looking for some real thrills and chills, try visiting one of Maryland’s truly scary destinations, known for ghost sightings, phantom screams and strange happenings:
5) The “Blair Witch” Woods: Made famous in the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project, the Black Hills woods near Burkittsville are reportedly home to the spirit of a woman named Elly Kedward, who in 1785 was banished to the woods after being found guilty of witchcraft. There are accounts of children being dragged under the surface of shallow water by a ghostly white hand, various sightings of Kedward (a/k/a the Blair Witch) and numerous accounts of unusual occurrences in the area.
4) Antietam Battlefield: Home to the single bloodiest day of battle in U.S. history, Antietam saw 23,000 soldiers killed on Sept. 19, 1862. Visitors and locals alike have reported everything from seeing uniformed soldiers still on the field to hearing gunfire and cannon shots in the distance. Plan your visit at either dawn or dusk, as most sightings seem to take place during these times.
3) Surratt House Museum: Located in Clinton, the Surratt House was home to secessionist activities during the Civil War. John Surratt was recruited by Dr. Samuel Mudd into the scheme to first kidnap, but in actuality, assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Booth fled to the Surratt House after breaking his leg while fleeing from shooting Lincoln. When authorities were unable to find John, they instead took his mother, Mary, for her knowledge of the plot, ultimately hanging her. Mary Surratt was the first woman to be executed by the U.S. Government. Visitors have reported seeing her ghost in various areas of the house, disembodied voices have been heard and the spirit of a young girl has been seen straightening beds in the museum.
2) Maryland State House: Annapolis is home to the nation’s oldest state capitol still in continuous use, one that is rumored to be haunted. Some people have claimed to have witnessed a ghostly presence in the old Senate chamber where George Washington resigned his commission and others have spotted a Revolutionary War-era solider roaming the grounds. The most common sighting is that of Thomas Dance, a plasterer who, according to the legend, fell to his death while working on the dome.
1) Fort McHenry: While best known as the inspiration for Francis Scott Key penning The Star-Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry is considered by many to be the most haunted place in all of Maryland. Visitors and staff alike have reported floating and moving furniture, unnatural sources of light illuminating tour guides, phantom voices when the fort was otherwise empty, an evil presence near the restrooms and a shadowy figure traversing the parapets.
Of course, since Fort McHenry is a national park, it closed on Oct. 1 as part of the federal shutdown.
What are some of your favorite haunted places in Maryland? Tell us in the comments section below.